Ground Kung Pao Chicken (1 Pan!)

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Ground Kung Pao Chicken with chopped zucchini, bell peppers and crunchy peanuts in Panda Express copycat sauce and done in 20 minutes!

Ground Kung Pao Chicken with chopped zucchini, bell peppers and crunchy peanuts in Panda Express copycat sauce and done in 20 minutes!

Ground Kung Pao Chicken was the logical next step after we started making Ground Orange Chicken.

Just like the Ground Orange Chicken the crisp texture the chicken has because we brown it well before breaking it apart is amazing and it still has that amazing Panda Express Kung Pao Chicken Sauce that we all love.

With the use of ground chicken and finely chopped vegetables this dish literally takes 20 minutes to make, and that is at a leisurely pace.

In fact the sauce in this recipe is authentic and released by Panda Express. Sometimes they release them in obscure places like the Spicy Cashew Chicken that was only shared on a morning show on a local broadcast or this sauce recipe which was shared in a local news story about a location opening up in Honolulu in 2007. Sometimes being an internet detective pays off!

20 minutes to make this Ground Kung Pao Chicken with Panda Express Copycat Sauce!

Set your rice to cook in the rice cooker, start cooking the chicken, and wash and cut up some broccoli to steam in the microwave (glass bowl, a bit of water and a wet paper towel over the top for 3 minutes). By the time the rice is done cooking, so is dinner.

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The WHOLE FAMILY loved this Ground Kung Pao Chicken! Plus the veggies were so finely minced they were hidden!

Tools Used in the making of the Ground Kung Pao Chicken:
Wok: Great for high heat, quick cooking. This wok is a great addition to your kitchen if you love cooking Chinese food or stir fries in general.
Large Frying Pan: I use this Cuisinart for most of my non cast iron cooking unless I am going with a stainless steel option, then I choose my All Clad.
Soy Sauce: Nothing much to say here except Kikkoman has the best flavor overall and I always recommend reduced sodium.
Sesame Oil: The flavor of sesame oil in this dish is unmistakeable and not really able to be substituted. Some Asian grocery stores will try and sell less expensive options that aren’t actually sesame oil, so just be sure the one you’re buying is authentic sesame oil.
Rice Wine: Adds an authentic flavor to the sauce, in a pinch if you absolutely can’t find it you can substitute white wine, but it will make it taste slightly different.



Ground Kung Pao Chicken

5 from 22 votes
  • Yield: 4 Servings
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Course: Main Course
  • Cuisine: Chinese
  • Author: Sabrina Snyder
Ground Kung Pao Chicken with chopped zucchini, bell peppers and crunchy peanuts in Panda Express copycat sauce and done in 20 minutes!


  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil , divided
  • 1 red bell pepper , minced
  • 1 large zucchini , minced
  • 1/4 cup diced green onion , white part only, in 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground garlic
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon cooking wine (I used white wine)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 4 tablespoons water
  • 2 ounces dry roasted peanuts , crushed


Note: click on times in the instructions to start a kitchen timer while cooking.

  1. Heat wok/skillet on high heat 10 seconds, you want that pan to be nice and hot!

  2. To a large pan add 1 tablespoon canola oil and ground chicken.
  3. Cook until a good crust forms before breaking apart, then finish cooking by breaking it apart with a spatula and cooking for an additional 2-3 minutes.

  4. Remove the chicken from the pan, add the other tablespoon of canola oil, red bell pepper and zucchini.
  5. Cook on high and cook for 1-2 minutes, until just caramelized and slightly cooked.

  6. Add the crushed red pepper, green onions, ginger, garlic, crushed red pepper, sesame oil and cooked ground chicken.
  7. Stir for 2-3 seconds and immediately add the wine, soy sauce and water mixed with cornstarch.
  8. Bring it to a boil for a minute or so until the sauce has thickened.
  9. Garnish with crushed peanuts if desired.

Nutrition Information

Yield: 4 Servings, Amount per serving: 355 calories, Calories: 355g, Carbohydrates: 11g, Protein: 26g, Fat: 25g, Saturated Fat: 10g, Cholesterol: 98mg, Sodium: 808mg, Potassium: 936mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 1240g, Vitamin C: 47.9g, Calcium: 27g, Iron: 2.1g

All images and text © for Dinner, then Dessert.

Keywords: ground kung pao chicken, kung pao chicken
The WHOLE FAMILY loved this Ground Kung Pao Chicken! Plus the veggies were so finely minced they were hidden! Made with Panda Express Copycat Sauce!
Ground Kung Pao Chicken with chopped zucchini, bell peppers and crunchy peanuts in Panda Express copycat sauce and done in 20 minutes!
20 minutes to make this Ground Kung Pao Chicken with Panda Express Copycat Sauce!

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  1. This was a disappointment for me sadly. I am not sure if I did something wrong but I followed the directions exactly and the chicken had very little flavor. It was very bland. I would not recommend this one, but highly recommend to try the ground orange chicken recipe which turned out great!

  2. I made this recipe and it tasted good but I feel like the coloring was off. I didn’t combine the ingredients for the sauce separately. I added them to the pan . I’m guessing that’s where I went wrong. Nonetheless, very tasty although it wasn’t picturesque like yours .

  3. I thought this was delicious! My kids wouldn’t eat it, but I gladly ate what they didn’t. I used broccoli instead of the red pepper and added salt. Will definitely use this for meal prep lunches for Mommy 🙂

  4. Loved the recipe and how quickly everything comes together. But made several changes. Used fresh ginger and garlic, finely chopped. Also added Ketjap Manis (sweet soy sauce). Came out great!

  5. My whole crew really loved this! Such good flavor with some spice to it! Also, thankful for an easy recipe that also has easy cleanup! Thanks!!

  6. Very delicious and easy to make! I’m definitely adding this to our regular dinner rotation. Thank you for the meal inspiration!

    1. Yes, so its roughly the same size as the ground chicken. If you chop it then it would be a lot larger than the chicken, so texture wise it would be a bit off.

  7. Here’s my 2 cents! Came home with shrimp from the store for dinner today. Once home, it smelled awful. Opened freezer. Had a lb ground white meat turkey. Typed in ground turkey Pinterest search. Found YOU !! And I’m in love. I easily adapt. No zucchini , added an extra yellow pepper (also in the freezer after sautéing down previously. No peanuts ….. package of Honey Roasted Slivered almonds !! ?? Perfect. Seemed light on the sauce, after adding a tsp of Marsala wine. So I just added more Tamari (gluten free soy sauce) and some sweet chili sauce to build it up. Cilantro Lime Rice….. and Yeah! Glad my shrimp was bad. Thank you. I’ll be back. Gina

  8. Family LOVED it! I listened to the comments, and doubled all the ingredients in the recipe to make more sauce, just kept the chicken and veggies the same. Added a tablespoon of Hoisin sauce in the last minute to help with browning and flavour. A new weeknight winner!

  9. I had a package of ground chicken that I bought on a whim, but had no ideas for it. Came upon your site, a first time visitor. I cook Asian food on a regular basis and usually not too impressed with online recipes. However. . .I WILL RETURN TO YOUR SITE OFTEN!!

    I added a splash of Kejap Manis at the end as I thought it needed just a splash of sweetness, decreased sesame oil (as I do for all recipes), and used fresh ginger. . . but otherwise followed the recipe. OUT OF THE PARK, HOME RUN! (Me: side of rice and fried eggs for an awesome breakfast, too!)

    Looking forward to trying your other recipes. . .Recently moved to Switzerland, hoping it’s not too difficult to find ingredients here.

    1. I too added Kecap Manis as well as a sprinkle of 5 spice powder! Made all the difference! Added a bit more umpf!! ?

  10. My daughter and I liked it but the sauce was definitely lacking. The recipe as written does not provide enough nor did it come out dark as pictured in the photo. With that being said, it was tasty. I just think the sauce needs tweaking as the only liquids are sesame oil, soy sauce and cooking wine.

  11. Honestly, I was underwhelmed by this recipe and had much higher expectations. It was not nearly as flavourful as I expected.

  12. THis was excellent, the flavor was perfect, very moist! My husband also loved it! I did replace the peanuts with roasted crunched cashews. Otherwise copied the recipe, as is.

  13. This was SO GOOD! I I used ground turkey since that’s what I had on hand. Tasted just like Pandas. Might cut oil down to 1/2 tbsp for each step next time. And had to tame down the heat for the hubby to 1/2 tsp but still had some heat. Will definitely make again!

  14. Tasted okay… it needed a lot more sauce than the recipe called for. And it needed something else in the sauce too.. it was slightly bland. Maybe I’ll add honey next time.

  15. I was searching for ground chicken recipes and found this one. I made a double batch taking some to my son and his family. I served it with brown rice and broccoli for adults and glazed carrots for the little ones. It was delicious. I followed the recipe exactly, only omitting the optional peanuts. More sauce would be good, but it was also very flavourful the way it was. Looking forward to trying the ground chicken with the orange!

    1. You can hover over the servings amount and a slider bar will appear. If you increase the servings, the ingredient amounts will increase. No need to increase the chicken or peppers, just use the new sauce amounts. Hope this helps! 🙂

  16. Hi Sabrina,

    Can you explain further what crushed red pepper is? I haven’t heard of this in Australia.

    1. It’s a spice. You can substitute with cayenne if that’s easily available. You might just need to add a bit more to compensate for the difference.

    2. It’s a year too late, but in case it helps someone else out there: It’s called red chili flakes in many other parts of the world.

  17. This was so good, there was not a drop left when I cooked this. That is saying a lot because we live in South Louisiana , and if it’s not rice and gravy or gumbo, it’s highly scrutinized by the husband and kids.

  18. Really easy and tasty! I would prefer a tad more sauce next time though. Maybe I can increase the liquids next time.

  19. I made this for dinner tonight and hubby and I both loved it! Easy, fast, and I had all the ingredients in the house. Try it, you’ll like it!

  20. I agree with Rosemarie but I like things pretty saucy so I just added some sweet chili Thai dipping sauce, a few more dashes of hot sauce and a little more soy sauce to counteract too much sweetness.  We thought it was delicious!

  21. Was tasty but felt was spicy but bland. Not sure where I may have gone wrong but my sauce was NOWHERE near as dark or “sticky/thick” looking as the pictures. Bummed. 

    1. That is a bummer! Did you change any of the ingredients or adjust the cooking method? Fee free to email me at contact @ if you’d like to troubleshoot more.

  22. Hey. Avid reader and lurker. I wanted to say – I love this recipe idea and I did make it, while making it very much my own, and thought it was fantastic. But I can’t help but tell you: you have the vegetable oil listed twice in two separate quantities in the ingredients list. And you have the crushed red pepper listed twice in both the ingredients and the instructions. And in your notes, you talk about rice (shoaxing) wine but in the ingredients you call it cooking wine (white wine). I definitely had to think through this one before I prepped it. Thought you’d want to know.

    1. Melissa, thank you so much! I meant to take all reference to the shoaxing wine out because I get a ton of emails asking how necessary it is and one about how they’ve only ever used it in one of my recipes, but part of me wants to stay authentic. Talk about being conflicted. Also thanks on the duplicate glitch. That was two drafts combining from rounds of recipe testing. Thanks for catching that error!

  23. This was a nice change from the usual Asian fare I cook up at home. Even my picky spouse loved it! I simply subbed another bell pepper for the zucchini 🙂 I will be making this again, already craving it…

    1. Really it’s just a personal preference. There’s so much flavor in the sauce that you could put whatever you like in it. Props to you for grinding your own chicken!!