Kirbie's Cravings

Kung Pao Shrimp

Kung pao shrimp is an easy Chinese stir-fry you can make at home. I’m sharing my best tips for making it, including how to cook the shrimp so they’re plump and juicy. If you like Chinese dishes with a kick of heat, you will love this recipe.

kung pao shrimp with rice on a white plate


  • Shrimp
  • Baking soda
  • Vegetable oil
  • Roasted peanuts
  • Chili peppers
  • Sichuan peppercorns
  • Garlic
  • Scallion
  • Light soy sauce
  • Shaoxing cooking wine
  • Granulated sugar
  • Black vinegar
  • Water
  • Cornstarch

Shrimp: I like to use medium shrimp for this recipe, but you can also use large shrimp. Just cut them in half so they cook faster. You will also need to remove the shells and devien the shrimp.

Baking soda: This is the secret ingredient that makes the shrimp juicy and plump. You soak the shrimp in some baking soda for about 20-30 minutes. And when you cook your shrimp, they plump up and stay juicy. If you don’t use it, the shrimp will shrink and be drier.

You will also need other common Chinese cooking ingredients like Shaoxing wine, black vinegar, and soy sauce. You can learn more about these ingredients in my Chinese cooking essentials post.

a close-up of chopsticks holding a kung pao shrimp

Recipe Tips

  • You will need to soak the shrimp in the baking soda for 20 to 30 minutes before you cook them. Once they’re ready, the dish is very easy to make in about 20 minutes.
  • I like to cook this dish in a wok, but if you don’t have one, you can use a large pan.
  • Be sure to prep all of your ingredients before you start cooking. The cooking doesn’t take long, so it’s easier if everything is ready to use.
  • I like to serve kung pao chicken over fried rice, plain rice, or cauliflower rice. You can also serve it with lo mein if you like noodles.

This is such an easy dish, and the flavors are great. My favorite part is the juicy shrimp – I hope you try it.

chopsticks holding a piece of shrimp

More Shrimp Recipes

Kung Pao Shrimp

Servings: 2
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Course: Main Dishes
Cuisine: Chinese
Sometimes homemade kung pao shrimp dishes just aren't the same as a restaurant version because the shrimp shrink or dry out when you try and make it at home. Well, I learned a simple technique to keep the shrimp plump, juicy and crunchy: baking soda. Soak the shrimp in some baking soda for about 20 to 30 minutes and when you make this kung pao shrimp, you'll see the results. 


  • 8 oz medium or large shrimp deveined and shelled (cut in half if using large shrimp)
  • 1 heaping tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 3 tbsp roasted peanuts
  • 6 chili peppers
  • 1/2 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 clove of garlic minced
  • 1 scallion finely chopped

For the sauce

  • 3 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp shaoxing cooking wine
  • 2 tsp granulated white sugar
  • 1 tsp black vinegar
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp cornstarch


  • Add shrimp to a medium-sized bowl and submerge in cold water. Add 1 heaping tsp baking soda into water and dissolve. Massage shrimp gently to mix baking soda in. Let shrimp soak for 20-30 minutes before removing water and rinsing shrimp (make sure to rinse so that your shrimp don't taste bitter from lingering baking soda).
  • Add oil to the wok and turn stove heat to medium-high. Add in garlic and cook until aroma comes out. Add in shrimp and stir-fry until shrimp are just cooked. Stir in chili peppers and peppercorns. Add in peanuts and cook for about another minute.
  • Mix sauce ingredients in a small bowl, making sure cornstarch is dissolved. Heat sauce in a small saucepan until it thickens. Then add sauce into wok and cook for a few minutes until shrimp is completed coated in sauce. Garnish with scallions. Serve warm with rice.


Serving: 0.5of recipe, Calories: 368kcal, Carbohydrates: 28.1g, Protein: 32.8g, Fat: 15.9g, Saturated Fat: 4.5g, Sodium: 1624.7mg, Fiber: 3.6g, Sugar: 15.6g, NET CARBS: 25

The nutrition information provided are only estimates based on an online nutritional calculator. I am not a certified nutritionist. Please consult a professional nutritionist or doctor for accurate information and any dietary restrictions and concerns you may have.

Did you make this recipe?I'd love to see it! Mention @KirbieCravings and tag #kirbiecravings!

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Recipe Rating

18 comments on “Kung Pao Shrimp”

  1. Hi Kirbie. I love steaming fresh shrimps with the shells on.
    Can I do the baking soda soak and rinse well even with the shells on? 
    Hope to hear from you.

  2. Everything which will increase the pH to 8-9 will firm up the flesh of shrimps, it doesn’t have to be baking soda. This works also with other types of meat as long as the surface area is large (small cuts).

    • thanks for the tip. I read that somewhere too, but I think baking soda is the easiest, at least for me. Interesting information about it working with other types of meat. I will have to experiment.

  3. Love this and especially love the baking soda trick. So great!

    • it’s such an easy little prep and it makes such a difference! I’ve also seem some more complicated versions with egg white/marinating overnight which is supposed to get it super crunchy, but this easy fix was enough for me.

  4. I LOVE the new blog design! So much purple hehe. Didn’t know about the baking soda, either – great tip! =)

    • hehe, i love purple! i love the look too, and the bigger photo space as well as better indexing and a few other neat things.

  5. Yes, baking soda will do the work, but remember don’t soak in too long.
    If you soak the shrimp in baking soda too long, it will taste funny.
    Restaurant also use egg white to coat, so it will not shrink.

  6. I’ve never heard of the baking soda trick! Did a family member teach you? I can’t wait to try it out and share it with my grams. Could it work with other proteins or is it only specifically to shrimp?

    • I saw it used on a few Chinese shrimp recipe dishes and it suddenly clicked because my mom used to complain sometimes that a restaurant had used too much baking soda in the shrimp dim sum dishes. I never really knew what she was talking about but once I saw the baking soda technique used in a few recipes, it all came together. haha. i think it’s specific to shrimp though. cornstarch works great with chicken and beef to keep it tender.

  7. I’m definitely gonna have to try this baking soda trick!

    • yes, give it a try! just be careful not to oversoak too long or to add too much baking soda, or it will leave a bitterness on the shrimp.

  8. Hmm, I haven’t heard of that before. That sounds like a great trick! I usually am good at not overcooking shrimp but plump shrimp sounds even better. Thanks for sharing.

    I agree with J.S. – I like your new blog changes. It’s subtly different from your last design.

    • I used the same developer (Purr), but just had her update it with some more features. I’m glad you like it! My shrimp usually aren’t overcooked, but they do shrink a lot and the meat ends up being quite firm rather than plump.

  9. This is awesome! Will have to try this the next time I get shrimp. I wonder exactly how it works??? 

    By the way, love the new look of the blog!

    • i know it has something to do with the pH level of baking soda, but beyond that, I don’t know exactly how it works. It’s a technique chinese restaurants use a lot. and I’m glad you like the new look! i do too =)