This homemade Kung Pao sauce recipe is easy to make and loaded with flavor, perfect for quick and easy Chinese-inspired dishes anytime.
We're cooking up a quick batch of Kung Pao Sauce in the Chili Pepper Madness kitchen today, my friends. This is a wonderful sauce to keep on hand for spicy food lovers.
If you enjoy the flavors of Chinese cuisine, but don't feel like ordering up from your local Chinese restaurant, this sauce will let you whip up dishes in practically no time.
Kung Pao sauce is a mix of sweet and spicy and savory, perfect in place of many of your stir fry sauces.
I use it to make quick and easy Chinese inspired dishes, like Kung Pao Chicken or Kung Pao Shrimp, or simple stir fries.
Making the sauce separately from your Chinese dishes isn't the traditional way to produce such dishes, but it's a big time saver, and the dishes come out tasting just as fantastic.
Let's talk about how to make Kung Pao Sauce, shall we?
Kung Pao Sauce Ingredients
- Sesame Oil. Or you can use peanut oil or vegetable oil.
- Dried Hot Chilies. Use Chinese hot chilies, or use dried chile de arbol, japones, or similar available to you. You can skip these or use milder chilies for a less spicy version.
- Sichuan peppercorns (aka Szechuan peppercorns). Ground Sichuan peppercorns offer a distinctive tongue-numbing quality that characterizes Sichuan cuisine. So good!
- Minced Leek. Or use scallions, green onion, or a bit of shallot or white onion.
- Fresh Ginger.
- Fresh Garlic.
- Light Soy Sauce. This is the common soy sauce you find in most stores.
- Dark Soy Sauce. Dark soy sauce is thicker, aged longer, and less salty. It offers a deeper flavor. If you can't find it, use light soy sauce instead.
- Chili-Garlic Sauce. Try my homemade chili-garlic sauce recipe for this. Works great.
- Chinese Black Vinegar. Use balsamic vinegar as an alternative.
- Honey. For a sweet element. Brown sugar is a good substitute.
- Chicken Broth. Vegetable broth is good, too.
- Corn Starch. As a thickener mixed with a bit of water to form a slurry. This is optional.
How to Make Kung Pao Sauce - the Recipe Method
Cook the Chilies and Sichuan Peppercorns. Heat the oil in a wok or large pan to medium heat to medium high heat and add the dried chilies and Sichuan peppercorn (Szechuan pepper). Stir fry for 1 minute, or until the chilies darken a bit.
Stir Fry the Vegetables. Add the leek, garlic and ginger. Stir fry for 3-4 minutes to lightly brown. The mixture will become aromatic.
Add the Sauces. Stir in the light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, chili-garlic sauce, black vinegar, honey, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes to let the flavors develop.
Thicken, if Desired. Stir in the cornstarch slurry and heat until it thickens.
Use as Needed. Use as desired in any of your “Kung Pao” recipes. Toss with stir fried chicken, shrimp, vegetables or other combination.
Boom! Done! Your Kung Pao sauce is ready to serve. Easy enough to make, isn't it? Now you're ready to whip up some homemade Chinese cuisine in no time.
Recipe Tips & Notes
- Heat Factor. You can dial back the heat by using milder peppers. Up the heat factor by using hotter dried or fresh peppers, or including hot red pepper flakes or chili flakes to your preference.
What to Make with Kung Pao Sauce
You can use this Kung pao sauce recipe in any recipe that calls for stir fry sauce for more of a Chinese flair.
It's ideal for my quick and easy Kung Pao Chicken recipe, as well as Kung Pao shrimp, chicken fried rice, ramen noodles, and other stir fries.
You can also use it as a simple marinade for chicken, shrimp, pork, beef, or vegetables, then either grill or stir them for perfect flavor.
This recipe will last 1 week or longer in the refrigerator in a sealed container. Simply spoon 1/4 cup per serving or so into your hot wok or pan of cooked vegetables, meats, noodles, or rice, then toss to heat through.
You can also freeze it for 3 months or longer. Kung pao sauce is easy to freeze.
That's it, my friends. I hope you enjoy this Kung Pao sauce recipe. Let me know if you make it. I'd love to hear how it turned out for you, and what you decided to make with it.
If you enjoy Chinese cuisine, I recommend the following cookbook. It has a lot of simple, great recipes.
Try Some of My Other Popular Recipes
- Sweet and Sour Sauce
- Homemade Teriyaki Sauce
- General Tso Sauce
- Szechuan Sauce
- Easy Hoisin Sauce
- Lo Mein Noodles
- Drunken Noodles (Pad Kee Mao)
- Yakisoba Noodles
- Dan Dan Noodles
- Szechuan Chicken
Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.
Kung Pao Sauce Recipe
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil or use peanut oil
- 6-8 dried hot chilies use Chinese hot chilies, or use dried chile de arbol, japones, or similar available to you – use MORE as desired for a HOTTER version
- 1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns coarsely ground
- 1 tablespoon minced leek or use scallions or white onion
- 1 knob ginger peeled and minced (1 inch knob)
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons chili-garlic sauce
- 1 tablespoon Chinese black vinegar or use balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon honey or use brown sugar
- 1 cup chicken broth or use vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water to form a slurry, for thickening, if desired
- Heat the oil in a wok or large pan to medium heat and add the dried chilies and Sichuan peppercorn. Stir fry for 1 minute, or until the chilies darken a bit.
- Add the leek, ginger and garlic. Stir fry for 3-4 minutes to lightly brown. The mixture will become aromatic.
- Stir in the light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, chili-garlic sauce, black vinegar, honey, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes to let the flavors develop.
- Stir in the cornstarch slurry and heat until it thickens.
- Use as desired in any of your “Kung Pao” recipes. Toss with stir fried chicken, shrimp, vegetables or other combination.
- To use later, cool slightly, then transfer to a container, seal, and refrigerate. Will last 1 week this way.
Maybe very ungodly, but I used this wonderful syrupy sauce as a barbecue sauce with porkloin, don't judge me too badly because it was delicious 😉
Mike Hultquist says
Sounds great to me, Jérémie!
When do I add the chicken broth?
Mike Hultquist says
Mary, add it with the honey. I updated the recipe to make that more clear. Thanks!