Kickin' Cashew Chicken Recipe - Skillful Cook
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Kickin' Cashew Chicken

7 reviews / 4.3 average

Oh, wowz. This is cashews like you've never seen them before. Like, cashews on steroids. On vacation in India. I don't know.

Indian food (read: take out) is at the tippy top of the food chain around this house. We affectionately call it the “leak” in our bank account. Well, one of the leaks. Part of our cutting-back-on-Indian-food spending plan is that I need to learn how to make Indian food, stat.

This Kickin' Cashew Chicken fits the bill! It's seriously kickin' without being too complicated for a regular Midwestern home cook like mahself. The flavors are ridiculously mind-blowing. You can even make this healthier by adding fresh veggies to the mix. Heck, I've even made it without the chicken! This sauce is for reals.

Cashew chicken in a bowl with a spoon.

So, now for the fun part.

You guys.

This is hilarious.

Side-by-side photos of food.

I found this picture in the archives on my old site.

Other than the peas, this is {the exact same recipe}! Both shots were even taken with the {exact same camera}! I really did not know what I was doing with that thing. Like, really.

Thanks for humoring me by looking at my old photos. I think we've bonded.

Cashew chicken in a bowl.

Alright, enough fun and games.

Go make this for dinner, stat.

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A picture of <span class="fn">Kickin' Cashew Chicken

Kickin' Cashew Chicken


This kickin' cashew chicken is like Indian takeout at home! A a creamy cashew sauce with lots of Indian flavors. My favorite homemade Indian recipe!


  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 lb. cubed raw chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro
  • 1 1/4 cup water


  1. Peel and quarter the onions. In a food processor, process the onion pieces for about 1 minute or until a smooth puree forms. Add the next 8 ingredients (through oil) to the onion mixture and process for another 1-2 minutes.
  2. In a heavy pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Pour the spice mixture from the food processor into the pan and fry for 2 minutes. The lightly cooked spices will start to give off a nice aroma.
  3. Add the cubed chicken breast, half of the cilantro, and the golden raisins. Stir-fry for another 1 minute.
  4. Add the water and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over low heat for about 10 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Serve over rice and garnish with remaining cilantro or cashew pieces.


I like the sauce to have some texture so I don't process it all the way (check out the texture in the pictures).

I love cilantro and spices, and these amounts reflect my preferences. If you're hesitant, reduce the amounts. (And actually, the sauce is not all that spicy. There are lots of flavorful spices, but it's not firey-hot-get-me-a-glass-of-water spicy.)

For a more veggie friendly dish, add broccoli, peppers, potatoes, or peas!

  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 15 mins
  • Category: Dinner
  • Cuisine: Indian

Keywords: cashew chicken, indian chicken, creamy cashew chicken, chicken recipe

Have you ever made Indian food? I'm currently kind of stuck in a cashew chicken obsession, but I would be open to other homemade Indian recommendations.

I'm also open to take-out. Always open to that.

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  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    I love seeing the comparison of you photos two years ago and now – it gives me so much hope! As for this chicken dish, I love indian flavours too so I can’t wait to give this a whirl!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Thanks Averie! At first, I though you were referring to the first picture in the comparison shot (the 2010 version). 🙂 But the first post picture would make more sense!

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    The difference in those two photos is incredible! I fear that my photos are currently like your 2010 version 😛 can you remember what changes you made to help improve your photography – was it all a case of investing in some good lighting?

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Lighting is definitely huge, although I didn’t necessarily buy anything to improve my lighting… just started shooting in the right naturally lit places. I actually have a food photography book coming out in a few weeks that talks about everything I’ve learned in the last year and a half. Check back in the next few weeks if you’re interested! 🙂 Good luck!

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    This looks seriously good. My husband has a baby mouth and can detect a single red pepper flake in a dish, though, so I’m not sure what he would think of this. Oh well. If he can’t eat it, more for me.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Ha! I have a few friends like that. Contrary to the name, this is actually not spicy, but it just has lots of strong flavors… maybe he could handle it? Good luck!

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    Love the comparison between the old and new photos. I second Kathryn – it gives me hope, though I’m conscious that I’m a long way off your stunning pictures…
    Also – love the cashew and chicken combination. A classic.

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        I have a Panasonic GF1. I have no experience in photography, and have been on a really big learning curb since recently starting my blog – so any advice would be most most most gratefully received…

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      This is really easy, and all the ingredients are pretty normal – it’s the perfect recipe to start with!

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    oh, I love Indian food! I’m always looking for more easy Indian dishes to make 🙂 this looks fabulous. Isn’t it hilarious to look back on old photos after you’ve been doing it for a while and think, ‘wow, what was I doing?!’ haha, I love it 🙂

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      It’s so weird to me that I was even using the same camera. Like, what was I doing?! I guess we all probably have some photos like that. 🙂

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    This looks delicious!!! One of my goals this year is to cook some foods outside of my cooking comfort zone and Indian would fall into that area. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      This is a perfect recipe to start with if you’re wanting to try Indian for the first time!

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    I’m really glad you showed that photo comparison, I just started my own food blog and haven’t posted as many things as I’d like to because the pictures don’t come out very well. It definitely gives me a bit more hope seeing where you started and how far you’ve come. I’ve just got to keep practicing. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Glad it was inspiring! 🙂 It’s amazing what a year and a half of practice can do for you. Good luck!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Ooooh we love the golden raisins – they get so soft and juicy! They’re the perfect sweet bite in this dish.

  8. Skillful Cook Logo

    I love cashews in things like this. They’re so creamy and good. And I love Indian food but I need to expand my knowledge – I only have a handful of recipes that I make regularly and that’s it. This looks awesome. And your pictures are amazing as usual – I loved the comparison picture!! That is an amazing change 😀 Even though my photography has a long way to go, I have some pictures like that, that will never see the light of day. They’re nice to keep around for a reminder though, haha.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Well, this is about the only Indian food in my repertoire right now so I need to expand my knowledge as well. 🙂

  9. Skillful Cook Logo

    I am TOTALLY making this! I LOVE indian food and this looks incredible Lindsay! Btw, love the “before” and “after” photos – your pictures are gorgeous, they are always so bright and happy and fit your blog title 100% 🙂 keep rockin’ it!

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    Hmm, most of my pictures look like your old ones.. apparently I’m doing something wrong too. Perhaps a few lessons on photography should be in my near future.
    So this cashew chicken definitely sounds kickin! In fact, it sounds awesome. I was practically licking my screen looking at the pictures of it. Thanks for the great recipe. I will be making this ASAP!

  11. Skillful Cook Logo

    Linds, I have a gaggle (gaggle!?) of Indian recipes! My former boss is Indian and an AMAZING cook, and I went to one of her cooking classes once. I’ll have to send them to you. They’re pretty darn good. 🙂

  12. Skillful Cook Logo

    Love that comparison shot! It’s awesome to take a look back and pat yourself on the back for the improvements. I was just doing that a few weeks ago trying to narrow down photos for a new header and it was cool to see the progress in just a few months, let alone a couple years!
    Oh, and the recipe definitely looks “kickin” 😉

  13. Skillful Cook Logo

    My husband would love this recipe. Can’t wait to make it! Your photo comparison gives me hope….I need help with my photos and look forward to reading your e-book.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      In my experience, this is a happy husband meal! And as for the photos, it’s always a work in process, no matter what level you’re at. Hopefully you’ll find the book helpful – I can’t wait to share it! 🙂

  14. Skillful Cook Logo

    I love India food and since we can’t handle any bank account “leaks” I never really eat it – so glad this will change that! Love the recipe name, love the pics, love the comparison…you’re generally awesome. 🙂

  15. Skillful Cook Logo

    I made this the other day – thanks for the recipe! Notes: It was delicious, and I hid a chopped orange bell pepper in there (cooking for my bf is like cooking for a toddler sometimes). It wasn’t nearly as pretty as yours though. Next time I’ll do less vita-mixing of the sauce for some chunks like yours. But it was also super brown instead of reddish. So maybe I didn’t add enough tomato paste? I made some channa masala too, and the dishes went well together.

    Anyway it was a hit and will definitely be a repeat for us!