Thai sesame cashew chicken has become one of my favorite summer dinners. We love Asian-inspired meals like these chicken broccoli and chicken green bean stir-fry dinners. This recipe adds the crunch of toasted cashews and the punchy spice of Thai basil to really amp up the flavor. It’s absolutely scrumptious!
I especially love making this recipe when I have fresh Thai basil available. We found it at a local nursery a few years next to the traditional sweet basil plants. Now I search it out every spring. Thai basil is wonderful with stir fry and other Asian-inspired recipes. It’s spicy and pungent and holds up well in spicy dishes. Really the perfect finishing touch to this recipe.
Sesame Oil: Using sesame oil adds authentic flavor to a stir fry. You will use it to toast the cashews and later to sauté the chicken.
Honey: Adds sweetness to balance out the spicy flavors. Honey also helps allow the spices to coat the cashews.
Chili Powder: Gives the cashews a wonderful flavor.
Turmeric Powder: Tumeric adds great color and flavor.
Cashews: Adds crunch and flavor. Cashews are a great ingredient in stir-fry recipes.
Lime Zest: Adds a nice pop of color and fresh flavor.
Low Sodium Soy Sauce: Soy sauce is a base flavor for most stir-fry recipes. I always use low sodium.
Fish Sauce: A pungent, fermented sauce that adds intense flavor to the sauce.
Garlic Chili Paste: Adds a spicy punch of flavor.
Ketchup: Not a traditional ingredient, but it adds great color to the sauce and makes it thick and delicious.
Sesame Seeds: Adds a nice bit of crunch to the sauce.
Chicken Breast: Boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs work well.
Cornstarch: Used to coat the chicken and later helps the sauce thicken a bit.
Black Pepper: Adds flavor to the chicken
Ripe Bell Pepper: I use red, yellow, or orange bell peppers, whatever I have available. I like the added texture and flavor that peppers and onions give a stir-fry.
Garlic: Adds great flavor and aroma.
Ginger: I love the fresh, bright pop of flavor that fresh ginger provides.
Thai Basil: This lovely herb is the perfect finishing touch.
Green Onions: A finishing touch and fresh flavor.
Rice: Plain rice or coconut rice are both perfect with this recipe. To make coconut rice, simply replace part of the water used to cook the rice with coconut milk.
Start by cooking your rice. I have recently developed the bad habit of forgetting to start my rice before I start a stir-fry. So annoying.
Next, toast the cashews. Add the oil, honey, and spices to a skillet then add the cashews. Use a large skillet as you will later use it to sauté the chicken. Only one skillet to wash! Watch the cashews as they can burn easily. Stir occasionally until toasted then remove from the skillet and sprinkle with zest.
Combine the chicken with cornstarch and pepper and also combine the sauce ingredients. Prep the bell pepper and garlic. I also like to prep the green onions and basil.
Sauté the chicken and bell pepper. Add the garlic and ginger and stir for one minute. Pour in the sauce and stir to coat the chicken. Coat and stir frequently. until the mixture is heated through. The sauce will also thicken slightly.
Plate the rice, add the chicken, and sprinkle with cashews, Thai basil, and sliced green onions.
Enjoy this incredibly delicious Thai sesame cashew chicken!
Modified from Half Baked Harvest.
Thai Sesame Cashew Chicken
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 1 Tbsp honey
- ½ tsp chili powder
- ¼ tsp turmeric
- ¼ cup cashews
- zest of a lime
- 2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
- 2 tsp honey
- 1 tsp fish sauce
- 1 Tbsp garlic chili paste
- 1 Tbsp ketchup
- 1 tsp sesame seeds
- 1 boneless skinless chicken breast thinly sliced
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 1 cup ripe bell pepper thinly sliced
- 1 clove garlic minced or grated
- 2 tsp fresh ginger grated
- 1 Tbsp fresh Thai basil chopped
- 1-2 green onions sliced
- 2 servings of regular or coconut rice
- For the cashews: Combine oil, honey, chili, powder, and turmeric in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the cashews and cook until lightly toasted and caramelized. Watch closely, so the mixture doesn't burn. Remove the cashews from the skillet onto a plate and sprinkle with lime zest. Set aside.
- Combine the chicken, cornstarch, and black pepper to taste.
- Combine the remaining honey, the soy sauce, fish sauce, chili paste, ketchup, and sesame seeds in a bowl or measuring cup. Set aside.
- To the skillet, add sesame oil over medium heat. Add the chicken and sauté for 5 minutes until starting to brown. Add sliced bell peppers and sauté for 3-5 minutes until starting to soften. Add garlic and ginger and sauté for one minute. Pour in the sauce and stir to coat the chicken. Cook until sauce is heated through and coating the chicken, 3-5 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the basil. Serve the chicken and sauce over rice. Top with cashews, additional basil, and green onions; if desired.