Kung Pao Chicken Burgers


Kung Pao Chicken Burgers are a fun and unique way to enjoy the popular Chinese dish! 

Kung Pao Chicken Burgers via @Iowa Girl Eats

Ben and I were victims of a take-out thief this weekend! As I mentioned, we like to eat out or order in on Friday or Saturday nights, and this weekend was no different. After devouring leftovers for dinner on Friday evening, we were both looking forward to a yummy treat on Saturday night – take out from our favorite Asian place in town!

I called in the order – Veggie Fried Rice for her, Kung Pao Chicken for him, and 2 sushi rolls to split. Ben was out the door 5 minutes later, leaving just enough time to stop at Kum and Go for Sobe Life Waters before arriving at the restaurant to catch the hostess reading out our order and the total, then handing a big bag of food over…to another customer.

Ah, it’s cool. He said to himself. Obviously she has the wrong person, but this woman will correct her. 

The woman shifted from side to side, looked around, then dug into her purse for more money to add to the $10 bill she already had in her hand. YEP! She said to the hostess. That’s mine! Then quickly paid and left.

At this point Ben’s praying this woman has miraculously ordered the exact same thing we had and is not some lunatic who thieves other people’s take-out which, apparently, sound better than what they ordered. Nevertheless, he walked up to the front then repeated, Veggie Fried Rice, Kung Pao Chicken, and 2 sushi rolls, please, which caused the hostess to immediately spring into action.

I KNEW that wasn’t her order! I KNEW it! She fumed, as she raced out the front door of the restaurant, coming back a few minutes later empty handed. The take-out thief had disappeared into the night!

The hostess was more than apologetic, and got a second round of our meal ready in just 4 minutes. FOUR MINUTES! Ben finally got home and retold the entire story to me while unpacking and opening the to-go containers – only to find his Kung Pao Chicken had been remade as Cashew Chicken.

Bless. That. Man.

Babe, these Kung Pao Chicken Burgers are for you!

Kung Pao Chicken Burgers via @Iowa Girl Eats

Moist chicken burgers are laced and topped with a signature spicy, slightly-sweet Kung Pao sauce. These burgers will crush any craving for Kung Pao Chicken – and you don’t need to order out to get ’em in your hot little hand. Plus they’re just so much fun! I love when I can put a little spin on one of our favorite dishes.

Kung Pao Chicken Burgers via @Iowa Girl Eats

Start out by making the Kung Pao Sauce. This sauce will not only flavor the burgers, but will also be reduced and thickened to serve as a luscious, spicy sauce to spoon on top! First add 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce into a bowl.

FYI – this sauce will be FAR too salty if you use regular soy sauce, so make sure it’s low-sodium!


Next add 1/4 cup mirin, or sweet, Japanese cooking wine, which can be found right in the Asian food aisle at the grocery store. You could also sub any sweet white wine in its place.


In goes 4 teaspoons chili garlic sauce for a bit of heat. Now, I am a spice WUSS (as in, I request a “0” on the spice scale when ordering dishes at Asian restaurants) and I didn’t think this was too hot. If you are serving this to kids, though, I’d cut the amount in half.


Finish up with 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger, 2 teaspoons brown sugar, and 1 teaspoon sesame oil. Stir everything together, then set it aside.


Burger time! Start with 1lb ground chicken breast. I wanted to be sure to add ground chicken to Chicken Week, because it’s so versatile. You can use it in soups, stews, stir frys, and yes, burgers!


To the chicken add 2 chopped green onions, and 2 minced garlic cloves. 


Next add 1 egg white, and 1/4 cup chopped peanuts. The peanuts are optional (in case you have a peanut allergy or something) but Ben’s Kung Pao Chicken always comes with peanuts, which he (and I!) love .


Finally, add 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs, and 2 Tablespoons of the prepared Kung Pao Sauce. 


Mix everything together, then form into 4 burger patties.


Cook the burgers over medium-high heat for 4-5 minute a side, or until cooked through.


Meanwhile, combine 1 teaspoon cornstarch with 1/4 cup water, then whisk into the remaining Kung Pao Sauce. Transfer to a small saucepan then let the sauce reduce over medium heat until thick and bubbly. It should be ready before the burgers are even finished cooking.


Place the burgers onto a lightly toasted bun (I like Thin Buns) then top with a spoonful of thickened sauce, and a sprinkling of fresh spinach, then devour!

Kung Pao Chicken Burgers via @Iowa Girl Eats

Kung Pao Chicken Burgers

Serves 4


Kung Pao Chicken Burgers are laced and topped with a spicy and slightly-sweet Kung Pao sauce. A fun and unique way to enjoy the popular Chinese dish! 


  • 1lb ground chicken
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup chopped peanuts
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 garlic cloves, microplaned or minced
  • 4 buns
  • For the sauce:
    • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce (do not recommend regular)
    • 1/4 cup mirin (or any sweet white wine)
    • 4 teaspoons chili garlic sauce
    • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
    • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
    • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, microplaned or minced
    • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
    • 1/4 cup water


  1. In a small bowl, combine all sauce ingredients except for the cornstarch and water then set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine chicken, green onions, bread crumbs, peanuts, egg white, garlic, and 2 Tablespoons prepared sauce then mix with hands until just combined and form into 4 patties. Cook in a nonstick-sprayed skillet over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes a side, or until done.
  3. Meanwhile, stir cornstarch and water together in a small bowl then whisk into remaining sauce. Transfer to a small saucepan then reduce over medium heat until thick and bubbly.
  4. Place cooked burgers on toasted buns then top with reduced sauce and desired burger toppings.

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

Kung Pao Chicken Burgers via @Iowa Girl Eats

Hope you enjoy these yummy, spicy/sweet, finger lickin’ burgers!

Kung Pao Chicken Burgers via @Iowa Girl Eats

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  1. Sarah 01.29.2013

    This looks delicious! I love the sauce too. On 2 separate occasions, my sub at Subway has been given away to other people. Once they realize it, I have never seen anyone make a sandwich so fast!

  2. Jess 01.29.2013

    These look SO good!!

  3. Dee 01.29.2013

    Sounds like a Seinfeld episode! The burgers look good; I will give them a try.

  4. Trisha 01.29.2013

    Bahahhaha! Poor Ben, but hilarious story. Sounds like something that would most definitely happen to my husband too. He is ALWAYS getting the wrong order, his order messed up, or missing items all together when he orders takeout or goes to a drive-thru. ALWAYS.

  5. debtgirl 01.29.2013

    That looks good!

  6. Holy cow this looks amazing

  7. That’s such a crazy story! I wonder what was up with that lady. Anyway this sauce sounds soo good, and I love that it’s inside the burger too :) What a fun burger idea!

  8. Lauren 01.29.2013

    I always appreciate the simplicity and clever recipes that come out of your kitchen. Made your cheesy taco soup tonight. Took me 23 min start to finish! (Sooo quick) The husband gave it 5 stars (yes he occasionally rates my meals 1 to 5 stars). So it has officially been saved in my online recipe library. Kung Pao chicken looks like another great one! I’m going to need to start an IGE file! Some of our regulars include your chipotle burrito bowls and creamy artichoke pasta. – just thought you should know. Thanks!!

  9. Janel Gradowski 01.29.2013

    Sometimes I just HAVE to have Chinese takeout. I love your burger-fied version! I was shaking my head at your story of the takeout thief. I’ve never heard of that happening before, at least not on purpose. Very strange!

  10. Takeout thief! lol People never cease to amaze me!

  11. Bree 01.29.2013

    OMGee looks soooo good.

  12. Janet Lu 01.29.2013


  13. Nancy 01.29.2013

    From another local, where is your favorite Asian place in town? I’m always looking for new suggestions…

    • rosemary 01.30.2013

      I’d like to know where that Asian restaurant is also !

  14. Geeez….people seriously steal other customers take-out orders?? What has this world come to?!?

  15. IGE, you make the best burgers <3

  16. Kristen 01.29.2013

    I’m a vegetarian, and plan to make this with ground “not meat” and no peanuts (just my taste) but I love the idea! Garlic sauce next?

  17. D'Ann Marti 01.29.2013

    I switched over to a low fat, whole foods, plant based diet last August. But… for some reason I am completely compelled to torture myself daily with your food blog! Between your humor, fantastic food photgraphy, and endless tasty deights, I just can’t give it up! On a few rare occasions that something sounded completely over-the-top amazing, I refused to open the email and hurt myself any further lol:) You site rocks, and I make just about anything that you post that I can alter to make it fit in my new PB groove… Your Friday posts are my favorite!

  18. Ah poor Ben! I would be tempted Kung Poa anybody who tried to steal my take out… what a weirdo! But there is a silver lining because now we have this awesome burger to thank for it. Luckily, I still have some mirin in the pantry from your kale fried rice recipe that I may or may not have eaten every other day for a week and a half.

  19. Bek @ Crave 01.30.2013

    Yum! We are trying to have a homemade ‘burger’ night every fortnight and these look perfect!

  20. I’ve been the victim of a take out thief before and it is no fun! My new order was not made in 4 minutes, though! I love chicken burgers. I just posted Mexican Chicken Burgers on Monday. I definitely need to try these Kung Pao Chicken Burgers!

  21. Alisha 01.30.2013

    bahaha that story is hilarious! The worker must have felt like a total goober! You’re starting to become the queen of chicken burgers!

  22. Faun 01.30.2013

    I’ve never heard of such a thing before, and I lived for 20 years in downtown Chicago and another 10 in Baltimore, both of which are not exactly paragons of citizenship.

    Why would she do such a thing? (your story indicates that she paid the correct total).

    Did yours just sound better?

    I’m mystified.

  23. Totally loving this. I enjoy trying unusual burger flavors and this definitely is going to be made.

  24. Patty 01.30.2013

    Delicious! Need to make this asap :)

  25. Abbey 01.30.2013

    I had this same thing happen to me at Starbucks the other day! I had ordered a grande soy caramel machiatto (sp) with 1 pump. There were quite a few people waiting ahead of me and when my order came up there was a girl standing there putting a cup warmer on another cup. So I patiently waited until she was done and then she grabbed MY COFFEE, put a warmer on it and walked away with it!! I thought the same thing your hubby did, maybe she ordered the same thing. Then after a few moments the barista asked me what i had ordered. When I told her she said that she didn’t think that that was the other girls drink and she is pretty sure the first drink she had wasn’t hers either! She made me another drink but isn’t it crazy to think that people would just walk away with someone elses drink/food?!

  26. Lisa 01.30.2013

    YUM! That sauce looks like it will be used in a few of my dishes!!! Thank you :)

  27. Karen Beck 01.30.2013

    Wow, I just came across your website today, and I had just bought some Smartchicken ground chicken and was wondering what to do with it. I thought about making tacos or burgers but didn’t have a recipe and was just going to “wing it”. But now I know what do to! Thanks!

  28. Tricia 01.30.2013

    YOU COMPLETE ME!!! This sounds amazing, this is on my menu for this week. Next time your in Denver I need to find you so we can become best friends!!!

  29. Cookin Canuck 01.30.2013

    A take-out thief?! People are so strange sometimes. This burger looks phenomenally good – all of my favorite flavors, wrapped in one healthy package.

  30. What a mishap! I think I would just stand there in shock hoping they had ordered the same thing as me too. Crazy. At least you got a great new recipe out of this mix up. That sauce looks heavenly.

  31. Andrea 01.30.2013

    Is there any way you could start to add the nutritional information to your recipes? I could picture also incorporating that data into recipe search parameters. Would be so helpful! Thanks!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 01.30.2013

      Hey Andrea! I would love to be able to add nutritional information to my recipes, but just don’t have the resources right now. Hopefully someday in the future though!

  32. Aggie 01.30.2013

    I hate when orders get messed up, so disappointing!

    These chicken burgers look so awesome!

  33. These burgers look fantastic and I’m quite certain I have everything I need to make them at home! Totally looking forward to it…love love LOVE your blog, miss. :)

  34. Yum, I love Kung Pao Chicken! One of my favorite dishes to order in, for sure. Too bad about this thief – some people just have no conscience! And it drives me nuts when I get home and my order is wrong!

  35. Those burgers look tasty! What a great idea!

  36. […] Kung Pao Chicken Burgers […]

  37. I’ve never seen those thin buns before. They kind of look like a pita. I’m going to have to find them or make them myself. My favorite part of a burger is always the meat, but I like having something to contain it.

    I just made burgers tonight and can’t wait to pull out the grill come late-winter. Summer is too long to wait…

    Sounds like you might need a new take-out place :)

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  39. This is a phenomenal idea!!! Kung Pao was a favorite in our house growing up & my sister still to this day requests it for every birthday meal (my mom does a killer lowfat remake) I love morphing classic recipes into something new like this, looks just delicious!!

  40. Kelsey 02.05.2013

    Just want to let you know that IGE is my weekly inspiration for new recipes to try.

    Also, made these last night and they were sooo delish! Chicken burgers are so moist (as turkey sometime is not) and were even yummier leftover for lunch the next day. I even texted a friend that is a fellow IGE lover and told her she HAS to make them this week. The best part to this healthy and tasty recipe? I got 100% husband approval! Thanks! :)

  41. Yaoli 02.07.2013

    Amazingly delicious! Thank you so much for the recipe! I made the sauce a little spicier by adding more chili garlic sauce. I can’t tell what’s better, this or your thai peanut sauce burgers!

  42. Angela 02.17.2013

    I pinned this recipe when you first posted it and made it for lunch today. Yum-o! This will definitely be a permanent fixture in our home. Thanks!!

  43. Christa 05.13.2013

    Just wanted to let you know that we love this recipe at our house! It has become a regular in our weekly rotation! Thanks for such a tasty meal!!

  44. […] IOWA GIRL EATS: Kung Pao Chicken Burgers […]

  45. […] Kung Pao Chicken Burgers […]

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