20 Minute Skillet Cashew Chicken.

This 20 minute Cashew Chicken recipe is great for weeknights but holy crap.  WHY must easy meals always be for weeknights.  Make it this weekend so you have more time for important weekend things.  Like napping.

Skip right to the recipe.

Every once in a while I’ll rediscover a recipe that I used to make all the time. For whatever reason I’ll forget about it – oftentimes for years – until I remember it and think Why don’t I ever make that anymore?  And then I make it. Such was the case with this Cashew Chicken recipe.  I hadn’t made it in years then a few weeks ago I decided to make it. I had to come back to this recipe on my own blog to remember the ingredients.  As I read through my own blog post of my own recipe I found myself doubting myself.

Thinking – 20 minutes???  There’s no way this can be done in 20 minutes.  You’re a dirty liar Karen.  So I got my ingredients out, set up a timer, flipped on my video camera and got to work.  The results of that little experiment a bit later on.

I learned to cook chicken from my mother. Ergo … I cook my chicken until the pink is gone and it’s nice and moist and tender. And then I cook for about an hour more.

My name is Karen, and I’m a chicken overcooker. Always. You hand me a chicken breast, and I’ll hand you back chicken jerky. And then I’ll ask you to give it back to me so I can cook it some more.

But it’ll be cooked and no one will die and we’ll all continue to live the exciting lives we lead, unless you happen to choke on my chicken.  Which is entirely possible, since it isn’t chewable you pretty much have to swallow the whole breast in one go, like a trained seal eats a fish you throw at it.

Because I am chicken challenged, I’ve taken to usually cooking chicken either in thin slices, or small cubes. For some reason I don’t feel the need to overcook my chicken when I do this. Although it’s not a guarantee.

I really do have military precision when it comes to overcooking my chicken.  I know the *exact* point I need to go over to make it inedible.  It’s a gift.

This cashew chicken recipe includes the much heralded chicken cubes.  Enjoy.


20 Minute Skillet Cashew Chicken

You’re gonna get some green onions and cut them where the white meets the green.



Then chop those up.


Open that can of mandarin oranges and toast those cashews.  Grab your chicken dice it up, plunk it into a plastic bag with corn starch and shake it.


Finally you’re going to heat the oil, throw the chicken, white part of the green onions and garlic and cook until the chicken is done to your liking.  Not MY liking. Yours.

The cubes take about 3 minute to cook through but I like to cook them for 7-8 hours.  Take your pick.

If you double the recipe you’ll have to cook the chicken in batches because if you add too much chicken to the pan it’ll steam.  Bad.  NO steaming.  You want the chicken to pan fry and get crispy.

Once everything is cooked you’re gonna add a massive splash of rice vinegar, some Hoisin sauce and water.  Cook it up, remove it from the heat, throw on the green onions, toasted cashes and drained mandarin oranges.

Your dinner is done.



10.  Serve on a bed of rice.

This is soooooo good you could fool anyone into thinking it took all day.  If you *did* want it to take all day you could marinate your chicken in an asian inspired marinade prior to cooking it.  Just a thought.

Cashew Chicken

Delicious FAST weeknight chicken in a skillet meal.  
5 from 4 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Asian
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 390kcal
Author: Karen


  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1 Tbsp. corn starch apx.
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 8 green onions
  • 1/4 cup Hoisin Sauce
  • 1/4 cup Rice Vinegar unseasoned
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup cashews toasted over medium/low heat in pan
  • 1 can mandarin oranges 284 ml.
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil


  • Toast cashews in pan over medium/low heat.
  • Clean and separate green onions into white and green parts.
  • Chop both white and green parts into 1" sections. If the white part of the green onions is very large around, also slice in half lengthwise.
  • Dice your chicken breasts into even, bite sized pieces.
  • Add cornstarch and salt & pepper to plastic bag.
  • Plunk your chicken into the bag.
  • Blow a little air into the bag, twist it closed and shake the chicken in the cornstarch.
  • Fry your coated chicken, the WHITE part of the green onions and garlic over medium/high heat in 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil. You may have to do 2 batches to avoid overcrowding (and therefore steaming) the chicken. Add another Tbsp. of oil if a second batch is needed and  remove the first batch to a plate.
  • Once the chicken, onions and garlic are cooked, return it all to the pan. Add 1/4 cup of rice vinegar and cook until evaporated. Add 1/4 cup Hoisin Sauce and 1/4 cup of water. Cook and stir until fully combined.
  • Remove from heat and stir in the green bits of the green onion, toasted cashews and oranges.
  • Serve on a bed of rice.


Calories: 390kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 72mg | Sodium: 418mg | Potassium: 776mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 695IU | Vitamin C: 23.2mg | Calcium: 64mg | Iron: 2.7mg


If you’re making this, you can make as much sauce as you want.  Just use equal portions of vinegar, Hoisin Sauce and water.  If you want it a bit sweeter, add more Hoisin Sauce.  If you want it a bit spicier, throw in a few red pepper flakes.

Go nuts!  Make it your own!  You’re cookin’!  YOU are providing food and therefore life to you and all of those around you!  They would shrivel up in the corner sucking on carpet fibres for sustenance if it weren’t for you.


Wondering if I’m a dirty liar or a truth teller?  Watch my Cashew Chicken Instagram story highlight where I made this recipe live.

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As you were.


  1. Chana says:

    Oh yeah,baby! I’m making this!

  2. karina says:

    I will be trying this dish tomorrow night! Thanks for sharing!!

  3. Jeff says:

    Great recipe made it tonight, easy and very tasty, this one is a keeper.

  4. Rinkypants says:

    I’ve been secretly following (aka stalking) your amazing blog for a few weeks now.
    Made the Cashew chicken tonite. Amazeballs.
    Went out for a friend’s birthday… came home… it is now 2:30 am in Chicago and Hey!! Who’s got some Cashew chicken yumminess in their fridge? Yup, that’s right… ME!!
    Maybe I should go make sure it’s tucked in for the night…
    And by tucked in… I mean in my tummy. Cause it marinates in its own heavenly sauce over time and becomes EVEN MORE DELICIOUS!!!
    Thanks for this ridiculously amazing recipe Karen!!

  5. MrsSmith says:

    Maybe we’re related! That same chicken cooking technique was also passed down to me after several generations of perfecting. In fact, my family has not only perfected this technique on chicken, but pretty much all meat!

    • MrsSmith says:

      I’ll be buying the ingredients for this today so I can try it later this week. I’ve been meaning to try a cashew chicken recipe.

  6. Kristin Conrad says:

    I’m a recovering chicken overcooker, too. :) Looks like a great recipe. Thanks!

  7. Elizabeth says:

    Made this last night – it was DIVINE! Thanks!

  8. Libby says:

    This is the best Cashew Chicken ever…My husband brought the leftovers in to the office, and had to fight off his coworkers, who were all scrambling for a taste.

  9. Nancy says:

    GULP…I too am a chronic chicken-over-cooker. Glad to know I am not alone. :) Will be trying this recipe STAT! And I love your wit. Very well written and funny blog. Keep it up! :)

  10. Eileen says:

    Gotta try this. Have chicken thawing as we speak!!

  11. Meg says:

    and then…………

    There was the time that I we planned to have grilled steaks for dinner. Again, newly married, we had just purchased our first new-fangled gas grill. (big time stuff back then – we were hip!). I was getting very impatient for the meal to be done, and worried that my husband had still not started the grill. I mean, after all, we had guests coming over and the chicken would never be done!
    So, in my “fine, I’ll do it myself” mode, I proceeded to turn the gas on the grill, close the lid and walk away. (Ok, guys, you know what’s coming next…..) Yep, returned to the grill with the chicken, lit the match and WHOOOOSSSSHHHH. Lost the eyebrows! Lucky I didn’t burn the apartment down – yeah, the grill was on the apartment balcony.

    And then there was the time we lived on the Navajo Indian Reservation. Pretty remote area, and everyone ate much differently than I knew. My husband was very excited that in the store he was a Director for, they carried Spam. Yep, canned spam. (not much refrigeration in the remote areas, so it’s a staple there). I never even knew what spam was, let alone knew how to cook it.
    But, as a diligent wife, I was determined to figure it out. And…since internet was pretty non-existent then, I had to rely on the back of the can. Has anyone actually READ the back of a SPAM can? There are actually “serving suggestions”. So, I followed them. Slice it, warm it with a honey mustard sauce and serve as a sandwich.
    Brad showed up for lunch after I called him exclaiming that I had such an amazing surprise for him!
    He took one look at it and said, “What’d you do to it”….”you just slice it, bread and onion it, and eat it.”
    That’s the last time SPAM has been in my house!!!!

    • Marie Loewen says:

      My daughter once went on a summer mission trip overseas. Some
      “kind” soul had donated cases of Spam for them to eat – fried for breakfast, in sandwiches for lunch, roasted for supper several times a week and everyday towards the end of the trip as supplies dwindled. We as never had such stuff in the house.
      She appreciated my cooking so much more when she got back home. She didn’t appreciate the case of it we bought her for Christmas as a joke! I hope someone at the food bank did! We

  12. Meg says:

    One time, at band camp……oh wait, different story…..

    So when I wad first married, I decided to surprise my newly”husband-ed” husband with dinner. My in laws are the epitome if paula deen (martha stewart in that day, but that was before jail and all..) Any-who, I was not raised with culinary skills, so when I decided to make grilled chicken, I cooked it. For a very, very, very ,very LONG TIME.
    Have you seen Christmas Vacation. You know the part where they are eating the turkey, crunchy, dry turkey…..
    Bless my husbands twisted little soul. He sat there
    and ate it (not so quietly, as every bite was like a jackhammer)
    Yeah, like that…..

  13. Katie Piotrowski says:

    I am cracking up!! When my husband and I got together 8 yrs ago, I waaaaay overcooked chicken everytime. And the sad thing was that chicken was the only thing I “knew” how to cook. Well, and hamburger helper. lol! I set off the smoke alarm in our home twice a week. I have spent years cooking and experimenting and am now, thankfully, a really good cook! Or at least I think so. And my family now devours most everything I make. I am definitely going to try this. Looks like a recipe that would be easily adapted. Thanks for sharing!

  14. Lita says:

    I pinned this recipe, and got 22 repins on the first day. This post is a winner Karen!

  15. Lynne says:

    looks yummy….but I don’t eat chicken (too dry:) will try with all vegetables.

  16. Denise says:

    Once a week our adult son (27) comes to dinner. I made your Cashew Chicken (I was a little short of the 1/4 c. of hoisin and didn’t have the mandarin oranges but hey…sometimes you just go with what you’ve got and hope for the best). This was still a rave with our son … who admitted that the first bite wasn’t anything earth shattering but after adding a few shakes of red pepper flakes — well, he finished off the remainder of the recipe. It was a lot because my DH was recovering from a bout of something and only had a child-size portion. So, thanks for the recipe … he asked that I email him a copy which is always telling of how good something REALLY is.

  17. Alexandra says:

    You know, I don’t actually like chicken very tender and succulent (or turkey or duck or goose or … well you get my point). I like it when it’s nice and dry and you need to drink something after three bites just to help it fo down.
    My mother has a recipe for baking chicken breasts in a creamy sauce in the oven, and everybody loves that. Everybody except me. I dread the juicy chicken, I literally can’t swallow it. And yes, I know this is probably weird, but I like my chicken nice and dry, thank you very much.

  18. KEEKS says:

    just so you know…it’s safe to use the plastic grocery bags to re-use for other food, such as this flouring and peppering..etc…I know this is very true as they are ‘specially sterilized’ for use in grocery stores, for the food they sell..but mostly, BECAUSE THIS IS WHAT I TELL MYSELF EVERY TIME I REUSE FOR FLOURING/DOUBLE WRAPPING FOR FREEZER, AND SO ON AND SO ON…..there…so rest assured…the end. ; o

  19. Karol says:

    Hi Karen, I just “found you” following a pin from Pinterest. I think you are going to be my Canadian BFF. I too am chicken challenged, and shrimp challenged. I have never cooked shrimp less than 30 minutes in fear of poisoning my family. Plus, over cooking chicken/shrimp gets rid of that questionable squishiness in the texture.
    I love, love, love your blog and can’t wait to catch up reading all the posts. And I will. All of them.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Karol. Yikes. You’d best slot a good week of 24 hours of reading if you wanna get through it all! Glad you found my site. I’m gonna have to send an email to the inventors of Pinterest to thank them for all the new readers I get from them. :) ~ karen

  20. Patra says:

    I like how you tell me what PART of the onion to cook and when ;-) I’m an onion idiot.

  21. Stéphanie says:

    But … what about your rice? Do you overcook your rice? Please don’t tell me you overcook your rice. Don’t overcook your rice!
    (I’ll try this recipe ASAP of course, thanks!)

  22. Amy in StL says:

    OMG, my boyfriend must have learned to cook chicken from your mom. Or maybe his mom and your mom went to the same non-cooking school. He routinely serves me chicken so overcooked it actually sucks the moisture out of my mouth in an attempt to hydrate itself. He did admit after a recent dinner of chicken jerkey and gooey rice that starting the dinner before our hour long workout might have been excessive – especially since he was out of foil and just set a cookie sheet on top of the dish when it was in the oven.

  23. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    LOL..Doesn’t Betty get mad at you when you tell us one of her little “flaws”??..My Mother was a steak overcooker..Fist she would put it in a frying pan..then cover it with water..then boil it for a couple of hours until all of the flavor was gone..then she would add some butter and finish it up by frying it..oh yeah..YUM..YUM..The butter was to try and give it some flavor back I think..So I also think that you should write a cookbook..minus any recipes where the chicken is any larger than bite size..lol..Love the Cashew Chicken..Must pass this one along to my son too as he is addicted to Asian food..

  24. Clare says:

    Oh that looks yummy. Definitely going to try this one out. Thank you!

  25. Shauna says:

    WOO HOO!!! Printable version of the recipe – yay!
    thank you.

  26. Barbie says:

    Will it ruin the recipe if I forget to “plunk” the chicken into the plastic bag and only “drop” them in? Just checkin…..

  27. gloria says:

    I haven’t read all the other comments, but I bet someone has suggested starting a support group. O-C Anonymous. “Hi, Karen!” It’s comforting to know there’s someone as neurotic as me. Not only do I over-cook, but I’ve been known to whisk someone’s dinner plate, brittle chicken still smoking from its recent cremation, back to the kitchen where I will put it in the microwave for a few minutes. Just to be sure. And don’t get me started about meat thermometers. Those things are devious and not to be trusted, and possibly part of an evil conspiracy to take over the world. You can never be too careful when it comes to salmonella. You can be certifiable, but never too careful. Guess that’s it. Off to find my aluminum foil hat.

  28. Tara says:

    I love you. Just sayin’.

  29. Angie says:

    This looks exellent, full of flavor, inexpensive, healthy and one that the kids can mostly do all of the work on! I pinned it!

    BTW – I pinned your garlic bread recipe 26 weeks ago, and it for some reason, recently it has gone viral! More than 800 pins and 92 likes!

  30. Gina says:

    I laughed at your first couple of sentences, simply because we must be related somehow.

    P.S. I enjoy you on HGTV, will we be seeing you there again soon?

  31. Karena says:

    Yum one of my favorite dishes; caveat, eat it all because the cashews get soggy if you reheat!

    Come over to visit, I have a New Giveaway I think you will love!

    Art by Karena

  32. Linda says:

    Sounds yummy! And my answer to the oft repeated question “What’s for dinner?”…is always “turkey butts & brussel sprouts”! and then I get the eye roll…

  33. Cynna says:

    Sounds yummy!
    BTW, the email from this morning also mentioned tea towel winners, but clicking on the tab only brought up an error page. Is your cat playing on your computer again?

    • Karen says:

      Cynna – LOL. I had a scheduled error. I was *going* to post the tea towel winners today, but switched it out for Cashew chicken. Tea Towel Winners tomorrow. :) ~ karen

  34. Kendra says:

    Hey Karen!

    I too am a chicken overcooker…..therefore I’m learning to use the slow cooker! Anything that has sat and simmered for 8+ hours must be safe to eat…..

  35. Debbie from Illinois says:


    Last night as I coughed up a fur-ball and suffered with a 101 fever, my lovely husband asked me what was for dinner? I am such a lady that I won’t tell you what I said, but now I am craving cashew chicken.:)

  36. Darla says:

    Karen, that looks absolutely delicious!

    You may want to re-think using random plastic bags for your food prep. Many are recycled and not necessarily food safe. Just sayin.

    Love you and your blog!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Darla – Well, it’s a grocery bag. If that isn’t food safe … we’re all in a lot of trouble. ~ karen

  37. pat says:

    I am so making this tonight. One of those lucky occasions where I know I have every ingredient, including a can of mandarins, which I found the other day and wondered when I’d ever use. Yum! Can’t wait.

  38. Kerri says:

    My husband is a chicken overcooker!! Drives me nutty. Actually, he overcooks pretty much everything in fear of death. Looks yum, thankya..

  39. Deborah says:

    awesome recipe! hubs adores cashews, and I actually think the fusspot would eat this! :) Will try it tomorrow after I get some cashews (and hide them or he will eat them all thinking I bought them for him to nosh on) ;P

  40. Judy says:

    Thank you for always making me laugh, Karen. Not at you, of course, but because you share that secret side of you with us that we never want anyone to know. Makes us feel better. (“Hooray, I’m not alone!”) I really look forward to being late to work so I can read your post. In my book…you’re #1.

    • Karen says:

      Thank you Judy! No sense hiding anything. I’m not perfect, you’re not perfect, nobody’s perfect. Of course, I did build a chicken coop, so that probably makes me closer to perfect than you … but it’s entirely possible you’re better at ping pong than I am. It all evens out. ~ karen

  41. Dru says:

    I don’t care what the votes said, you are number 1 in my book..that #1 site was quite boring, imho..you provide information I actually put into action! thanks!

  42. Keith says:

    So, so true about people overcooking skinless, boneless chicken breast. My mother used to do the same thing – cook it for hours. I guess they have to make sure it’s totally dead!

    I always use a digital thermometer and once it reads 165 º F, that little plump and juicy thing is done (and safe). Cutting it up, as in your recipe, does help in relieving the overcooking syndrome by giving each piece more surface area.

    I enjoy your recipes for their straightforward simplicity and not requiring a full shopping cart of ingredients. Do a I see a recipe book in your future? Kudos!

  43. you are hilarious!! The photos are fantastic and the recipe sounds very delicious.

  44. Gayla T says:

    How do the girls feel about this recipe? Just wondering! I always order Cashew Chicken and it has mushroom w/ other vegies like carrot and water chesnuts. The only thing oriental the girls will eat is sweet and sour pork so I’ll make this and I’ll trot over to my daughter’s and share it with her. It sounds so good. I found some little tiny mushrooms about the size of a dime that would be good in this but I ate them already. Thanks for turning me on to another great oriental recipe that I think I can actually make.

  45. Sue says:

    Just pinned this to one of my pinterest boards. And, there below my board was the “other things pinned from you” link. I clicked on it only to find seven cashew chicken pins in a row…..

  46. Ginny says:

    My fella is going to love this! Thank you!

  47. Christina B says:

    Sent the boyfriend to the store on his way home for hoisin sauce and cashews. Made this tonight. Amazing.

    He complained that I never like the asian-ish food he makes. I told him this is KAREN’S recipe. He shut up, helped me cook, and agreed it was delicious. Thanks for another awesome dish!

  48. Spokangela says:

    Thank you for re-using a plastic grocery bag :) I respect you even more. And I spend (counting on fingers…) holy crap! 12 hours a week in the damn kitchen cooking dinner for my family of 6. Thank you for the much needed validation :)

    Actually, I love to do it and my family hardly ever eats anything out of a box or a drive-thru so it’s worth it to me. My husband made a chalkboard menu out of scrap metal and wood from an old waterbed. It turned out beautiful and the kids never have to ask me what’s for dinner! So thank YOU for the menu in the kitchen idea, Karen!

    • Denise says:

      LOL Angela. My response to that question was always “Fried Monkey Brains”. After a while they would just give me “the look” and walk away. Problem solved. (Can you tell I HATE that question?)

      • mothership says:

        OMG! we had fried bat brains just last night!

        • Denise says:

          LOL! I love the comments on this blog and the PEOPLE who make them!

        • mothership says:

          I know… huh! I mean how many PEOPLE could I meet in my very town/county/state (ok… maybe state!) that tells their kids they’re getting fried anything brains for dinner…on a regular basis! (my oldest…27.. remembers fried cow’s brains… that was before the mad cow scare!)

          YES love the people that we meet through KAREN!

          PS… tonite I made taco filling out of left over “little chubbies”… can you guess what that was??

        • Denise says:

          Yes … I have no idea HOW I came to use that term either. I give … what are ‘little chubbies’? The only thing that comes to mind is cheese curd (which I love but hardly ever have)since it means a trip to Amish country …

        • kddomingue says:

          Would the “little chubbies” you refer to (in a comment further down) be those little sausages? I think they’re called “Little Smokies” in the package? Ah, cocktail sausages! That’s what they are! (brain rebooted)

      • Spokangela says:

        Indiana Jones!!! oh wait, I think that’s chilled monkey brains… :)

      • Julie says:

        BWAHAHAHAHA! Mine is WAY worse though. I always yell “Poop Balls” in a really excited voice. My kids hate it.

      • ecoteri says:

        I love the comments on the comments here. Monkey brains don’t sound very good, though. (bleh). I do want to know what little chubbies are. and I have a few more chicken breasts in the freezer that need to be eaten – since I have 30 chickens in a shed that will soon be in said freezer, best to move on with the older stuff. sigh. I just found some cashews in the nut fridge (yes, I do have such a thing). maybe this recipe is on the horizon?

      • Ev Wilcox says:

        Holy Cow-me too! And then the look, and the walking away!

    • Kristin says:

      I always answer, “dirt & worms.” Shuts them right up, the little ingrates.

  49. Aimee says:


    Now I’m hungry. And entirely without Hoisin sauce. Dangit.

    Thanks, though! I’m printing it to try.

  50. Shannon V. says:


    Cashew chicken is one of my favourite dishes from our local Thai restaurant, mind you theirs has different veggies, but I think you could add what ever veggies you want!

    Can’t wait to make this one for my kids!

    • Karen says:

      Shannon V. – Double up on the sauce! Kids like it saucy. :) ~ karen

      • Shannon V. says:

        Thanks Karen, my kids are teenagers….an suggestions on giving it a little heat. We usually order it at a 2-3 on the heat scale (0 being no added heat and 5 being melt your socks off heat)

        • Lois says:

          Add red pepper flakes to taste. (There’s a note about this under the recipe that I nearly skipped because … well, because.)

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