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When I need a super quick dinner, one of my favorite things to do is take a takeout favorite and make a speedy version of it with ground meat instead. You get the same flavor in a fraction of the time (and sometimes a fraction of the cost too!) and I pretty much always have some kind of ground meat in the freezer, so it’s something I can rely on when I don’t have another plan. This Ground Kung Pao Chicken comes together in one pan and cooks in the same amount of time it takes to cook a pot of rice (20 minutes), making it an ideal weeknight dinner when you’re short on time.

If you don’t cook stir fries often, the ingredient list might seem a little long, but once you have those sauce ingredients on hand, you have them, and they last a long time. (And are versatile too!) The base of this is ground chicken but you could use ground turkey if that’s what you have in your fridge — the flavor is a little different but it works just fine. Other than that, you have your kung pao staples — zucchini, bell pepper, green onion, and some ginger, garlic, and peanuts. While most kung pao recipes will call for dried red chilies, I’m simplifying things a bit by relying on crushed red pepper. (And not making any claim that this is traditional!)

This comes together fast so make sure you have your ingredients chopped, portioned, and ready to go. First, brown the chicken in a neutral oil and then remove it from the pan so it doesn’t burn while you cook the rest of the ingredients. Zucchini and bell pepper go in next, and you want to get some nice color on them, which should only take a couple of minutes. Next, you’ll add just the white parts of the green onion, because you want them to have a bit more cooking time. (The green parts go in later.)

Once the veggies are soft, crushed red pepper, ginger, garlic, sesame oil, and the cooked chicken head back into the pan before you quickly add the sauce ingredients. That’s cooking wine, soy sauce, sugar, and a cornstarch/water slurry, which will thicken things right up in just about 30 seconds.

The final touch is the green part of those green onions and, of course, some chopped peanuts. Your veggies are already in the dish, so serve it over some white rice, and dinner is done!

Yield(s): Serves 4

5m prep time

15m cook time

4.0
Rated 4.0 out of 5
Rated by 1 reviewers

Allergens: Sesame, Peanuts, Soy

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Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil, divided
  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1 medium zucchini, finely diced
  • 3 green onions, chopped, white and green parts separated, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese shoaxing (cooking) wine
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch whisked into 4 tablespoons water
  • 2 oz dry roasted peanuts, crushed
Preparation
  1. Place a large skillet or work over high heat. Add one tablespoon oil to the pan, followed by the ground chicken. Let brown until a crust starts to form, then break chicken apart with a spatula or wooden spoon and continue cooking until cooked through, 2-3 more minutes. Remove to a plate and set aside.
  2. Add remaining neutral oil to the pan, followed by the zucchini and bell pepper. Cook just until slightly caramelized, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the white parts of the green onion, reserving the green parts for later. Add crushed red pepper, ginger, garlic, sesame oil, and the ground chicken back to the pan. Cook briefly, just 30 seconds.
  4. Stir in the cooking wine, soy sauce, sugar, and cornstarch/water mixture. Cook, stirring/tossing almost constantly, until sauce has thickened.
  5. Stir in green onions, then top with crushed peanuts for serving. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Dinner Then Dessert.