Difference Between Kung Pao and Szechuan

Main Difference – Kung Pao vs Szechuan

Kung Pao and Szechuan are two terms that are associated with Chinese cuisine. There are a number of regional cuisines in China and Szechuan is one of the most popular and influential cuisine styles out of them. Kung Pao is a classic dish in Szechuan cuisine. Thus, the main difference between Kung Pao and Szechuan is that Kung Pao is a dish whereas Szechuan is a cuisine style.

1. What is Kung Pao?
     – Meaning, Ingredients, Cooking Methods, Characteristics

2. What is Szechuan?
     – Meaning, Ingredients, Characteristics

3. What is the difference between Kung Pao and Szechuan?Difference Between Kung Pao and Szechuan - Comparison Summary

What is Szechuan

Szechuan, also known as Sichuan or Szechwan, is a style of Chinese cuisine, which originates from the province of Sichuan, China. There are many variations of this cuisine. Some of these variations include

  • Chongqing
  • Chengdu
  •  Zigong
  • Buddhist vegetarian style

Sichuan province is a fertile region for the production of rice, vegetables, mushrooms and herbs. Therefore, these ingredients are commonly used in this style of cuisine. The main meat used in this cuisine style is pork; beef is also more popular compared to other types of Chinese cuisines. Unlike many other styles of Chinese cuisines, Szechuan also uses rabbit meat. Use of yogurt is also another special characteristic of Szechuan, which makes it different from other styles.

This style of cuisine has bold flavors – the spiciness and pungency of Szechuan cuisine result from the generous use of Szechuan pepper, garlic, and chili peppers. Szechuan peppers, which gives this cuisine its characteristic bold flavor, has an extremely fragrant, citrus-like flavor. Broad bean chili paste, which is used commonly as a seasoning, is another specialty in this cuisine. There are seven basic flavors in Szechuan cuisine: hot, sweet, bitter, sour, pungent, aromatic, and salty.

Pickling, drying, and salting are the common methods for preserving food in Szechuan. Common cooking or preparation methods include steaming, braising and stir-frying. Tea-smoked duck, Mapo tofu, double-cooked pork, Sichuan hotpot, Kung Pao chicken and Dan dan noodles are some popular dishes in Szechuan cuisine.

Difference Between Kung Pao and Szechuan

Szechuan Beef Macros

What is Kung Pao

Kung Pao is a classic dish in Szechuan cuisine. It is a spicy dish made with stir-fried chicken. This dish is also known as Gong Bao or Kung Po. This dish is also popular in westernized Chinese cuisine and can be found throughout China, with regional variations. But most of these variations are not as spicy as the original Szechuan Kung Pao.

Kung Pao is usually made with chicken, vegetables, peanuts and chili peppers. Classic Szechuan dish is made with Szechuan peppers. This dish typically has a strong, spicy and nutty flavor. 

Preparation Method:

  • Chicken is first diced and then marinated in a mixture of soy sauce, rice wine, and cornstarch.
  • Chili peppers and Sichuan peppers are flash-fried in a wok.
  • The chicken is added to the wok and stir-fried.
  • Vegetables and peanuts are added to the stir-fried chicken.


Sichuan peppers are the most important component of the dish, which gives the authentic Szechuan flavor. Fresh peanuts, not roasted ones, are usually added to this dish.

Main Difference - Kung Pao vs Szechuan

Difference Between Kung Pao and Szechuan


Kung Pao: Kung pao is a classic dish in Szechuan cuisine that is made with chicken.

Szechuan: Szechuan is a style of Chinese cuisine, which originates from the Chinese province of Sichuan.

Ingredients Used

Kung Pao: Kung Pao is made with chicken, vegetables, nuts, and Szechuan peppers.

Szechuan: Szechuan cuisine typically uses Szechuan peppers, vegetables, mushrooms, herbs, pork, beef, rabbit, and yogurt.

Preparation Methods

Kung Pao: Kung pao uses stir-frying method.

Szechuan: Szechuan cuisine commonly uses stir-frying, braising and steaming.


Kung Pao: Kung pao has a strong, spicy, sweet and nutty flavor. 

Szechuan: Szechuan cuisine has bold and strong flavors.

Image Courtesy:

“Kung Pao Chicken” by Sodanie Chea (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

“Szechuan Beef Macros March 21, 20107” by Steven Depolo (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

About the Author: Hasa

Hasanthi is a seasoned content writer and editor with over 8 years of experience. Armed with a BA degree in English and a knack for digital marketing, she explores her passions for literature, history, culture, and food through her engaging and informative writing.

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