Air Fryer Cashew Chicken –If you’re looking for an easy weeknight meal, this air fryer cashew chicken is it!
The chicken is tender and juicy, and the sauce is flavorful. Plus, it’s ready in less than 30 minutes. Give this simple dish a try tonight!
You’ll love this air fryer cashew chicken if you love Chinese food. Tender chicken pieces are coated in a delicious sauce and then roasted to perfection in the air fryer. This dish is so easy to make, and it’s perfect for a quick and healthy weeknight meal. You’ll love the delicious, slightly crunchy cashews on top!
What Is Cashew Chicken?
Cashew Chicken is a popular Chinese-American dish that features stir-fried chicken, cashews, and a variety of vegetables, all coated in a flavorful sauce.
The sauce typically includes soy, hoisin, ginger, and garlic, creating a savory and slightly sweet flavor profile.
This dish is known for its delightful combination of textures, with the tender chicken and crunchy cashews complemented by the crisp vegetables. It’s a staple in many Chinese restaurants and popular for home cooking due to its straightforward preparation and delicious taste.
Why You Will Love This Recipe
You will love this Cashew Chicken recipe for several compelling reasons:
- Flavorful and Balanced: The combination of savory chicken, crunchy cashews, and a rich sauce offers a perfect balance of flavors and textures.
- Easy and Quick to Make: This dish is ideal for busy weeknights as it comes together quickly, often in under 30 minutes.
- Versatile: You can easily customize it with your favorite vegetables or adjust the sauce to suit your preferences.
- Healthier Alternative: When made at home, it can be a healthier option than takeout, as you can control the ingredients and use less oil.
- Family-Friendly: Its appealing flavors and non-spicy nature make it a hit for adults and children.
- Great for Leftovers: It reheats well, making it perfect for meal prep or next-day lunches.
Ingredients Needed For Air Fryer Cashew Chicken
Embark on a culinary adventure with these carefully selected Air Fryer Cashew Chicken ingredients.
Each component plays a vital role in creating a dish that’s not only bursting with flavor but also easy to prepare, ensuring a delightful and satisfying meal.
Remember the step-by-step directions and detailed ingredient list are below, in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post, as well as the nutritional information.
- Chicken Breast: The star of the dish, chicken breast provides a lean, high-protein base that absorbs the rich flavors of the sauce and complements the crunchy cashews.
- Olive Oil: A dash of olive or sesame oil in the sauce adds a subtle, nutty aroma, enhancing the dish’s depth.
- Cornstarch: Helps thicken the sauce.
- Bell Pepper: Bell peppers, with their sweet and slightly tangy flavor, add a pop of color and a fresh, crisp texture.
- Green Onions: These bring a mild, oniony flavor that enhances the overall taste without overpowering the other ingredients.
- Soy Sauce: This provides the savory, umami-rich foundation to the sauce, tying all the flavors together.
- Sesame Seeds: Great for adding some crunch and are great for presentation
- Cashews: These nuts add a delightful crunch and a nutty taste, elevating the texture and flavor profile of the dish.
How To Make Cashew Chicken In Air Fryer
Making Cashew Chicken in an air fryer is a straightforward and efficient process. Here’s a step-by-step guide:
Use a paper towel to dry your chicken breast. Cut your chicken into 1-inch pieces. Add the chicken to a small bowl, add 1 tablespoon of oil, salt, and cornstarch, and mix well to coat the chicken.
Spray your air fryer basket with cooking spray, and then add your chicken; cook for 5 to 8 minutes at 360 degrees F or until the chicken’s internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.
While the chicken is cooking in a small skillet, add 1 tablespoon of oil and the sliced bell peppers, and saute until tender, about 2 to 4 minutes. Pour in the soy sauce and cornstarch when your vegetables are tender, and mix well.
Add the chicken and cashews to coat.
Exploring different Air Fryer Cashew Chicken variations can add exciting twists to this classic dish. Here are some creative ideas to try:
- Spicy Version: Add a kick to your dish by including red pepper flakes, diced fresh chili, or a splash of Sriracha or hot sauce into the sauce mixture. This will give the dish a spicy edge, perfect for those who love a little heat.
- Vegetable-Loaded: Increase the nutritional value and color by adding vegetables like broccoli, snap peas, carrots, or mushrooms. These veggies will add different textures and flavors, making the dish more wholesome and vibrant.
- Sauce Variations: Experiment with the sauce by adding a bit of peanut butter for a creamier texture or some lime juice for a tangy twist. You can also try different types of soy sauce, like light soy for a saltier taste or dark soy for a deeper flavor.
- Protein Substitutions: While chicken is the traditional choice, you can easily substitute it with tofu for a vegetarian option, shrimp for a seafood variation, or beef for a different meat choice. Each protein brings its unique flavor and texture to the dish.
- Nut Substitutions: If cashews aren’t your favorite or if you’re looking for a different taste, try using almonds, peanuts, or walnuts. These nuts can provide different flavors and textures but keep the crunch that complements the dish.
- Sweet and Sour Twist: Add pineapple chunks and a splash of vinegar for a different flavor profile to create a sweet and sour version of the dish. This can be a delightful contrast to the savory elements.
- Low-Carb Option: For a lower carbohydrate version, serve the dish with cauliflower rice instead of regular rice, or increase the proportion of vegetables and reduce the sauce.
- Gluten-Free Adaptation: Use tamari or a gluten-free soy sauce instead of regular soy sauce to make this dish gluten-free.
These variations can be adjusted according to personal preferences and dietary needs, making the Air Fryer Cashew Chicken a versatile recipe that can be enjoyed in many delicious ways.
To elevate your Air Fryer Cashew Chicken to the next level and ensure a delicious outcome every time, consider these professional tips:
- Preheat Your Air Fryer: Always preheat your air fryer before adding the chicken. This ensures that the chicken starts cooking immediately and gets a nice crispy exterior.
- Avoid Overcrowding: Cook the chicken in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding the air fryer basket. Overcrowding can lead to uneven cooking and a less crispy texture.
- Uniform Chicken Pieces: Cut the chicken into uniform-sized pieces. This helps cook the chicken evenly, ensuring every piece is perfectly done.
- Toast the Cashews: For extra flavor, lightly toast the cashews in a dry pan before adding them to the dish. This enhances their nutty flavor and adds an extra layer of crunch.
- Use Fresh Garlic and Ginger: Freshly minced garlic and ginger significantly differ in flavor compared to their powdered counterparts. They add a fresh and aromatic touch to the dish.
- Balance the Sauce: Taste your sauce before adding it to the chicken and adjust the seasoning if necessary. The right balance of sweet, savory, and tangy flavors is key to a great cashew chicken.
- Cornstarch for Crispiness: Lightly coating the chicken in cornstarch before air-frying can help achieve a crisper texture, similar to what you would get in a traditional stir-fry.
- Monitor Cooking Time: Since every air fryer differs, check the chicken a few minutes before the recipe is suggested. Chicken is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (75°C).
- Rest the Chicken: After cooking, the chicken rests for a few minutes. This redistributes the juices, ensuring the chicken is juicy and flavorful.
- Fresh Garnish: Add a fresh touch by garnishing with sliced green onions, sesame seeds, or a squeeze of lime juice just before serving.
- Adjust Thickness of Sauce: If the sauce is too thick, thin it with a little water or chicken broth. If it’s too thin, cook it longer or add a cornstarch slurry to reach the desired consistency.
Following these pro tips, you’ll be able to create a restaurant-quality Air Fryer Cashew Chicken that’s sure to impress your family and friends.
Can I use a different type of nut instead of cashews? Yes, you can substitute cashews with almonds, peanuts, or walnuts. Each nut offers a unique flavor and texture but will complement the dish well.
Is it possible to make this recipe gluten-free? Absolutely. To make Cashew Chicken gluten-free, use tamari or a certified gluten-free soy sauce instead of regular soy sauce.
Can I add other vegetables to this dish? Definitely! Vegetables like broccoli, bell peppers, carrots, and snap peas can be great additions. They add nutritional value and enhance the dish’s flavor and texture.
How can I make this dish spicier? To add heat, include ingredients like red pepper flakes, diced chili peppers, or hot sauce in the sauce mixture.
Can I use chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts? Chicken thighs can be used as they are juicier and more flavorful. Just ensure they are cut into uniform pieces for even cooking.
How do I store and reheat leftovers? Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in a microwave or on the stovetop until heated through.
Is Cashew Chicken suitable for freezing? Yes, you can freeze Cashew Chicken. However, the texture of the vegetables may change upon thawing. It’s best consumed fresh for optimal taste and texture.
How can I make this dish healthier? To make it healthier, use less oil, increase the amount of vegetables, and serve with brown rice or cauliflower rice for a low-carb option.
Can this recipe be made in a regular oven if I don’t have an air fryer? Yes, you can bake the chicken in a conventional oven. Adjust cooking time accordingly, and broil for the last few minutes for a crispier finish.
What can I serve with Cashew Chicken? Cashew Chicken goes well with steamed rice, noodles, or quinoa. It can also be paired with a simple side salad or steamed vegetables for a more balanced meal.
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Air Fryer Cashew Chicken
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, skinless chicken breast
- 2 tablespoon olive oil, or sesame oil, divided
- ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 large red bell pepper, sliced into 1-inch pieces
- 1 large green bell pepper, Sliced Into 1-inch pieces
- 1 cup cashews, roasted
- 2 tablespoons green onions
- 1 teaspoon white sesame seeds
- 1 cup soy sauce
- ½ tablespoon cornstarch, For vegetables
- Use a paper towel to dry your chicken breast. Cut your chicken into 1-inch pieces.
- Add the chicken to a small bowl, add 1 tablespoon of oil, salt, and cornstarch, and mix well, to coat the chicken.
- Spray your air fryer basket with cooking spray, and then add your chicken, cook for 5 to 8 minutes at 360 degrees F, or until the chicken’s internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.
- While the chicken is cooking in a small skillet, add 1 tablespoon of oil and the sliced bell peppers, and saute until tender, about 2 to 4 minutes.
- When your vegetables are tender, pour in the soy sauce, and cornstarch, and mix well.
- Add the chicken, and cashew, to coat.
- Plate with rice, green onions, and sesame seeds
- Air Fryer
- Cooking Spray
- Parchment Paper, optional