Hunan Chicken Stir Fry

5 from 1 vote

This recipe for Hunan chicken is easy to make and brimming with bold, robust flavor. Tender chicken and crisp veggies are stir-fried with zesty garlic, ginger, and fiery red chiles and then tossed in an intensely flavorful sauce. Serve over rice for a quick, mouthwatering meal.

closeup: serving of hunan chicken over white rice

Hunan province is located in central China and is also referred to as Xiang for the Xiang River that runs through it. I took a boat ride down the Xiang river before the dam was built back in April 2005. It was an amazing experience and I tried so many different dishes that were not to be seen in the United States. Some had the same name, but sauces had been adapted or added for the American palette.

I also found that most meat and fish dishes had not removed the bones, which made for some interesting and challenging eating. What I realized was how the Chinese had changed and adapted to what was available in the United States when their food was first introduced and what would appeal to the American tastes.

Hunan chicken is the perfect dish to make when you want a quick meal without sacrificing on flavor. This chicken stir fry is filled with loads of veggies and lean protein, it allows you to enjoy all your favorite Chinese flavors without a heavy feeling in your stomach.

Plus, this Hunan chicken recipe comes together in only 30 minutes and is easy to customize to suit your tastes. In fact, you can make this versatile stir-fry recipe with chicken, pork, beef, or even tofu if you prefer.

extreme closeup: vegetables tossed in hunan sauce

If you are looking for more stir-fry recipes, check out my Szechuan Pork Stir Fry, Broccoli Beef Stir Fry, and Vegetable Stir Fry.

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Chicken – Boneless, skinless breasts or thighs are both great choices. 
  • Red Chiles Traditional Hunan cooking uses fresh chiles, but dried will work too. I recommend fresh Bird’s Eye chiles if available. 
  • Vegetables – I’ve included broccoli, carrots, bell peppers, and baby corn, but you can add zucchini, mushrooms, or any veggies of your choice. 
  • Roasted Peanuts – Nuts are optional but recommended. They add a nutty flavor and crunchy texture. If preferred, substitute cashews or another nut of your choice. 
  • Hunan Sauce – A savory, tangy, and spicy sauce made with soy sauce, oyster sauce, rice wine vinegar, chili paste, cornstarch, and a touch of honey. 
  • Doubanjiang – This savory bean paste adds a depth of flavor when included in the sauce. It is optional, but highly recommended. 
  • Sambal Oelek – Umami-rich and spicy, this is my preferred chili paste. Any red chili paste will do the trick, though.

Tip From Kevin

What’s the secret in Hunan sauce?

Doubanjiang – This savory bean paste adds a depth of flavor when included in the sauce. Hunan Chicken’s sauce is a savory, tangy, and spicy sauce that includes soy sauce, oyster sauce, rice wine vinegar, chili paste, cornstarch, and a touch of honey.

overhead: hunan chicken recipe over white rice on plate with chopsticks

How to Make Hunan Chicken

  1. Make the Hunan Sauce. Combine the cornstarch and chicken broth in a small bowl, stirring to dissolve the cornstarch. Add in all the remaining sauce ingredients, stir well to combine, and set aside. 
  2. Heat the Oil. Place a large skillet or wok over high heat along with 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. 
  3. Cook the Chicken. Briefly toss the chicken with additional cornstarch in a small bowl. Add the chicken to the hot oil and stir fry until the outside turns a nice golden brown. Remove the chicken from the pan, transfer to a plate, and set aside. 
  4. Sauté Spices & Veggies. With the skillet still hot, add the remaining tablespoon of oil followed by the garlic, chiles, and ginger paste. Sauté the spices for a quick 5 seconds, then toss in the broccoli florets and carrots. Stir fry the vegetables for about 3 minutes, then add in the bell peppers. Continue to stir fry for another 2 minutes. 
  5. Combine All Ingredients. Now, stir in the baby corn, optional roasted peanuts, and finally the Hunan sauce. Toss well to evenly coat all ingredients. 
  6. Thicken the Sauce. Continue cooking the stir fry until the sauce has thickened. Serve immediately over steamed rice.
overhead: stir frying meat and vegetables with hunan sauce in wok

Frequently Asked Questions

How spicy is this Hunan chicken recipe?

With fresh chiles and hot chili paste, it definitely has a bit of a kick to it. Doubanjiang is key and is a paste made from fermented soybeans, broad beans, and chilies. Hunan cuisine, in general, is known for having a “dry heat.” I highly recommend you give this one a try!

If you prefer it less spicy, feel free to reduce the amount of chile peppers, doubanjiang or choose peppers with a milder spice level. Similarly, for a spicier recipe, dial up the amount or type of chile peppers and chile paste.

What is the origin of Hunan chicken?

The original versions of this dish have roots that go all the way back to the 17th century in the Hunan province of China. Hunan cuisine, broadly speaking, became famous for dishes with hot and spicy flavors, deep, savory aromas, and colorful presentations. 

The Hunan province is located in central China and is also referred to as Xiang for the Xiang River that runs through it. I took a boat ride down the river before the dam was built back in April 2005.

However, like many Chinese-inspired dishes we enjoy in the United States, this Hunan chicken recipe is a fusion of Chinese and American influences. One of the biggest differences is that traditional Chinese versions of Hunan chicken do not include a sauce, but almost every recipe you find in the United States will.

Can I make this Hunan chicken recipe ahead of time?

This stir fry is best served fresh out of the wok, but there are plenty of things you can do ahead of time to set yourself up for success. 

Peel and chop all your vegetables ahead of time and try to get them as uniform in size as possible. Before cooking, I also recommend having all your spices, sauces, and other ingredients measured and close at hand. 

While the chicken and veggies are best fresh, you can absolutely make the sauce ahead of time. It will keep well in the refrigerator for a couple of months and even longer in the freezer. I recommend freezing it in ice cube trays to make it easy to use just the amount you need. 

Cooked hunan chicken leftovers will stay fresh for up to 4 days in the refrigerator, in an airtight container.

closeup: easy hunan chicken over white rice on plate
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serving of hunan chicken over white rice

Hunan Chicken

5 from 1 vote
Hunan chicken is a Chinese-inspired dish made with crisp, colorful vegetables and tender chicken stir-fried in a tangy, spicy sauce.
Servings: 4
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 30 minutes


Hunan Sauce


Hunan Sauce

  • In a bowl dissolve cornstarch in chicken broth. Combine remaining sauce ingredients and stir to combine. Set aside.

Stir Fry

  • Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet or wok over high heat.
  • In a bowl, toss the chicken with cornstarch then stir fry until the chicken starts to turn golden brown on the outside. Remove chicken from the pan, set aside
  • Add remaining tablespoon of oil, then add the chiles, garlic and ginger. Stir fry quickly for about 5 seconds, then add broccoli and carrots. Stir fry 3 minutes, then add the bell peppers. Stir fry 2 minutes, then add baby corn, peanuts (if desired) and the Hunan sauce.
  • Toss to coat and continue cooking until sauce thickens. Serve over steamed rice.



  1. In many traditional Chinese chicken recipes the meat is sliced thinly against the grain. Feel free to slice your chicken that way if desired. To make it easier to slice, freeze the chicken breasts for 20 minutes or so.
  1. Doubanjiang is a savory, spicy and salty bean paste. I highly recommend using for this recipe for its wonderful umami flavor. Read more about Doubanjiang.


Calories: 440kcal | Carbohydrates: 58g | Protein: 36g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 73mg | Sodium: 1442mg | Potassium: 1342mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 19g | Vitamin A: 5297IU | Vitamin C: 211mg | Calcium: 75mg | Iron: 3mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Course: main dishes
Cuisine: Chinese
Author: Kevin
Have You Made This Recipe? Let Me Know on InstagramTag @keviniscooking or tag me #keviniscooking!
titled image (and shown): hunan chicken stir fry


I was bitten by the cooking bug as a kid cooking and baking along side my mom. After an ROP restaurant course in high school, I went to work in restaurants and catering. My love of travel and food has led me across the world and I love to share those foods with family and friends.

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  1. I LOVE Hunan chicken. your recipe looks so good! can’t wait to make. I’ll come back after I do and leave a review.