This Skinny Honey Coconut Chicken with Cashew Nuts can be in your mouth in 35 minutes!
This chicken cashew stir fry is made with the most incredible coconut-infused sweet and slightly tangy sauce. And I bet you have most of the ingredients on hand already!
Coconut Chicken with Cashew Nuts
Oh how I love coconut!
And a good stir fry!
And oh how I LOVE them even more all together!
Honey Coconut Cashew Chicken Stir Fry. United at last.
This Honey Coconut Cashew Chicken Stir Fry is AH-mazing! It’s different than a lot of stir fry recipes that are soy sauce based and it’s different than a lot of coconut sauce recipes that are mostly curry based. Instead, I wanted to play up the coconut and honey dynamic so those flavors could really shine through.
To keep the sauce from tasting just like sweet coconut milk (delicious, but flat), I balanced out the sweetness with my favorite multi-dimensional sweet and spicy Sweet Chili Sauce, grounded it with a few splashes of soy sauce, and added a kick of tang with cider vinegar. Now we are talking, or can’t stop eating…
This delectable sweet, slightly tangy and as spicy-as-you-want sauce gets whisked all together and then you remove ¼ cup to marinate your chicken. The cornstarch in the marinade/sauce tenderizes the chicken, resulting in a silky smooth texture pillowed beneath our light breading. So with all this silky smoothness going on, we need some texture! I stir fried red bell peppers and and snow peas because they are my fav, but feel free to mix it up with whatever you have on hand.
And then comes my favorite texture – lightly toasted sweet coconut flakes and salty, crunchy cashews. Sweet and salty. And perfectly delicious.
And waiting for you!
Coconut Chicken Cashew Stir-Fry Ingredients
The ingredients list for this honey coconut chicken with cashew nuts looks a little long, but I promise most of this stuff is hanging out in your pantry already.
- Chicken breasts: are leaner than chicken thighs and are what I usually use for this recipe. Just make sure you don’t cut the pieces too small or they will overcook and dry out.
- Onion: I used yellow onion, but any kind will work.
- Red bell pepper: I prefer red bell peppers since they’re sweeter than the other colors, but use what you have.
- Ginger: freshly grated is best for this recipe.
- Garlic: 3 cloves go into the stir-fry for lots of flavor.
- Snow peas: can be substituted with another veggie, if desired.
- Cornstarch: helps thicken the sauce to a glossy, luscious consistency without a raw flour taste. Also helps the chicken crisp up in the skillet.
- Herbs and spices: this stir-fry is flavored with ginger powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
- Honey: rounds out the flavor of this dish.
- Coconut milk: use quality canned coconut milk.
- Soy sauce: use reduced sodium soy sauce so we can control the salt.
- Sweet chili sauce: adds sweetness and spice.
- Cider vinegar: something neutral in flavor like ACV would also work.
- Roasted salted cashews: a must for this recipe.
- Sweetened coconut flakes: an optional, but recommended, garnish.
How to Make Chicken with Cashew Nuts
This coconut honey chicken stir-fry is a breeze to make! Here are the basic steps:
- Whisk together all of the Honey Coconut sauce ingredients together in a medium bowl.
- Remove ¼ cup Sauce and add it to a large freezer bag along with chicken. Let marinate while you prep vegetables.
- Meanwhile, add ¼ cup coconut flakes and 1 cup cashews to a large skillet and dry roast over medium heat, stirring often until coconut is golden. Set aside.
- Whisk together the breading ingredients in a large freezer bag.
- Remove chicken from marinade, pat off excess with paper towels and add to bag with breading. Shake until coated.
- Heat oil over medium heat in a large non-stick skillet. Add chicken and sauté until lightly browned. Remove to a plate. Wipe out skillet.
- Add more oil to the now empty skillet and add onions and sauté for 2 minutes. Add red bell peppers, ginger and garlic and saute 30 seconds.
- Stir cashew chicken sauce (to make sure cornstarch has not separated) and add to skillet along with chicken and snow peas. Simmer until sauce is thickened.
- Garnish individual servings with toasted coconut flakes and cashews.
Tips for Making Cashew Chicken Stir-Fry
- Don’t chop chicken to small. The chicken should be chopped 1” thick, erring on the side of larger so that it doesn’t overcook and dry out.
- Use clean hands. I love using a bag to shake the chicken in the breading because it keeps the chicken from becoming a gooey mess. Just make sure your hands are clean and dry when you remove the chicken.
- Serve immediately. Chicken with cashew nuts can get soggy if left to sit for too long. To prevent soggy chicken, serve immediately or store the chicken and sauce separately, then combine when reheating.
Recipe Variations to Try
- sweeten it up with granulated sugar
- spice it up with red pepper flakes
- make it tangier by adding additional vinegar
- amp up the garlic and/or ginger for a stronger punch of flavor
Can I Prep Cashew Chicken Stir-Fry in Advance?
Even though this honey coconut milk chicken is quick to make, you can still prepare it in stages if that works better for you.
- Cashew Chicken Sauce: Whisk the sauce ingredients together but do not simmer/thicken. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- Breading: Whisk the breading ingredients together in a Ziploc freezer bag. You can store the breading for weeks or proceed to dredge chicken then refrigerate.
- Chicken: Dice the chicken and store in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
- Veggies: Chop the veggies and store in an airtight container.
HOW TO STORE Chicken with Cashew Nuts
This coconut honey chicken stir fry is best served fresh because it is at peak crispiness, sauciness and the chicken is the juiciest. You will find leftover chicken is not quite crispy or as flavorful.
- How to store: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
How to Reheat Chicken with Cashew Nuts
- How to reheat on the stove: Leftovers are best reheated on the stove, even if they are small portions. To reheat, heat a drizzle of vegetable, canola or peanut oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the chicken, stirring occasionally until warmed through.
- Reheating in microwave: Microwaving leftovers is not advised as the chicken can become rubbery and the breading will definitely not be crispy. It is better to reheat in the skillet.
CAN I FREEZE Cashew Chicken?
If you are making this cashew chicken stir-fry specifically to freeze, then I recommend freezing the chicken and sauce separately so the chicken doesn’t get soggy.
TO FREEZE CHICKEN WITHOUT SAUCE:
- Cook chicken according to directions.
- Let chicken cool to room temperature (on the baking sheet) then transfer baking sheet to the freezer.
- Let freeze for 1-2 hours or until the chicken is solid. This prevents the chicken from clumping together.
- Add chicken to a freezer size bag, squeeze out excess air and label.
- Add cashew chicken sauce to a separate airtight container.
- When ready to use, defrost chicken and sauce in the refrigerator overnight.
TO FREEZE CHICKEN IN SAUCE:
- Let chicken cool completely.
- Transfer chicken to either a large freezer size bag or divide into smaller size bags. Alternatively, transfer to airtight container(s).
- Press air out of the freezer bag, seal, label and freeze for up to 3 months.
- When ready to eat, defrost in the refrigerator.
- Heat on the stove until warmed through.
What to Serve with Cashew Chicken Stir-Fry
Chicken with cashew nuts is traditionally served with rice because it soaks up the flavorful sauce and offers a neutral textural component. That being said, you still have a few options:
- Rice. I like jasmine rice or brown rice but any rice will work. Just pop the rice in your rice cooker for a hands’ off, easy side. You can also use microwave rice pouches if you’re making a serving for one or meal prep.
- Low carb. Cauliflower rice, quinoa, broccoli rice or a blend of brown rice and any of the aforementioned options. You can also use low carb noodles such as zoodles or spaghetti squash.
- Noodles. Ramen, soba noodles, rice noodles or even linguine are a fun way to mix things up!
YOU CAN Also SERVE Cashew CHICKEN WITH:
- Appetizers: Chicken Lettuce Wraps, Pineapple Cream Cheese Wontons, Sesame Chicken Egg Rolls, Sweet and Sour Chicken Egg Rolls or Chinese Chicken Wings. It is also delicious with potstickers, even though they are technically Japanese and not Chinese.
- Soup: Let the Chinese feast continue with soup! I love to warm up to Egg Drop Soup which is SUPER easy and always a sultry, satisfying favorite.
- Veggies. You can stir fry any veggies your heart desires from broccoli, to bell peppers, to mushrooms, to carrots, etc. or you can serve with roasted veggies such as my favorite Honey Sriracha Roasted Brussels Sprouts – so good! You can also serve with Roasted Broccoli, Roasted Broccolini, Roasted Cauliflower, Roasted Carrots, or Roasted Squash. When roasting veggies to serve with Asian dishes, I like to add a ginger, garlic, salt, pepper and Chinese 5 spice.
- Salad: Crunchy Asian Salad, Chinese Salad, or Asian Pineapple Salad.
More Chinese Dinner Recipes?
If you love Chinese fakeout takeout, be sure to check out my:
- Beef and Broccoli
- Mongolian Chicken
- Mongolian Beef
- General Tso’s Chicken
- Slow Cooker Cashew Chicken
- Sweet and Sour Chicken
- Kung Pao Shrimp
- Pineapple Ginger Chicken
- Sesame Chicken
- Honey Lemon Ginger Chicken
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Skinny Honey Coconut Cashew Chicken
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Honey Coconut Sauce
- 1 cup roasted salted cashews
- 1/4 cup sweetened coconut flakes
- green onions (optional)
- Whisk together all of the Honey Coconut sauce ingredients together in a medium bowl. Remove ¼ cup Sauce and add it to a large freezer bag along with chicken. Let marinate while you prep vegetables OR up to 8 hours in the refrigerator. Refrigerate remaining Honey Sauce separately.
- Meanwhile, add ¼ cup coconut flakes and 1 cup cashews to a large skillet and dry roast over medium heat, stirring often, for approximately 5 minutes, or until coconut is golden. Set aside.
- Whisk together Light Breading ingredients together in a large freezer bag. Remove chicken from marinade, pat off excess with paper towels and add to bag with Light Breading. Shake until evenly coated.
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive/coconut oil over medium heat in a large nonstick skillet. Add chicken and sauté for 5 minutes, or until lightly browned (chicken does not need to be cooked through). Remove to a plate. Wipe out skillet.
- Add 1 tablespoon oil to the now empty skillet and heat over medium heat. Add onions and sauté for 2 minutes. Add red bell peppers, ginger and garlic and saute 30 seconds. Stir sauce (to make sure cornstarch has not separated) and add to skillet along with chicken and snow peas; stir to combine. Simmer until sauce is thickened, vegetables are crisp tender, and chicken is cooked through, approximately 1-2 minutes.
- Taste and add additional vinegar for more tang or sriracha for spicier (if too sweet) if desired.
- Garnish individual servings with toasted coconut flakes and cashews.
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