This Hunan Chicken recipe consists of tender chicken fried with fresh vegetables in a flavorful authentic Hunan sauce! Ready in less than 20 minutes, low in carbohydrates but full of flavor!
Coming from a half-Chinese household, we grew up eating various stir-fries that are becoming increasingly popular in western countries. My father introduced us to several staple foods, such as Beef and broccoli and If pao cauliflower. Our family favorite was easily the Hunan-style chicken.
What is Hunan Chicken?
Hunan chicken is a pan fried chicken that originated in the Hunan region of China (as the name suggests). Compared to other Chinese stir-fries, this particular type has a spicier kick, often in the form of chili paste.
Well, depending on where in the world you live, Hunan chicken can be cooked differently. It is a popular dish in American Chinese restaurants that sometimes uses different ingredients and is milder in flavor. It’s still just as tasty, however, and you can always spice it up as spicy as you want!
This Hunan Chicken Recipe is a little different too. I gave him a keto makeover and replaced the sugary sauces and thickeners with keto-friendly ones. But don’t worry – this version is just as delicious, if not better, so you don’t miss out on the carbs!
Tender chicken and crunchy vegetables are coated in a delicious spicy sauce that will make you reach for a second serving. The secret to making the perfect Hunan chicken is using a good quality chili paste– We used Sambal Oelek and it takes this dish to another level!
Ingredients for this recipe
For the chicken
- Skinless chicken legs– Chicken thighs are best on any chicken pan as they will stay moist and juicy, and the sauce will hold a lot better than other pieces. You can use chicken breasts if that’s all you have on hand.
- Almond flour– Blanched almond flour used to lightly coat the chicken before frying. This helps keep it delicate and golden on the outside.
- oil– Any neutral flavored oil with a high smoke point. I recommend safflower oil or sunflower oil.
For the stir-fry dishes
- sesame oil– A must for every good Asian-inspired pan! A little goes very far, so don’t be too clumsy with it.
- Ginger and garlic– A must for every good pan!
- Broccoli- Cut into bite-sized florets.
- paprika– Any color will work, but we love using red bell peppers to add extra color to the stir-fry!
- zucchini– Cut into bite-sized pieces.
For the Hunan sauce
- chicken soup– Also known as chicken broth. This gives the sauce a richer flavor profile. You can also use vegetable broth if you don’t have one on hand.
- I am willow– Use tamari or gluten-free soy sauce if necessary.
- Fish sauce– Adds some umami flavor and an extra flavor kick.
- White wine vinegar– Balances out the salty and sweet ingredients.
- Brown sugar substitute– Balances out soy and fish sauce. Skip the store bought type and make your own.
- Chili paste– The main ingredient that sets this chicken pan apart from other stir fry dishes! I like to use Sambal Oelek, but any hot chili sauce can be used!
- Xanthan gum– Thicken the sauce and is a fabulous keto substitute for cornstarch.
How do you make Hunan style chicken?
1. Lightly dust your chicken with almond flour.
2. Sear your chicken in a pan until it’s no longer pink. Transfer to a plate or bowl.
3. Add the sesame oil and once it is hot, add the ginger and garlic. Add the remaining vegetables and stir-fry until soft.
4. Add the chicken back to the pan.
5. Whisk the Hunan sauce and pour over the chicken and vegetables. Cook for another 5-10 minutes until the sauce has thickened.
What is the difference between Hunan Chicken and Szechuan Chicken?
Both chicken dishes come from China from the province of Hunan and the province of Sichuan. Outside of their origins, however, they have some key differences.
While Hunan chicken is a bit spicier, Szechuan chicken relies on Szechuan peppers to give it its taste kick. Szechuan chicken also tends to use more citrus flavors, like orange or lemon juice, which offsets the spicy kick of the peppercorns. In addition, the Szechuan chicken dish often contains nuts, such as cashews and peanuts.
How does Hunan sauce taste?
Hunan sauce has sweet and tangy flavors that are heavier on the spicier side. The xanthan gum thickens the sauce that holds the chicken and vegetables in place nicely and gives you a taste sensation with every bite.
Tips for the best Hunan chicken
- Feel free to adjust the spice level based on your taste buds. If you prefer a spicy Hunan sauce, double the amount of chili paste.
- If you want a leaner piece of chicken, you can use finely chopped chicken breasts.
- For a balanced, low-carb dinner, serve this chicken dish over a few Cauliflower Fried Rice. If you’re not on a particular diet, you can serve this with steamed jasmine rice.
- Swap the vegetables you use for other keto-friendly vegetables, like Chinese broccoli, pak choi, or even eggplant.
Tips for storing, freezing and warming up
- To store: Leftovers can be stored covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Freeze: Place the hunan chicken in a shallow container and store in the freezer for up to 6 months.
- Warm up: Fry either in the microwave or in the pan for 1-2 minutes until warm and sizzling.
More keto chicken recipes to try
For the chicken
- 1 lb Chicken legs skinless, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 tablespoon Almond flour
- 1 tablespoon oil
For the stir-fry dishes
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 Cloves garlic chopped
- 1 tablespoon ginger chopped
- 3 cups broccoli chopped
- 1 great paprika chopped
- 1 middle zucchini chopped
For the Hunan sauce
- 1/2 Cup chicken soup
- 3 tablespoon i am willow
- 1 tablespoon Fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon White wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoon brown sugar substitute
- 2 tablespoon Chili paste I used Sambal Oelek
- 1/2 teaspoon Xanthan gum
Prepare the Hunan sauce by whisking all the ingredients together and setting aside.
Put the chopped chicken and almond flour in a bowl and mix gently.
Pour the oil into a non-stick pan or wok and heat over medium heat. Fry the chicken until almost done. Take the chicken out of the pan.
Add the sesame oil and when it’s hot add the chopped garlic and ginger and sauté for a few minutes. Add the remaining vegetables and cook until almost soft. Add the chicken back to the pan before adding the Hunan sauce. Let it bubble and thicken for a few minutes before removing it from the heat.
Serve over cauliflower rice or any of your favorite low-carb side of your choice.
TO STORE: Leftovers can be stored covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
FREEZE: Place the hunan chicken in a shallow container and store in the freezer for up to 6 months.
WARM UP: Fry either in the microwave or in the pan for 1-2 minutes until warm and sizzling.
Portion: 1portion | Calories: 358kcal | Carbohydrates: 8thG | Protein: 26thG | Fat: 22ndG | Sodium: 1319mg | Potassium: 527mg | Fiber: 4thG | Vitamin A: 1471IE | Vitamin C: 64mg | Calcium: 33mg | Iron: 2mg | NET CARBONS: 4thG