Spicy, Garlicky Cashew Chicken

I’ve had this recipe cut out since 2007. And have been waiting and waiting to make it ever since. I finally had all the ingredients in my kitchen, and decided that we were going to eat this chicken for dinner. I’m glad I made it! The sauce was really spicy and sweet, and the spice just goes really well with the flavor of cilantro. 

I love how easy it was to just blend all the ingredients together in my food processor and marinate the chicken in the fridge in the morning…by the time we were ready to eat, all I had to do was heat up the grill.

The sauce is actually also very good over a simple salad with some cut up chicken. That’s how I used the leftovers. It’s a nice creamy (and mayo-less) sauce…gets that way because of the cashews, which also add a great nutty flavor to the dish.

I made this with only drumsticks, but I can imagine doing it with a whole grilled chicken (weighed down with a brick), or any kinds of skin-on pieces would be great. You can bake it in the oven, broil it, or grill it, so even if it’s raining, it’s still an easy and yummy dinner. And it’s a pretty forgiving recipe, so don’t worry about messing it up.

Plus, it has soy sauce in it. We all know that soy sauce does wonders for chicken.

Spicy, Garlicky Cashew Chicken, adapted from The New York Times:


  • 1 cup roasted salted cashews
  • 6 tablespoons cilantro, with some stems, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup flavorless oil
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 2 jalapeños (seeds and white parts removed), diced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 3 pounds chicken pieces (I used drumsticks)


1. In a blender or food processor, combine nuts, cilantro, oil, garlic, soy sauce, sugar, jalapeños, lime juice, and water. Blend/process until smooth.

2. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

3. Season chicken all over with salt and pepper.

4. Smear on the cashew pieces and coat the chicken pieces all over to thoroughly coat.

5. Set aside the remaining mixture.

6. Let marinate at room temperature while you heat the grill or broiler, or marinate in the fridge for up to 12 hours.

7. Preheat broiler or grill.

8. Grill or broil the chicken, turning frequently, until the outside is crisp and golden and the inside is cooked, 20-30 minutes.

9. Sprinkle the chicken with cilantro and serve on top of the remaining sauce and with lime wedges.