Easy Black Pepper Chicken Recipe inspired by Panda Express. Juicy, tender chicken bites in a savoury black pepper sauce. This homemade black pepper chicken is easy, only requires a few ingredients to make, and tastes as good as your favorite Chinese takeout or even better.
Black pepper adds the freshest aroma and taste to any dish where pepper is used, whether it's a curry, soup, or even stir-fries.
I absolutely love this dish. The freshness, crunch, and zesty peppery flavor combination of this dish have me making it every chance I get.
What is Black Pepper Chicken
Black pepper chicken is a delectable Chinese dish and a popular menu item in Panda Express, one of the largest Chinese fast food chains in the United States. The recipe features succulent chicken pieces, crunchy onion, and bell peppers, all coated in an irresistibly delicious black pepper sauce.
This black pepper chicken recipe is wonderfully quick and easy, healthy, and satisfyingly delicious!
The black pepper sauce boasts an addictive balance of sweet, spicy, and savory flavor with an earthy, peppery undertone that will have everyone returning for more.
After you learn how to make Chinese black pepper chicken at home, you won't go to order takeout again!
Why You'll Love this recipe
Quick and easy to make. Once you start cooking, it is ready to serve in less than 15 minutes in a single pan.
No deep-frying required. The chicken gets quickly marinated with seasonings and cornstarch, then pan-seared. Marinating the chicken ensures juicy, flavorful chicken, while searing it gives it a mellow crunch and an excellent fried flavor without deep frying.
Contrasting textures. The tender chicken pieces complement the texture of the crunchy onion and bell peppers.
Delicious sauce. The black pepper sauce is loaded with so many flavors; tangy, sweet, savory, and with a hint of heat to drape every inch of the chicken and veggies.
Customizable. You can use chicken breasts or thighs or swap the chicken for tofu, shrimp, or other protein of choice and use whatever veggies you have on hand. You can even adjust the heat as per your taste buds.
Nutritious. This black pepper chicken recipe uses lean chicken breasts and veggies. It is also stir-fried in minimal oil rather than deep-fried to create a healthy chicken dinner your whole family will love.
Budget-friendly. It is much less expensive than takeout. Feed your entire family for a fraction of dining out.
More Delicious Asian Recipes
- Chicken Mei Fun
- Asian Broccoli Stir Fry
- Spinach Stir Fry with Garlic
- 10 Minute Sesame Garlic Ramen Noodles
- Flaky Scallion Pancakes
- Chinese Salt and Pepper Chicken
Ingredients You will need
Here are a few important notes about the ingredients. For measurements see the recipe card below.
- Chicken: I use boneless skinless chicken breasts, but you may use boneless chicken thighs.
- Oil: use a neutral, high-smoking point oil such as vegetable, canola, peanut, or sunflower oil.
- Vegetables: Onions and bell peppers add a nice crisp texture and a lovely sweetness that go well with the chicken. I used green bell peppers. You can also include red and yellow bell peppers for color and the different flavors they bring to the dish.
- Aromatics: Garlic, ginger, and fresh red/green chili. Fresh chili adds a kick of heat to the recipe. Use less or more based on your heat level preference. You can even omit it for a milder version.
For the Black Pepper Sauce
- Soy sauce: use both light and dark soy sauce for the perfect flavor. I use Kikkoman.
- Rice vinegar: If you don't have it on hand, use white vinegar instead.
- Brown sugar: adds sweetness to balance the tangy flavor. You can use more or less depending on how you like it.
- Toasted sesame oil: adds depth of flavor. Toasted sesame oil is made by pressing toasted sesame seeds. It is darker in color than regular sesame oil and has a strong fragrance. Hence it is used for flavoring dishes.
- Black pepper: It is an important component of this dish. Be sure to use good-quality black pepper. I highly recommend using freshly ground black pepper for this recipe. That's because freshly cracked black pepper has a strong citrusy aroma that you won't get with pre-ground or sold-ground pepper.
- Cornstarch: Cornstarch acts as a thickening agent in the sauce. Cornstarch also provides a light coating that ensures the chicken won't dry out while cooking. Potato starch is a nice substitute.
P.S. Light soy sauce has been left out from the ingredient list by error.
Preparations Step By Step
Make the sauce
Make the black pepper sauce by whisking together the crushed black pepper, rice vinegar, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, brown sugar, toasted sesame oil, cornstarch, and water in a bowl until there are no lumps.
Marinate the chicken
Coat chicken with 1 tablespoon of the sauce, 2 tablespoons of cornstarch, and salt. Rest it aside while you prepare the onion, ginger, garlic, and pepper.
Brown the chicken
Heat a large frying pan until it's hot. Add one tablespoon of oil and tilt the pan to spread oil all over. Add chicken in a single layer and cook over medium flame until golden from the bottom. Then flip the chicken cubes over and cook until the chicken begins to brown and is almost cooked through. Then transfer the chicken to a plate. Make sure not to overcrowd the pan; cook the chicken in batches if needed.
Stir fry vegetables
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in the same pan. Add ginger, garlic, and chopped chilies; Saute for 30 seconds. Immediately add onion and bell peppers. Stir fry over a high flame until the vegetables are crisp and tender.
Reduce the flame to the lowest. Whisk the sauce to recombine and pour the sauce. Let it simmer for 30 seconds. Add the fried chicken and toss well until warmed through.
Switch off the flame and add freshly ground black pepper. Stir to combine and serve hot.
Prepare your ingredients in advance. Like all stir-fries, you need everything ready before heating the pan because the cooking goes very fast.
Use freshly ground peppercorns. Freshly cracked black pepper has a strong flavor. You can crush the peppercorns using a mortar and pestle or peppermill or just put them in a kitchen towel and pound them with a heavy object like a rolling pin.
Don't skip the quick marinating process. It's essential for a tender, juicy, flavorful chicken, just like in Chinese restaurants.
Use the marinating time to do other prep work. While the chicken is marinating, prepare your veggies and aromatics.
Whisk the sauce before using. Always whisk the sauce well before using it, as the cornstarch tends to settle at the bottom.
How to serve
How to store
Black pepper chicken stir fry is best eaten fresh. However, leftovers will still be tasty. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
The written recipe is not gluten-free. To make it gluten-free, use gluten-free soy sauce or tamari. Also, make sure your rice vinegar contains no gluten.
You can use the sauce for marinating chicken, fish, shrimp, or vegetables in grilled or bbq dishes. This sauce is also great for making stir-fried noodles.
You can easily make this sauce ahead of time and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Remember to shake it up or whisk it to recombine before using it.
If you try the recipe, please take a moment to leave a comment and rating. I love hearing from you and it also helps other readers who are thinking of making the recipe.
Easy Black Pepper Chicken Recipe
- 500 gram or 1.1 lbs skinless chicken breast cut into bite size cubes
- 2 tablespoon peanut oil
- salt as required
- 2 medium size onion cut into 1 inch cubes
- 1 large size green bell pepper cut into 1 inch cubes
- ½ teaspoon minced garlic
- ½ teaspoon minced ginger
- 1 fresh red/green chili chopped
- 2 tablespoon cornstarch
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper freshly ground
For the sauce
- ¾ teaspoon black pepper freshly ground
- 3 tablespoon light soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- ½ teaspoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoon water/chicken broth
Make the sauce
- Make the black pepper sauce by whisking together the crushed black pepper, rice vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, toasted sesame oil, cornstarch, and water in a bowl until there are no lumps.
Marinate the chicken
- Coat chicken with 1 tablespoon of the sauce, 2 tablespoons of cornstarch, and salt. Rest it aside while you prepare the onion, ginger, garlic, and pepper.
Brown the chicken
- Heat a large frying pan until it's hot. Add one tablespoon of oil and tilt the pan to spread oil all over. Add chicken in a single layer and cook over medium flame until golden from the bottom. Then flip the chicken cubes over and cook until the chicken begins to brown and is almost cooked through. Then transfer the chicken to a plate. Make sure not to overcrowd the pan; cook the chicken in batches if needed.
Stir fry vegetables
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in the same pan. Add ginger, garlic, and chopped chilies; Saute for 30 seconds. Immediately add onion and bell peppers. Stir fry over a high flame until the vegetables are crisp and tender.
- Reduce the flame to the lowest. Whisk the sauce to recombine and pour the sauce. Let it simmer for 30 seconds. Add the fried chicken and toss well until warmed through.
- Switch off the flame and add freshly ground black pepper. Stir to combine and serve hot.