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This easy Cashew Chicken stir fry is loaded with chunks of tender chicken, vibrant veggies, and creamy cashews. A quick, wholesome dinner choice.
I’ve never been one to make any big food related New Year’s resolutions. For me it has always been about balance and that balance happens all through the year. But all bets are off in December.
Over the course of the past month our household has burned through a couple of pounds of See’s Candies, dozens of Christmas cookies and bars, not to mention the indulgent Christmas meals and New Year’s Eve cheesy dips.
As a result I’ve been naturally craving lighter, healthier fare and this Cashew Chicken was precisely what was in order.
Stir fry is one of the first menu items I turn to when I need a quick, wholesome meal. Packed with lean protein, fiber, and a variety of veggies. It’s one of those recipes that I do a little differently each time I make it, switching up the veggies to suit my cravings or whatever looks good in the produce department.
This Cashew Chicken stir fry includes red bell pepper, broccoli florets, mushrooms, shredded carrot, and green onion but you can really switch things up. Pick up a bag of frozen shelled edamame and toss them in to add a nutritional punch. Love asparagus? It would be a delicious sub for the broccoli and snow peas are always a classic stir fry choice.
How to Make Cashew Chicken
The simple step of coating your pieces of chicken with cornstarch before stir-frying should not be skipped. It ensures a wonderful texture on the outside of the seared chicken, helps to keep it super tender, and also helps to thicken the stir fry sauce added at the end of the cooking time.
You want to use your widest skillet with the most surface area for a stir fry but the best choice is a wok like my Le Creuset enameled cast iron wok pictured here. Cast iron or enameled cast iron are the best choice since they retain heat very well and will stay at the high temp needed for stir fry.
All your ingredients should be prepped and ready to go before you heat up your skillet or wok. Get those veggies chopped and prepare your stir fry sauce. Both of these items can be done well in advance to save time.
Cook on medium-high or high heat but not to the point of the oil beginning to smoke. Gauge it and find your sweet spot somewhere in this range.
Add the vegetables in the correct order. Tougher veggies like broccoli and bell pepper should be added first with softer items like mushrooms added later for the best texture in the final dish.
It’s a healthy, busy-day option that my entire group here is always happy to see on the dinner table and takes about 30 minutes, start to finish.
Serve the Cashew Chicken over cooked white or brown rice with a sprinkling of sesame seeds and sliced green onions to make it gorgeous.
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken, cut into 1" pieces
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, or as needed
- 2 cups small broccoli florets
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1 cup coarsely shredded carrot (I use the bagged variety)
- 1 cup quartered cremini mushrooms
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sliced green onions, 1/2" thick, divided
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1/2 cup dry-roasted cashews, unsalted
- sesame seeds
- 4 cups cooked white or brown rice, for serving
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon Sriracha, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger root
- Place chicken in a large mixing bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add 2 tablespoons cornstarch and toss until all the chicken is well coated. Set aside.
- Add all stir-fry sauce ingredients to a small bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.
- Heat a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons vegetable oil. When oil is hot add half the chicken and sauté for 4 minutes or until just lightly golden brown. You do not need to cook it through at this point. Transfer chicken to a plate. Add remaining vegetable oil to the skillet and repeat with remaining chicken, transferring it to the plate when done.
- Add broccoli, bell pepper, and carrot to the empty skillet, adding more vegetable oil only if necessary. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes or until vegetables are just crisp-tender. Add mushrooms, 1/2 cup green onions, and garlic and sauté for an additional minute or two, just to soften mushrooms and green onions slightly. Return chicken to the skillet and add the cashews and stir fry sauce. Cook and stir until cashews have softened slightly, chicken is cooked through, and sauce is thickened and bubbly, about another 3 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining green onions and sesame seeds.
- Spoon individual servings over cooked white or brown rice.
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