This quick and easy recipe for Hunan Chicken is made with tender chicken, fresh vegetables, and a tangy Homemade Hunan sauce to create an insanely flavorful Chinese-American stir-fry in under 30 minutes.
Just like my recipe for Hunan Beef, this recipe for Hunan Chicken uses easy-to-find ingredients to recreate a favorite restaurant dish for a fraction of the cost of dining out.
What is Hunan Chicken?
Hunan Chicken is chicken and vegetable stir fry with flavors inspired by the cooking style of the Hunan province region in China, which is known for its use of dried chili peppers, fermented black beans, and tart and tangy flavors.
While the Hunan Chicken we know and love here in America, has been toned down quite a bit in terms of spice and uses easy-to find-ingredients, the signature balance of tart and tangy flavors remains.
why you'll love this recipe
- Amazing Flavor. This Chicken Stir Fry is incredibly flavorful, thanks to the tangy, rich Hunan sauce that is slightly spicy, without being overwhelming.
- Better for You. This recipe for Homemade Hunan Chicken is much lower in fat and sodium than the take-out version. And uses lean chicken and fresh vegetables, meaning you can feel good about eating this meal any night of the week.
- Adaptable. By preparing this dish at home, you can control the level of spice and what vegetables are added, making it suitable for your family.
- Quick Affordable Dinner Recipe. Hunan Chicken comes together in under 30 minutes, using ingredients you can find at any grocery store.
Notes on Ingredients
- Chicken: You can use boneless, skinless chicken thighs, chicken breasts, or chicken tenders to make this recipe.
- Vegetables: I love preparing Hunan Chicken with broccoli, bell peppers, and onions. However, feel free to add in baby corn, sliced mushrooms, sugar snap peas, diced zucchini, diced carrots, or chopped bok choy.
- Oil: Use canola, vegetable, or peanut oil, as they all have a high smoking point and are well-suited to stir-fries.
- Hunan Sauce: This homemade Hunan sauce has several ingredients to create that signature tart and tangy taste, but likely most of them you keep on hand.
- Soy Sauce: Use low-sodium soy sauce to keep the level of sodium lower in this recipe.
- Chicken Broth: Use low-sodium store-bought or homemade chicken stock. Alternatively, water can be used.
- Oyster Sauce: Oyster Sauce has such a rich punch of flavor, but if you don't have it on hand, you can use Hoisin sauce.
- Chili Paste: Use chili paste, not chili sauce, as they are not the same ingredients. Chili paste, or sambal oelek, is made from ground chiles and will give this dish its authentic kick.
- Honey: Just a touch of sweetness helps to balance out the acidity and heat in this sauce. Feel free to use brown sugar in place of the honey.
- Cornstarch: The cornstarch helps the Hunan Sauce to thicken. If you have an allergy to corn, feel free to use arrowroot powder in place of cornstarch.
- For Serving: Hunan Chicken is typically served over steamed rice and can be topped with sliced green onion and/or chopped peanuts or cashews for added texture and crunch.
How to Make Copycat Hunan Chicken at Home
This recipe for Homemade Hunan Chicken comes together quickly and can be prepared using any large frying pan--no special pan or wok is needed.
- Prepare the vegetables and chicken, by first chopping the vegetables into bite-sized pieces, followed by cubing the raw chicken.
- To prepare the Hunan Sauce, whisk together broth, soy sauce, oyster sauce, rice vinegar, honey, chili paste, and cornstarch in a small bowl until the cornstarch is fully dissolved. Set aside to add to the stir fry later during the cooking process.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat until a drop of water sizzles when dropped into the oil.
- Once the oil is heated, add the prepared chicken to the pan in a single layer. If your chicken does not fit into your in a single layer, cook in batches. This will allow the chicken to become caramelized and golden.
- Cook the chicken for 3-4 minutes per side or until browned and then remove the seared chicken from the pan and place it on a plate. Repeat with the remaining chicken if needed.
- Add the veggies to the same pan in which you used to cook the chicken and saute the vegetables, stirring often, until they are just slightly tender. This should only take a few minutes.
- Add the garlic to the saute pan, and cook for 30 seconds. You don't want to burn your garlic.
- Add the chicken back to the pan with the vegetables.
- Whisk the reserved sauce again to be sure it is fully incorporated, and then pour the sauce over the chicken and vegetables.
- Bring the mixture to a gentle boil, and cook for 1-2 minutes or until the sauce has thickened, and then remove the stir fry from the heat.
Hunan Chicken is traditionally served over rice and topped with minced green onions. I love pairing this chicken fry with Instant Pot Jasmine Rice or Instant Pot Brown Rice for a family favorite dinner for a fraction of the cost of dining out.
- Gluten-Free Hunan Chicken: To make this stir-fry gluten-free, use gluten-free broth, gluten-free soy sauce, and gluten-free oyster sauce. Pay special attention to the soy sauce and oyster sauce, as they often contain wheat products.
- Heat-Level: Because you are making Hunan Chicken yourself, you can control the level of spiciness. As written this dish has a mild kick. If you would like a more mild level of spice, cut the chili paste to just 1 teaspoon. To increase the spice level, add an additional teaspoon of chili paste to the Hunan Sauce.
- Add Ginger: For additional flavor and a bit more spice, add up to 1 teaspoon of freshly grated gingerroot to the stir fry at the same time you add in the garlic.
FAQs about Hunan Chicken
Hunan Chicken tends to be a bit spicier and tangier whereas Szechuan Chicken has a robust and less spicy flavor and is made with less variety of vegetables.
Yes! Feel free to follow my recipe for Hunan Beef or swap out the chicken for cubed pork loin or boneless pork chops, cut into bite-sized pieces.
Hunan Chicken is best served immediately after preparation so that the vegetables keep their crisp-tender texture. That said, you can store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in a dry skillet over medium-high heat or in a heat-safe dish in the microwave in 30-second intervals until warmed through.
More Favorite Chinese-American Recipes
- Stir-Fried Chicken and Bok Choy
- Easy Ramen Recipe
- Shrimp Stir-Fry
- Homemade Orange Chicken
- Moo Goo Gai Pan
- Vegetable Fried Rice
- Baked Vegetable Egg Rolls
If you enjoyed this easy recipe for Copycat Hunan Chicken, I would love for you to leave a review and comment below.
For the Stir Fry
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts or chicken thighs
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 cup broccoli florets chopped
- 1 medium red bell pepper chopped
- 1 medium green bell pepper chopped
- 1 medium onion diced
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- ½ cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons low-sodium oyster sauce
- 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon honey or brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons chili paste such as sambal oelek
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch or arrowroot powder
- Remove any fat or grizzle from the chicken, dice into bite-sized 1-inch pieces, and season evenly with salt and pepper.
- Prepare the Hunan Sauce by whisking together chicken broth, soy sauce, oyster sauce, rice vinegar, honey, chili paste, and cornstarch in a small bowl until the cornstarch is fully dissolved. Set aside.
- Heat the oil in a large pan over high heat. Once the oil sizzles, add the chicken to the pan in a single layer. Cook in batches if needed. Cook for 3-4 minutes per side or until browned. Remove the seared chicken from the pan and place it on a plate.
- Add the broccoli, peppers, and onion to the pan. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until the vegetables are just slightly tender. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds more.
- Add the chicken back to the pan with the vegetables. Whisk the reserved sauce again to be sure fully incorporated, and then pour the sauce over the chicken and vegetables. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil, and cook for 1-2 minutes or until the sauce has thickened.
- Serve over rice or cauliflower rice, as desired.