Kung Pao Shrimp

5 from 6 votes
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Kung Pao Shrimp captures loads of flavor and spice. It’s sweet, spicy and savory. A favorite, quick, weeknight meal in 30 minutes.

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Why Make This Easy Kung Pao Shrimp

In the vast landscape of Chinese cuisine, there are dishes that stand out for their unique combination of flavors, textures, and aromas. Kung Pao Shrimp, a delightful and spicy dish, is a prime example.

This dish is easy to make, it can be ready and on the table in about 30 minutes thanks to the quick cooking shrimp. Loaded with sweet, spicy, savory flavors and textures in every bite.

Loaded with fresh veggies, this is a feel good, nutritious meal. Also try my Spicy Teriyaki Shrimp for another great, flavor loaded meal. Jalapeño Chicken is another great meal with a kick to consider.

Ingredients Needed

Fresh ingredients needed in bowls and in small glass dishes on a counter.

Shrimp. The main ingredient to this dish! I love shrimp and it holds up great in this saucy dish. Thawed large or jumbo will work best like in my Sweet Chili Shrimp.

Hoisin Sauce. Hoisin sauce is a thick, fragrant sauce commonly used in Cantonese cuisine as a glaze for meat, an addition to stir fry, or as dipping sauce. It is found in the international aisle with soy sauce typically.

Dried Arbol Chiles. In cooking, chiles de árbol bring a serious cayenne-like spice and earthiness to salsas and sauces. They are found in the spice aisle with the dried international spices.

Celery. This adds a great fresh crunch to the dish I love.

Seasonings. Salt, pepper and cayenne pepper (for extra heat if you need!)

All other ingredients and measurements can be found in the recipe card towards the bottom of this post. 

Recipe Variations & Substitutions

Shrimp. Use thawed shrimp, tail on or off whatever you preference may be.

Soy Sauce. Make this gluten free by using coconut aminos or tamari.

Corn Starch. Use arrow root in place if needed. This is used to thicken the sauce, it makes a slurry and helps bring it all together.

Peanuts. If there is a peanut allergy, chopped cashews will also work.

Dried Arbol Chiles. If you can’t find these, you can double down on cayenne pepper or use fresh Fresno peppers (but spicy levels beware!)

Steps To Make This Recipe

Large skillet full of shrimp and veggies, a wooden spoon and sauce.

Step One. If serving with rice, start the rice according to package. Heat 1 tsp sesame oil in a large, deep pan over high heat. Add chopped onion, red and green bell pepper, celery and cook for 5-6 minutes or until tender. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Meanwhile, whisk together Kung Pao Sauce, leave the corn starch slurry to the side until sauce is in the hot pan.


Step Two. Add the shrimp to the pan, seasoning everything with salt, pepper, optional cayenne pepper and cook for 4-6 minutes, tossing frequently. Cook until shrimp are pink and opaque (they will cook more in the sauce). Add the chilies and peanuts to the pan.

Large skillet with sauce and shrimp in it, wooden spoon in the skillet.

Step Three. Add the sauce to the shrimp mixture and bring to a boil; cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute, add in the cornstarch slurry (mix 1/2 tsp water with 1 tsp corn starch). Let things simmer for 1-2 more minutes until the sauce thickens.

Step Four. Serve while hot over rice, cauliflower rice or fried rice, garnish with green onions. Enjoy!

Recipe FAQs

Will this recipe work with chicken?

Yes! Chicken will need to be cubed into small pieces and will take longer to cook so plan accordingly.

Can I make this gluten free?

Make Kung Pao Shrimp gluten free by using tamari or coconut aminos and substituting the corn starch with arrow root powder (use equal amounts)

Can I meal prep Kung Pao Shrimp?

Kung Pao Shrimp is great for meal prep, it heats up great.

Recipe Tips

For a moderate spice level; use 4-6 dried chilies. Feel free to increase the chili peppers if you like more of a kick in your food, I like to use 8-10 personally for a higher spice! You don’t want to eat the whole chilies, you can leave them to the side.

If you are sensitive to heat; break the chilies open and shake out the seeds to reduce the spiciness of the dish while keeping some flavor.

Don’t overcook the shrimp. I know this is a common mistake, if you feel you may have cooked the shrimp too much with the veggies, pull them out before reducing the sauce and add them back in right before serving.

Recipe Pairings

Kung Pao Shrimp is filling and great on it’s own served over fresh romaine, rice, friend rice, cauliflower rice and more. You can serve a side of Spicy Cucumber Salad, Kale Crunch Salad or add another asian style dish like Beef Fried Rice with it.

Other Easy Dinner Meals

If you loved this recipe let me know! Also, follow me on Instagram & Pinterest for even more fun recipes to make you feel good from the inside out. Thanks for being here.

Pink ceramic bowls with rice and shrimp with sauce and peppers on it. Forks to the side.
5 from 6 votes

Kung Pao Shrimp

Kung Pao Shrimp captures loads of flavor and spice. It's sweet, spicy and savory. A favorite, quick, weeknight meal in 30 minutes. 
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 4

Equipment

  • large skillet or deep pan
  • sharp knives

Ingredients 

  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • ½ medium yellow onion, cubed (1 inch pieces)
  • 1 small green bell pepper, seeded and cubed (1 inch pieces)
  • 1 small red bell pepper, seeded and cubed (1 inch pieces)
  • ¾ cup celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper, *optional for heat, read notes
  • 3-5 dried arbol chilies , *see notes!
  • ¼ cup peanuts
  • ¼ cup green onions, sliced for grnish

Kung Pao Sauce

  • 3 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 3 Tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp cornstarch , *see notes
  • 2 tsp water, *to make a slurry with the corn starch

Instructions 

  • If serving with rice, start the rice according to package. Heat 1 tsp sesame oil in a large, deep pan over high heat. Add chopped onion, red and green bell pepper, celery and cook for 5-6 minutes or until tender. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Meanwhile, whisk together Kung Pao Sauce, leave the corn starch slurry to the side until sauce is in the hot pan.
  • Add the shrimp to the pan, seasoning everything with salt, pepper, optional cayenne pepper and cook for 4-6 minutes, tossing frequently. Cook until shrimp are pink and opaque (they will cook more in the sauce). Add the chilies and peanuts to the pan.
  • Add the sauce to the shrimp mixture and bring to a boil; cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute, add in the cornstarch slurry (1/2 tsp water mixed with 1 tsp corn starch). Let things simmer for 1-2 more minutes until the sauce thickens. 
  • Serve while hot over rice, cauliflower rice or fried rice. Garnish with green onions. Enjoy! 

Notes

For a moderate spice level; use 4-6 dried chilies. Feel free to increase the chili peppers if you like more of a kick in your food, I like to use 8-10 personally for a higher spice! You don’t want to eat the whole chilies, you can leave them to the side. 
*if you cannot find the dried chilies, use extra cayenne or fresh fresno peppers 
Don’t overcook the shrimp. I know this is a common mistake, if you feel you may have cooked the shrimp too much with the veggies, pull them out before reducing the sauce and add them back in right before serving. 
*use arrow root as a substitute  to corn starch for gluten free option
*nutrition facts do not include rice
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days, I do not recommend freezing it if the shrimp was already frozen. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 267kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 143mg | Sodium: 1564mg | Potassium: 366mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 1058IU | Vitamin C: 40mg | Calcium: 89mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Author: Bailey
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Course: dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: Japanese
Servings: 4
Calories: 267
Keyword: 30 minute, Asian Inspired, shrimp
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Recipe Rating




10 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I find myself coming to check your website now before I make our meal plan and grocery list for the week…. Loved this one, too! Followed recipe to a T. Thank you!

    1. Hi Caitlin! This means so much, I am happy to help you plan out your meals. Thanks so much for the feedback, happy cooking!

  2. 5 stars
    Obsessed, this is one of the best recipes I have had! Thank you so much for all that you do. always love the recipes and the effort.

  3. 5 stars
    Really enjoyed all the flavours of this quick and easy meal. I used rice noodles instead of rice and it was great. Will be making again!

    1. So happy to hear this! Thanks so much for the feedback, happy cooking!

    1. Hi There! thrilled to hear you enjoy this recipe. Thanks so much!

  4. 5 stars
    Outstanding! Tastes like Chinese takeout and whole meal done in 25. Definitely has a kick.

    1. Hi Cassie! I am thrilled ot hear you enjoyed this recipe. Thanks for the feedback.