Hunan Chicken Recipe (2024)

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by Mike Hultquist · · 19 Comments · Jump to Recipe

This Hunan chicken recipe is an iconic Chinese stir fry of lightly pan fried chicken and stir fried vegetables in a spicy Hunan sauce. It's so easy to make, on the table in 15 minutes!

Hunan Chicken Recipe (1)

Hunan Chicken Recipe

We're cooking up an iconic Chinese stir fry in the Chili Pepper Madness kitchen tonight, my friends. Are you a fan of stir fry? I love a good stir fry because not only are they easy to make, they usually require very little prep and cooking time.

You'll have this one on the table in well under 30 minutes, including your prep time, and that is fantastic for a slow cook like me. Plus, you can really adjust the spice and heat factor very easily.

This recipe is called Hunan Chicken, and I think you're going to love it.

What is Hunan Chicken?

Hunan Chicken is a spicy chicken stir fry dish from the Hunan province of China. The chicken is velveted then quickly stir fried with a mixture of vegetables, then finished in a spicy and slightly sweet brown sauce.

You may have tried Hunan chicken in your favorite Chinese restaurant, as it is quite a popular Chinese-American dish.

Hunan Chicken Vs. Szechuan Chicken

A common question is - what's the difference between Hunan chicken and Szechuan chicken? While the recipes are quite similar, these are actually two different dishes varying primarily in the sauce ingredients.

Hunan chicken relies more on a fermented Chinese chili-bean paste called doubanjiang for it's heat and flavor, where Szechuan chicken focuses more on tongue-numbing Sichuan peppercorns and spicy peppers. Both Hunan cuisine and Sichuan cuisine are known for being spicy.

Why You'll Love My Hunan Chicken Recipe

  • My version of Hunan chicken incorporates some elements of the Sichuan version in order to bring that heat and spice level up a notch.
  • I've loaded up the stir fry with vegetables, but with a focus on the heat and flavor of chili peppers for the perfect dish.

Let's talk about how to make Hunan Chicken, shall we?

Hunan Chicken Ingredients

  • FOR THE HUNAN CHICKEN SAUCE
  • Soy Sauce.
  • Oyster Sauce.
  • Doubanjiang. Doubanjiang is a Chinese fermented chili and bean paste. As an alternative, use a chili paste, like sambal oelek.
  • Rice Wine.
  • Sesame Oil.
  • Sugar. Or use honey.
  • Chicken Broth.
  • Chili Flakes.
  • Sichuan Peppercorns. This is not traditional, used more commonly in Sichuan chicken, but I love the extra kick.
  • Corn Starch. To thicken the sauce. Mix it with a bit of water to make a slurry.
  • FOR THE HUNAN CHICKEN
  • Chicken Breast. You can use chicken thigh as well, skinless and boneless.
  • Corn Starch. For coating the chicken.
  • Salt and Pepper.
  • Vegetables. I'm using thinly sliced bell pepper, jalapeno, zucchini and carrot for the stir fry. Plus fresh garlic and ginger.
  • For Serving. Chopped green onion, red pepper flakes, sesame seeds, cooked rice or noodles.

How to Make Hunan Chicken - the Recipe Method

MAKE THE HUNAN CHICKEN SAUCE

Get Whisking. Whisk together the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

Hunan Chicken Recipe (2)

MAKE THE HUNAN CHICKEN

Coat the Chicken. Add the corn starch to a large bowl with salt and pepper to taste and add the chicken. Toss the chicken to evenly coat each piece.

Hunan Chicken Recipe (3)

Stir Fry the Chicken. Heat 2 tablespoon oil in a large skillet or wok or pan to medium-high heat. Add the coated chicken and cook, stirring, until golden brown.

Do this in batches if needed. Should take 2-3 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.

Hunan Chicken Recipe (4)

Stir Fry the Vegetables. Heat the remaining vegetable oil in the wok and add the peppers, zucchini, and carrot. Stir fry for 5-6 minutes to soften.

Hunan Chicken Recipe (5)

Ginger and Garlic. Add the garlic and ginger. Stir fry for 1 minute.

Reserved Chicken and Sauce. Add the chicken back to the pan and stir in the sauce. Stir to coat the ingredients and thicken the sauce, 1-2 minutes more to warm and cook the chicken through.

Hunan Chicken Recipe (6)

Garnish and Serve.Sprinkle on the chopped green onions, chili flakes and red chili flakes. It's great with cooked rice or noodles.

Boom! Done! Who's ready for some Hunan chicken? So easy to make, isn't it? I love quick and easy recipes, especially when they're so big on flavor. Hunan chicken always delivers.

Hunan Chicken Recipe (7)

Recipe Tips & Notes

  • Heat Factor. Mild-Medium. Hunan chicken isn't as spicy as some other Chinese dishes, but you'll get some nice heat and spicy flavors from the Doubanjiang or chili paste. I add in extra elements, including some spicy peppers, spicy chili flakes and Sichuan peppercorns, which are not traditional, but I love them.
  • Sichuan Peppercorns.Sichuan peppercorns (aka Szechuan pepper) are different than other spicy foods, bringing not so much heat to a dish, but a distinctive tingling and numbing experience to your tongue and lips. They can be an acquired taste, so keep this in mind if you have not tried them before. They are different from black peppercorns.
  • Make the Sauce Ahead of Time. You can easily make the Hunan sauce ahead of time if you'd like to save time later. There aren't many ingredients, but just stir them together and keep in the refrigerator, sealed, until you're ready to start cooking.
  • Vegetable Options. You can use any of your favorite vegetables for this famous Chinese stir fry. I'm using red bell peppers, zucchini and carrot (along with jalapenos), but consider some others that go great with sir fries. Try mushrooms, baby bok choy, sugar snap peas, baby corn, bamboo shoots, broccoli, sprouts, or other popular stir fry veggies. Make it your way!

Storage & Leftovers

Store any leftover Hunan chicken in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. To enjoy it again, gently warm it in the microwave or in a pot on the stovetop until heated through.

You can also freeze the chicken in vacuum sealed bags or containers in the freezer for up to 6 months.

That's it, my friends. I hope you enjoy my Hunan chicken recipe. I like my spicy version the best. Let me know if you make it. I'd love to hear how it turned out for you.

Recommended Cookbooks

If you love Chinese recipes and cooking, I recommend these books for the American cook. They're loaded with easy Chinese recipes that are full of flavor. I refer to them quite often.

Try Some of My Other Popular Recipes

  • Hunan Beef
  • Kung Pao Chicken
  • Szechuan Chicken
  • Cashew Chicken
  • Dragon Chicken
  • Bourbon Chicken
  • Chicken Lo Mein
  • Chicken Stir Fry
  • Mapo Tofu
  • Chicken Adobo
  • Spicy Chicken Fried Rice
  • Sichuan Dry-Fried Green Beans Recipe (Ganbian Sijidou)
  • Hot and Sour Soup
Hunan Chicken Recipe (8)

Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.

Hunan Chicken Recipe (9)

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Hunan Chicken Recipe

This Hunan chicken recipe is an iconic Chinese stir fry of lightly pan fried chicken and stir fried vegetables in a spicy Hunan sauce. It's so easy to make, on the table in 15 minutes!

Save Recipe

Course: Main Course

Cuisine: American, Chinese

Keyword: bell peppers, carrot, chicken, jalapeno, soy sauce, Stir Fry, zucchini

Prep Time: 10 minutes minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes minutes

Calories: 248kcal

Author: Mike Hultquist

Servings: 4

Tap or hover to scale

4.91 from 11 votes

Leave a Review

Ingredients

FOR THE HUNAN CHICKEN SAUCE

  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 2 tablespoons doubanjiang or use a chili paste, like sambal oelek
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar or use honey
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes or more to taste - I use extra
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground Sichuan peppercorns optional - not traditional, but I love the extra kick
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch mixed with 1 tablespoon water to form a slurry

FOR THE HUNAN CHICKEN

  • 1 pound chicken breast cut into strips or cubes
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil for frying
  • 1 large red bell pepper sliced
  • 1-2 jalapeno peppers sliced (optional, or use other hot peppers)
  • 1 zucchini sliced into rings
  • 1 medium carrot sliced into sticks
  • 1 tablespoon fresh minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger
  • For Serving: Chopped green onion, red pepper flakes, sesame seeds, cooked rice or noodles.

Instructions

MAKE THE HUNAN CHICKEN SAUCE

  • Whisk together the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

MAKE THE HUNAN CHICKEN

  • Add the corn starch to a large bowl with salt and pepper to taste and add the chicken. Toss the chicken to evenly coat each piece.

  • Heat 2 tablespoon oil in a large wok or pan to medium-high heat. Add the coated chicken and cook, stirring, until golden brown. Do this in batches if needed. Should take 2-3 minutes. Remove the chicken and set aside.

  • Heat the remaining vegetable oil in the wok and add the peppers, zucchini, and carrot. Stir fry for 5-6 minutes to soften.

  • Add the garlic and ginger. Stir fry for 1 minute.

  • Add the chicken back to the pan and stir in the sauce. Stir to coat the ingredients and thicken the sauce, 1-2 minutes more.

  • Garnish and serve.

Notes

Hunan chicken is often served with cooked rice. Try it with noodles. Nutritional information is estimated without rice or noodles.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 248kcalCarbohydrates: 22gProtein: 28gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 73mgSodium: 1354mgPotassium: 751mgFiber: 2gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 3725IUVitamin C: 54mgCalcium: 34mgIron: 1mg

Did You Enjoy This Recipe?I love hearing how you like it and how you made it your own. Leave a comment below and tag @ChiliPepperMadness on social media.

Reader Interactions

Comments

    Leave a Reply

  1. Linda Lewandowski says

    Hunan Chicken Recipe (11)
    Absolutely perfect! So delicious!

    Reply

    • Mike Hultquist says

      Thanks, Linda!

      Reply

  2. Cindy says

    Hunan Chicken Recipe (12)
    Hi Mike,
    My husband and I love your recipes and videos. One thing I have to say about this one is the prep time. 10 minutes? I know I'm not the speediest one in the kitchen but it took me 45 minutes to prep, guess old age is creeping up on me.
    Thanks for the great recipes and tips!
    Cindy

    Reply

    • Mike Hultquist says

      Hunan Chicken Recipe (13)
      I know, Cindy, it's definitely hard to estimate. My father-in-law teases me because he takes VERY long as well. I'm slow in the kitchen, but everyone cooks at their own pace. I appreciate it.

      Reply

    • Grammasue says

      Hunan Chicken Recipe (14)
      I hear ya, Cindy! Yes, more like 45 to an hour, even if you're organized. Which, I am not..... but my husband helps me in the kitchen a lot. I, too, like Mike's recipes a lot and he explains everything so well. We love spicy food and make everything like chili, extra spicy. Have a great day, Cindy (and Mike, too)!

      Reply

  3. Cathy says

    Hunan Chicken Recipe (15)
    Thanks for this wonderful recipe, I fixed it on the 4th of July, it was hotter than a firecracker, but oh so delicious!

    Reply

    • Mike Hultquist says

      Nice!! Thanks, Cathy! Glad you enjoyed it. =)

      Reply

  4. BobB says

    Hunan Chicken Recipe (16)
    Mike-

    This recipe (as cooked by me) was given a 4 star by my family which means "its very good ...its OK to make it again Bob." But, as the chef, I know I can do better the next time, so I will give it 5 stars. Realy interesting and delicious flavors. I hit the chili heat about perfectly with a mix of jalapeno and Italian long hot chiles. Your chicken vindaloo recipe was a hit with the family too. I recommend both recipes.

    You have a very useful and informative recipe site. It deserves much more attention.

    Thanks!
    BobB

    Reply

    • Mike Hultquist says

      Thanks, Bob. Very happy they all enjoyed it. =)

      Reply

  5. Joy W. says

    Hunan Chicken Recipe (17)
    Mike.
    This was the first time I tried one of your recipes. I was scared to try because I was worried that your recipes would be too hot vs spicy. Well, I made the Hunan Chicken recipe. I forgot to put the jalapeño in this recipe.but I followed your recipe to the T. My husband and I thought this recipe was delicious. I will continue to make this recipe and I will be more adventurous and try your other recipes.
    Thank you for sharing your recipes.
    Joy

    Reply

    • Mike Hultquist says

      Very happy you enjoyed it, Joy! I hope you find many more recipes here that you love. Thanks for sharing!

      Reply

  6. Cyndi says

    Hunan Chicken Recipe (18)
    This was amazing! Flavor and heat spot on! Delicious!

    Reply

    • Mike Hultquist says

      Great! Glad you enjoyed it, Cyndi! I love it.

      Reply

  7. Maddie says

    Hunan Chicken Recipe (19)
    Absolutely YUMMY dish Mike. We are chili-heads and love your non-traditional and umami additions to recipes. I used the Sichuan pepper and Birds eye chili (rather than jalapeño) and hubby and I loved it. Thank you. I'm currently working through your chili paste, sauces and other chili preserving recipes as it is time for another chili harvest here in Queensland Australia.

    Reply

    • Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness says

      Thanks so much, Maddie! I greatly appreciate it! Super happy you are enjoying the recipes.

      Reply

  8. Tamara says

    Hunan Chicken Recipe (20)
    WOW!! This is another delicious recipe!! Thank you for making our meals more memorable!

    Reply

    • Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness says

      Thanks so much, Tamara! I appreciate it!

      Reply

  9. Jérémie says

    Hunan Chicken Recipe (21)
    Hey Mike! Happy New Year, Buddy!
    I had decided to make a meal tonight with chicken and bell peppers, and I took a glimpse at my favorite site and what did I come across? This Hunan Chicken recipe!
    Made it right away with
    - ground Sichuan peppercorns as you strongly suggested 😉
    - not jalapeno peppers but 7 Pot Infinity 😉
    - did not have Doubanjiang, so I used a mix of Gochujang and homemade Fatalii Sambal Oelek.
    ...t'was a bit hot! lol but gorgeous!
    Served with cooked rice.

    Reply

    • Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness says

      Perfect updates, Jérémie! I expect nothing less from you, sir! A true spicy food lover! You really bring the heat. I love it. Glad you enjoyed it.

      Reply

Hunan Chicken Recipe (2024)

FAQs

What is Hunan chicken made of? ›

Hunan Chicken is a favorite Chinese American stir fry made with juicy, thinly sliced chicken breasts, broccoli, carrots, bell peppers and celery blanked in a dynamic savory, spicy, garlic, ginger sauce.

What spice is in Hunan? ›

With its liberal use of chili peppers, shallots and garlic, Hunan cuisine is known for being gan la (干辣; gān là; 'dry and spicy') or purely hot, as opposed to Sichuan cuisine, to which it is often compared. Sichuan cuisine uses its distinctive ma la (麻辣; má là; 'spicy and numbing') seasoning and other complex flavour ...

Which is healthier Hunan or Szechuan? ›

Q2: Is Hunan healthier than Szechuan? A: This depends greatly on the dish and cooking methods used. Both cuisines are high in salt, fats, and calories when eating out. Hunan food tends to have more veggies.

Is Hunan spicy or sweet? ›

Smoked beef with crisp dried chiles—Hunan cooking is all about spicy, savory flavors. .

What is the healthiest thing to order at a Chinese restaurant? ›

Steamed fish or seafood with ginger, scallions and soy sauce. Steamed fish and veggies are packed with fiber and protein. One of the healthiest places you can choose an entree on a Chinese restaurant menu from is the seafood section, according to Amy Yiu, RD, a registered dietitian with Health Stand Nutrition.

What is difference between Szechuan and Hunan? ›

As we mentioned, Hunan dishes are often sour thanks to the use of vinegar and fermented ingredients in preparation. Szechuan cuisine, on the other hand, may be sour at times, but can also have a degree of sweetness or smokiness.

What does Hunan style chicken taste like? ›

Hunan chicken is known for its characteristic “dry heat” flavor, while Szechuan chicken has a fiery and mouth-numbing sensation. Hunan chicken also has a hint of tanginess while Szechuan chicken is sweeter.

What is Hunan chicken similar to? ›

This style also has a "hot tongue numbing" seasoning known as 'mala'. It, too, has a lot of garlic and chili pepper with the addition of shallots. Though, it may seem like it is similar to Szechuan, Hunan is more for dry and purely hot with an oiler taste.

What does Hunan mean in Chinese? ›

Hunan. / (ˈhuːˈnæn) / noun. a province of S China, between the Yangtze River and the Nan Ling Mountains: drained chiefly by the Xiang and Yüan Rivers; valuable mineral resources.

What is the least healthiest Chinese food? ›

Worst: General Tso's Chicken

One order clocks in at around 1,500 calories and 88 grams of fat, and it delivers more sodium than you should get in a day. Other fried dishes to watch out for: sesame, orange, and sweet and sour chicken.

Is Hunan chicken good for you? ›

Is Hunan Chicken Healthy? Chicken breast is a lean source of protein that is low in fat and calories. It features broccoli, zucchini, and red peppers — a variety of vegetables that are rich in minerals and nutrients. The chicken stock and soy sauce are high in sodium so lower them if your sodium intake is a concern.

What is special about Hunan? ›

Hunan consistently ranks first nationally in rice output and exports a large surplus to other provinces. It is estimated that most of the province's cultivable land is devoted to paddies (wet-rice fields), a great many of which in the south produce two crops of rice per year and demand careful cultivation.

What is the difference between Hunan chicken and kung po chicken? ›

Kung Pao Chicken is made with briefly marinated cubes of stir-fried chicken whereas Hunan Chicken is made with pan fried thinly sliced chicken lightly dusted in flour/cornstarch. Kung Pao sauce is savory and spicy like Hunan but it is sweeter and far less sour.

What food is Hunan famous for? ›

Representative dishes are steamed cured meat, Double Ninth Festival fungi and deep-fried loach, all of which have special flavours. Hunan is known for its smoke-cured foods. Smoky and spicy are the two tastes mainly associated with Hunan cuisine.

Which is hotter Szechuan chicken or Hunan chicken? ›

Many people know the spicy red hot flavors of Sichuan cuisine but in Hunan Province, the food is even hotter. Hunan food( Xiang cuisine (湘菜) - tastes less numbing but hot, sour, and salty. Their style of cooking includes sautéing, stir-frying, steaming, and smoking.

Which is hotter Szechuan or Hunan? ›

Compared to Sichuan cuisine, Hunan cuisine is hotter and provides more taste. Hunan cuisine is more versatile. The hot dishes work to cool people during the summer, while the warm dishes keep bodies warm during winter.

What is the difference between Hunan chicken and Szechuan chicken? ›

Hunan chicken contains stir-fried vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, bell peppers, mushrooms, and zucchini. Szechuan chicken has no veggies other than seasonings such as garlic, ginger and occasionally some green onion.

Is General Tso chicken from Hunan? ›

"The original General Tso's chicken was Hunanese in taste and made without sugar," he says, "but when I began cooking for non-Hunanese people in the United States, I altered the recipe." In the late 1980s, having made his fortune, he sold up and returned to Taipei.

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