Sticky Cashew Chicken


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chicken and rice in a black bowl with chopsticks

Better than takeout and faster too! A sweet, savory sauce coating tender chicken and crunchy cashews make Sticky Cashew Chicken a weeknight winner. 

Happy Monday! It’s such a busy week over here. My sister-in-law is in town (Ellen!!) for Molly and Clara’s birthday festivities. They’re turning seven – how can it be!? There will certainly be lots of sugar consumed this week, but we’re also planning on Crispy Pork Carnitas, Spring Cobb Salads, and a few of these that I have tucked into the freezer. We’re also having the house painted this week which is so intimidating. Choosing a color you’ll be looking at for years is a lot of pressure.

Hoping you are enjoying some spring sunshine wherever you are, and if you need something to make for dinner this week, I’ve got you. This Sticky Cashew Chicken is definitely a new household favorite. I put “sticky” right there in the title so that you know what you’re getting – a rich sauce that cooks down and completely coats tender bites of chicken. And those cashews? They’re toasted in the pan a bit too – it gives them so much flavor and crunch.

toasting cashews in a wok

Ingredients for Sticky Cashew Chicken

  • Honey, Low-Sodium Soy Sauce, Hoisin Sauce, Ketchup, Rice Vinegar – These ingredients come together to make a sweet, savory, sticky sauce. I test all of my recipes with Trader Joe’s Low-Sodium Soy Sauce, but if you’re using regular soy sauce just reduce the amount by about 1 Tablespoon so the sauce isn’t overly salty.  See below for more details!
  • Cooking Oil – I use avocado and grapeseed oil as my basic cooking oils. Vegetable oil is great too. I don’t recommend using olive oil since the olive flavor can come through here and doesn’t really work with the Asian flavors. 
  • Cashews – I usually start with raw cashews since they’ll get toasted in oil before cooking, but even roasted cashews benefit from some extra time in the pan – they’ll get warm and extra crunchy.
  • Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast – Chop this into bite-sized pieces. 
  • Cornstarch – This helps the chicken to get crisp and thickens the sauce. 

adding sauce to chicken in a wok

stirring chicken and sauce in a wok

About that Sauce…

The sauce for Sticky Cashew Chicken is packed with flavor, but it’s super simple too. Honey and Hoisin sauce for sweetness, soy sauce for savory flavor, ketchup and rice vinegar give it just the right amount of tart to balance things out. All of these ingredients are staples for Asian-inspired recipes, so if you don’t already have them, they’re worth grabbing – you’ll find so many different uses for them once they’re in the pantry / fridge.

And then there’s my new favorite “secret” technique for adding sauce. This is a method I found when I was testing Honey Ginger Chicken Stir-Fry (another great takeout fake-out recipe if you’re looking for one). It’s so simple. Just add the rich sauce in two parts – no need to measure it out, just estimate. Add the first half of the sauce with the chicken until it thickens up and completely coats those tender bites. Then add the second half of the sauce near the end of cooking and just let it simmer until warm, but not super thick.

The result is “sticky” sauce coating the chicken and plenty of extra sauce leftover to spoon over rice. Try it on this recipe or on any of your favorite stir-fry recipes!

eating chicken and rice with chopsticks

Possible Variations

  • Make it Gluten-Free – This recipe is easily gluten-free! Use Tamari instead of soy sauce and be sure to grab gluten-free Hoisin sauce – Kikkoman makes a good version. 
  • Make it Vegetarian – Try this with cubed tofu. Be sure to press out as much liquid as possible before cooking the tofu so you get that great, golden crust and the tofu really soaks up plenty of sauce.

What to Serve with Sticky Cashew Chicken

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chicken and rice in a black bowl with chopsticks
4.45 from 9 votes

Sticky Cashew Chicken

Better than takeout and faster too! A sweet, savory sauce coating tender chicken and crunchy cashews make this stir-fry a weeknight winner.
Be sure to add the sauce in two increments - the first will thicken and coat the chicken and the second will stay saucy so you have plenty to spoon over rice.
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 4


  • Mixing Bowls
  • Wok or Saute Pan



  • 1/4 cup Honey
  • 1/4 cup Low-Sodium Soy Sauce (sub Tamari for gluten-free)
  • 1/4 cup Hoisin Sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Ketchup
  • 2 Tbsp Rice Vinegar (sub red or white wine vinegar)

Stir Fry:

  • 3 Tbsp Cooking Oil
  • 1 cup Cashews
  • 1 1/2 lbs Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 Tbsp Cornstarch
  • Cooked rice, for serving


  • Whisk together all ingredients for sauce. Set side.
  • Toss chicken with cornstarch until evenly coated. Set aside.
  • Heat a saute pan or wok over medium heat. Add oil and when oil is shimmering, add cashews. Saute cashews until just starting to turn golden, about 2 minutes (watch carefully to prevent burning). Use a slotted spoon to remove cashews from oil and set aside.
  • To remaining oil in the pan, add chicken and saute until chicken is just barely starting to cook on the outside, about 2 minutes. Add half the sauce and continue cooking together until sauce thickens and really coats the chicken, 3 to 4 minutes more.
  • Pour remaining sauce over chicken and bring to a simmer. Cook for a minute or two more, until chicken is cooked through.
  • Remove pan from heat and stir in cashews.
  • Serve chicken over rice. Enjoy!


Calories: 508kcal | Carbohydrates: 42g | Protein: 44g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 109mg | Sodium: 1079mg | Potassium: 926mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 26g | Vitamin A: 91IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 32mg | Iron: 3mg

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

Author: Jess Smith via Inquiring Chef
Cost: $10.00
Calories: 508
Keyword: chicken dinner, easy dinner, easy, weeknight-friendly, fakeout takeout, family friendly, stir fry
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About Jess Smith

Jess is the recipe creator and photographer at She spent nearly a decade as the Chief Recipe Developer for the award-winning meal planning app Cook Smarts. Her colorful, healthyish recipes have been featured in popular online publications including Parade, Hallmark, and HuffPost.

4.45 from 9 votes (9 ratings without comment)

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