Cashew Chicken Sauce

I grew up in Springfield, Missouri, which is pretty proud of their claim to inventing cashew chicken. For me, cashew chicken is a very nostalgic food as it was a part of my childhood. For it to be true Springfield-style cashew chicken, the chicken pieces have to deep fried and there will be no colorful vegetables on the plate aside from maybe a smattering of green onions as garnish. At its core, it’s a fried chicken and gravy meal served over rice. And I have to admit, I still crave it from time to time.

And although I do eat chicken, I often prefer to make a homemade version of this with tofu or simply vegetables (like baked cauliflower). When I do make this with chicken, I prefer to bake the chicken and only lightly bread the pieces with flour for a slightly lighter and healthier option. In case anyone out there is like me (loves cashew chicken but would like to make it with tofu or vegetables sometimes), I thought I’d share my cashew chicken sauce recipe.

You can also use this for meal prepping, as you can make the sauce on the weekend to use for a super quick weeknight cashew chicken (or tofu) dinner.

If you have ever made gravy or a roux then making this sauce will be simple. Basically, you just need some whisking skills and about 10 minutes or less of attention span. 🙂

Once the sauce is done ahead of time and rewarmed or made that evening, then you can simply bake some chicken, tofu, vegetables, or a combination and serve over rice.

Once the protein and vegetables are cooked I stir everything with the cashews in the sauce. Then serve over the warm rice. Super simple and totally tasty!

I like to garnish with some chopped green onions and if I have it some toasted sesame seeds, but it’s not necessary if you don’t have those on hand. Enjoy! xo. Emma

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4.8 from 5 votes

Cashew Chicken Sauce

Servings 4 servings


  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes optional
  • 2-3 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1¼ to 1 ½ cups vegetable stock


  • In a small to medium size pot, combine the sesame oil and minced garlic over medium heat. Cook for about 30 seconds. Then add the remaining sauce ingredients: oyster sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar, onion powder, red pepper flakes (if using), and cornstarch. Start with two tablespoons of cornstarch and you can add more later if you think it needs to be thicker.
  • Give that a good whisk. Then slowly add the vegetable stock. The mixture may appear very thin at first, but keep cooking over medium heat and it will thicken up (like gravy). If it doesn't, add another tablespoon of corn starch. If it gets a little too thick, add a little more vegetable stock. Once it reaches the desired thickness, remove from heat. Taste and add salt or more soy if you think it needs it.
  • Use right away or store in a container with a lid in the refrigerator for up to two weeks and rewarm as needed. I will use this sauce over two pounds of chicken (or whatever I'm cooking) for four servings. So you can divide the sauce in half if you only need two servings at a time, like we do.
Credits // Author and Photography: Emma Chapman. Photos edited with A Color Story Desktop.
  • 5 stars
    I am from Springfield too, and cashew chicken is bomb! I know what I will be making for work lunch tomorrow!
    Heather –

  • 5 stars
    This was so good! Mine came out more like a glaze but now I know what adjustments I need to make to get it just right . I made mine w/ chicken but am excited to try it with tofu.

  • I love the way you made this recipe so flexible. Normally I would immediately begin making substitutions: get rid of the chicken, add more vegetables ( I’m thinking broccoli and carrots), etc. You did all that for me.

  • 5 stars
    THE CAULIFLOWER VERSION WAS MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE! I can’t believe I forgot about it! Thank you for re sharing the original recipe I can’t wait to make it again.

  • 5 stars
    I LOVE this recipe! And the best part is I actually have all the ingredients for this right now! Perfect recipe to clean out the pantry while we’re trying to avoid going to the grocery store to often.

    • 4 stars
      The flavor on this was good, but not really like Springfield cashew chicken.

      Also, the cornstarch formed hundreds of tiny balls the minute it hit the oyster and soy sauce, making a weird texture. Might want to consider dissolving the cornstarch in a little water before adding.

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