Gluten Free Cashew Chicken with Broccoli

By Lilian Dikmans

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This Cashew Chicken with Broccoli recipe makes a perfect high protein, gluten-free lunch or dinner. It’s all about the homemade stir-fry sauce, which is easily made with a few basic ingredients. You can serve the cashew chicken with rice, or just on its own for a low carb option.

As far as chicken stir-fries go, this one is pretty easy. The sauce is made in a jar, so all you have to do is shake the sauce ingredients together. Then the vegetable preparation is simplified by just using broccoli and onion. I also add fresh garlic and fresh ginger to the stir fry sauce, providing extra flavor and added nutrients.

The stir fry sauce is one of my favorites. It achieves that delicious combination of salty, sweet and spicy. You can always buy stir-fry sauces, but I like to make my own so that I know exactly what it contains. It also allows you to adjust the spice level to suit your taste. Plus, a homemade sauce is usually a lot healthier than pre-made stir fry sauces. So many store bought sauces contain a lot of sugar and processed oils.

Ingredients for healthy stir-fry sauce
Ingredients for the stir-fry sauce

Why coat chicken in flour before stir-frying?

When making a chicken stir-fry, I want the sauce to coat each piece of chicken. The best way to achieve this is by coating, or dredging, the chicken in flour before stir-frying. The flour helps the stir fry sauce thicken and stick to the chicken. It also helps you get a crust on the chicken and prevents the chicken from drying out.

The best flours for this purpose are actually starches. Tapioca flour, also known as tapioca starch, is what I use in this Gluten Free Cashew Chicken. It’s made from the root of the cassava plant and is gluten-free and grain-free.

Alternatively, you can use arrowroot flour. Arrowroot flour, also known as arrowroot starch, is also a starch derived from plants. Like tapioca flour, it is also gluten-free and grain-free. Corn starch will also work if that’s what you have at home.

Ingredients for Gluten Free Cashew Chicken

Free-range chicken breast: I usually use chicken breast in this recipe. However, chicken thighs will also work. Just make sure the chicken is skinless and boneless since we are cutting it into bite-sized pieces and cooking it quickly.

Broccoli: I use a small head of broccoli cut into florets. You could also use broccolini if you prefer and just cut it into pieces of a similar size to broccoli florets.

Brown onion: These are usually the easiest to find. You could also use white onion or red onion if you prefer.

Tapioca flour: To coat the chicken before frying. It helps the sauce thicken and stick to the chicken. You can also use arrowroot flour or corn starch instead of tapioca flour.

Stir-fry sauce for Easy Cashew Chicken with Broccoli
The stir-fry sauce is healthier than many store bought sauces

Avocado oil: To fry the chicken and vegetables. I like to use avocado oil for higher heat cooking since it has a high smoke point. But you could use another cooking oil if you prefer.

Raw cashew nuts: Since it’s cashew chicken! Raw and unsalted cashew nuts work best. They also add additional good fats to make the recipe more filling. This is particularly useful if you’re eating the stir-fry without rice. I include rice when my training volume increases, but on rest days I would happily eat this cashew chicken without rice.

Tamari: Adds saltiness to the sauce. Tamari is a gluten-free alternative to traditional soy sauce. However, you can use soy sauce if you don’t need the recipe to be gluten-free.

Chicken stock: Provides a beautiful savory note to the sauce. Since only a small amount of stock is needed, you can leave it out if you don’t have any. However, it really adds something extra to the sauce. If you buy some chicken stock to make this recipe, you can freeze the leftovers in ice cube trays. That way you can defrost it in small quantities for other recipes or if you make this recipe again.

Maple syrup: To balance out the salty and spicy flavors of the sauce. You could use another liquid sweetener like honey or brown rice syrup if you prefer.

Garlic: I add two cloves of garlic, minced or crushed, to the sauce. Since the sauce is added at the end of cooking the stir-fry, you want to make sure the garlic is finely minced or crushed. No one wants chunks of raw garlic! I use a fine microplane grater to mince the garlic. Alternatively, you can press the garlic through a garlic press to crush it.

Easy Cashew Chicken with Broccoli
Serve the cashew chicken with rice, or on its own

Fresh ginger: Adds fresh heat to the sauce. Like the garlic, you want to mince the ginger. I mince it using a fine microplane grater. I highly recommend using fresh ginger if you can. Otherwise, you could substitute 1 teaspoon of ginger powder.

Red chilli flakes: To add spicy heat to the sauce. The amount that I add gives a mild level of spice. You can leave it out if you don’t like spice, or add more if you like your sauces extra spicy.

Black pepper: Adds another savory note to the sauce. Freshly cracked black pepper is ideal. I only add pepper, and no salt to the sauce, since the tamari is salty enough.

More easy chicken recipes

If you’re looking for an easy weeknight chicken dinner, this Sheet Pan Chicken with Sweet Potato and Red Onion is a recipe that I make often. The whole meal bakes in the oven on a large sheet pan or baking tray. As it cooks, the chicken juices coat the sweet potatoes and red onion giving maximum flavour for very little effort.

I also make these Chicken Burrito Bowls regularly for dinner. They are made up of rice, black beans, spiced chicken, fresh pico de gallo and a simple guacamole. I always find this combination of ingredients to be filling and satisfying.

If you have some leftover chicken, try tossing it through this Parsley Pesto Pasta with Cashews. The pesto sauce is made with parsley and cashew nuts for a more cost effective version of traditional pesto. It’s ready in 15 minutes too.

As I add more chicken recipes to Real Food Healthy Body, you will be able to find them all on the new Chicken Recipes page. You can easily access it via the drop down menu at the top of this page. Just navigate over Recipes, Meals, Mains, then select Chicken.

Gluten Free Cashew Chicken with Broccoli Recipe

Serves
2

Prep time
20 mins

Cook time
20 mins

Ingredients

For the sauce

  • 3 tablespoons / 45ml / 45g tamari
  • 2 tablespoons / 30ml / 30g chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon / 15ml / 20g maple syrup
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chilli flakes
  • Dash of black pepper

For the stir fry

  • 1 small brown onion
  • 1 small head of broccoli
  • 10.5oz / 300g free-range chicken breast, boneless and skinless
  • 3 tablespoons / 22g tapioca flour (or arrowroot flour or cornstarch)
  • 2 tablespoons / 30ml avocado oil
  • 1/3 cup / 48g raw cashew nuts

Method

  • 1
    Prepare the sauce by adding all sauce ingredients to a jar and shaking until well combined. Peel and roughly chop the onion. Cut the broccoli into florets.
  • 2
    Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces about 2.5 cm / 1 inch wide (see Note 1). Sprinkle over the tapioca flour and toss until each piece of chicken is well coated.
  • 3
    Heat the avocado oil in a well seasoned skillet or non-stick frying pan (see Note 2) over a medium-high heat. Add the chicken in one layer and cook for about 4-5 minutes, flipping each piece regularly, until it’s just cooked through.
  • 4
    Transfer the chicken to a plate. Add the onion to the pan and cook for about 1 minute, then add the broccoli. Cook for a further 2-3 minutes, stirring regularly, for tender-crisp broccoli.
  • 5
    Put the chicken back into the pan and add the sauce and the cashew nuts. Toss everything together and cook for another 1-2 minutes until the sauce thickens. Serve on its own or with rice.

Watch how to make the recipe

Recipe Notes

1. Cutting the chicken – I cut the chicken into pieces using kitchen scissors. This allows me to snip the chicken straight into a bowl, rather than getting out a chopping board. You can watch how I do this in the video above.

2. Skillet or frying pan – I recommend using a well-seasoned cast iron skillet or a non-stick frying pan. Chicken is more likely to stick to stainless steel or new cast iron skillets that aren’t well seasoned.

3. Leftovers – This recipe is best served straight away. However, leftovers can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for 2-3 days.

Nutrition Facts

Serving size: 1 serve (without rice)
Energy: 2391kJ (571Cal)
Protein: 57.9g
Total Fat: 27.1g
Saturated Fat: 4g
Total Carbohydrate: 39g
Sugars: 13.7g
Dietary Fibre: 4.8g
Sodium: 1284mg
Potassium: 968mg

Nutrition information is an estimate only. It may vary depending on the brand of ingredients used.

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Lilian Dikmans

Lilian Dikmans is an Australian model, Muay Thai fighter and founder of Real Food Healthy Body

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