Kung pao shrimp is made with a sweet and spicy sauce, juicy shrimp, and bell peppers for a colorful, high-protein meal ready in 30 minutes.
Easy Homemade Kung Pao Shrimp
Kung Pao Shrimp is a favorite stir fry amongst Team Fit Foodie. It’s spicy and sweet all at the same time and packed with protein and veggies.
I love this recipe because you can switch up the veggies and/or protein and have a different kung pao meal every time!
Why you’ll love it!
- Ready in less than 30 minutes
- Homemade, but restaurant quality
- Easy to modify
- Great leftovers
What is Kung Pao Shrimp made of?
Kung Pao Shrimp is a spicy Chinese dish that is traditionally made with hot chili peppers, soy sauce, other spices, and shrimp.
Our kung pao shrimp recipe is non-traditional in the sense that we swapped sriracha and red chili paste for actual hot chili peppers. The flavors are there, but we made this recipe our own by using ingredients easily found in American grocery stores.
What kind of shrimp is best for kung pao shrimp?
You can really use any kind of raw shrimp for kung pao shrimp. We prefer a larger shrimp such as large, XL, or jumbo, but any kind works.
We recommend buying raw shrimp over-cooked so that you don’t overcook your shrimp. For the easiest preparation, find a raw shrimp product that is peeled and deveined.
What is in Kung Pao Sauce?
As we mentioned above, traditional Chinese kung pao sauce is made of actual red chili peppers, but we made a few modifications. Check out an authentic kung pao sauce recipe HERE.
- Soy sauce
- Chili paste
How do you make kung pao shrimp less spicy?
Since kung pao sauce is traditionally very spicy, you can either use less chili pepper products or add more sweetness. In our case, we’re using honey, so you could add more of that or use an additional sugar product such as table sugar.
How to Thicken Kung Pao Sauce
The easiest way to thicken kung pao sauce (or any kind of stir fry sauce) is with cornstarch.
2 Ways to do it
- Whisk the cornstarch with the sauce before it’s been added to the heat. Just make sure it fully dissolves in the sauce. It should thicken right up once it’s been heated on the stovetop for a few minutes.
- If you’ve already added the sauce to the frying pan, whisk the cornstarch with 1-2 tablespoons of water to create a slurry. Then, add that to the hot frying pan and heat until thickened.
The great thing about this dish is that you can really make it your own! Switch up the protein, use a different veggie, and pick your grain!
Swap the protein
- Chicken breast
- Flank steak
- Garbanzo beans
Use different veggies
- Water chestnuts
Serve with your favorite grain
Store leftover kung pao shrimp stir fry in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Kung Pao Shrimp
For the Sauce
- Add the soy sauce, sriracha, chili paste, honey, and 1 tablespoon of grated ginger to a bowl and whisk the ingredients together until combined.
- Next, add the peeled shrimp to a gallon size bag or a large bowl and pour half of the kung pao sauce over the shrimp. Toss the shrimp in the sauce and place the shrimp in the refrigerator to marinate for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- Next, add the cornstarch to the remaining kung pao sauce and whisk the ingredients together until the cornstarch dissolves. Set aside.
- Prepare the green onions by discarding the root and then cutting the white part of the green onion into about 3-inch long pieces and then thinly slice them hot dog style. Set them aside. Then, mince the green part of the green onion for later. Set aside.
- Heat a large skillet over medium/high heat and add 1 tablespoon of avocado oil. When the avocado oil is hot, add the white part of the green onion to the skillet. Season the onions with a bit of salt over the onions and sauté for 1 minute.
- Turn the heat to medium and add the garlic, sliced red pepper, and remaining half tablespoon of grated ginger to the skillet and sauté for 3-4 minutes or until the pepper begins to soften (but doesn’t turn soggy). Remove the onions and peppers from the skillet.
- Next, remove the shrimp from refrigerator and pour the shrimp into a colander to separate them from the marinade. Discard the marinade.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the last tablespoon of avocado oil to the skillet. When the skillet is hot, add all of the shrimp to the skillet. Let the shrimp cook for one minute before flipping the shrimp over. Pour the kung pao sauce with the cornstarch over the shrimp and allow the shrimp to cook for 2 minutes in the sauce.
- Remove the skillet from the heat and add the cooked peppers and onions to the shrimp. Toss all of the ingredients together and then pour the everything onto a serving platter.
- Sprinkle the peanuts, green onions and fresh lime juice over the kung pao shrimp and enjoy.
Tips & Notes
- This recipe was updated April, 2022. Check out the old recipe here.
- We used large raw shrimp, but feel free to use jumbo. The cook time may change a bit.
- The longer you marinate the shrimp, the more flavorful they will be.
- This is a spicy dish, if you would prefer a less spicy dish, add less sriracha and more honey.
- Nutrition information does not include rice.
Photography: photos taken in this post are by Ashley McGlaughlin from The Edible Perspective.