This black pepper chicken is an easy dinner recipe that tastes like takeout! Ready in just 10 minutes, it’s better than Panda Express!
When it comes to Asian recipes, nothing beats a stir-fry.
They are quick, tasty, and packed with fresh vegetables. How do we make a stir-fry taste that much better? Make them taste like something you’d get at a Chinese fast-food restaurant. Enter- black pepper chicken!
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What is Chinese black pepper chicken?
Black pepper chicken is a popular Chinese takeout dish made from dried herbs, sliced chicken, and bell peppers, all covered in a delicious black pepper sauce. Like black pepper Angus steak, it’s a popular option at Panda Express!
Why this black pepper chicken recipe will be a dinnertime favorite:
- Easy to make. This recipe might look fancy, but it’s so easy and needs very little effort.
- Healthy. Like chicken lettuce wraps, this dish is Packed with protein and healthy fats, it’s a well-balanced meal that everyone will enjoy.
- Tastes like takeout. Trust me, if you’ve eaten black pepper chicken from a Chinese restaurant, you’d think this was the same!
- Versatile. Serve it with rice, noodles, or even on its own- it’s so good!
What we love about this recipe is just how much more delicious it is when made at home! Just like when we make Hunan, empress, and Mongolian chicken, it tastes that much better than if we ate it from a takeout container!
Ingredients for pepper chicken
This recipe is very simple and uses a handful of pantry staple ingredients to make. Here is what you’ll need:
- Chicken thighs. Skinless and boneless fillets. You can also use chicken breasts if you prefer.
- Bell peppers, onion, and garlic. Sliced and chopped.
- Vegetable oil. For cooking.
For the black pepper sauce
- Soy sauce. Tamari or gluten free soy sauce work.
- Dry sherry. Or Shaoxing wine. For a non-alcoholic option, use a mix of apple cider vinegar and white sugar.
- Cornstarch. To thicken the sauce.
- Chicken broth. Choose good quality chicken broth that has no added sugar or salt.
- Sesame oil. A very flavorful oil that works well in Asian recipes and stir-fries.
- Sugar. Adds a sweet element to the sauce.
How to make black pepper chicken
Simple is an understatement for this recipe. Besides a quick chicken marination and prepping the sauce, there isn’t much else that goes into it.
Step 1- Marinate the chicken
Add chicken thighs, soy sauce and wine to a mixing bowl and let it marinate for at least 5 minutes.
Step 2- Prepare the black pepper sauce
Mix the soy sauce with cornstarch to make a slurry. Then add the remaining sherry, sesame oil, sugar, black pepper and chicken broth to the slurry. Keep onions and bell peppers in a separate bowl and garlic and ginger in another.
Step 3- Cook the chicken
Add some oil to a wok or large skillet, place over medium-high heat, and sear the chicken for 2 minutes. Remove the wok from the heat and add the remaining oil. Add the peppers and onions and stir fry for several minutes. Once done, transfer to the bowl with seared chicken.
Put the wok back on the heat and let it smoke. Add garlic, ginger, onions, pepper, and chicken back and cook for 30 seconds. Then, add the black pepper sauce, toss everything together, and cook for another 1-2 minutes or until combined.
Tips to make the best recipe
- For even more flavorful chicken, you can prep it the night before.
- For a spicy kick, feel free to add some chili sauce, red pepper flakes, or even hot sauce.
- While stir-frying meat, keep the flame high to add a smoky flavor to the dish and make the chicken juicy.
- Make some hot and sour or egg drop soup or crab rangoons to enjoy as an appetizer before this.
- Feel free to change up the veggies. Broccoli, celery, and cauliflower are all delicious alternatives!
To store: Place leftovers in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
To freeze: Place chicken in a shallow container and store it in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Reheating: Microwave the chicken for 30-40 seconds or reheat in a non-stick pan.
Recommended tools to make this recipe
- Wok. A must when working with Asian recipes.
- Non-stick skillet. If you don’t have a wok, a good quality skillet is a close second.
- Spatula. To easy mix and toss everything together.
More takeout copycat recipes to try
Frequently Asked Questions
Panda Express is infamous for having calorie-laden and sugar-laden sauces in most of their dishes, making them not the healthiest of options.
The Chinese blend of salt and pepper actually contains more than just regular table salt and pepper. It uses potassium salt which has a more umami flavor. The black pepper is from white and black peppercorns.
Each serving of this black pepper chicken recipe has just 360 calories.
This dish is famous for having a slightly sweet and tangy flavor. You also get a hint of spice from the black pepper.
Black Pepper Chicken (Like Panda Express)
- 1 lb chicken thighs skinless and boneless, chopped
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/3 cup dry sherry divided
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/3 cup chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
- 3 large green bell peppers sliced
- 1 medium onion sliced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 teaspoons ginger minced
- 2 tablespoons oil to fry
- In a mixing bowl, add the sliced chicken thighs, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, and 1 tablespoon of the sherry. Let it marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Add the remaining soy sauce with cornstarch to a small bowl and whisk to form a slurry. Add the remaining sherry, chicken broth, sesame oil, sugar, and black pepper.
- In a small bowl, add the bell peppers and onion. In a separate bowl, add the garlic and ginger.
- Add the oil to a non-stick pan or skillet. Once hot, add the chicken and cook for 4-5 minutes, until no longer pink. Remove from the pan.
- Add the peppers and onions and stir fry until tender. Add the chicken back, along with the garlic and ginger. Cook for 30 seconds, before adding the sauce mixture and let everything cook together for 2 minutes.
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Arman I can’t wait to try this recipe. I do heaps of stir Fry recipes. In your instructions “beef” is mentioned a couple of times but I guess this is a typo!! I do heaps of recipes but a novice cook may find it confusing!!!
Hi Susan! It’s been fixed sorry about that- was old edits in there 🙂
You suggested swapping vinegar for sherry. Equal substitute quantity.? Thanks
Yes and an extra tablespoon of sugar.
I cannot begin to tell you how, juicy, spicy, and amazing this dish was when we made it
Can you make with chicken breast?
I don’t see why not!
My family love love love this black pepper chicken recipe
Thank you it was so good.