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Easy Healthy Cashew Chicken Recipe

Taking less than 30 minutes to make, this easy adaptation to a healthy cashew chicken recipe is exactly what your weeknight rotation needs.

Serving bowl full of cashew chicken.

Say hello to a new weeknight fave.

I made this fabulous crunchy, salty, and savory cashew chicken for the fam just last night, and I am wasting *zero* time in sharing it with you all. It’s kind of funny to think that a few years back the whole “weeknight dinner” thing didn’t seem important to me; I believed creativity here on the blog was more important than approachability. Now, with a household to manage and a family to feed, the latter is the main ingredient in my methods—always with a dash of creativity, obviously.

What is Cashew Chicken?

If you’re in North America, you’ve likely seen Cashew Chicken on the menu at your local Chinese restaurant. Cashew chicken comprises stir-fried pieces of chicken tossed with cashews and veggies in a light brown garlic sauce; sometimes it’s served in a thicker sauce made up of stock, soy sauce, and oyster sauce. The idea originated from David Leong, a Chinese chef who moved to the US from China. Getting Americans to accept and enjoy the foods from his homeland proved to be a challenge, so he created dishes that would tempt Americans. A lot of Chinese restaurant menus in the US are made up of dishes with similar stories—hence all of the deep-frying and sugary sauces. Because, real talk: America loves that shit.

Two bowls of cashew chicken with rice and a set of chopsticks.

Cashew Chicken, but make it healthy.

I wanted to create a cashew chicken dish with a healthier spin, but that still packed a ton of flavor. There’s some frying involved, but we’re using avocado oil to benefit from healthy fats. I also included veggies, lightly salted cashews, and I swapped the usual sugar for a smidgen of raw honey. Smarter choices, and still a lot of flavor!

Ingredients for cashew chicken on countertop including fresh veggies, toasted cashews, and a bowl of marinated chunks of chicken.

How to make cashew chicken.

Without counting the 20-minute marinade time, this easy healthy cashew chicken recipe is ready in 15 minutes. We like to serve it with this Instant Pot coconut rice, but you could eat it on its own or with noodles.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Low-sodium soy sauce
  • Rice vinegar
  • Raw honey
  • Kosher salt
  • Avocado oil
  • Fresh ginger
  • Garlic
  • Shiitake mushrooms
  • Red bell pepper
  • Scallions
  • Lightly salted cashews

Here’s what you’ll do:

  1. Whisk 2 TBSP of the soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey, and salt in a large bowl. Place the cubed chicken into the bowl, stir to coat, and set aside for 20 minutes. If you’re doing this step in advance and marinating the chicken for longer, cover and place the bowl in the fridge.
  2. Heat 1 TBSP of oil in a wok or large skillet. Add the ginger and simmer until fragrant. Add the chicken, toss to coat, and cook for about 3-4 minutes or until all sides are lightly browned. Be sure to remove the chicken from the wok before it’s cooked through.
  3. Add the remaining oil, then add the garlic and simmer until fragrant. Then add the mushrooms, bell peppers, and scallions.
  4. Add 2 TBSP of water to the wok, and cook for 2 mins or until the water has evaporated. 
  5. Transfer the chicken back to wok, and add the remaining soy sauce and the cashews. Stir fry for 2 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
  6. Serve over rice or noodles.

Left photo: close up on bowl of rice with cashew chicken; right photo: hands holding bowl and using chopsticks over bowl of rice and cashew chicken.

Two bowls of cashew chicken with rice and a set of chopsticks.

Hope you enjoy!

If you plan on making this recipe, be sure to snap a pic and tag us on Insta! @killing__thyme.

Some more of our weeknight faves:

Easy Healthy Cashew Chicken Recipe

Taking less than 30 minutes to make, this easy adaptation to a healthy cashew chicken recipe is exactly what your weeknight rotation needs.
Course Main Course
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Marinating time 20 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 4
Author Dana Sandonato

Ingredients

  • 1 lb boneless and skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized cubes
  • 3 TBSP low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms You can also use cremini mushrooms
  • 2 TBSP avocado oil (or olive oil)
  • 1 TBSP freshly grated ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed, peeled, and thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded, cleaned, and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1/2 cup lightly salted cashews, roasted *See notes

Instructions

  • Whisk 2 TBSP of the soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey, and salt in a large bowl.
  • Place the cubed chicken into the bowl, stir to coat, and set aside for 20 minutes. If you're doing this step in advance and marinating the chicken for longer, cover and place the bowl in the fridge.
  • Heat 1 TBSP of oil in a wok or large skillet. Add the ginger and simmer until fragrant. Add the chicken, toss to coat, and cook for about 3-4 minutes or until all sides are lightly browned. Be sure to remove the chicken from the wok before it's cooked through.
  • Add the remaining oil, then add the garlic and simmer until fragrant. Then add the mushrooms, bell peppers, and scallions.
  • Add 2 TBSP of water to the wok, and cook for 2 mins or until the water has evaporated. Transfer the chicken back to wok, and add the remaining soy sauce and the cashews. Stir fry for 2 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
  • Serve over rice or noodles.

Notes

To roast the cashews, heat a dry pan on the stove over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, add the cashews and bring the heat to medium. Let the cashews toast, shaking the pan every so often to prevent burning, for about 3-5 minutes or until the cashews are lightly golden in color and fragrant.

 

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