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Kung Pao Eggplant

Sticky, spicy, sweet & sour – this healthy kung pao eggplant is a deliciously wholesome alternative to Chinese takeout!

kung pao eggplant

Kung Pao Chicken is one of America’s favorite Chinese-restaurant dishes.

It’s also quite possibly one of the least healthy, with over 700 calories and 42 grams of fat in a single order.

In this healthy kung pao makeover, that addictively sticky kung pao sauce is soaked up by the diced eggplant and veggies, giving you all the flavor of traditional kung pao while cutting way back on the extra fat, calories, and sugar.

Jump to the nutrition facts

vegan eggplant

healthy kung pao

To make the kung pao dish even healthier, I served mine with a side of cooked barley.

It would also be great over quinoa, rice noodles, or even spaghetti squash (See: How To Cook Spaghetti Squash).

If you want to try replacing some or all of the eggplant with extra-firm tofu or beans for extra protein, be sure to report back with results – it sounds like a delicious and fun experiment. And feel free to omit the red pepper flakes if you don’t want your kung pao spicy… or add extra if you want it even hotter. For the vegetables, I used red peppers, but any bell peppers will do nicely. Or you can even substitute chopped carrot for the bell pepper. And if you are soy-free or peanut-free, feel free to omit the nuts and play around with coconut aminos or Braggs + a little extra salt for an allergy-friendly alternative.

This healthy kung pao recipe can be completely vegan and gluten-free!

A delicious & wholesome alternative to Chinese takeout, without all the extra fat and calories!

Kung Pao Eggplant

Kung Pao Eggplant

Total Time: 20m
Yield: 2-3 servings
Print This Recipe  5/5


  • 5 cups eggplant, cubed small (12 oz)
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • chopped peanuts and green onions, for garnish
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce or gf tamari
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp white wine or vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp non-gmo cornstarch or arrowroot
  • 1 1/2 tsp white or apple cider vinegar
  • 2 1/2 tsp sweetener of choice, or pinch uncut stevia
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, or as desired – omit for non-spicy version


Fully dissolve the cornstarch or arrowroot in the water, then whisk together with everything except the first three ingredients. Pour half of this sauce over the eggplant and pepper (reserving the other half), and refrigerate for an hour to marinate (if you’re in a rush, you can skip the hour’s wait – the actual prep and cook work take under 20 minutes). Sauté all ingredients except the garnishes in a little oil or oil spray over medium heat–stirring frequently to prevent sticking–until eggplant and pepper are soft. Add garnishes, and serve over cooked rice or barley if desired.

View Nutrition Facts


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 5/5 (4)

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Published on March 27, 2017

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  1. Lili says

    Just FYI, in Chinese culture, sticking chopsticks vertically like that into a bowl of food is related to funerals and death.

  2. John-Christopher Ward says

    Katie, why don’t you standardize your savory recipes for 4 servings? Now they seem to be 1 – 2 or 2 – 3 servings. I have no problem increasing a recipe but some cooks are stymied by the task.

    • Jason Sanford says

      Katie is a single cook, so making four servings of each recipe would land her with more food than she needs in most cases, especially in something like this where eggplant should not be frozen.

  3. Emily says

    This looks great and I’m excited to try it. One thing – I don’t see the garnishes (peanuts? green onions?) listed in the ingredients.

  4. Kendra says

    Girl, YES! Thank you for this! This is a dish I miss from my meat eating days and I never thought to make it to my preferences at home! Thank you for bringing King Pao back into my life! Lysm ?

  5. Paul says

    So glad you decided to post this! Kung Pao was always my favourite takeaway, don’t seem to order many these days. Thanks as always Katie!

  6. Heidi Kokborg says

    This looks really good! I have to make it to my family at some point – though I might have to use zucchini instead off egg plant as my family aren’t too happy about egg plant. But it looks really good!

  7. Rebecca says

    I really want to make this recipe but am a bit confused about the amount of eggplant. Does the recipe call for 5C. or 12oz of eggplant? Five cups of eggplant would equal more than 12oz. Thank you.

  8. Rachel says

    Tastes fabulous! I made this yesterday with little meat balls (made from minced beef) and loved it! In the Netherlands we are not so familiar with Kung Pao and I never get take out Chinese food, but this one is a keeper :). I forgot to by spring onions, but tastes just fine without it. I used one egg plant and one red bell pepper for two persons.

  9. Kallie says

    I made this last night for dinner and it was delicious! This sauce is everything! I actually tripled the sauce amount because I added an entire block of tofu, which I dry fried as well as a pack of shirataki noodles. I baked my eggplant in the oven to save time while I was dry frying the tofu. Although I forgot to marinate the eggplant, the whole dish came together beautifully.once I put everything together in my sauce pan. This is a keeper!

  10. Rachel V. says

    Made this for dinner last night, loved it so much I made another batch for lunch today 🙂 Cant wait to try this recipe in other combinations. Thanks so much 🙂

  11. Sue says

    Another winner! The first time I made it, it seemed a little dry, so next time I made one and one-half times the sauce and added some tofu. I doubled up on the pepper flakes because I like it hot.

  12. Natasha @ Thoughts of Tradition says

    This tasted excellent. I normally do not like eggplant, but this turned out to be delightful: so chewy and sticky. Here’s some feedback:
    – I served this over white rice. It pairs well with it and it tastes like vegan Chinese takeout.
    – If you like your food saucy, double the sauce recipe and use 1/4 of the batch as a marinade, reserving the remaining 3/4 for the sauce.
    I didn’t have peanuts, so I substituted salted cashews and it worked fine. Also, I doubled the entire recipe, and it served four people comfortably with the addition of rice.
    I will undoubtedly prepare this again. Thank you very much for the recipe!

  13. Donna says

    Delicious! A little shocked at the non-cloyingnedd of the sauce at first, but was happy at the second bite. I love your site, please post more easy dinner recipes likes this!

  14. Brooke says

    I mixed up the directions a bit and it still turned out wonderfully. So easy!! I was dicing my eggplant when I realised the largest one had a big bad spot – oops! So I cut a block of tofu – maybe one third each tofu, eggplant, red pepper. Really delicious. I added cashews and green onion as that is what I had on hand. The recipe worked great as is – if you wanted it saucy I would consider doubling the sauce. I may pre fry the tofu next time to change the texture a little. A keeper of a recipe – and like many of Katiesè recipies, super vercitile based on what you have on hand (my favorite kind of recipe LOL).

  15. Jennifer says

    I made this yesterday and accidentally put too much pepper in. Not to worry I added in some Veggie Broth and turned it into Kung Pao Soup! Was really tasty and I served with Quinoa. Thanks for sharing this recipe with us!

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