Szechuan Chicken is a quick and easy Asian inspired dinner recipe. Bite sized pieces of chicken breast are marinated and fried until golden brown and crispy. Sauteed peppers, onions, chili peppers, crushed peppercorns, and peanuts add amazing flavor and texture. The entire dish comes together when simmered in a delicious sauce. Serve over rice for an incredible tasty meal.
What is Szechuan Chicken:
- Origin: Sichuan cuisine, alternatively known as Szechwan cuisine or Szechuan cuisine, is a style of Chinese cuisine originating from Sichuan Province.
- Flavor: It has bold flavors, particularly the spiciness from the the unique flavor of Sichuan pepper as well as from the use of garlic and chili peppers.
- My version: As with all of my Asian inspired recipes, my goal is to create something authentic. However, the result is always an Americanized version, similar to what you might find in a Chinese restaurant, but made with common ingredients you can easily find at major grocery stores.
Why this recipe is so great:
- Incredible flavor - Because of the ratio of chicken to vegetables to sauce, each bite has the perfect amount of everything.
- Gorgeous color - You just can't beat the combination of peppers and chili peppers.
- Control the spice - This recipe would be considered to have mild to medium spice, but that can easily be controlled by adding few chili peppers and peppercorns for less heat, or splitting open some of the chili peppers for a spicier version of Szechuan Chicken.
Exact quantities are listed in the recipe card below, but here is a summary.
- Marinade: cornstarch, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil
- Sauce: chicken broth, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar, and cornstarch to thicken
- Chicken breasts - use boneless skinless
- Peppers - make it colorful by using different kinds
- Dried red chili peppers - I used Thai chili peppers, however you can use a different kind found more frequently in Hispanic cooking called chiles de arbol.
- Sichuan peppercorns - these can be found at Asian grocery stores
- Garlic and ginger
How to make Szechuan Chicken:
Detailed step by step instructions are listed in the recipe card below, but here is a summary.
Marinade and prep ingredients:
- Cut chicken: Trim any fat and cut the chicken into bite sized pieces.
- Velvet chicken: Mix together marinade ingredients and add chicken. This process will not only infuse flavor but it will make the chicken extremely tender.
- Prepare ingredients: Szechuan Chicken is a high heat, fast cooking stir fry recipe, so ingredients need to be cut, measured, and mixed prior to cooking.
- Cook chicken: Using a generous amount of hot oil, cook chicken until golden brown. Set aside and discard excess oil.
- Sear vegetables: Saute until they start to brown and smell wonderful.
- Add chili peppers and peppercorns: Toast the chili peppers and peppercorns to really bring out their flavor. Add garlic and ginger.
- Mix in chicken and peanuts: Stir to combine and allow to heat through.
- Pour sauce: Add sauce to the mixture, stir to combine, and allow to thicken.
Recipe tips for perfect results:
- Use high heat: In order to get the best sear without making the vegetables too soft, use high heat and only stir to prevent burning.
- Serving recommendations: All you need is some short grain white rice and you'll have a complete meal.
- Storage: Keep any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Should last 3-5 days.
- Reheating: Leftovers can be reheated in the microwave at 50% power in one minute increments. Alternatively, heat in a pan over medium heat.
- Peppercorns: If you can't find Sichuan peppercorns, you can use equal portions of common peppercorns with coriander seeds. Crushing them with a mortar and pestle unlocks and distributes the flavors of the spices.
- Chili peppers: Ideally you want to use Szechuan Dried Chili Peppers. However, most small red dried chili peppers including Hispanic and Thai chilis have a similar flavor profile and Scoville Heat Unit rating of mildly spicy.
If you love quick cooking Asian inspired dinners, here are some recommendations.
- Shrimp Stir Fry or Shrimp Stir Fry
- Hunan Chicken
- Moo Goo Gai Pan
- General Tso's Chicken
- Cashew Chicken
- Kimchi Fried Rice or Pork Fried Rice
If you’ve made this or any other recipe on my site, let me know in the comment section how it turned out. I love hearing from my readers!
- ¼ cup corn starch
- 3 Tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts (cut into small chunks, can use up to 1.5 pounds of chicken without increasing other ingredients)
- ¼ cup oil (avocado or peanut oil recommended)
- 1 small yellow onion (roughly chopped)
- 2 large bell peppers (any color or combination, stem and seeds removed, roughly chopped)
- 0.75 ounces dried red chili peppers (25 small whole Thai chiles or chiles de arbol)
- 1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns (or replace with equal amounts of crushed black peppercorns and crushed coriander seeds (not ground spices))
- 3 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 teaspoon ginger (minced )
- ½ cup peanuts (roasted salted without skins)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 4 tablespoons chicken broth
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
- Cut chicken: Using a sharp fillet knife, cut chicken into small bite sized pieces.
- Marinade: In shallow dish or resealable plastic bag, mix marinade ingredients together. Add the cut chicken and marinate for a minimum of 30 minutes.
- Prep ingredients: While chicken is soaking, prepare remaining ingredients by chopping vegetables, mincing garlic and ginger, measuring out chiles and peanuts, and whisking together sauce ingredients.
- Heat oil in a large pan or wok over medium high heat. For best results, allow oil to reach 350°F.
- Cook half of the chicken: Place half of the chicken in a single layer in the pan. Do not add excess marinade, however it is not necessary to shake off excess marinade. Allow to cook for 3-5 minutes per side until golden brown. For the best results, do not stir, however you can swirl around the hot oil. Allow chicken to get golden brown on the bottom before flipping.
- Cook remaining chicken: Once browned, remove cooked the chicken from the pan and set aside in bowl. Repeat process with remaining chicken. When done, transfer excess oil to a separate bowl, leaving enough in the pan to coat the bottom.
- Cook peppers and onions: Increase heat to high and immediately add the onion and bell peppers to the pan. Toss only occasionally to prevent burning and cook until they start to sear and become very fragrant.
- Add chiles and peppercorns: Stir in the chilies and Sichuan peppercorns (or crushed peppercorns and coriander, if using). Stir well to combine and cook for several minutes, stirring only to prevent burning, to toast chiles.
- Add garlic and ginger: Once added, stir well to combine and then cook for about a minute. Return cooked chicken along with peanuts to the pan with the vegetables, stir well to combine, and cook for about a minute to heat through.
- Add sauce: Reduce heat to medium low. Add the sauce to the chicken mixture and bring to a boil. Cook 1-2 minutes, or until sauce is just thickened. Serve immediately.