This make-ahead recipe features toasted cashews, snow peas, carrots and juicy chicken thighs in a garlicky cashew sauce – pair with rice for a super simple take-out style Easy Cashew Chicken Meal Prep!
You know how the grocery store very conveniently places all the magazines and candy right there in the checkout line, so you can not avoid seeing them? Not to toot my own horn, but I’m never really tempted by the candy. I’m so much more likely to grab a food magazine. Oops!
And somehow it never fails that I gravitate towards the most expensive ones. Like $9.99 or $12.99 or perhaps I’ve possibly paid $14.99 before but it was a TIME special edition for a long flight, okay? These are the best magazines, for they have little to no advertisements. They’re basically books.
All to say, I got the inspiration for this Easy Cashew Chicken Meal Prep from the America’s Test Kitchen magazine recipe for Cashew Pork. Thank you grocery store aisle.
Originally published on October 3rd, 2017!
Hello, it’s Danielle. It’s October 2021, and I’m here to give this recipe a make-over!
Today, I updated this post to be easier to follow, as well answer some common questions you might have about the recipe. I’ve also updated the photos! Text above is from 2017, but everything else has been rewritten.
Total Time: 35 minutes
Prep: Make-Ahead Friendly
Ingredients in this Easy Cashew Chicken Meal Prep:
Ingredients for these meal prep bowls are fairly simple – you may already have most of them on hand! Here are descriptions of the ingredients I use and possible substitutions:
- cashews – Feel free to use raw or roasted cashews. The toasting step is only necessary if you’re using raw cashews. If your cashews are already roasted, you can skip this step.
- avocado oil – I use avocado oil for my cooking because of the neutral taste and high smoke point, but you can also use olive oil for this recipe.
- chicken thighs – I would suggest sticking with chicken thighs here. I tested chicken breasts and it was still tasty, but the extra fat in the thighs helps make it even more delicious.
- snow peas & carrots – These are the perfect veggies for this dish in my opinion, but feel free to change it up!
- yellow onion & garlic – Really good for flavor backbone here! Don’t skip!
- cornstarch + water – For thickening the sauce! You can also use arrowroot here.
- soy sauce – This is the base of the sauce! I used low-sodium.
- sesame oil – You can use toasted or untoasted here, but I like toasted!
- rice vinegar – A small splash of vinegar helps brighten and sharpen the sauce.
- Sambal Oelek – My fave way to spice up Asian-inspired dishes, chili garlic sauce!
- honey – Balance out all that savory goodness with a touch of honey!
How do you make this Easy Cashew Chicken Meal Prep recipe?
For this recipe, I like to use a large deep non-stick skillet for the cashew chicken. At the same time, I’ll usually have my rice cooking in my Instant Pot.
The first step is to prep the sauce by add all sauce ingredients to a jar, putting the lid on, and shaking well. Set it aside until you need to add it to the pan later.
Next, toast the cashews, if they are raw. If they’re already roasted, you can skip this step! To toast the cashews, add them to a 12-inch non-stick skillet over low heat. Toss occasionally, for 6-8 minutes, or until they become fragrant and slightly browned. Remove from pan and set aside to cool.
Next, move on to the chicken and veggies. Heat oil in the same skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken and sprinkle with a heavy pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for 3-4 minutes, flip, and cook for another 3-4 minutes, until browned on all sides, about 8-10 minutes total. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
Add all veggies to the same pan and cook for about 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the snow peas become bright green and the onions begin to turn translucent. Add the cooked chicken, cashews, and sauce to the skillet. Stir until sauce begins to simmer and chicken and veggies are well coated.
To get a nice thick sauce, we need to add a thickener. For this recipe, I’m using water and cornstarch. Whisk the water and cornstarch briefly to re-mix, then add to skillet and stir. The sauce will thicken over approximately 2 minutes. Remove from heat and it’s ready!
Can I use chicken breasts instead of chicken thighs?
I tested both ways and I strongly preferred the chicken thighs for this recipe. However yes, in a pinch, you can use chicken breasts instead.
How do you meal prep this meal?
This is a wonderful recipe for meal prep because it tastes just as delicious as leftovers! In my opinion, there are two great ways to meal prep this meal or parts of this meal.
- Prep the whole meal: You can prepare this entire recipes as the instructions say, and then portion the cashew chicken mixture and rice mixtures into meal prep containers (in these photos, I’ve used my 2 compartment glass meal prep containers ). This recipe will last up the 4 days in the fridge.
- Prep the the parts for cooking later: Prep only parts of this meal 1-2 days ahead of time for easy and quick cooking later. You can chop all the veggies, cut the chicken, and mix up the sauce. This will save you 10-20 minutes on the day of cooking.
Where do you get those meal prep containers?
I always recommend glass containers for storing your food. Here are some options for this meal:
- 2 Compartment Glass Meal Prep Containers – These are pictured in this post. The brand is Prep Naturals and I love their 2 and 3 compartment containers! If you don’t want your foods to touch until you eat them, these are the containers for you.
- 4-cup Pyrex Round Glass Containers – I love Pyrex and I have several of these containers. However, the lids are slightly inferior and will rip after a couple years of continued use. Still love the glass containers though! Replacement lids are easy to find.
- Pyrex 3-cup Rectangular Glass Containers – Another Pyrex option I own, just a different shape 🙂 Obviously this is a 1 compartment container, so your food will touch!
See all my meal prep container recommendations here!
Is this Easy Cashew Chicken Meal Prep freezer-friendly?
Yes! You can freeze these meals in airtight freezer safe containers. Remove from the freezer the night before eating and then reheat normally, or defrost slowly in the microwave before eating.
How to store, freeze & reheat:
Store in the fridge: Store meal prep meals in airtight containers in the fridge and enjoy within 4 days.
Store in the freezer: Store meal prep meals (or meat mixture only) in airtight containers in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Reheat: Reheat cold meal prep in the microwave loosely covered for 90 seconds to 2 minutes. Thaw frozen meal prep overnight before eating and then reheat normally, or defrost slowly in the microwave.
Toasted cashews, snow peas, carrots and juicy chicken in a garlicky cashew sauce – pair with rice for a super simple take-out style meal prep!
For the sauce:
- 1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Sambal Oelek (chili garlic sauce)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2–3 tablespoons water
For the cashew chicken:
- 1 1/2 cups uncooked rice of choice + cooking liquid
- 2/3 cup unsalted raw cashews (if roasted, skip step 2)
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil or olive oil
- 1 1/4 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch chunks
- 4 ounces snow peas (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into strips
- 1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch + 1 tablespoon water, whisked together in a small bowl
- salt/pepper to taste
- Prep sauce & start rice: Combine sauce ingredients in a mason jar with a lid and shake until well mixed. You can also whisk ingredients together in a small bowl. If serving with rice, start that now! I use my Instant Pot for white jasmine rice while I cook this meal on the stovetop.
- Toast the cashews: Add cashews to a 12-inch non-stick skillet over low heat. Toast the cashews, tossing occasionally, for 6-8 minutes, or until they become fragrant and slightly browned. Remove from pan and set aside. If your cashews are already roasted, you can skip this step.
- Cook the chicken: Heat oil in the same skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken and sprinkle with salt and pepper (about 1/4 teaspoon each). Cook for about 4-5 minutes, until browning on the bottom, then flip and cook for another 3-4 minutes until cooked through and browned on all sides, about 8-10 minutes total. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
- Cook the veggies: Add all veggies to the pan and cook for about 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the snow peas become bright green and the onions begin to turn translucent.
- Put it together: Add cooked chicken, cashews, and sauce to the skillet. Stir until sauce begins to simmer and chicken and veggies are well coated. Whisk the water and cornstarch briefly to re-mix, then add to skillet and stir occasionally. The sauce should thicken over approximately 2 minutes.
- Serve & store: Remove from heat and serve with your favorite kind of rice, or by itself! Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Inspired by Cashew Pork with Snow Peas and Carrots from One-Pan Dinners, America’s Test Kitchen Magazine, page 12. Nutrition information estimated with My Fitness Pal.
- Serving Size: about 2 cups
- Calories: 417
- Fat: 21g
- Carbohydrates: 24g
- Protein: 36g