Hunan Chicken vs. Szechuan Chicken: What Is the Difference?

There are two types of people when it comes to ordering in Asian bistros – those who eat the same food every single time, and those who always order something completely different on the contrary,

If you belong to the first group, it’s more than likely that your favorite meal of yours is either Hunan or Szechuan chicken because, quite frankly, Asian fast-food restaurants serve only a few dishes as popular as these two.

But why do you prefer the first one over the second one or vice versa? Are you not sure? That might be because you’re not even sure what makes them different!

So what is the difference between Hunan chicken and Szechuan chicken? The most significant difference between Hunan chicken and Szechuan chicken is that Hunan chicken is drier and hot, while Szechuan chicken plays more on the sweet and spicy note.

This is just a really brief answer, though, and in order to indeed understand this topic, we need to dive much deeper into it. So what are we waiting for? Let’s get started!

Hunan Chicken vs. Szechuan ChickenPin

Is Hunan chicken and Szechuan chicken the same?

No, Hunan chicken and Szechuan chicken are not the same, however, there are not very different either. That being said, both of them come from a different region in China, and they

Hunan chicken is usually much hotter and spicier, while Szechuan chicken’s got a noticeable amount of sweetness. That’s because of the larger amounts of ginger, garlic, and chili Hunan chicken contains.

What is Hunan chicken?

Hunan chicken is a traditional Chinese meal that found its second home in Asian bistros throughout the United States. Hunan chicken consists of stir-fried pieces of chicken breasts and some vegetables.

All of this is usually mixed with some rice and also the signature very dry and spicy sauce made out of, besides others, ginger, garlic, and soy, and oyster sauce.

What is Szechuan chicken?

Szechuan chicken is a dish that originated in the Chinese province of Szechuan, which is made from chicken pieces, vegetables, rice, and sauce.

That sauce consists of soy sauce, rice vinegar, ginger, and garlic, but there is usually also brown sugar being added to provide that sauce sweetness.

What is the difference between Hunan chicken and Szechuan chicken?

Even though Hunan chicken and Szechuan chicken are in nature very similar dishes, they differ a lot. Differences in vegetables are shared between these two, although usually, every restaurant makes their Hunan chicken and Szechuan chicken differently.

Therefore, the most significant difference between Hunan chicken and Szechuan chicken is in their sauce – the one for Hunan chicken is spicier and hotter. 

On the other hand, the sauce used to make Szechuan chicken is sweet, though usually still spicy (and some also recall a bit sour).

What do Hunan chicken and Szechuan chicken have in common?

Even though the differences mentioned above, Hunan and Szechuan chicken do have some things in common. What are they?

Well, one thing both Hunan and Szechuan chicken share is that they’re originally from China but become a staple to Chinese-American cuisine as well, unlike, for instance, General Tso chicken that was created in the US.

Both Hunan and Szechuan chicken are also spicy meals, and they’re, in fact, most likely the two most commonly served hot meals in the Chinese-American cuisine.

Which one tastes better, Hunan chicken or Szechuan chicken?

Just like with any other food, it is impossible which to say which one of Hunan chicken and Szechuan chicken tastes better, because it depends only on your preferences.

However, we can give you a tip – if you like spicy meals more, Hunan chicken will surely suit you more. On the contrary, Szechuan chicken has a sweeter taste, although it is hot as well.


If we were to name the two most popular dishes in Asian fast-food restaurants in the United States, we would surely name Hunan chicken and Szechuan chicken. 

These two spicy meals became a staple to the Chinese-American cuisine because they combine the excellent taste of stir-fried chicken breasts with nicelovely tasting vegetables and rice with delicious hot sauces.

These sauces are very different in each case, though, since Hunan chicken is much more dry and spicy. Szechuan chicken, on the other hand, belongs more to the sweet and hot category.



Image credits – Canva

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