No matter how busy or exhausting the day has been, you’ll always have enough time and energy to make this Hunan chicken recipe!
It comes together in minutes and is SO full of flavor — a guaranteed win for everyone at the dinner table. Serve it over rice or cauliflower rice– this meal is easy to modify for various lifestyles/eating plans. Hunan chicken makes for delicious low carb lunches the next day, if you can save any leftovers, that is…
Get your non-stick ready, and let’s dive in!
How To Make Hunan Chicken
As with most low carb Chinese food recipes, this Hunan chicken comes together with just a few simple steps, despite how fancy it looks and tastes…
Here are some tips and tricks that’ll help you along the way:
Whisk your Hunan chicken ingredients for the marinade together in a large bowl until the cornstarch has completely dissolved.
A quick note about this ingredient:
Cornstarch is used in Hunan chicken to help tenderize the meat and thicken the sauce. You can swap it with arrowroot powder if you’re on a paleo eating plan, or leave it out if you’re sticking to low carb foods — although skipping it will make your sauce more watery.
Thinly slice the chicken breast.
Cut the chicken into thin and even slices. The easiest way to do this is to toss your chicken breasts in the freezer for about 10 minutes, then slice.
Add your sliced chicken to the bowl of marinade and toss until they’re evenly coated. Set this bowl aside for 15 minutes.
That said, if you’re like me and don’t want to buy another kitchen accessory, a large nonstick pan works perfectly.
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Once the oil begins to shimmer, add your chicken and stir gently so it doesn’t stick together. Cook the chicken for about 4-5 minutes on each side, until the edges get a beautiful golden sear and the center is no longer pink.
You’ll definitely want to cover your pan with a fry screen, as the hot oil will splatter everywhere!
It’s always a good idea to test the “doneness” of your chicken — to do this, remove a larger piece from the pan and slice it in half. If it’s cooked through and no longer pink, it’s good to go!
Transfer cooked chicken to a paper towel lined plate and set aside.
Add sliced onions, mushrooms and zucchini to the nonstick and cook for seven minutes, or until your low carb vegetables are nice and soft.
Stir in garlic and ginger (we add these later as they don’t need to cook as long, and can burn easily). Give everything a good stir and cook just until the garlic becomes fragrant, about two minutes.
Stir in the sesame oil, additional soy sauce, Thai chilies, and chicken. Remove Hunan chicken from the heat and divvy it into bowls. Sprinkle each serving with freshly sliced green onions/sesame seeds and enjoy!
Hunan Chicken + The Spicy Factor
With a glance at the Hunan chicken wiki page, you’ll find that Hunan recipes are known for being a spicy Chinese food.
This particular Hunan chicken recipe is spicy because of the Thai chilies — if you’re wondering how spicy these make the dish, Thai chilies are 20 times hotter than jalapeños, but not quite as hot as a habanero.
Just FYI, kung pao chicken is spiced with chili paste, and chicken szechuan style gets its zestiness from regular chili peppers.
I’m a wimp when it comes to spice…
I added 2 Thai chilies to this Hunan chicken and found it PLENTY spicy! If you’re more daring, add a few more, or swap them with your favorite type of spice. Leaving them out is always an option as well, or opt for a szechuan chicken or a chicken with garlic sauce for a mild variation!
Be sure to wash your hands after handling the chilies! The oil from these chilies will stay on your hands.
Hunan Style Recipe Variations
Aside from adjusting the spice in this Hunan chicken, there are plenty of Hunan style variations to try. Here are a few to consider:
Swap the vegetables
In the recipe below, I used a few of my favorite keto vegetables: mushrooms, zucchini, and white onions. Feel free to swap these vegetables for whatever you have in your fridge. Keep in mind that different low carb vegetables will have different cook times.
Variations to the sauce
As I mentioned before, Hunan chicken is a spicier dish. If you’re looking for a sweet sauce, check out Mongolian chicken, which uses brown sugar in the sauce.
Swapping the protein
Use the marinade and sauce from this recipe as your base, and sub your protein of choice:
My Hunan beef recipe is a variation of this one, with different veggies and sauce.
Another variation of this delish Hunan chicken recipe, which utilizes vegetables and a savory sauce to complement Hunan shrimp.
Another super tasty and spicy dish, Hunan pork is always a crowd pleaser!
What to Serve With Hunan Chicken
In our house, we typically eat this Hunan chicken on it’s own. It’s SO full of flavor with its sassy sauce and veggies — a complete meal in a bowl!
That said, there are plenty of tasty sides you can add to bulk up this meal.
Since we stick to low carb recipes, we enjoy Hunan chicken with low carb side dishes such as: cauliflower rice, cauliflower fried rice, or veggie noodles of your choice.
If you’d prefer high carb foods as a side, try regular white/brown rice or noodles.
Hunan Chicken Recipe
Impress your friends and family with how fancy Hunan Chicken looks and tastes — impress yourself by throwing it together in less than 20 minutes! I hope you love this recipe as much as I do, please let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
CHICKEN + MARINADE
- 1 Lb Chicken Breast thinly sliced
- 1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce or light coconut aminos if Paleo
- 2 Tablespoon Sherry
- 1 Tablespoon Cornstarch see recipe notes if low carb
- Pinch of Salt + Pepper
- 1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil avocado or canola
- 2 Large Zucchini halved + cut into moon shapes
- 8 Ounce Mushrooms sliced
- 1/2 Onion yellow, halved + sliced
- 3 Garlic Cloves minced
- 1 Tablespoon Ginger minced
- 1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
- 1 Teaspoon Sesame Oil
- 2 Thai Chile Peppers dry, de-stemmed/seeded, crushed and minced
- Sesame Seeds
- Cut chicken as thinly as possible. You can freeze the chicken for around 10 to 15 minutes before cutting for an easier cut.
- In a large bowl, whisk together sherry, soy sauce, cornstarch, salt and pepper.
- Add the sliced chicken to the bowl, and toss it around so it’s fully coated by marinade. Set aside for 15 minutes.
- Heat cooking oil in the nonstick (or wok) over medium heat, until the oil begins to shimmer.
- Add the chicken and stir gently so it doesn't stick together.
- Cook for about 4-5 minutes on each side, until the chicken is no longer pink.
- Transfer chicken to a paper towel lined plate.
- Add the onions, zucchini and mushrooms to the nonstick, and cook for about 7 minutes, or until softened.
- Add the garlic, ginger to the nonstick and cook for another 2 minutes, or until garlic is fragrant.
- Add sesame oil, 1 Tablespoon soy sauce, Thai chilis, and chicken to the pan, and stir together with veggies.
- Sprinkle with sliced green onions and sesame seeds. Enjoy!