Healthy cashew chicken stir fry is the best clean-eating Chinese food takeout recipe that you’ll ever have! It’s easy to make and is packed with healthy ingredients like peppers, and cashews, and served over cauliflower rice!
Easy Healthy Cashew Chicken Recipe
If you are looking for the perfect meal to serve during the week, this is the meal for you. Did we mention your family and friends will also think you ordered this from Chinese takeout? It’s that good.
Growing up, it was such a special occasion for us to get Chinese food. I used to beg my mom and dad to order it for us because it was always one of my favorites, and every once in a while they would order us the salty, deep-fried goodness that was cashew chicken, lemon chicken, General Tsos, and so on.
Those memories will forever live in me! Just like my longing for that delicious Chinese food.
So we created a healthy cashew chicken recipe without all the added ingredients like traditional Chinese takeout. This healthier takeout meal is so delicious because you can really make it to your liking.
Want more sauce or more spice? Add in more flavor! Want to cut back on sodium? Use a reduced-sodium soy sauce.
There are only a handful of ingredients in this recipe and it tastes just like your traditional Chinese takeout except this is healthy takeout. Trust me on this one! Everyone is going to love it.
Need to throw dinner together in twenty minutes but don’t want to just order take-out? I’ve got the perfect solution for this healthy Chinese takeout: healthy cashew chicken.
One bite into this saucy Chinese takeout and you’re going to be impressing guests for the rest of your life!
The ingredients in this healthy cashew chicken are simple, can all be found in the grocery store, and are easy to throw together.
Cashew Chicken Ingredients
- Chicken Breasts – Dice up 1.5 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts into bite-sized cubes.
- Olive Oil – You will use olive oil to cook the chicken and veggies; I used about two tablespoons.
- Red Bell Pepper – Dice up a large red bell pepper into 1-inch cubes.
- Broccoli – This adds fiber, nutrition, and color to the dish, add about two cups of chopped broccoli.
- Garlic – Fresh garlic will have a more powerful flavor, so add three cloves of garlic
- Ginger – Just like the garlic, use fresh ginger, about two teaspoons.
- Water Chestnuts – Add water chestnuts for their crunch and earthy flavor, about 1/2 a cup.
- Cashews – These are essential for cashew chicken! Add 3/4 a cup of unsalted cashews.
Chinese Sauce Ingredients
- Soy Sauce – For the unmistakable umami flavor, add 1/3 a cup.
- Sesame Oil – This adds a nutty undertone to the sauce, you only need 1.5 tablespoons.
- Rice Wine Vinegar – For an understated tanginess, add 1/4 a cup.
- Honey – The honey is a sticky sugar that sweetens the entire dish, so add three tablespoons.
- Cornstarch (or Arrowroot Powder) – You’ll need this in order to thicken the sauce, so mix three tablespoons with 3/4 a cup of water.
Kitchen Tools Required
You only need a few basic kitchen tools to make this healthy cashew chicken recipe.
Gather the following items before you begin:
- Large skillet
- Large bowl
- Chef Knife
For measuring, you will need the following sized cups and spoons: 3/4 cup, 1/2 cup, 1/3 cup, 1/4 cup, 1 tablespoon, 1/2 tablespoon, 1 teaspoon, and 1/2 teaspoon.
How To Make Healthy Cashew Chicken
Healthy cashew chicken is actually so easy to make. Don’t let the ingredient list fool you – it’s actually just a bunch of ingredients mixed together for the sauce!
First up, dice your chicken breasts into bite-size pieces. You’ll do the same for the broccoli and the peppers and then set them aside.
Prepare the sauce next by whisking together all of the ingredients. You’ll then set them aside until you’re ready to add to your chicken mixture.
In a hot pan, heat 1 tbsp oil and cook your chicken breasts until almost all the way cooked. Take them out and then add 1 tbsp oil to the pan and throw the bell pepper and broccoli in.
When it’s almost all the way cooked, add in the garlic and ginger. Then stir in the sauce and let it thicken. Once it starts to thicken, stir in the chicken and cashews. Cook for a few more minutes until thickened.
Serve over rice or cauliflower rice!
While we don’t think there will be many healthy cashew chicken leftovers, we’re providing a bunch of ideas for how to properly store leftovers just in case.
To store leftovers safely, ensure all food comes to room temperature or is lukewarm before packaging up.
Once it’s at the appropriate temperature, use glass storage containers or plastic Tupperware to put the rest of the food in. Seal them properly with a tight lid and place them in the refrigerator.
Leftovers will be good for up to three days. Discard after three days.
In order to reheat, take out of refrigerator and place into microwave-safe container or heat on the stove.
Here are a few different ingredient substitutions you can make in this recipe.
Instead of chicken breasts, you can make this recipe with boneless, skinless chicken thighs.
Even though I used red bell pepper for the color, any variety of bell peppers will taste delicious in this recipe.
There are also a few different replacements you can make in the sauce as well. If you want or need to make a gluten-free sauce, use tamari or coconut aminos.
You can also replace the corn starch with arrowroot powder and use a sugar-free honey substitute if you want to make this recipe sugar-free.
Below are some common questions people have about how to make cashew chicken. Don’t see the answer you’re looking for? Leave a comment at the bottom of this post!
Is Chinese chicken and cashew nuts healthy?
This depends on how it is prepared. The cashew chicken you get at a Chinese restaurant might not be the healthiest option. It is usually covered in a sauce that uses a lot of sugar and the chicken is sometimes deep-fried.
That is why I recreated this recipe to be healthier! Cashews, bell peppers, broccoli, and chicken breasts are all ingredients that are good for you.
Is cashew chicken fried?
Cashew chicken is usually stir-fried. Some Chinese restaurants cover deep-fried chicken in sticky sauce, so it depends on where you go.
What is the difference between cashew chicken and kung pao chicken?
The difference is in the type of nuts they use. Kung pao chicken usually uses peanuts and it’s also spicier.
If you make this recipe, be sure to comment below and let me know how it was! Also tag @erinliveswhole on Instagram and use the hashtag #erinliveswhole so I can see it and feature you!
If you liked this recipe, you’ll want to try these!
Recipe by Erin Morrissey and Photos by The Mindful Hapa
- 1.5 lbs chicken breasts, diced into 1 inch cubes
- 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
- 1 large red bell pepper, diced into 1 inch cubes
- 2 cups roughly chopped broccoli
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp fresh ginger
- 1/2 cup water chestnuts
- 3/4 cup cashews
- 1/3 cup soy sauce (tamari if gluten free)
- 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
- 1.5 tsp sesame oil
- 3 tbsp honey
- 3 tbsp cornstarch (or arrowroot powder)
- 3/4 cup water
- Make sure your chicken and veggies are chopped and ready to be cooked. Set aside.
- Prepare the sauce by whisking together all of the ‘sauce’ ingredients in a small bowl. Set it aside.
- In a large pan, heat 1 tbsp oil.
- Cook your chicken breasts until almost all the way cooked, about 5 minutes, turning a few times.
- Once mostly cooked, take the chicken out of the pan and set aside.
- Add 1 more tbsp oil to the pan and throw the bell pepper and broccoli in.
- After sauteing for 3-4 minutes, add in the garlic and ginger and cook for 1 more minute.
- Stir in the sauce and let it thicken.
- Once it starts to thicken, stir back in the chicken, and add the cashews and water chestnuts.
- Cook for a few more minutes until thickened.
- Serve over rice or cauliflower rice! Sprinkle with more cashews and sesame seeds.
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