Szechuan Chicken, also known as Schezwan chicken or Sichuan chicken, is a popular Chinese chicken stir fry with origins in the Sichuan Province of China. A perfect harmony of savory and sweet with a tingling fiery punch, enjoy this delicious 30 minute Szechuan Chicken Stir Fry any day of the week.
What is Szechuan Chicken?
Szechuan chicken is a popular style of Chinese cooking that originated in the Sichuan Province of China. Bold and strong flavors dominate Szechuan cuisine (and therefore Szechuan chicken) thanks to the generous amounts of garlic, chili peppers, and Sichuan pepper characteristic this cuisine.
There are countless variations of Szechuan chicken. In fact, Kung Pao Chicken is a classic dish in Szechuan cuisine that is also made with chicken.
The truth is that Szechuan cuisine is a complex web of perfectly tangled flavors including spicy, salty, sour, sweet, flowery, bitter, and even smoky. In this easy Szechuan chicken recipe you’ll find nearly all of the aforementioned, but especially,
- Flowery (thanks to the Sichuan peppercorns)
Is Szechuan Chicken Spicy?
The spice level will vary from one recipe to the next depending on how many dried red chilies are added. For this particular recipe, I added lots of whole dried chilies and seeds, so yes, it is extremely HOT. Feel free to cut back on the total amount of chilies if you’re sensitive to spicy foods.
Sichuan peppercorns (Szechuan pepper)
Sichuan Peppercorns are what make this dish uniquely Szechuan Chicken. Unlike a hot and spicy chili powder, Sichuan Peppercorns have a somewhat tingling or numbing effect, rather than a burning hot effect on the mouth.
Somewhat trickier to locate,pre-toasted and ground Sichuan peppercorns are your best option. Otherwise, you’ll want to toast them in a dry pan over medium-low heat just until fragrant and then grind them. You can find them at Asian grocery stores and supermarkets, Whole Foods, or online.
It should come as no surprise that the real star of this stir fry is the sauce. The sauce, as we know, is always an important part of the overall dish, but in Chinese cooking, this is especially important. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Oyster sauce
- Soy sauce
- Chicken broth or stock
- Brown sugar
- Chinese rice wine (Shaoxing Wine)
- Rice wine vinegar
- Ground Szechuan peppercorns
I didn’t make my sauce super sweet. If you prefer a sweeter sauce, go ahead and add an extra bit of sugar (or even honey).
To make this recipe gluten-free – use a gluten-free soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and substitute the Shaoxing wine with dry sherry.
For the full list and amounts of ingredients, scroll down to the recipe card at the bottom of the page.
How to Make Szechuan Chicken
1. Prepare the chicken – Whisk together the soy sauce, cornstarch, Chinese rice wine (Shaoxing Wine), and sesame oil in a medium mixing bowl. Add the chicken and coat thoroughly. Allow your chicken to marinate for at least 10 minutes. If you have additional time, you may want to let your chicken marinate for up to 30 minutes (especially if you are using chicken breasts).
2. Meanwhile, whisk together all of the ingredients for the sauce in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.
3. When you’re ready to cook, heat a large skillet or wok over high heat. Add some oil, swirl to coat the entire surface of the pan, and add the chicken. Cook, undisturbed, for 2-3 minutes before tossing and flipping to cook the other side. Remove chicken to a clean plate and set aside.
- The total cooking time will vary depending on the size of your chicken pieces. If you chopped your chicken into tiny bits, they will cook faster. Avoid overcooking as your chicken will start to dry out.
4. Return the same skillet or wok to medium-high heat. Add the remaining oil and drop in the garlic, ginger, white parts of the green onions, seeds from the dried chilies, and WHOLE dried chilies. It’s important that all ingredients are prepped before moving on to this step. Cook for approximately 30 seconds, stirring continuously.
5. Mix in the onion and bell peppers. Stir fry for 1-2 minutes, mixing continuously to prevent the aromatics from burning.
6. Finally, return the chicken back to the pan, give the sauce a final stir, and pour it directly over the chicken and peppers. Mix thoroughly to combine and allow the sauce to come to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook, stirring continuously until desired consistency is reached. Remove from heat, stir in the green parts of the onions and mix well.
What about leftovers?
Store leftovers in an airtight container and in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days.
Szechuan Chicken Variations
Since there isn’t an exact right or wrong way to make Szechuan chicken, it’s easy to get creative and make the recipe your own.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
Add different veggies,
Try a different protein,
- Chicken thighs
And don’t forget that you can also lightly bread and fry your chicken. I don’t have a recipe for that as I typically avoid frying foods at home, BUT if you’ve got one, try it out.
What Should I Serve with this Szechuan Chicken Recipe?
Szechuan cuisine is nothing short of bold, flavorful, and exciting. I highly recommend pairing it with something a little less wild and definitely more neutral. A few top examples include,
- Rice. Plain and simple white or brown rice. You can also serve it with this luscious coconut rice if you’re in the mood for something a little more flavorful.
- Noodles. Sometimes I’m just in the mood for noodles. Fortunately, Szechuan chicken goes great with all your noodle favs including soba, ramen, rice, or even, spaghetti noodles!
- Salad. I will never say no to a bowl filled with crunchy greens. This Asian chopped salad or this Chinese chicken salad are two of my favs.
- Soup. I always start with egg drop soup or sweet and sour soup whenever I eat at a Chinese restaurant, so why not start with soup at home? Bok choy soup is a reader favorite.
More Stir Fry Recipes,
If you try making this Easy Szechuan Chicken Recipe, please leave me a comment and let me know! I always love to hear your thoughts.
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Easy Szechuan Chicken Recipe
For the Chicken & Marinade
For the Sauce
For the Stir-Fry
- 4 tbsp oil - divided
- 1 tbsp ginger - minced
- 6 cloves garlic - minced
- 5 green onions - white and green parts divided
- Seeds from 15 dried Thai chilis
- 20 whole Thai dried chilis
- 1 large onion - sliced
- 2 bell peppers - seeded and sliced
- Add the soy sauce, cornstarch, Chinese rice wine (Shaoxing Wine), and sesame oil to a medium mixing bowl. Whisk well to combine and add the chicken. Thoroughly coat the chicken with the soy sauce mixture. Cover and allow the chicken to marinate for at least 10 minutes, time permitting.
- As the chicken marinates, prepare the sauce. In a medium bowl whisk together the Oyster sauce, soy sauce, chicken stock, brown sugar, Chinese rice wine (Shaoxing Wine), rice wine vinegar, cornstarch, and ground Szechuan peppercorns. Set aside.
- Heat a large skillet or wok over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the cooking oil to the pan and allow it to get nice and hot. Add the chicken to the skillet, cooking for approximately 2-3 minutes before flipping and cooking on the other side (cooking time will vary depending on the size of your chicken pieces - avoid overcooking). Remove chicken to a clean plate and set aside.
- Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, ginger, white parts of the green onions, seeds from the dried chilies, and WHOLE dried chilies. Cook for approximately 30 seconds, stirring continuously.
- Stir in the onion and bell peppers. Mix well to combine and cook for approximately 1-2 minutes, stirring often.
- Return the chicken back to the pan, give the sauce a final stir and pour directly over the chicken and peppers. Stir continuously and bring the sauce to a low boil. You will notice that the sauce starts to thicken. Reduce heat and continue to cook, stirring continuously, until desired consistency is reached.
- Remove from heat and add the green parts of the onions. Mix well to combine. Serve with your favorite rice or noodles.
- This is a very spicy dish. You may reduce some of the heat by omitting the dried red chilies. Sichuan peppercorns (which are crucial to the dish) are unique in that they offer a tingling sensation to the tongue when eating recipes that contain them. For more mild stir fry check out this easy Moo Goo Gai Pan Recipe or Low Carb Chicken Cabbage Stir Fry.
- To make this recipe gluten-free - use a gluten-free soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and substitute the Shaoxing wine with dry sherry.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)