Sweet and spicy Kung Pao Chicken Thighs serve up a heavy dose of flavor in a single skillet! You’ll fall head over heels for this simple paleo recipe that delivers sticky smoldering heat.
We eat chicken thighs at least once a week, especially when we’re trying to save money. Chicken thighs are an inexpensive protein option (way cheaper than chicken breasts) and they’re incredibly versatile. Bone-in thighs are an easy choice for easy meals.
Usually I opt for the dead simple route and make simple crispy cast iron chicken thighs. But since we’ve been eating them so often lately, I’ve had the urge to try something new. Kung Pao chicken thighs were born, and I couldn’t be happier with the results!
Money’s been tight in our home because the man spouse and I are saving for a down payment on our first house. Of course, wrenches too easily get thrown into the mix. Our oldest cat, Loki, has been sick. Then today I spent the morning in the hospital for chest pain (apparently I’m super duper healthy and they think there is simply a nerve inflamed in my chest cavity). Lots of road bumps. But we’re still working to build up our savings, and that means I have to be a little more reserved about my grocery spending. Which means lots of chicken thighs, wings, and whole birds.
You may not be used to using dried chiles in your cooking, but I urge you to give it a shot. To me, that’s what sets the sauce apart. Dried chiles offer a flavor and low, sweet heat that you’re just never going to match with chili powder. Dried chiles are cheap – you can buy them online or find them in the International sections of most grocery stores – and a little goes a long way with them.
I used dried chiles in my Barbacoa Brisket Tacos a few months back. That was my first experience with them, and I haven’t looked back since! You can expect to see more recipes using dried chiles cropping up around here. Another bonus – since they’re dried, they last for quite a while. Just keep them in an airtight container and bust ’em out whenever you need some heat!
Beyond that, every other ingredient is pretty standard paleo pantry fare.
Good news, too…the leftovers are still great reheated! I’ve made these Kung Pao Chicken Thighs a few times for meal prep and I’ve always looked forward to my lunches they’re in the fridge.
Okay, let’s get to the recipe. We all know that’s what you’re here for anyway. Ha!
Paleo Kung Pao Chicken ThighsPrint
- 2 pounds bone in, skin on chicken thighs (about 4)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 12 dried red hot chiles (like arbol), stemmed, halved and seeded
- 5 scallions, white part only, thickly sliced
- 1 large clove garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 (½”) piece of ginger, peeled and minced
- 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
- 1/4 cup coconut aminos
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons raw honey
- 3 tablespoons bone or chicken broth
- 4 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup cashews, chopped
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together the coconut aminos, rice wine, honey, chicken broth, arrowroot powder, and apple cider vinegar. Set aside.
- Heat olive oil in a large oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the chicken thighs with salt. Add the chicken thighs to the skillet, skin side down, and cook for 4-5 minutes on each side. Using kitchen tongs, remove the thighs to a plate.
- Keeping the skillet hot, add the dried chiles, half the scallions, garlic, and ginger. Cook for another 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until the chiles have deepened in color. Remove the skillet from heat. Use tongs to add the chicken thighs back to the skillet, skin side up. Pour the mixed liquid ingredients overtop and immediately transfer to the oven. Bake for 20 minutes. To crisp up the chicken thighs (if desired), turn the broiler on high and broil for about 4 minutes.
- Garnish with remaining scallions and chopped cashews.
Keywords: Kung Pao Chicken Thighs, paleo kung pao chicken thighs