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Cashew Chicken

53 reviews / 4.7 average

Saucy, sticky, crispy, sweet and savory Cashew Chicken! Just like your favorite takeout, but made easy at home.

Oh my oh my oh my – saucy, sticky, sweet and savory cashew chicken is here, and it was my favorite recipe I made this month, and this just might be the recipe that will pull you (okay, fine, me) out of the winter slumps with texture, flavor, and a little extra jazziness. It’s just a really fun recipe.

My version of cashew chicken is actually based off of this Cheesecake Factory copycat recipe, which is lovely and reminds me that although haters like to hate, I should probably get back to the Cheesecake Factory for a feast ASAP. Great job, Sabrina.

I made it essentially the same as her cashew chicken recipe, but just a little easier, and with a shorter ingredient list.

And what resulted was glorious. We’re talking about bite-sized pieces of chicken, breaded and fried into a nice little crisp, tossed with a quick, sticky-sweet, soy-and-garlic sauce, all brought together with a handful of cashews. Ideally this would be served over a pile of hot, steaming rice with a side of something of the vegetable variety (steamed or roasted broccoli is a fave). But more practically, you won’t even get that far before you start popping bites of chicken straight out of the hot pan.

There is a 100% chance that anyone who is in a 10-mile radius will come running into your kitchen when they smell the garlic, ginger, and soy in the sauce as it hits the pan. It’s a good moment.

In This Post: All You Need For Cashew Chicken

Cashew Chicken: Frequently Asked Questions

What is the origin of cashew chicken?

Cashew chicken is a Chinese-American dish that can be either stir-fried or deep-fried – the latter of which (what we’re making here), originated in Springfield, Missouri. It was created by a chef named David Leong who moved to the US from China and was looking to create a dish that appealed to the tastes of Americans, which is how it was born. Thank you, David!

Can I stir fry the chicken instead of frying it?

Absolutely! As I mentioned above, the other version of this dish is stir-fried instead of deep-fried. Just skip the coating and frying step and stir fry your chicken, then add the sauce.

Could I use tofu instead of chicken?

Yup! I’d maybe skip the batter and deep frying and employ one of the crispy tofu ideas in this post.

What type of pan is best for this recipe?

Non-stick is best for all the deep-frying fun happening here.

How does this hold up for leftovers?

There’s a little sogginess that happens for leftovers, but I still really enjoyed it. If you want to revive the crispiness, you can heat it in a pan on medium-high heat to get things crisped up again.

What You Need To Make Cashew Chicken

While this is somewhat of a clear-the-counters-and-put-on-your-apron kind of recipe, it doesn’t take as much effort or ingredients as you’d think.

Here’s what you need:

  • Chicken
  • Dry ingredients (flour, cornstarch, the usual)
  • Batter (you’ll make this, but it’s easy! promise!)
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Cashews
  • Sauce (soy sauce, hoisin sauce, vinegar, ginger, etc.)
  • Green onions to top it off
Cashew chicken in a pan with a spoon.

How To Make Cashew Chicken

First, you’ll have to put a little bit of prep work in – cube your chicken, get the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix the batter for frying, and maybe even whisk together your sauce now if you want to really make this seamless.

Then, you’re going to start making magic happen.

  1. Coat your chicken in the dry ingredients and get it in the batter to coat.
  2. Heat your oil in a large skillet to get it ready to fry. (You can test it by adding just a drip of batter to see if it sizzles, but if you want to be really exact, the oil should be about 350-375 degrees.)
  3. Fry it up! Add half your chicken, then repeat with the other half.
  4. Remove the oil and put the chicken back in the pan and add your sauce and cashews.
  5. Serve with rice. Way to go!

Click here to see the step-by-step web story instructions for this recipe!

Deep-Fried Vs. Stir-Fried

Traditionally, there are two ways to make cashew chicken: stir-fried in a pan or wok, or deep-fried, the latter of which is happening here.

I love love love the crispy, delicious, deep-fried bits of chicken and how they cling to the sauce here, but if you want to eliminate the deep-frying of this recipe, that is an option.

What I’d do instead: skip the batter and just stir fry the chicken in a pan, and then add the sauce at the end. Easy.

HOWEVER if you are choosing to deep fry, I have a small tip for you to make it a littttttle easier: toss *all your chicken* together into the flour, then stir up *all the floured chicken* together into the batter. From there, I dump about half of it into the pan of hot oil – it’s going to stick together and feel very wrong, but you can work quickly and use two forks to break the pieces apart. And repeat with the other half batch.

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A picture of Cashew Chicken

Cashew Chicken

  • Author: Lindsay
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 46 servings 1x


Saucy, sticky, crispy, sweet and savory Cashew Chicken! Just like your favorite takeout, but made easy at home. Served with steamy rice and broccoli.




  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 3/4 cup cold water
  • about 1/2 cup vegetable oil for frying
  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into small bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup cashew halves


  • 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha (optional)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, grated
  • a small piece of fresh ginger, grated


  1. Make Batter: Mix the flour, cornstarch, salt, and paprika. Set aside half of the flour mixture in a small bowl. Mix the other half of the flour mixture with 3/4 cup cold water to form a loose batter.
  2. Make Sauce: Whisk all sauce ingredients together. Set aside.
  3. Fry Chicken: Heat oil over medium heat until a drop of water sizzles across the top. Dredge the chicken pieces in the dry flour mixture, then dip into the batter. Let excess batter drip off. Add battered chicken pieces to the oil. Fry for 2-3 minutes on each side. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towel lined plate. Drain out any excess oil from the pan. (SEE NOTES FOR AN EASY SHORTCUT ON THIS STEP.)

  4. Finish: Put chicken back in the pan. Add sauce and cashews. Stir for about 1 minute, until coated and you can start to smell the garlic. Done! Serve with rice and maybe some roasted or steamed broccoli. SO GOOD! 


Chicken Shortcut: I find dredging, battering, and frying individual pieces of chicken to be kind of tedious. So I tossed *all my chicken* together into the flour, then stirred up *all the floured chicken* together into the batter. From there, I dumped about half of it into the pan of hot oil – it’s going to stick together and feel very wrong, but you can work quickly and use two forks to break the pieces apart. And repeat with the other half batch. Done!

Type of Pan: Personally I like to use a nonstick for this to avoid the chicken getting stuck to the bottom of the pan. 

Caramelization and Stickiness Level: If you like extra browning, caramelization, chewiness, and stickiness, let everything cook in the pan together for more like 5 minutes instead of 1 minute. Personally I like the texture of the sauce at 1 minute, but it does look really pretty with that caramelization.

Leftovers: They get a tad bit soggy but I still really enjoyed them. For best results, brown the chicken in a nonstick skillet for a few minutes to get some browning / crisping on the outside.

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Fry
  • Cuisine: Chinese-Inspired

Keywords: cashew chicken, takeout chicken, takeout at home, sticky chicken, chicken and rice

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  1. Pinch of Yum Logo

    That Cashew Chicken meal right there just from the look of things can surely COMPETE with Hibachi restaurants for serious business and $ gUaP $ ! 🙂

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Ashley Kay

      Or cauliflower florets like you can do to make “wings”? Think they’d hold up?… Or maybe even think chunks of shiitakes?

    2. Pinch of Yum Logo

      I haven’t made it with chicken yet So am not able to compare but made it with tofu tonight and it was very good. The tofu got nicely crispy and the sauce is delicious.

    3. Pinch of Yum Logo
      King djoser

      The thing about cooking is you can always experiment with different ingredients. Next time just try and dont even bother asking hahahah ive made this with different nuts and mix in brocolli and cauliflower in spicier sauce. Hahaha might try adding bacon next time.

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      Looks amazing! Would you be able to air fry the chicken instead of frying in a pan?

      1. Pinch of Yum Logo
        King djoser

        Its not the same as pan frying. You could do it but its lazy and not the same at all unless you a damn health nut

  2. Pinch of Yum Logo

    This looks amazing… can’t wait to try it!!! What do you think of subbing honey for the sugar in the sauce???

      1. Pinch of Yum Logo
        Lorraine Maison

        I made this for dinner tonight and my daughter and husband said it was better than any restaurant food they had eaten. It was so sticky and tasty. The shortcuts worked really well. Thank you

  3. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I can almost smell this delightful dish through the computer that I’m sitting at right now. It has my mouth watering now. I love anything Chinese and especially Cashew Chicken. And it’s amazing how quick and easy it is. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Made this tonight! Didn’t batter and fry the chicken to make it a little healthier and I subbed rice wine vinegar for white vinegar as well since I had some in my pantry. It was delicious! Hubby licked the plate clean.

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Leslie D Porter

      Can you tell me how you made the substitutions? I am wanting to do this tonight.


  5. Pinch of Yum Logo
    HRH Farms

    I love cashew stir fry in all its magnificent forms. My favorite Thai place = golden pork w/cashews and coconut rice. I stole the recipe by looking at the ingredient list on the takeout menu! . Gosh it’s good and they use lots of veggies like sweet peppers, broccoli, carrots, mushrooms and water chestnuts. Better thaw out the pork tenderloin for dinner tomorrow!

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      Sure, Bev! We’d suggest subbing gluten-free flour, using tamari or coconut aminos in place of the soy sauce, and ensuring that your hoisin sauce is gluten-free. Enjoy!

      1. Pinch of Yum Logo

        Its good with tofu. I used tempura
        batter instead of flour and made the hoysin my self.

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      Not sure what I did wrong here but it’s soooo salty for me, I can’t hack it but I do love the flavour 😩 love all your recipes xxx

  6. Pinch of Yum Logo

    The recipe has been explained in such a way that it makes it look like a piece of cake to prepare. I love cashew chicken and it is my favourite dish for the weekend. Thanks for sharing the recipe. 🙂

  7. Pinch of Yum Logo

    My husband really enjoyed this dish, “that’s a keeper” he said, lol. It’s so nice to find recipes we both love!

  8. Pinch of Yum Logo

    thinking of grilling chicken thighs then chopping to add to sauce? we don’t like the smell of fried foods. what do you think?

      1. Pinch of Yum Logo

        it was really good with grilled chicken thighs. the sauce was a bit sweet even after i cut it in half. next time i’ll omit sugar because the hoisin sauce its the perfect amount of sweetness. great recipe. a keeper.

  9. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Made this last night for dinner and the flavor was delicious!! However, after adding the sauce the crispiness of the chicken was totally gone and the chicken became really soft and soggy (like what you would expect when reheating the leftovers) Any advice on how to keep the chicken staying crispy even after adding the sauce? Thank you! Despite it not being crispy, we enjoyed it still and will definitely be making it again!

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      So sorry to hear this, Kiki. We haven’t seen this happen yet. We wonder if it’d help to use a little less sauce. Let us know how this goes if you end up trying it out next time!

  10. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Ok, this looks incredible! I am loving all the chicken recipes I am finding lately, that I can make gluten-free by simply changing up the flour! So easy and looks fantastic! I can’t wait to make this. Thank you!

  11. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Jenn P

    Couldn’t stop looking at this recipe all week, and I don’t like cashews. But made it tonight (I just ate around the cashews), and it was delicious. I dumped all the chicken (I used thighs) in the flour and then the batter, and then used long chopsticks to put them in the pan to fry. Worked great, and less splatter danger than using forks.

  12. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Really good and not hard at all. I followed the *easy method of dumping the chicken in rather than a piece at a time (who wants to do that?!). Worked perfectly and chicken came out as crispy as it would have if I painfully dredged each tiny piece of chicken, hating my life. Thanks for another great recipe! <3

  13. Pinch of Yum Logo

    So, my 28 y old son znd I had this for supper last night. Mmmmm.

    He came down as I was frying the chicken pieces and I was rezlizing I HAD NEVER. ACTUALLY FRIED CHICKEN. EVER.

    Is that bizarre to be 56 and never have fried chicken before? You have to understand the impact of the Low Fat Movement propaganda going on in the 1980s when I was learning to cook. Frying food…it was like going outdoors in your underwear or cheating on your spouse. Nice Girls DIDN’T. (I did, of course, eat plenty of KFC those years, bcz , hypocrisy. But I never actually cooked it.)

    I’m so grateful to you for helping me to get over this at this point in time! This was AMAZING. And yes, I was totally eating the pieces out of the pan. Because of you I still have decades left to my natural lifespan to eat this deliciousness regularly in my own kitchen. Thank you, thank you, thank you! 😁

  14. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I made this recipe last night for dinner and used Lindsay’s chicken shortcut in the notes – she’s right, it feels very wrong, but it turns out so amazing!! I feel like I will never need to order take out Chinese ever again because this is so much better. 🙂 Ps. I microwaved the leftovers for lunch and it was still delicious just not as crispy but still so good. Thanks for the comforting recipe!