Szechuan Chicken Recipe

Szechuan Chicken The Cravers Guide

Mala Chicken, or Szechuan Chicken, provides a signature numbing sensation when bitten into, thanks to the spicy peppercorns in this recipe. Here’s a quick and easy recipe for Szechuan Chicken.

Szechuan Chicken is known for its signature tongue-numbing sensation, thanks to the fiery Mala Peppercorns. This dish is a pretty popular Chinese dish in Singapore, and most restaurants serve this up just under different names such as ‘Mala Chicken’ or ‘Chinese Chilli Chicken’. Although typically drier than this, this recipe has all of the original flavour and then some. Let’s take a look at the ingredients. 

Key ingredients for Szechuan Chicken

Szechuan Chicken The Cravers Guide chicken in a bowl
  • Chicken: I made mine with chicken breast as I just love this cut of meat. Traditionally, this dish is made with thigh meat so do substitute for thigh meat if you prefer.
  • Chinese rice wine: I used this to marinate and stir-fry the chicken. If you’re not a person who likes this taste, then you can avoid it. 
  • Szechuan peppercorns: And then we have the star of the show! Sometimes known as ‘Sichuan pepper’, this is actually not even a pepper. Rather, Szechuan peppers are actually the outer shell or covering of the actual pepper. These are highly potent in heat and have a signature numbing effect. However much of a chilli fan you are, do not actually eat this. It’s not… tasty. However, it lends great flavour to the dish. 
  • Dried Chilli: This can go two ways. If you’d like this dish to be spicy, then cut these up into pieces. If you’re looking for restaurant-type aesthetics but without the spice, cut by de-seed them. If you’re a lazy cook like me, then just use them whole. 
Adding cornstarch to chicken pieces for Szechuan Chicken The Cravers Guide
Frying marinated chicken
Adding ingredients to the pan to make Szechuan Chicken

Here’s why you should make this: 

  • Easy, quick recipe that comes together in minutes
  • Chicken can be marinated and left in the fridge overnight
  • Got an air fryer? Use it to fry the chicken

Making ahead

This is not a recipe that can be made ahead, unfortunately. However, you can marinate the chicken and leave it in the fridge overnight, then use the next day. 

Let’s get to it: 

Szechuan Chicken Recipe

Recipe by Krishy Mal


Prep time


Cooking time





You’ll need;

  • To marinate the chicken 
  • 600g chicken breast, cut into cubes (see notes)

  • 1 ½ tbsp dark soya sauce

  • 1 ½ tbsp light soya sauce

  • 1 ½ tbsp Chinese cooking wine

  • 2 tbsp cornstarch

  • To make the dish
  • Oil for shallow frying the chicken (see notes)

  • 1 tbsp sesame oil

  • 1 large red onion – peeled and sliced into fat chunks

  • 25 dried red chillies

  • 2 tsp Szechuan peppercorns (see notes) 

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 3 cm ginger, peeled and finely chopped

  • 5 scallions, roughly chopped

  • 2 tbsp light soya sauce

  • 1 tbsp Chinese cooking wine

You’ll need to;

  • Marinate the chicken with all the ingredients, and let stand for 30 minutes. 
  • Then, heat up the oil over medium-high heat, and shallow fry the chicken in batches, making sure to get them nice and browned. See notes if you’re air frying. Remove the chicken when cooked, and set aside. Switch off the stove. Clean the pan and remove all but 2 tbsp of the oil. 
  • To this, add the sesame oil. Place pot over medium flame. When the oil is hot, go in with the onion slices, cooking well for about 3 minutes to soften the onion slices. Then add red chillies and cook till all the chillies are heated through. 
  • Follow this with the peppercorns, garlic, ginger and scallions. Cook for 30 seconds, then add the already fried chicken, soya sauce and Chinese cooking wine. Stir everything together for about 3 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and serve with warm rice.


  • This is usually made with thigh meat, so if that floats your boat please use it.
  • If you’d like to use the air fryer for your chicken, then replace the ‘oil for shallow frying’ with 2 tbsp of sunflower oil into the chicken directly before you place the chicken in the air fryer.
  • You can release some of the peppercorns’ oils by bashing them in a pestle and mortar before adding them to the hot wok.

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