Difference Between Hunan and Szechuan

Main Difference – Hunan vs. Szechuan

Chinese cuisine includes styles from various regions of China. Based on these variations, Chinese cuisines are categorized into eight great styles. Hunan and Szechuan are two of these styles. The main difference between Hunan and Szechuan is that Hunan consists of the styles of  Xiang River region, Dongting Lake, and western Hunan province while Szechuan consists of the styles of Sichuan province.

What is Hunan

Hunan is one of the eight great traditions of Chinese cuisine. This style consists of the cuisines of three regions: Xiang River region, Dongting Lake, and western Hunan province in China and Hunan cuisine is further divided into three styles based on these regions. Since these areas have a high agricultural output, the dishes and ingredients’ vividly vary. This style uses a large variety of fresh vegetables as well.

This style is well-known for its hot spicy flavor, deep color and aroma. Common cooking techniques include frying, pot-roasting, braising, smoking and stewing. This style generally uses more smoked and cured foods than any other style.

Hunan style is known for being dry hot or purely hot since this uses a liberal amount of pure chili content. Garlic and Shallots are also commonly used ingredients. A special feature of Hunan cuisine is that the menu tends to change with the seasons. In the hot summers, the meal usually starts with cold dishes and in the cold winter season, hot pot, which is considered to warm the blood, is preferred.

Main Difference - Hunan vs Szechuan

What is Szechuan

Szechuan is a Chinese cuisine that originated from the Sichuan province of China. Szechuan is further classified into the four sub- styles: Chongqing,  Chengdu,  Zigong, and Buddhist vegetarian style. Szechuan cuisine comprises of seven basic flavors: sour, pungent, hot, sweet, bitter, aromatic, and salty. It is known to have bold flavors; the characteristic pungency and spiciness results from the liberal use of garlic, chili peppers, and chili oil. Szechuan peppers, which have extremely fragrant, citrus-like flavor, are also a special feature of this style. Broad bean chili paste is also commonly used as a seasoning.

Szechuan cuisine contains food preserved through pickling, salting, and drying. Common preparation methods include stir frying, steaming and braising.

Since Szechuan region is a fertile producer of rice, vegetables, mushrooms and other herbs, they play a major role in the cuisine. Unlike in other styles of cuisines, yogurt is commonly used in food. Pork is the major meat used in the Szechuan region. In addition, beef is also popular than in other Chinese cuisines. Rabbit meat is also commonly used in this style of cuisines, unlike in other parts of China.

Difference Between Hunan and Szechuan

Difference Between Hunan and Szechuan


Hunan is originated from Xiang River region, Dongting Lake, and western Hunan province.

Szechuan is originated from the Sichuan province of China.

Beef and Rabbit

Hunan style uses less beef and rabbit compared to Szechuan

Szechuan style uses beef and rabbit meat than any other Chinese cuisine.


Hunan style has a lot of fish dishes.

Szechuan does not have many fish dishes.

Cooking Techniques

Hunan cuisine commonly employs frying, pot-roasting, braising, smoking and stewing.

Szechuan cuisine commonly employs stir frying, steaming and braising.

Preserved Food

Hunan style commonly uses cured and smoked food.

Szechuan style commonly uses pickled, dried and salted food.


Hunan style often uses pure chili content to bring out the spiciness.

Szechuan style uses hot and numbing seasoning and other complex flavor combinations, Sichuan peppercorns along with dried chilies, and various  dried or preserved ingredients and condiments.

Difference Between Hunan and Szechuan - infographic

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