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Kung Pao Shrimp

Easy to make at home this recipe for Kung Pao shrimp features tender, juicy shrimp and crisp peppers cooked in a sweet and spicy sauce with maximum flavor. Add some crunchy peanuts and this is the meal you need for dinner tonight!

Love Kung Pao sauce on everything? You’ll also want to make this Kung Pao chicken or add some to chow mein noodles!

Cooked Kung pao shrimp in a white pot with chopsticks.
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What is Kung Pao Shrimp?

Easy Kung Pao shrimp recipe is full of plump juicy shrimp and crisp bell peppers and zucchini. Everything gets tossed together in a fragrant sweet and spicy kung pao sauce and is finished off with some crunchy peanuts. Your tastebuds will thank you!

If you love Chinese take-out as much as we do, you’ve probably heard of Kung Pao. The most popular versions of this dish are made with either shrimp or chicken. 

This version of the classic dish is ready in about 20 minutes which makes it great for busy weeknights and a great way to switch up from a classic chicken and vegetable stir fry with teriyaki sauce.

Recipe Ingredients

Don’t be intimidated by the long list of ingredients in this Kung Pao shrimp recipe. Most of the marinade and sauce ingredients are pantry items that are great to have on hand for shrimp recipes.

Kung Pao Shrimp Ingredients on a marble countertop.

Find the full printable recipe with specific measurements below.

  • Shrimp: The real hero of the dish! Use medium-sized shrimp that have been peeled and deveined. 
  • Rice vinegar: This vinegar is made from fermented rice and is frequently used in East Asian dishes. If you can’t find rice vinegar, white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar are good alternatives.
  • Hoisin sauce: This is a dark brown sauce with a salty and tangy flavor. You can usually find it near the soy sauce in most grocery stores.
  • Garlic and ginger: The recipe calls for fresh minced garlic and minced ginger, but if you don’t have any on hand, you can substitute 1 teaspoon of ground garlic and 1 teaspoon of ground ginger instead.
  • Cornstarch: Used to thicken the sauce. Make sure there are no lumps in the cornstarch before you add the sauce to the skillet.
  • Veggies: I used a blend of green and red bell peppers, zucchini, and green onions, but feel free to mix it up.
  • Oil: Vegetable or peanut oils are the best for stir-fries because of their high smoking point, meaning you can turn the heat up without burning the oil and filling your kitchen with smoke.

How to Make Kung Pao Shrimp

Stir fries come together really quickly, so to make everything go smoothly, prep all the ingredients ahead of time.

Showing how to make kung pao shrimp in a 6 step collage.
  • Marinate. Combine soy sauce, salt and cornstarch in a large bowl and stir together. Add the shrimp, stir, and leave to marinate for 10 minutes.
  • Make sauce. Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and mix until smooth. Make sure there are no lumps of cornstarch.
  • Cook shrimp. Stir-fry shrimp in a wok or skillet over medium-high heat for 2 – 3 minutes until they turn pink. Remove them from the wok.
  • Add veggies. Stir-fry the veggies for 1 – 2 minutes. Make sure to stir them constantly while cooking. Remove them from the wok and place them with the shrimp.
  • Simmer. Add aromatics and seasoning and stir for 1 minute. Pour the Kung Pao sauce into the wok and let it simmer until it has thickened.
  • Finish. Add the shrimp and veggies to the wok and simmer for 1 minute. 

Expert Tips

  • Chop evenly. Try to cut the bell peppers and zucchini the same size so that they cook evenly. If you’re adding other vegetables, the same goes for them.
  • Prep first. The process of making a stir fry is quick, so it’s important to have all your ingredients prepped and ready to go before you start cooking.
  • Watch the shrimp. Shrimp cooks quickly and can easily become overcooked if you leave it in the wok for too long. To avoid rubbery shrimp, keep it moving in the pan and cook only until it has just turned pink. Then remove skillet from the heat.
  • Shortcuts. Short on time? Use pre chopped veggies and half a cup of premade Kung Pao or stir fry sauce.
Cooked Kung pao shrimp in a white pot.

Serving Suggestions

I like to serve this Kung Pao shrimp with lots of rice on the side to soak up the delicious sauce. I usually serve it with some long-grain white rice on the stove, coconut rice or homemade fried rice.

Another popular option is to serve this stir fry with rice noodles. These quick-cooking noodles are made with rice flour and water. No one ever turns down this recipe for crab rangoon when served as a side!

Recipe FAQs

Is Kung Pao shrimp sauce spicy?

This sauce has just a little heat to it but has mainly sweet and savory flavors. If you like it a bit spicier, you can add more red pepper flakes. You should try bang bang shrimp recipe, too!

What’s the best oil for stir fry?

Choose a neutral-tasting oil that has a high smoke point, which means you can turn the heat up without the oil burning. Good options include vegetable, canola, avocado or peanut oils.

What other veggies go well with it?

That great thing about stir fry is you can use whatever veggies you have on hand. Broccoli, carrots, green beans, baby corn, or other crunchy veggies all work!

Can you make stir fry in advance?

It’s easy to prep your ingredients in advance and store them in the fridge for when you’re ready to cook the stir fry. This includes whisking together the sauce and chopping the veggies. Use the ingredients within the next 48 hours.

Storing and Reheating

In the refrigerator: Store leftovers in a covered container for up to 3 days.

How to reheat: The best way to reheat stir fry is to use the same method in which we cooked it – in a wok or skillet. Heat a splash of oil in your wok over medium-high heat and then add the leftovers. Heat for 2 – 3 minutes, stirring continuously until heated through.

Cooked Kung pao shrimp with rice.

Craving more Asian-inspired recipes? Try this sweet and sour chicken, chicken pad thai, and chicken chow mein.

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Cooked Kung pao shrimp in a white pot with chopsticks.

Kung Pao Shrimp

5 from 5 votes
↑ Click stars to rate now!
Author: Jamielyn Nye
Make your own takeout at home in just 20-minutes with this easy recipe for Kung Pao shrimp. Juicy shrimp and crisp veggies are cooked in a sweet and spicy sauce with maximum flavor. Turn your kitchen into a Chinese restaurant tonight!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6




  • 1 pound shrimp , peeled and deveined
  • 2 Tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch

Kung Pao Sauce

  • ¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1 to 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch


  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons oil (vegetable, peanut, or olive)
  • 2 bell peppers , sliced into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 small zucchini , cut unto bite-sized pieces
  • 1 Tablespoon sesame oil , can sub for another oil if needed, optional
  • 1 bunch green onions , sliced thin
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic (about 4 cloves)
  • ½ Tablespoon minced ginger
  • ½ cup dry roasted peanuts
  • Red pepper flakes , to taste
  • 8 dried chili peppers , optional

For serving (optional): Rice or Noodles



    • In a large bowl, stir together the shrimp, soy sauce, salt, and corn starch. Marinate 10 minutes.

    Kung Pao Sauce

    • In a small bowl, whisk the soy sauce, rice vinegar, hoisin sauce, sugar, water, and cornstarch until smooth.


    • Heat a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add 2 Tablespoons oil and heat 30 seconds. Add the shrimp and stir-fry 2 to 3 minutes, or until the shrimp turn pink. Transfer to a large plate. Quickly run the pan under hot water and carefully wipe down with a paper towel.
    • Add 1 Tablespoon oil to the skillet. Cook the bell peppers and zucchini over medium-high heat 3 to 4 minutes, or until tender. Transfer to the plate with the shrimp.
    • Add sesame oil to the skillet, if needed. Add the green onions, garlic, ginger, peanuts, red pepper flakes (I start with about 1/2 teaspoon), and chili peppers, if using. Stir-fry 1 to 2 minutes, or until fragrant. Pour in the Kung Pao Sauce and simmer until thickened.
    • Return the shrimp and vegetables to the skillet. Toss until combined and simmer 1 minute until shrimp is cooked through. Add salt and red pepper flakes, to taste. Serve while hot with rice or noodles.


    Shortcuts: If you’re looking to save time, you can use one or more of these shortcuts.
    • Use 1/2 cup of a pre-made Kung Pao or Stir Fry Sauce.
    • You could also use pre-chopped, stir-fry vegetables.
    • If you don’t have fresh garlic or ginger, you can use 1 teaspoon ground of each. 
    Storage: Store leftovers in a covered container in the refrigerator up to 3 days. 


    Calories: 189kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 0.02g | Cholesterol: 0.2mg | Sodium: 1106mg | Potassium: 337mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 1504IU | Vitamin C: 58mg | Calcium: 27mg | Iron: 1mg

    Nutrition provided is an estimate. It will vary based on specific ingredients used.

    Course: Main Dish
    Cuisine: Asian

    Did you make this recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!

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