Hunan Chicken vs Kung Pao Chicken

Hunan Chicken vs Kung Pao Chicken

Nowadays, there are many different types of fast foods, ranging from classic pizza, Asian bistros and hot dogs. All these dishes are popular; however, some are overall favorites over others. When you visit the most new-popular restaurants, you’ll find meals from various cuisines, America, Asia, and even Chinese.

Chinese food is becoming more popular in America, with many famous restaurants selling its food. These foods are packed with complex, delicious spices, veggies, and herbs, making them an excellent addition to any meal planning menu.

But how can you decide which to add and leave with the many different dishes? Two of the most popular Chinese foods are Hunan and Kung Pao chicken, but how do you choose between these two? Stay put as we dig into the details of Hunan and Kung Pao chicken.

Hunan Chicken vs Kung Pao Chicken

Hunan chicken refers to small and tender pieces of chicken that are lightly coated in corn starch and then fried. These pieces are then tossed in a spicy, slightly sweet, and savory sauce with a bit of chili pepper heat. The fried chicken pieces are combined with fresh vegetables, creating a delicious and perfect dinner.

Also called Kung Po or Gong Bao, Kung Pao chicken is a classic Chinese dish consisting of stir-fried or deep-fried chicken. The chicken is tossed in hot sauce and combined with vegetables, peanuts, and chili pepper, giving this dish a nutty flavor. Some people add rice to the dish, and others don’t.

About Hunan Chicken

Hunan chicken is a Chinese stir fry dish comprising of tender chicken pieces lightly coated in cornstarch, fried, and tossed in a spicy, slightly sweet, and savory chili sauce with other vegetables. This dish, also called Xiang, originates from a South Central province in China called Hunan. Hunan chicken is a very crucial cuisine from China and forms one of the eight most significant traditions of the country.

In the United States, Hunan chicken means thinly sliced, soft, silky chicken breasts stir-fried with different crisp-tender vegetables in spicy and complex Hunan sauce. The sauce consists of layers of flavors and comprises red peppers mixed with ginger, garlic, say sauce, and oyster sauce to make a savory, salty, and spicy stir fry with a bit of sweet taste from brown sugar and tangy zest from the chili bean paste and ketchup.

Everyone can enjoy Hunan chicken, whether you love spicy foods or not. Just tone down the spicing of the chicken by adding less chili paste and peppers, and you are good to go. And if you like spicier foods, add more chili paste or peppers. In fact, the Chinese American version of Hunan chicken is not exactly the same as the authentic one. This American version has been altered to be sweeter and less sour, making it best suit the American palate.

About Kung Pao Chicken

Kung Pao chicken is one of the most popular Chinese dishes. It’s a classic dish from Sichuan Province, China. Sichuan cuisine is known for being bold, spicy, and aromatic, thanks to the garlic, Szechuan peppercorn, and chili peppers used in their cooking.

In the United States, Kung Pao chicken means bite-size marinated chicken breast pieces stir-fried with vegetables (mostly bell peppers, onions, and celery), peanuts, and dried chili peppers in a salty, savory, and glossy sauce made from the oyster sauce, chicken broth, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, and rice wine.

Kung Pao is believed to have been named after Ding Baozhen, a Sichuan governor in the Qing dynasty. The food name, Kung Pao chicken, plays on his title, Taizi Shaobao, meaning palace guardian or Kung Pao. The dish’s name was renamed spicy chicken, but many people in the US still know it as Kung Pao chicken.

This chicken dish has an intense, salty, savory, starchy, spicy-sweet, and sour sauce with a bit of sweetness flavor. The heat is due to the stir-fried chili peppers and a touch of Szechuan peppercorn. The sauce contains layers of complex flavors.

Note that American Kung Pao chicken is altered to suit the American palate, making it taste less sour than the authentic Chinese Kung Pao chicken. And like Hunan chicken, anyone can enjoy Kung Pao chicken. Simply up or tone down the spiciness by adding less or more chili paste or chili peppers, and you’ll have your favorite version of Kung Pao chicken.

Difference Between Hunan Chicken And Kung Pao Chicken

Here are a couple of differences between your two favorite Chinese chicken dishes.


Hunan chicken originated from the Hunan province of south-central China. The cuisine from this place, Hunan cuisine, is also called Xiang cuisine and forms one of the eight great traditions of Chinese cuisine.

Kung Pao chicken originated in Sichuan province in China. Sichuan cuisine is characterized by its intense, bold, and spicy flavors from chili peppers, garlic, and Szechuan peppercorn.

Method Of Preparation

Hunan chicken is made by pan-frying thinly sliced chicken pieces lightly dusted in cornstarch or flour.

On the other hand, Kung Pao is made by briefly marinating chicken cube pieces and then stir-frying them.

Ingredients Used

Hunan chicken is made from chicken pieces, vegetables, and Hunan sauce and does not contain peanuts or rice.

Kung Pao chicken is made from chicken cube pieces, vegetables, chili, and peanuts, sometimes containing fried rice.

Type Of Chili/Sauce Used

Hunan chicken uses bean chili paste, while Kung Pao uses dried chili peppers or Szechuan peppercorn.

Hunan sauce is thinner and oily, while Kung Pao sauce is starchier and syrupier.


Hunan chicken has a more sour and savory flavor than Kung Pao chicken. Kung pao is sweeter and less tangy with a nutty flavor.


Hunan and Kung pao are two popular Chinese chicken-based dishes that are popular and loved by many. Hunan chicken originates from Hunan province and is more sour and savory, with a thinner and more oily sauce.

On the other hand, Kung Pao chicken originates from Sichuan province, is sweeter and numbing hot with a nutty taste, and has a starchier and syrupier sauce. The good thing about these chicken dishes is that anyone can enjoy them. Simply up or tone down the chili paste or peppers, and you are set to go.