Thai Cashew Chicken is an addictive combination of spicy and sweet stir fry chicken with roasted cashew nuts. This easy 30-minute dish packs a punch with lemongrass, fresh ginger and garlic, spicy red chilies and onions. It is the perfect weeknight dinner and way better than takeout!
Table of Content
What Is Thai Cashew Chicken
Thai Cashew Chicken is a classic Thai restaurant takeout dish. This recipe authentic or not, is my take on this bold and savoury stir fry. Slightly different from the Chinese Cashew Chicken, the Thai version is fiery and less sauce-y.
Chunks of pan-fried chicken, caramelised onions and crispy toasted cashew nuts are tossed in a flavourful Thai stir fry sauce. So delicious and easy!
The heat from the chilies, the sweetness of the brown sugar and the citrusy lemongrass balances this stir fry dish beautifully.
You can totally tone down or omit the chilies. That's the best part about making it at home that you can adjust the dish to your preferences! Even if you omit the chilies, this Cashew Chicken recipe still carries a lot of flavour. Although that spice is my favourite part!
- Chicken - I have used boneless and skinless chicken breasts cut in 3 cm (1") cubes. You can also use chicken thighs. Shrimp will substitute quite well in this recipe too.
- Cashews - You can use either raw cashews or roasted ones. If you get the former make sure you fry them to get that rich nuttiness. And please use unsalted cashews or it will be too salty.
- Ginger and Garlic - Fresh ginger and garlic is very important for the aroma.
- Chili - I add 4-5 dried chilies and one fresh red chili. If you can handle spice use fresh Thai Bird's Eye Chili otherwise use a large Cayenne or Serrano Pepper.
- Onion - Both spring onion (aka scallion or green onions) and yellow onion are used in this dish.
- Lemongrass - It imparts a delightful minty and citrusy flavour. Substitute with lemon zest if lemongrass is not available in your region.
- Sauce - This sauce is a combination of fish sauce, dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, white vinegar, brown sugar and chicken stock for umami. Dark soy sauce is thicker and richer than all-purpose or light soy sauce which is higher in sodium. Plus, this is what gives this Thai Cashew Chicken that deep colour.
- Oil - Use any vegetable oil or peanut oil.
Velveting The Chicken
Velveting is a technique in Chinese cooking where meat is pan-fried on high temperature to retain its moisture and to keep it tender. After marinating the chicken with soy sauce and cornflour (cornstarch), it is seared on high heat in a wok or a pan.
This technique not only enhances flavour and keeps the chicken juicy but it also gives it a crusty finish without deep frying.
How To Make Thai Cashew Chicken
- Marinate the chicken. Mix in soy sauce, salt and cornflour (cornstarch) in the chicken.
- Prep the ingredients. In stir frying it is very important that everything is prepped in advance as it all happens very fast. Cut the veggies, whisk the sauce and have everything by your side.
- Fry the chicken. On high heat, pan-fry the chicken and remove when it is cooked and golden.
- Cook the aromatics. In the same pan, add the aromatics and sauté till they release their aroma
- Combine everything. Add the fried chicken and sauce to the pan. Let the sauce bubble on low heat and then turn off heat.
- Garnish. Toss in the spring onion and cashews. Garnish with sliced red chili and serve this Thai Cashew Nut Chicken with rice or noodles.
Letting the chicken sit in the marinade for 10-20 minutes really intensifies its flavour from inside out.
Serve Thai Cashew Chicken with any kind of lightly flavoured or plain white rice (Jasmine, Basmati or even brown). I love having this stir fry with my Garlic Butter Fried Rice. You can also serve it with stir-fried noodles.
To amp up your table further Spicy Mongolian Beef will go really well in this Asian setting.
You can replace chicken with tofu and use a vegan/vegetarian fish sauce and oyster sauce.
It is a quick, stir fry dish; easy to cook on the same day. However, you can whisk the sauce and marinate the chicken in advance.
You can store any leftover cashew chicken in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. Microwave before serving.
Stir fries are ideal for using leftover produce. You can add bell peppers, broccoli, mushrooms, snow peas and/or baby corn.
More Asian Recipes
Did you try this and love it? Please rate the recipe or leave a review in the comments section. I'd love to hear from you!
Thai Cashew Chicken
- 500 g boneless chicken cut in 3cm cubes
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon regular soy sauce
- 3 tablespoon cornflour (cornstarch)
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 tablespoon ginger sliced
- 1 stalk lemongrass white part chopped *see notes
- 1 fresh red chili sliced *see notes
- 4-5 dried red chilies
- 2 spring onion white part sliced and green part cut in 1 cm lengths
- 1 yellow onion cut in thick slices
- 3 tablespoon vegetable oil
- ¾ cup roasted cashew nuts unsalted
- Stir all the sauce ingredients together and set aside.
- Add the salt, soy sauce and cornflour (cornstarch) to the chicken. Mix and let sit for 10-15 minutes.
- Heat oil in a pan and on high heat fry the chicken till it is cooked and golden. Remove on a plate and keep aside.
- In the remaining oil on medium high heat, saute the ginger and garlic for 1 minute.
- Then throw in the dried red chili, sliced fresh red chili, lemongrass, slices of onion and white part of spring onion. Stir fry for 3-4 minutes.
- Mix in the fried chicken and pour the sauce. On low heat let the sauce thicken and bubble.
- Turn off heat and toss in the cashew nuts and green part of spring onion.
- Garnish with some extra sliced red chili and serve with rice.
You can substitute lemongrass with ½ teaspoon lemon zest.
- If you can handle spice use fresh Thai Bird's Eye Chili otherwise use a large Cayenne or Serrano Pepper.
Mix 1 chicken stock cube in 1 cup warm water if ready-made chicken stock not available.
Increase the amount of chicken stock to 1 ½ or 2 cups if you prefer more sauce.
PIN IT FOR LATER