Kung Pao Shrimp

Takeout-style Kung Pao Shrimp in a silky, slightly sweet, perfectly salty sauce with crunchy, roasted peanuts is a satisfying dish you can make any day of the week.

What is Kung Pao Shrimp?

In a word, delicious! For those of you who want just a little more context, Kung Pao is a dish that originated in the Sichuan region of China – check out my Szechaun Chicken recipe for another iconic and delicious dish from this region (Sichuan and Szechuan are used interchangeably to refer to both the province and the dishes that originated there). Traditionally made with chicken, vegetables, chilies, and peanuts, this version substitutes shrimp for the chicken.

What is Hoisin Sauce?

This Asian sauce, sometimes called Chinese BBQ sauce, is made from fermented soybean paste, vinegar, garlic, chilies, sesame oil, and a sweetener. It’s tangy and fairly salty with a hint of sweetness. Used in marinades, dipping sauces, and glazes, hoisin is a great condiment to have on hand.

If you aren’t able to find hoisin sauce in your local grocery, here’s a great homemade recipe that replicates the flavors quite well and uses pantry staples.

How To Make Kung Pao Shrimp

Just like these stir-fry recipes, Shrimp Lo Mein and Shrimp Stir Fry, the most important thing is have all of the ingredients prepped before you start cooking. Since stir-frying is a super quick cooking method there really is no time in-between additions of ingredients for slicing, dicing, or measuring.

Start by mixing the sauce ingredients in a medium bowl. Remember that as the sauce sits, the cornstarch will settle so you’ll want to stir it again just before you add it to the skillet or wok.

Cutting the veggies the same size will help to ensure even cooking. I like to cut the onions and the red peppers in chunks that are about an inch. I feel like the chunks work well with the size of the large shrimp that are used in this recipe.

After all of the ingredients have been prepped, heat the oil in a wok or skillet. The goal is to get the oil as hot as possible – it should just about be smoking. Add the chilies and stir-fry until they just start to toast. A word of CAUTION, the capsaicin in the chilies can become overpowering. Make sure that you have the vent fan on when you start cooking this dish. You can moderate the spiciness of the dish by reducing or increasing the number of chilies used.

Once the chilies have toasted, the onion, garlic, and ginger are added and stir-fried for about 30 seconds. Next comes the peppers and finally the shrimp. Because the shrimp will cook a little longer after the sauce is added, cook the shrimp until almost cooked through. Don’t over cook it. Add the sauce and cook until it begins to thicken.

Finish with the sesame oil and peanuts. Stir everything together to coat it with the delicious sauce. Garnish with green onions and served with a bowl full of warm rice.



Kung Pao Shrimp

  • Author: Leigh Olson
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings


Takeout-style Kung Pao Shrimp in a silky, slightly sweet, perfectly salty sauce with crunchy, roasted peanuts is a satisfying dish you can make any day of the week.



  • 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. hoisin sauce
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. corn starch

Stir Fry

  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 6 dried red chilies
  • 1 medium yellow onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 lb. large shrimp (31 – 35), peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced


  1. In a medium bowl, combine the chicken broth, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, brown sugar, and cornstarch stirring until the sugar and cornstarch are dissolved.
  2. In a wok or skillet, heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat until smoking.
  3. Add the chilies, stir-frying until they start to toast, 30 – 45 seconds.
  4. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger and cook until they become fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  5. Add the peppers and cook for about 30 seconds – 1 minute, until they begin to get tender.
  6. Add the shrimp, stir-frying until almost cooked through, 4 – 5 minutes.
  7. Add the sauce and stir to coat shrimp and vegetables, cooking until the sauce starts to thicken.
  8. Stir in the peanuts and sesame oil. Garnish with green onions.
  9. Serve with rice.