Lighter Kung Pao Chicken


Lighter Kung Pao Chicken is healthier, and even better than the traditional take out dish!











I’m feeling so much better today! Neverending appetite and eye twitch be gone.

Possible cures:

1. Sleeping in ’til 8am, which meant I got NINE hours of sleep last night.

2. Relaxing all morning, then catching up on the season finale episode of Awkward I missed earlier this week (tragic ending, right?! :( )

3. Fitting in a workout in the great outdoors. I didn’t workout enough this week – cough, 2 days – which was also affecting how I was feeling.


(ps look at my favorite little tree! The wind storm we had yesterday nearly stripped the entire thing of it’s beautiful multi colored leaves, and I was semi heart broken when I walked outside today and saw it all nakey. Awww. :( )

Anyways, today’s wind was barely a breeze and my 3.5 mile run on the trail was amazing. Slow, but amazing. Actually, now that I’m thinking about it – it wasn’t that amazing. At one point I got a bug caught in my eyelash (gross,) then a Japanese beetle flew into my ear. INTO MY EAR!

At any rate, I came home and trucked through my modified Fitnessista routine to finish the workout. It already hurts to laugh…

I needed to run to the grocery store afterwards, and had a light bulb moment when I remembered dear Eloise!


Eloise and I were like this all summer long. Biking to the store, the gym, and on the trail…then mid-August hit and I was running around like a mad woman with no time for leisure biking. August turned into September, which was even busier, and I had completely forgotten about my girl in the garage!


If there was ever a time for a reunion between woman and bike, this was it. I hopped on and pedaled away towards the local grocery store.


One squish, squeak and squeal later revealed THIS:


A flat tire!!! What the? Those tires were brand new! I’m not sure what happened, but it was devastating indeed.


Into the car I went, to pick up fresh broccoli and green onions to make Kung Pao Chicken for Two for an early supper. Kung Pao Chicken is my #2 favorite Chinese dish (Sesame Chicken being #1, although I can’t usually justify ordering it since it’s basically syrup covered, donut battered chicken.)


Kung Pao Chicken is much lighter, not usually battered, and is only slightly sweet. Gingery and spicy too!


I found a recipe for a really simple looking Kung Pao Chicken online from and had high hopes for the dish.


Chicken breast is lightly coated in cornstarch, to give it a faux-battered texture, then sautéed in sesame oil before bold flavors like green onion, garlic, red pepper and ginger are added in.


A 3-ingredient sauce (!) made up of soy sauce or gluten-free Tamari, rice vinegar and a wee bit of sugar brought the whole thing together,


while yummy steamed broccoli and roasted peanuts finished ‘er off.


And it was GOOD.


SOOOOO good. I think this was the best stir fry I have ever made!


Lighter Kung Pao Chicken

Serves 2


Lighter Kung Pao Chicken is healthier, and even better than the traditional take out dish!


  • 1 large chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 3 Tablespoons green onions, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
  • 2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce or gluten-free tamari (dish will not be GF if using soy sauce)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 cups broccoli, steamed
  • 2 Tablespoons peanuts


  1. Lightly season chicken with salt & pepper. Dredge in the cornstarch and shake off excess in a colander.
  2. Combine green onions, garlic cloves, red pepper flakes and powdered ginger in a small bowl, then set aside. Combine soy sauce, rice vinegar and sugar in a small bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds to dissolve sugar, then set aside.
  3. Heat a wok or large skillet on med-high (~325 degrees on an electric wok.) Add sesame oil and, when hot, add chicken. Cook until chicken is no longer pink, ~5 minutes. Remove to a plate.
  4. Add green onion mixture to the wok and cook, stirring constantly for 15 seconds. Add soy sauce mixture to the wok and let bubble for 10-15 seconds, or until it begins to thicken slightly. Add chicken back into the wok, along with broccoli and peanuts. Stir to combine. Turn off heat and serve over rice.


Adapted from

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats,


The ginger and sesame flavors really popped, and the rice vinegar, soy sauce and hint of sweetness from the sugar mimicked any restaurant’s Kung Pao perfectly. You should really, really give this a try!


Actually what you should do is put it in a Chinese take out container and see if the person you serve it to can tell it’s homemade. It is THAT good.

Hang on…

Ok sorry I had to go take a few more bites of the leftovers!

Seeing that it’s Friday and all, I decided to treat myself to a cocktail afterwards. How desperate housewife of me! Hey, it’s always 5:00 somewhere, no? ;)


The Ginger Apple Bourbon I featured a few weeks ago on Friday Favorites was calling my name, so I combined 2 parts apple cider and ginger ale, with 1 part Maker’s Mark, and poured it over ice.


The original recipe calls for bourbon, but Ben’s a Maker’s guy and that’s what we had on hand. Close enough!


Garnished with a sweet slice of Honeycrisp. :)


This was awesome. Sweet, fizzy and seasonally delish!


And a sipping type of drink – which is good since it was only 4pm.


Have a fabulous Friday everyone!!

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  1. Kath 09.30.2011

    The Kung Pao Chicken looks terrific! I pinned it! Have a great weekend. :)

  2. Stefanie 09.30.2011

    I feel your pain with the flat bike tire. My old bike’s tires would pop if I looked at it wrong, crazy! I spent over $80 bucks on intertubes along and bought all new tires ect and even had Kyle’s bikes look at it. After putting new tubes in on a Friday night leaving till Sunday and coming home to find one flat, I gave up and bought a new bike!

  3. SB 09.30.2011

    Makers is bourbon whiskey so you are on point!

  4. Katy 09.30.2011

    You’re the only other person I know who likes “awkward.” Are you team Matty or team Jake (is that his name)? I think Jake is a keeper. When is this show coming back on?! I’m gonna miss it!

  5. That drink is pretty and sounds so yummy. :) I love whiskey!

    Friday at 4:00pm always calls for a drink!

  6. sometimes bike tires just lose their air if you don’t ride them for a while. maybe try pumping it up again and see if it works?!

  7. Um… Yum on all accounts! I’m so glad you made the Apple cider bourbon yadda yards, I’ve been eyeing it for 2 weeks, but because I don’t live in a dark liquor drinking household I was hesitant to buy a bottle just for this. But I trust your opinion, and am definitely sold now!

  8. Dawn Marie 09.30.2011

    Do you see the FACE in your drink… it even has a huge smile!?!

    Cute!! I love random shapes like that!

  9. I made BlogChef’s other Chinese Chicken recipe.. and it is SO good too! I’ll have to try this one next :)

  10. mmmm ginger ale + bourbon.

    i have a really nice wok that i rarely, rarely use. this recipe looks as though it just might be worth dusting it off, though.

    have a great night!

  11. Anja 10.01.2011

    you gave me a huge laugh this morning when i read about that fly and bug bothering you on your run. same happened to me this week. while running i caught a fly in my eye and it got stuck there, gasping for air… i guess you know who won. ;)
    anyway, i love your blog, the pictures and how your tell your stories.

  12. awesome dinner, as always!!!

  13. Ali 10.01.2011

    Definitely making that chicken… holy cow that looks good!

  14. Nancy 10.01.2011

    Kristin, I made the one pot wonder mac&cheese tonight for supper–excellent!

  15. Your stir fry looks awesome. I could eat a different variation of stir fry ever night and be completely content. My fav food for sure. Love your step by step recipes.

  16. Alyssa 10.02.2011

    I know Jake is a nice, fun guy…but he’s not MATTY! I feel like Jenna is just using him as a rebound, we’ll see if I believe she has any real affection for him or not. Matty DID have a sweet invite to the dance for and is just a dumbass. Sigh. Perhaps I get too worked up about these things… I can’t wait for Season 2!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 10.02.2011

      Ok I don’t know why I wrote Jake because I am 1000% Team Matty!! Jake annoys me for some reason…

      • Alyssa 10.02.2011

        Ok, phew! I would hate to stop reading your blog because of a Matty vs. Jake disagreement ;-)
        Jake’s character just seems like less of a real person so far, Matty seems more three-dimensional…and it doesn’t hurt that he’s tall, dark, and handsome.
        I get very frustrated with Jenna not sticking up for herself, but I guess I need to respect that she’s a 15 year old fictional person coming into her own.

  17. Monica 10.02.2011

    This was very good! In case anyone was wondering, I used Splenda in place of the sugar and you couldn’t even tell. Trying to manage my blood sugar a little better. Thanks!

  18. Kristin from MN 10.02.2011

    I made this for supper tonight and it was SO GOOD and easy! Your instructions were perfect! My husband gave it a 9 outta 10! Right now we are fighting over who gets the leftovers for lunch tomorrow! :D

  19. Hope 10.03.2011

    That chicken stir fry looks delicious! I cannot wait to try it. I’m always looking for new stir frys since they are so quick and easy to make. That drink looks great too! :)

  20. […] Recipe adapted from Iowa Girl Eats […]

  21. Liz 12.13.2011

    My partner & I made this recipe for dinner last night and it was out of this world! We’re so glad we made a slightly bigger mix so that we both have plenty for lunch today! Added fresh capsicum (yes I’m Australian – that’s a red pepper I think!) in with the green onions, as well as a squeeze of lemon. Absolutely amazing!

  22. […] becoming a little infatuated with the Kung Pao Chicken recipe I found on Iowa Girl Eats (one of my most favey-faves) I decided tonight to mix it up a bit and […]

  23. […] Kung Pao Chicken for Two.  This dinner was so simple and I got to use my WOK and my kiddie chopsticks.  Big Guy is also jealous of my chopsticks. […]

  24. Teresa 07.20.2012

    The Kung Pao chicken was great and my hubby loved it! I added a chopped green pepper and half a can of pineapple chunks. Definitely doing in my recipe box:)

  25. […] Inspired by: Iowa Girl Eats […]

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