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Kung Pao Shrimp gets instant hit status thanks to its sweet heat, bold flavors, and juicy pan-fried shrimp. We also can’t forget to mention that this easy recipe takes less than 10 minutes to cook!

authentic recipe for kung pao shrimp

Why You’ll Love This Kung Pao Shrimp Recipe

  • The Quickest of Dinners. When we’re talking homemade meals, it really doesn’t get much quicker than kung pao shrimp. You only need about 3 minutes to cook the shrimp, then give the veggies a quick stir-fry, toss it all together, and dinner’s done. (Try my Garlic Butter Shrimp and Grilled Shrimp for more fast dinner options.)
  • Adapted From a Reader Favorite. If you loved my Kung Pao Chicken, then you’ll also adore this quick and easy shrimp stir-fry, which is based on that recipe!
  • Shrimp: An Under-Appreciated Protein Option. Sometimes I kind of forget about shrimp when I’m planning my meals for the week. Really, though, shrimp ranks right up there with weeknight stalwarts like chicken and ground beef—high in protein, low in calories, and everyone loves ‘em. Just like my Shrimp Fried Rice and Shrimp Tacos, this kung pao shrimp recipe is a healthy dinner you can whip up in minutes.
  • It’s Versatile. As written, this kung pao shrimp is served over rice. However! As with my Bang Bang Shrimp, you can definitely tuck these juicy, spicy shrimp into tortillas and make them into tacos (see my Bang Bang Shrimp Tacos), or spoon the stir-fry into sturdy lettuce leaves a la my Lettuce Wraps, or serve them with noodles like another Chinese favorite, Chicken Chow Mein.
easy recipe for kung pao shrimp made on the stove

How to Make Kung Pao Shrimp

The Ingredients

  • Jumbo Raw Shrimp. We’ve already covered the fact that shrimp are a great source of lean protein, but their bona fides don’t end there! They’re also loaded with calcium, phosphorus, zinc, and magnesium.
  • Low-Sodium Soy Sauce. Using low-sodium soy sauce gives you more control over the saltiness of the finished dish. Gluten-free substitutes for soy sauce include tamari sauce or liquid aminos.
  • Rice Vinegar. Be sure to use unseasoned rice vinegar; the seasoned variety has added sugar.
  • Sesame Oil. Use toasted for added flavor or untoasted for a milder option.
  • Cornstarch. To make a sticky stir-fry sauce.
  • Honey. Use a runny honey, not the thick, creamy kind that has to be spread with a knife.
  • Crushed Red Pepper Flakes. Dried red chilies, fresh chili pepper, and Sichuan peppercorns can all be used to deliver heat in a kung pao dish, but I use red pepper flakes because most of us have them on hand already.
  • Vegetables. Red bell pepper, green bell pepper, and yellow onion. A combination of peppers and onions is the traditional choice for kung pao, but feel free to break from tradition and clean out your crisper drawer—celery, bok choy, broccoli, zucchini, and other vegetables absolutely work here.
  • Peanuts. Unsalted is best, but salted is fine too; you may want to be a little more conservative with the salt you add to the recipe, though.
  • Fresh Garlic and Ginger. Two essentials for flavorful kung pao shrimp.
  • Green Onions. Separate the white bottoms from the darker tops.
  • Cooked Brown Rice. Instant Pot Brown Rice is fabulous too.

Dietary Note

Have a peanut allergy? Cashews are a great alternative to peanuts in this dish. Or, for a nut-free crunch, add crispy wonton strips for garnish.

The Directions

  1. Make the Marinade. Combine in a zip-top bag.
  2. Marinate the Shrimp. Toss to coat and marinate at room temperature or in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes.
  3. Make the Sauce. Whisk together the kung pao sauce ingredients until the cornstarch dissolves.
kung pao shrimp easy recipe with shrimp and veggies
  1. Cook the Shrimp. This only takes a few minutes.
veggies for kung pao shrimp recipe
  1. Stir-Fry the Vegetables. Until they’re softened a bit but still crisp. Stir in the peanuts.
kung pao shrimp recipe with vegetables and shrimp
  1. Add the Aromatics. Cook until fragrant.
  2. Finish. Return the shrimp to the skillet and stir them into the vegetables and sauce; heat for about a minute.
  3. Serve. Add the remaining green onions to the skillet and serve the kung pao shrimp with brown rice. ENJOY!
the best kung pao shrimp recipe in a pan

Storage Tips

  • To Store. Kung pao shrimp is best enjoyed immediately, but leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
  • To Reheat. Warm leftover kung pao shrimp in a skillet on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave.
  • To Freeze. Transfer the shrimp and vegetables to an airtight freezer-safe storage container and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating according to the instructions above.

Meal Prep Tip

Get a head start on this recipe by chopping the vegetables up to two days in advance. Store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

make chinese kung pao shrimp with this simple recipe

What to Serve with Kung Pao Shrimp

  • Wok. A wok isn’t absolutely necessary, but if you make stir-fries often, it’s nice to have one.
  • Whisk. I love this whisk size for small-batch sauces and marinades.
  • Chef’s Knife. There’s no need for pricy vegetable prep tools when you’ve got a good chef’s knife at the ready.

Recipe Tips and Tricks

  • Buy Deveined Shrimp. This saves you the prep work of having to devein the shrimp yourself. If you’re using fresh shrimp, you want to look for raw shrimp that are deveined and EZ-peel or already peeled.
  • Thaw Frozen Shrimp. Want to use frozen shrimp here? You can! You will need to thaw it first, though. You can do this by letting the shrimp thaw in the refrigerator overnight, or place them in a bowl of cold water for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Have a Mise en Place. In other words, prep everything in advance because stir-fries cook up fast! I make the marinade and while the shrimp marinates for 15 minutes, I chop the veggies and whisk together the sauce. 
  • Know When the Shrimp Is Done. The upside of shrimp is that they cook fast. Unfortunately, that’s also the downside of shrimp! If you’re not careful, they’ll overcook and end up tough and rubbery. Once they’re opaque, firm, and curl just a bit, they’re ready to remove from the skillet.
  • Spicy Kung Pao Shrimp. Kung pao does tend to be spicy, as it’s made with red pepper flakes or dried red chiles, but when you make it at home, you can adjust the heat level and use as much (or as little!) red pepper flakes as you like.
kung pao shrimp with rice in a bowl

Kung Pao Shrimp

5 from 18 votes
This kung pao shrimp recipe is a restaurant-style stir-fry that takes less than 10 minutes to cook, making it a go-to for busy weeknights!

Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 30 minutes

Servings: 3 -4 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 1 pound jumbo 12- to 15-count raw shrimp, fresh or frozen and thawed, peeled and deveined
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce divided
  • 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons rice vinegar divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil divided toasted or untoasted
  • 3 teaspoons cornstarch divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes more or less to taste
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil or grapeseed or avocado oil
  • 1 red bell pepper diced into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 green bell pepper diced into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 medium yellow onion diced into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup peanuts preferably unsalted
  • 3 garlic cloves minced about 1 tablespoon
  • 1 tablespoon minced or grated fresh ginger from about a 1-inch piece
  • 3 green onions thinly sliced white and green parts separated from the dark green parts (about 1/2 cup)
  • Cooked brown rice for serving

Instructions
 

  • In a medium bowl or zip-top bag, combine 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil, 1 teaspoon cornstarch, and the salt. With a fork, whisk to combine and dissolve the cornstarch so that the mixture is smooth
  • Pat the shrimp dry, then add to the marinade and toss gently to coat. Cover the bowl or tightly seal the bag. Marinate at room temperature for at least 15 minutes or refrigerate for up to 2 hours.
  • When you’re ready to cook the kung pao shrimp, in a small bowl combine the remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 tablespoons rice vinegar, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, honey, red pepper flakes, and 2 teaspoons cornstarch. Whisk to combine and dissolve the cornstarch.
  • In a large skillet or wok, heat 1 tablespoon of the canola oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot and shimmering, add the shrimp along with its marinade. Cook, undisturbed, until the shrimp is golden brown on one side and releases from the pan, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  • With a spatula or large spoon, toss the shrimp to turn and redistribute it. Continue cooking, just until the shrimp is opaque and firm to the touch, about 1 minute more. Transfer to a plate or bowl.
  • To the skillet, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of canola oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add the red bell pepper, green bell pepper, and onion. Cook, stirring constantly, until the vegetables are crisp-tender, about 1-2 minutes. Add the peanuts
  • Add the garlic, ginger, and white and light green parts of the green onions. Cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  • Return the shrimp and any juices that have accumulated to the skillet. Cook, stirring constantly, until everything is hot and evenly coated with the sauce, about 1 minute more. Sprinkle with the dark green parts of the green onions. Enjoy hot with rice.

Video

Notes

  • TO STORE: Kung pao shrimp is best enjoyed immediately, but leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
  • TO REHEAT: Warm leftover kung pao shrimp in a skillet on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave.
  • TO FREEZE: Transfer the shrimp and vegetables to an airtight freezer-safe storage container and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating according to the instructions above.
Adapted from my Kung Pao Chicken

Nutrition

Serving: 1(of 3)Calories: 421kcalCarbohydrates: 22gProtein: 29gFat: 25gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 6gMonounsaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 0.05gCholesterol: 191mgPotassium: 633mgFiber: 5gSugar: 9gVitamin A: 1880IUVitamin C: 89mgCalcium: 131mgIron: 2mg

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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18 Comments

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      1. Not sure what you mean by “it goes in with the reserved shrimp.” The shrimp cook in it? Or, it’s added to the dish at the end just before serving? Thanks.

          1. This dish is amazing! I left out the peppers and onions but it was spectacular anyway. I will add a touch more sesame oil in the final sauce next time.5 stars

  1. So good! I was worried the shrimp would be overcooked and the veggies not cooked enough, but I was totally wrong. The timing worked out just right. This was really, really delicious and very easy to make. Definitely a keeper!5 stars

  2. Super quick and easy, once you do all the prep work- a great weeknight dinner. I used cashews instead of peanuts and it was great. I would add more veggies next time and double the recipe.5 stars

  3. My kids love shrimps, they will literally devour anything shrimps. I am happy to find your blog, so many goodies in here for me.5 stars

  4. This is delicious. I’ve tried many stir fry shrimp recipes but never found one I really like. I love this one. The peanuts add a nice crunch. A definite keeper, I will be making it regularly.5 stars

  5. The recipe is absolutely perfect as is! I have made it several times and it is amazing! I usually add fresh broccoli in mine because I love it. The flavors all came together. It was really good.5 stars

  6. I recently tried your recipe for Kung Pao Shrimp and I just had to reach out and let you know how much we enjoyed it! The combination of flavors in this dish was absolutely amazing.5 stars

  7. Just made this for dinner tonight and it was delicious. As always, the instructions were clear and easy to follow. No special cooking skills required, easy to make.5 stars