Thai Chicken with Cashews

Thai Chicken with Cashews is my very, very, very favorite dish of all time.

Thai Chicken with Cashews | from The Wanderlust Kitchen

Whenever someone asks me what my last meal would be, I don’t even hesitate. Thai Chicken with Cashews, every single time. Add a cold glass of Thai Iced Tea and I’m in absolute heaven.

When I was going to university, my good friend Scott kept telling me about this Thai restaurant he was going to and I kept turning my nose up at it. I’d never had Thai food, and I was not really that interested in trying it.

He finally convinced me to go one time when I was really, really hungry and would have eaten anything, and I’m SO glad he did. My life was forever changed!

Thai Chicken with Cashews | from The Wanderlust Kitchen

Being a first-timer, Scott had me order Pad Thai (which I also adore), but my real love affair with Thai food happened during a visit home to Portland with my friend Laura. We went to this restaurant called Thai Mango and I ordered the Thai Chicken with Cashews on a whim.

Suffice it to say that it is the single most delicious dish on the planet.

Sadly, I tried to take the husband there yesterday and it was CLOSED. I know you can’t see me right now, but I’m making a really pathetic sad face.

And now I’m making a happy face because I remembered that I can make this deliciousness at home! Yay!

Thai Chicken with Cashews | from The Wanderlust Kitchen

Just look at it! It’s glistening. It wants to be consumed.

Don’t be afraid of the dried red peppers – they just add a bit of heat to the sauce then serve as a garnish. I’ve taken an adventurous nibble of the peppers from time to time, but I’d caution you to just let them be pretty on your plate and not eat them.

The other kind of “strange” ingredients you need would be Fish Sauce and Sweet Dark Soy Sauce. You can buy these in any Asian grocery mart, and I can sometimes find it in large supermarkets on the Asian foods aisle. Here’s a link to the brand of Sweet Dark Soy Sauce I use and here’s the fish sauce I buy on the regular. Thai Chicken with Cashews | from The Wanderlust Kitchen

You might notice the fork and spoon shown in the pictures. The lovely Nicole over at The Marvelous Misadventures of a Foodie emailed me recently asking about my experiences in Thailand.

One of the things I shared with her was that Thais never eat directly off of a fork because it is considered “crude” (like eating steak directly off of a knife here in the States). Instead, they hold the fork in their left hand and use it to scoop food onto the spoon held in the right hand, then eat directly off of the spoon.

I like to eat Thai food this way at home because it makes me feel special.

If you’re looking for something delicious to go with this stir-fry, I’d highly recommend a cool, refreshing Thai Cucumber & Cashew Salad. It goes so, so well with this one!

One last piece of advice before I hand the recipe over to you: when I say “Stir-Fry”, I mean “stir, THEN fry.” The purpose of stir-frying is to let the ingredients fry and get a lovely brown color before you stir it to keep it from burning. Let the food fry for about 30 seconds at a time before stirring it, and make sure you are using medium-high heat.

If you stir it too much, or fry it over too low of a heat, the dish won’t turn out right. The chicken will poach from the steam and be white rather than brown.

Nobody likes white, poached chicken.

I use this wok whenever I cook stir-fry (and I love it so much I got one for my sister, too!). If you don’t have a wok, just use the biggest saute pan you have.

Okay, you’ve paid your dues by reading through all of this so I will reward you with the recipe. Stay hungry, my friends.

Thai Cashews with Chicken
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4
For the Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sweet dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 heaping tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
For the Stir-Fry
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or peanut oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • ½ small yellow onion, quartered
  • 4 finger-length dried red chilies (such as chile de arbol), seeded and cut into halves
  • ½ cup roasted cashew nuts
  • 8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into thin pieces (about one large chicken breast – hold your knife at an angle and slice against the grain to get the thinnest pieces possible)
  • 1 green onion, cut into 1” lengths
  1. Whisk all of the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan for 5 minutes over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot enough to produce a sizzle when a drop of water hits it, add in all of the cashew nuts. Fry the cashews until they turn light brown, just a few minutes. Remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon and set them on a paper towel to rest.
  3. Add the garlic, onion, and dried red chilies to the oil. Stir-fry for 3-5 minutes or until you can start to smell the spicy aroma of the chilies. Add in the chicken and continue to stir-fry until the chicken turns opaque and is cooked through (about 4-5 minutes). Return the cashews to the pan and toss to distribute around the pan.
  4. Add the sauce to the wok and toss all of the ingredients to coat them well. Turn off the heat and add in the chopped scallions. Serve immediately with a side of jasmine rice.



  1. Joy says

    I made this a few night’s ago and it was really great! I’m also from Portland and Cashew Chicken is almost always my go-to when trying a new Thai restaurant. I have been dying to find a recipe to replicate it at home, but it seems there are so many different variations out there to the sauce, which I think is one of the best elements to the dish. This is probably the 4th different recipe I’ve tried and it’s the closest I’ve had so far, though the sauce is still not quite spot on to what I get in the restaurants. I just cannot figure out the blasted ingredients… I think you’re on to something with the sweet soy sauce, though. I’d never cooked with it before, but was definitely in the right direction. Tempted to ask the server if they’ll drop any hints at my next Thai food excursion.

    ANYWAY–this recipe was still really yummy. I added bell peppers and carrot slices. Next time will add some water chestnuts too as that’s what my fav. Thai restaurant does. Really appreciated the tips on “stir-fry” and cooking the chicken, especially, because mine usually does come out moreso poached, and it came out perfectly this time, thanks to your cooking tips. Thanks!!

    • says

      Hi, Joy! We are so lucky to live in Portland – the Thai food here is amazing! I’m so glad that the tips on stir-frying helped you out. It took me a while to get the hang of doing it right, so I’m always happy when I can spread the word. This recipe is pretty darn close to the one I order at my favorite place, but I have tried a few others in Portland that were much sweeter. If you think that the sauce should be sweeter for your tastes, you might try adding in a bit of sweet red chili sauce or extra sugar. Let me know how it goes!

  2. RoadLord says

    I made this tonight, (well, sorta, details to follow), and it was FANTASTIC!

    First off, I still had some leftover Thanksgiving turkey I needed to use up, (don’t worry, it was in the fridge in my garage, which hovers just around freezing, so it was fine). Next, the fish sauce in my cupboard was kinda old, but, what-the-hey, IT’S FISH SAUCE.
    And, since I was using a bunch more turkey than the recipe which called for chicken called for, I roughly quadrupled the quantities, but I think the overall result came pretty close.
    I have a burner for a bullet smoker that doubles as a turkey fryer, which triples as a KILLER WOK BURNER, far higher temps than you’ll ever get out of a stove.
    So the pre-frying of the cashews gave them a nice golden color, REALLY brought out the cashew flavor, the aromatics were smoking hot and throwing out major spicy fumes.
    The overall result was smoky, spicy, redolent of rich fish sauce and nutty cashew goodness, and that was just with leftover turkey. Can’t wait to try it with chicken, and maybe toss a few shrimp in there, too. I think I’ll stay away from adding too much outside ingredients, i.e., carrot, peppers, etc., because what you really want here is CHICKEN (or turkey, or shrimp) flavored with the aromatics and killer spicy and crunchy cashews. You can eat stir-fry with veggies anytime, you gotta try this like it is to really get the intent of the recipe.

    Many thanks,

    The RoadLord

  3. says

    Looks wonderful! The Pacific NW has the BEST Thai and Asian food. We just moved back after two years in Michigan, and the difference is incredible. My favorite Thai dish is Pad Si Ew, by far, but this Cashew Chicken looks incredible! Thanks for sharing!

  4. AmyfromTX says

    This.was.excellent. !!! Seriously. I no longer need to dine
    out and order this dish. This recipe nails it! A couple things I
    noticed… 1. My cashews burned. I had to make another batch. They
    really only need to be in the pan for about 30 seconds. 2. I
    doubled the chicken and the green onion. Hubby wants even more
    onion. 3. I will double the sauce moving forward. We like enough to
    pour over the rice and just get all those wonderful flavors
    throughout. Kudos on a wonderful dish!

    • says

      Thanks so much, Amy! The cashews can be tricky. I usually like to keep one outside the pan to compare the starting color; otherwise, I let them go too long! It also depends on if you are using gas, electric, etc. I’m so glad you liked it!

  5. Rebecca Kaufman says

    Just made this tonight and it is yummy! I added mushrooms
    because we are mushroom freaks at my house. I was afraid at first
    because I have never used that much fish sauce in anything, but it
    tasted great. I think next time I will double the amount of sauce
    so there is enough to really flavor up the rice.

  6. says

    I’ve had a wok for nearly 20 years and have hardly used it. Thanks to coming across your recipe and needing to eat gluten-free now, I resurrected my my wok and made a FANTASTIC dinner last night! I increased the meat to 10.25 ounces and for my hungry husband and me, this was only two servings when served over brown Basmati rice. Thank you for sharing your recipe! This is one I’ll be doubling and making again and again. Also, I was happy to notice you’re a local, too! What a bummer Thai Mango is gone. I wanted to try it after reading your post, but Yelp confirmed what you said: they’re gone.

  7. Krista says

    My husband and I do not like fish. I cook a lot of recipes that call for fish sauce, but I just add extra soy sauce instead. Your post convinced me that I needed to pick up a bottle at the store, even though my H kept on scrinching up his nose and insisting that we don’t need it. OH MY GOSH IT WAS SO GOOD. I TRULY DIDN’T KNOW WHAT I WAS MISSING! Your stir fry tips were very useful as I come from a family where poached chicken was a constant presence in our stir fries. I served it over cauli-rice and look forward to adding more vegetables to it in the future. Yummo!

    • says

      Hi, Krista! I’m so glad you tried fish sauce in the recipe. I was totally grossed out by it at first, but it doesn’t taste anything like fish once it cooks! It’s just wonderfully salty and savory :) I’m so happy to have you here – thanks for commenting!

  8. Tami says

    I made this tonight and it was SOoo good! I only made a couple changes. First of all I doubled the recipe because I have teenage boys ;). I also used pure coconut oil to brown the chicken mixture, and I added a Tablespoon of Thai authentic red curry paste to the sauce. Many of my Thai recipes call for it, so I thought “why not”? Thanks for the yummy recipe :)

  9. Carolina says

    Hi! I’d love to try this recipe, it looks amazing. About the fish sauce, did you use a particular brand? I googled it to see if I could buy it easily where I live (Brazil), and at least 5 different types of “nam plá” sauces came up!

  10. Marisa says

    This was so delicious! Really authentic flavours. I doubled the recipe and added some chunky carrots for veg. Will be making this regularly for sure.

  11. Alexandria says

    I’m so incredibly excited that I stumbled across your blog …a friend named Lizz posted your link and you’ve made me excited about cooking again…I’ve been married for almost 14 years and I have we have an 11 yr old son….sometimes coming up with new things to make for dinner gets hard…I found myself in a bit of a rut but your recipes have lightened that spark inside me again. Its official, I will be having a Thai night soon and I hope to attempt a couple of your recipes. Thank you for blogging…I’m officially a fan and I can’t wait to let you know how it goes :)

  12. says

    Hi, Alexandria! I’m so happy to have you here – Lizz has been trying lots of my recipes lately and I’m so glad she is sharing them. I love hearing that I can help you get back in the kitchen with new and exciting ideas. That’s what this is all about!! I can’t wait to share more recipes with you. Thanks for being here!


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