Cashew Chicken w/Water Chestnuts & Hoisin Garlic Sauce

Cashew Chicken w/Water Chestnuts & Hoisin Garlic Sauce
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Cashew chicken has always been my favorite item to order for Chinese take-out.  I love the depth of flavor in the garlic hoisin sauce and stir fried chicken and the slight crunch from the water chestnuts.  

Then I moved to Springfield, Missouri and discovered that they cherish a “Springfield Style” cashew chicken* that (I’m sorry to all my new friends and neighbors) is NOT cashew chicken.  It features fried chicken chunks the size of golf balls and a sauce made from garlic and oyster sauce.  I guess it’s fine if it is your jam, but don’t call it cashew chicken and not expect the rest of the country to roll their eyes at you.  

Which brings me to my problem – in Springfield, they ONLY serve Springfield style cashew chicken and after more than a year without the real deal, I was starting to go through withdrawals.  Lucky for me I live in the age of the internet and after testing and combining several recipes and then just making adjustments based on how I remember the real deal, I am happy to say that I can enjoy cashew chicken again.  At home 🙂

Springfield Style Cashew Chicken As I mentioned, Springfield Style Cashew Chicken is not my favorite. But I am a strong believer that we are each allowed our own tastes and obviously alot of people around here like it. I am not about to experiment with it to try to perfect it, but I the internet seems to agree that this version from is pretty good if you’d like to give it a try.
I think that this recipe requires rice to finish it off. There are tons of ways to make your rice. A rice steamer is definitely the easiest and most fool proof and if you have one use that. If, like me, you don’t have room in your kitchen for a lot of extras, you might have skipped getting a rice cooker (like me). I know you can also use an instant pot, but I haven’t had a lot of luck there. The microwave is supposed to work too – again I haven’t mastered that technique. I go for the stove top. I’ll admit it, the perfect rice is hard to get right. But I did finally master the technique after watching Alton Brown (does anyone NOT love Alton Brown for cooking instruction???!!!) I don’t remember what episode of Good Eats I watched to learn how to make the perfect stovetop rice, but I do remember these tips:
  • If you want a fluffy rice, rinse the rice (the starches in it are going to make it a sticky rice if they aren’t rinsed off)
  • The rice to water ratio is NOT 1:2 like everyone says. It’s 1:1 plus whatever water is going to evaporate. For me, that means 2 cups of rice to 3 cups of water.
  • Add rice to salted, boiling water, cover, and let simmer on low for about 18 minutes then remove from heat and let sit for another 10-15 minutes. The rice will continue to cook/steam and will be fluffy when you do remove the lid (don’t skip this or you are likely to have sticky rice).
  • Alton also recommends browning the rice in butter to add extra flavor, which I always do when making savory rices and pilaf, but for Asian cooking, I don’t like the added flavor. For me, it’s just water, salt, and rice.
For me the scallions, garlic, and water chestnuts are definitely must haves. But sometimes I want a little more in the veggie department. I’ve found zucchini, bamboo shoots, broccoli. Thai chili peppers, celery and mushrooms all work wonderfully in this dish. Feel free to add some of your favorites. My basic rule of thumb with this dish is that I don’t want more veggies than chicken, but I find the dish is delicious with up to equal parts veggies and chicken.
Cashew Chicken

Cashew Chicken with Roasted Cashews and Water Chestnuts

Moist and tender stir fried chicken with water chestnuts, scallions, garlic, and roasted cashews in a hoisin garlic sauce. Imagine your favorite take-out cashew chicken - only better!
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 2422kcal
Author While It's Cooking


  • 3/4 cup cashews roasted & unsalted
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 5 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1.5 lbs chicken thighs boneless & skinless
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper ground
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 8 scallions whites & greens separated, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 can water chestnuts diced
  • 2 stalks celery diced
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp Asian sesame oil

Optional Veggies

  • zucchini
  • bamboo shoots
  • broccoli
  • thai chili peppers
  • mushrooms


Roast Cashews

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Toast cashews on baking sheet for 5 minutes and then set aside.

Prepare Sauce

  • Whisk together water, cornstarch, hoisin sauce, and soy sauce. Set aside.

Prepare Chicken

  • Cut chicken into 1 inch pieces and toss with salt and pepper.
  • Place large nonstick skillet with 1 tbsp vegetable oil over high heat.
  • When pan is very hot, add half of the chicken and cook approximately 3 minutes (chicken will be browned, but not cooked through). Remove from pan and set aside. Repeat with remaining half of the chicken.
  • Add garlic, white parts of the scallions, water chestnuts, celery (and any other veggies you are adding) to pan and saute for approximately 1 minute.
  • Return chicken to pan and turn heat to medium.
  • Add rice wine vinegar and cook until evaporated (about 45 seconds).
  • Add the sauce mixture to the pan and cook until the chicken is cooked through and sauce is thickened (1-2 minutes longer).
  • Stir in scallion greens, roasted cashews, and sesame oil. Serve immediately with rice.


Calories: 2422kcal | Carbohydrates: 112g | Protein: 138g | Fat: 161g | Saturated Fat: 39g | Cholesterol: 669mg | Sodium: 4036mg | Potassium: 2771mg | Fiber: 14g | Sugar: 36g | Vitamin A: 1488IU | Vitamin C: 27mg | Calcium: 218mg | Iron: 16mg
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History of Rice Cultivation

For a fascinating lesson on the history of rice cultivation, check out Ricepedia: The Online authority on Rice.

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While It's Cooking

I love cooking. Always have. As a busy mother of two young kids, oftentimes the best time I have to pick up a cookbook or explore a new idea is while food is cooking. Sometimes I use that time to explore more about the meal I am preparing - the food, the traditions, the culture. Sometimes I use that time to figure out what I'm going to cook next and delve deeper into ingredients and techniques to experiment with. Usually while I'm cooking my family leaves me alone in the kitchen and I can enjoy a rare moment to myself. One of my favorite times of the day is "While It's Cooking."

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