Spicy Cashew Chicken


Spicy Cashew Chicken has a mouthwatering spicy, garlicky sauce. 

One thing Ben and I really appreciated about the food we ate in Jamaica was that it was unbelievably fresh, flavorful, and prepared without a lot of extra fat. Shortly after Omar picked us up for our all-day tour, he stopped by a little road-side restaurant to pick up some carryout. After telling him we weren’t hungry, he went in solo and came back with a container of food that made our jaws drop.

Forget the cheeseburger and fries, Jamaican fast food is an entire fish, caught that morning, grilled and served with greens, fresh conch, and sweet potato. Ben and I wanted to simultaneously smack each other across the face for declining.

I made up for our bad with a fresh Cashew Chicken Stir Fry for dinner last night, which was packed with good for you ingredients, laced with a super flavorful sauce, and made with just a wee touch of oil. I think Omar would approve!

Start the stir fry by preparing the spicy, garlicky sauce. In the mix:

  • Soy sauce
  • Chicken broth
  • Garlic
  • Thai Chili Garlic Sauce (available in the Asian foods aisle in the grocery store)
  • Brown sugar

Combine all the ingredients together in a small bowl, microwave for about 20 seconds, then stir and set aside.

Next, season 2 chicken breasts with a dash of soy sauce and a couple grinds of black pepper. No need to go too crazy with the pepper here since we have the chili garlic sauce in the stir fry sauce. It’s not that hot – I’d say a 5 out of 10 on the spicy scale – but still. Yeah.

Start the cooking by heating 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil in a wok or the biggest skillet you own over high heat, then stir fry the chicken until it’s no longer pink color on the outside. It doesn’t need to be fully cooked at this point.

Now add in, pardon my French, an ass load of chopped veggies, including 2 cups broccoli florets, 1 big carrot and 1 celery stalk sliced on the bias, 1 1/2 cups sugar snap peas, and 1/2 sliced onion.


Stir fry the veggies for 5 minutes or so, or until they’re crisp tender, then add in 1/2 cup each canned sliced water chestnuts, and baby corn that’s been chopped. Raise your hand if you love baby corn! WHEE!

Finally, pour the pre-made sauce into the wok…

then add in buttery, creamy cashews. 3/4 cup, to be exact! That might sound like a lot, but trust me, you’ll want them all in there. They lend richness and great texture to the dish.

Let the sauce bubble and reduce for a couple minutes.

Finally, pile the glorious, garden-fresh concoction on top of a scoop of cooked, long-grain white rice. FYI I’ve been adding a pinch of salt to my rice as it cooks, which makes ALL the flavor difference in the world. YUMMY!

Spicy Cashew Chicken

Serves 4


Spicy Cashew Chicken has a mouthwatering spicy, garlicky sauce. 


  • 2 chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 4 Tablespoons soy sauce, divided
  • black pepper
  • 2/3 cup chicken broth
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons Thai chili garlic sauce
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons canola oil, divided
  • 1 stalk celery, sliced thinly on the bias
  • 1 large carrot, sliced thinly on the bias
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 1/2 cups snap peas (or snow peas)
  • 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup sliced water chestnuts
  • 1/2 cup chopped canned baby corn
  • 3/4 cup cashews
  • 1 cup uncooked long grain white rice, cooked according to package directions


  1. Toss together chicken, 1 Tablespoon soy sauce, plus a couple grinds of black pepper in a bowl then set aside. In a separate bowl, combine remaining soy sauce, broth, brown sugar, Thai chili garlic sauce, and garlic. Microwave for 20 seconds in the microwave, then stir and set aside.
  2. Heat 1 Tablespoon oil in a lark wok or skillet over high heat. Add chicken and cook until no longer pink on the outside, about 2-3 minutes. Add celery, carrot, broccoli, snow peas, onion, and remaining oil if needed, then stir fry for 5-6 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender. Add water chestnuts and baby corn, then stir to combine.
  3. Add the sauce and cashews to the the wok, then let sauce bubble for 2 minutes. Serve over cooked white rice.


From Hy-Vee Seasons Magazine

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.


Awww, yeah. That’s the stuff.

Savory, a touch spicy, and super duper fresh. That’s a technical term.

Plus, really quick and easy to make, too. After 15 minutes of chopping the chicken and veggies, I was able to cook the entire stir fry in about 10 minutes. Totally better than take-out!

It’s funny because usually when I come back from vacation, I enter into detox mode with tons of fresh stir fries, salads, and hundreds of Green Monster Spinach Smoothies, but we actually ate really well in Jamaica because of all the fresh options available. More than anything I need a detox from the stupid bag of leftover Easter candy in our kitchen that doesn’t seem to want to empty.

How many handfuls does it seriously take to get to the bottom of a Starburst jelly bean bag?

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  1. Lauren 04.19.2012

    My mom used to make this dish all the time growing up. Love the cashews. Definitely the BEST part!

  2. i’m overdosing on jelly beans as well these days!! ugh, just can’t keep my hands out! this recipes looks delicious and fresh… perfect for spring.

  3. Olivia 04.19.2012

    I LOVE water chestnuts. Gotta have em more often! Also I love that you have a brown sugar that is resealable. You think they’d solve that in Canada but nooooo. Haha

  4. Lee 04.19.2012

    I absolutely love stir fry! Love that you made your own sauce instead of using the kind that comes in the bottle.

    PS: jelly beans are my weakness! Specially the pink ones ;)

  5. Jill 04.19.2012

    This looks amazing!!! I’m a vegetarian so I might try this with tofu or just skip the protein — there are plenty of veggies to make up for it!

    Also, please tell me I’m not the only one who hears baby corn and thinks of the scene from “Big” with Tom Hanks :)

  6. Angela 04.19.2012

    I am so happy you are back from vacation :) I love your blog!

  7. Cari 04.19.2012

    Starburst jelly beans are the only jelly beans worth eating!! Even after we were too old for baskets and an egg hunt, my parents would still put out a bowl of those on Easter morning. Eggs, bacon, jelly beans, then off to church!

  8. I seriously adore cashew chicken!

  9. Stephanie 04.19.2012

    Yum!!! I love baby corn! So excited to make this!

  10. Sarah 04.19.2012

    This looks so yummy. I love all the vegetables! I love the addition of cashews.

  11. Thresha 04.19.2012

    This looks delicious! I think I’ll be making it this weekend!

  12. MJ 04.19.2012

    You do a great job. The recipes look awesome and your Jamacia info was really great.

  13. Maria W 04.19.2012

    Thanks again for more of Jamaica!! Love those recipes!

  14. Lindsey 04.19.2012

    Yum! Can’t wait to make this when the garden is in full bloom! :)

  15. Rhonda 04.19.2012

    We love Starburst jellybeans.

  16. I’ve been meaning to make cashew chicken for so long! Going to do it soon, for real. This looks amazing~

  17. MelodyBlu 04.19.2012

    Hmm I am vegetarian but eat seafood. I wonder how this would taste with shrimp instead of chicken…

  18. Janetha 04.20.2012

    This looks excellent! I love baby corn and anything with a kick.

    Question.. what program did you use to put the text on your photos? Now that Picnik is gone, I am looking for a good replacement! Thanks!


  19. Great looking dish, and yes, nothing beats a homemade dish with super fresh, vibrant looking veggies!

  20. Sara 04.20.2012

    Looks great! I think it needs some kind of brown rice instead of white for added nutrition!

  21. Love how you coordinated the typeface and everything! I agree with Sara’s comment about the brown rice, although I might try this with cauli-rice. I JUST tried cauliflower rice for the first time and posted about it last night. You take raw cauliflower and put it through the food processor (using a grating disc) and then cook in a covered skillet with olive oil and other aromatics (onions, spices) for about 10 minutes. It works as a great white rice substitute.

  22. Karri 04.20.2012

    This made my mouth water! I’ve always wanted to make stir fry but it looked overwhelming until I saw how you broke it down. My husband & I received a Wok for a wedding present (13yrs ago) & never used it for the reason above & got rid of it in a garage sale. Looks like I need to invest in a new one! ~Karri

  23. Always love your recipes… and I have lots of cashews right now…

  24. Christina 04.20.2012

    This looks amazing!! I have been craving some sort of chicken cashew mixture and this looks like it will be a winner!

  25. Angela Garcia 04.21.2012

    I made this tonight for my family and it was delicious. The step by step made it so easy to follow. Thank you!

  26. Jeninnc 04.23.2012

    Made this yesterday for my lunch for the week. It’s awesome! I used a bag of pre-cut stir fry veggies, so it was a pretty quick dish. I used brown rice, as that’s what I had. Very good, and I feel good eating it:)!

  27. […] Finally! We are to dinner tonight. I’m a big fan of Iowa Girl Eat’s recipes because they are always simple, comforting and for the most part healthy. This recipe is a knock off of her Spicy Cashew Chicken Stir Fry. […]

  28. Cassie 12.29.2012

    Boom. Making this for dinner. Thanks!

  29. Stephanie 01.28.2013

    Awesome recipe! I tweaked it a little bit for dietary concerns and switched up some of the veggies, but OH man, stirfry is one of my favorite foods and this is my new go-to recipe

    I served it over spaghetti squash which made it even more delicious


  30. […] used this recipe before for Cashew Chicken Stir Fry aka one of my favorite meals ever. Cashews? Favorite nut. […]

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