Kung Pao Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Kung Pao Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Kung Pao Chicken Lettuce Wraps

If you have ever had Kung Pao Chicken, then you know how flavorful and beautiful it is, melding many flavors together to achieve greatness.

We love this rendition of the Chinese classic dish using ingredients that are a bit easier for us to find. Namely we used sake in the marinade and the Mexican chile de árbol for the spicy pepper alongside Szechuan peppercorns. However, there are so many versions of this dish, both in China and in other countries, that you could certainly use variations that you like the most.

If you are looking for an authentic version of this recipe, check out THIS one.

Why Lettuce Wraps?

The crisp cool lettuce contrasts well with the spicy and fragrant Kung Pao Chicken. Of course, you can serve this with a nice fried rice as well and be very happy! We enjoy this dish over white rice or fried rice as well, but we love this interpretation as lettuce wraps.

Kung Pao Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Kung Pao Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Chicken Breast or Chicken Thighs?

We chose to use chicken breasts here, but we have prepared this several times using thigh meat as well. The sauce is the dominating flavor component, so it really is personal preference. The flavor of thighs is superior, but the texture of the breast is our preference for lettuce wraps. So, with the sauce being the flavor driver, we chose breast meat.

Don’t over-reduce the sauce!

The other thing that is important when cooking this is to not over-reduce your sauce. With so much soy sauce, and therefore salt, it is prone to becoming too salty. The corn starch is the thickener in this sauce. It’s a quick dish to make, so when you are done, give it a taste, and if it needs a bit more salt then add it at that time.


We hope you enjoy this recipe for Kung Pao Chicken Lettuce Wraps! If you give these a try, leave us a comment below or tag us on Instagram @cooking_with_wine!

Kung Pao Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Kung Pao Chicken Lettuce Wraps

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Kung Pao Chicken Lettuce Wraps

5 from 4 votes
Course: AppetizersCuisine: ChineseDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time


Total time




  • For the Marinade
  • 2 Tbsp 2 soy sauce (low sodium)

  • 1 Tbsp 1 sake

  • 1 Tbsp 1 water

  • 1 Tbsp 1 canola or grapeseed oil

  • 1 Tbsp 1 sambal oelek (or other chile paste)

  • 2 tsp 2 cornstarch

  • 2 lbs 2 chicken breast (3-4 breasts)

  • For the Sauce
  • 3 Tbsp 3 light soy sauce

  • 1 Tbsp 1 dark soy sauce

  • 2 Tbsp 2 rice wine vinegar

  • 3 Tbsp 3 chicken stock

  • 2 Tbsp 2 sugar

  • 2 tsp 2 sesame oil

  • 1 tsp 1 black pepper

  • 1 Tbsp 1 cornstarch

  • 3 Tbsp 3 canola or grapeseed oil, divided

  • 8 8 whole dried chile de árbol (or other dried red chilies)

  • 1/2 tsp 1/2 ground Szechuan pepper

  • 4 4 garlic cloves, minced

  • 2/3 cup 2/3 roasted unsalted peanuts

  • 1/3 cup 1/3 green onions, green parts, sliced thin

  • For Garnish
  • 1 head 1 Butter Lettuce, thoroughly rinsed and leaves separated

  • Additional green onions, green parts, sliced thin

  • 2 Tbsp 2 toasted sesame seeds


  • Marinate the Chicken
  • Combine all the marinade ingredients thoroughly and put it into a zip-top bag. Cut the chicken into bite-sized cubes and add to the marinade. Refrigerate for 30-90 minutes only.
  • Prepare the sauce
  • Whisk to combine the soy sauces, rice wine vinegar, stock, sugar, sesame oil, pepper and cornstarch in a bowl and set aside. The Szechuan pepper and minced garlic can be combined separately. If you desire a deeper roast on your peanuts, you can toast them for a few minutes in a preheated 375°F oven or fry them in a bit of oil until they darken.
  • Cook the chicken
  • When the chicken has finished marinating, remove it from the marinade and set aside. Discard the marinade.
  • Heat a wok (or a large pan) on medium to medium-high and add 2 Tbsp of the canola or grapeseed oil. Add the chicken and cook for 5 minutes or until the chicken is almost completely cooked. Remove the chicken to a bowl and set aside.
  • To the hot wok, add the remaining 1 Tbsp of oil and let it heat up for about 15 seconds. Add the peppers and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the garlic and Szechuan pepper and stir, cooking for only 10 more seconds. Immediately add the sauce and stir, then add the chicken back in and cook until the sauce thickens. This should take about 3-4 minutes. Turn the heat off, stir in the peanuts and green onions and remove to serve. Remove the peppers at this point. The peppers are meant to flavor the dish and not be eaten in the wraps.
  • Assemble and Serve
  • Once the chicken is done, serve in a cold lettuce leaf and sprinkle with green onions and toasted sesame seeds. Enjoy!

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