Not for the faint-hearted, this Spicy Szechuan chicken stir fry is made with Szechuan (Sichuan) peppers for that tongue-tingling heat. Plus plenty of dried red chillies too!
If you like heat you're gonna love this one!
Szechuan chicken, also known as Sichuan chicken, Mala Chicken or Laziji, is a beautifully spiced stir-fried chicken dish, usually served dry, rather than saucy, and characterised by the use of Szechuan peppercorns and lots of dried red chillies.
Originating in Chongqing (in Southwest China) it's a hugely popular dish. Often the chicken is deep-fried (I shallow-fry mine) and the amount of dried chillies in the dish tends to far outweigh the amount of chicken.
I'm going a fair bit lighter on the chillies for my recipe. However, if you leave them whole, they don't actually add too much heat anyway. It's when they're chopped and those chilli seeds are released that the heat level starts to increase!!
For my recipe, I'm leaving most of the chillies whole and just chopping up a few of them.
📋 What do we need?
Full recipe with detailed and measurements at the end of this post.
For the Chicken & Marinade:
I recommend using chicken thighs for this recipe as they stay tender when you shallow fry them after marinating however you can replace with Chicken breast if you prefer.
Chilli Bean Paste - known as toban djan or doubanjiang – if you can’t find this, you can replace with Gochujang (a Korean Chilli paste that’s little sweeter, but still good), or at a push, hoisin sauce mixed with a good pinch of chilli flakes.
📋 What are Szechuan Peppercorns?
Szechuan or Sichuan peppercorns are actually berries from a type of prickly ash tree, rather than pepper. They give a tingly-numbing effect on the tongue when eaten (which goes away pretty quickly).
You can buy them in most larger supermarkets, and when ground up they have a highly floral and citrusy scent.
You can buy red or green szechuan peppers. The red are stronger in flavour, but the green have more of a numbing effect. You can use either for this dish.
🔪 How to make it
Full recipe with detailed steps in the recipe card at the end of this post.
- First we marinate chicken thigh pieces in soy sauce, rice wine, white pepper and cornflour. It only needs to marinate for a short period of time - 30 minutes is enough, but you can marinade for longer (up to overnight) if preferred.
- Then we fry the chicken in oil until golden and remove from the pan.
- Next up we fry the dried chillies in a little sesame oil, before adding in the ground Szechuan peppers, garlic, ginger and spring onions.
- Add in a little more soy sauce along with rice wine, chilli bean paste and some sugar to balance out the spice and salt.
- Add the chicken back in a toss together before serving.
👩🍳PRO TIP If you like it hot, chop up 5-10 of the dried chillies. If you want it a little milder, use fewer dried chillies and don't chop them up.
Serve over a big pile of fluffy boiled rice.
Check out the full recipe in the recipe card below. I really hope you love this dish. If you try it I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments 😊
🍲 More fantastic stir fry recipes
Stay updated with new recipes!
Subscribe to the newsletter to hear when I post a new recipe. I’m also on YouTube (new videos every week) and Instagram (behind-the-scenes stories & beautiful food photos).
Szechuan Chicken Recipe
Chicken and marinade:
- 240 ml (1 cup) sunflower oil
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 onion - peeled and chopped into chunks
- 25 dried red chillies - – chop 5 of them into small pieces and leave the rest whole
- 1 ½ tsp Sichuan peppercorns - ground using a pestle and mortar (the 1 ½ tsp is measured BEFORE grinding)
- 3 cloves garlic - minced
- 2 tsp minced ginger
- 5 spring onions - scallions roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce
- 1 tbsp Chinese rice wine
- 1 tbsp chilli bean paste - *See Note
- 1 tbsp sugar
- Place the chicken pieces in a bowl with the rest of the marinade ingredients. Stir together, cover and marinade for 30 minutes (or up to a couple of hours – place in the refrigerator if marinading for more than 30 minutes).
- Heat the oil (reserving 1 tbsp for later) over a medium-high heat in a large frying pan.
- Add the chicken, a piece at a time (you may need to work in 2 batches), and cook for 4-5 minutes, turning a couple of times, until golden.
- Remove from the pan and place on a plate.
- Heat the reserved 1 tbsp of sunflower oil along with 1 tbsp of sesame oil in a wok over a medium-high heat.
- Add the onion and dried chillies and stir fry for 2-3 minutes, stirring often, until the onion starts to soften slightly.
- Add in the ground Sichuan peppers and fry for a further minute.
- Add in the garlic, ginger and spring onions and stir fry for a further 30 seconds.
- Add in the soy sauce, rice wine, chilli bean paste and sugar. Stir together and fry for another minute.
- Add in the cooked chicken and toss everything together, heating for a further minute or two until the chicken is hot.
- Serve with boiled rice.
I've accounted for 60ml (¼ cup) of oil being absorbed during the cooking process.
Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links – which means if you buy the product I get a small commission (at no extra cost to you). If you do buy, then thank you! That’s what helps us to keep Kitchen Sanctuary running. The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary depending on several factors. For more information please see our Terms & Conditions.