Chicken With Black Bean Sauce Chinese


Chicken With Black Bean Sauce Chinese is very loved by many people around the world.Chicken with black bean sauce Chinese is one of the most popular dishes in China. With tender chicken and deep-fried onions added into a rich, spicy aromatic black bean sauce, it just can’t be missing from the dinner table.


Black bean chicken stir fry is such a flavourful delicious option for a weeknight dinner.  This recipe uses only one tablespoon of oil and a healthy method to make the most tender chicken breast slices!  Add crunchy sweet bell peppers and umami rich black beans and you have a low-fat crazy delicious dish!

Black bean chicken breast stir fry on a plate with steamed rice.


Chinese black beans (a.k.a douchi 豆豉) are heavily salted fermented black soybeans.  They are not the same as black turtle beans popular in Latin American cuisine and can’t be substituted.  They come in different forms – whole dried and wet versions as well as in a variety of sauces.  Because they are fermented, they are quite salty and have an earthy sweet bitter taste to them.


Chinese black beans are used as a flavouring like you would use soy sauce or hoisin.   I’d definitely put black beans as an all-star umami bomb in Chinese cuisine.  Slather it over fish prior to steaming, add it in your stir fry or mix it in your noodles.  Put it on anything for a unique savoury sweet dish.  Chinese black beans are very strong, so a little goes a long way.  They will become the predominant flavour to your dish, so other seasonings will take a back seat.


If you ever walk through the sauce/seasoning aisle of an Asian grocery store, it can feel quite overwhelming! Even if you know what you need, there are so many versions of the same thing.  For fermented black beans, there’s black bean sauce, wet black beans and dried black beans.  So what’s the difference?


Dried and wet versions are the most similar and you can find them in jars or sealed bags.  They both consist of the whole bean.  The dried ones usually include salt and other dry seasonings like five spice.  The wet version includes salt as well as additional seasonings like sugar and soy sauce depending on the brand.  Rinse dried black beans under water and drain to remove the salty sandy coating.   Wet whole black beans usually have soy sauce and sugar mixed and are sweeter. Use these right out of the package or rinse them a bit if you want.


Black bean sauce includes other seasonings like soy sauce, garlic, rice wine, sugar and other spices.  The black beans are roughly chopped up along with other ingredients in liquid to give a sauce-like consistency.  After a taste test, black bean sauce is more than twice as salty as their whole bean counterparts.  When using black bean sauce over whole black beans, I would use half the amount in your dish.


Black soybeans like other soybeans, are rich in fiber, plant based protein and low in saturated fats.  It’s also a good source of vitamin K, iron, potassium, magnesium, copper, manganese, and riboflavin.  

They are used in Chinese medicine for their antioxidant features and believed to be a great anti-aging product as well.  My Chinese parents used to tell me black beans were great to stay youthful because their black color will transfer to keep my hair black…to this day I’m not sure if that was a simplistic childhood explanation or they honestly believed that.

Given all the healthy benefits of black soybeans, fermented black beans are great to add into your meals.  In my opinion, black bean sauce is somewhat healthy because it has fermented black beans but it also includes soy sauce, other seasonings and way more salt than their whole bean counterparts.  So I would recommend whole fermented black beans instead if you’re trying to reap more health benefits.  Just chop them up fine to give the “sauce” like quality.


Black bean chicken or chicken with black bean sauce, is a classic Chinese dish that’s fast and easy to make.  The traditional version uses sweet bell peppers and onions, but you can easily swap out for any of your favourite vegetables.  It’s dinner in a pan that’s perfect if you don’t have a lot of time.  Follow these tips to make the best black bean chicken!


  • Ginger and garlic: Chinese fermented black beans go amazingly well with ginger and garlic.  Always pair these two aromatics for amazing flavour
  • Black bean sauce vs whole black beans: Black bean sauce is at least twice as salty as whole fermented black beans.  When using sauce, reduce the amount of black beans by half to offset the saltiness.  I usually sub 2 tsps of black bean sauce for every 2 tablespoons of whole black beans.
  • Slice your chicken thin: The key to a good stir fry is timing all the ingredients so they are perfectly cooked at the same time.  Slice your chicken breast thinly, cook it briefly first and add it back in at the end.  
  • Velvet your chicken:  Tenderize your chicken breast using the velveting technique described below.  If you’re using chicken thighs, you won’t risk serving dry chicken but will contain more fat.  This extra step of velveting will deliver tender chicken breast without the extra fat 🙂
  • Add vegetables: The traditional Chinese recipe uses bell peppers which I’ve included in this recipe, but any vegetable works well. Blanched broccoli, celery, carrots, green beans are great alternatives to add along with your onions. If you’re using a quick cook vegetable like spinach or lettuce, add it last along with your chicken.


  • Keep your pan hot with minimal moisture: You never want to “boil” your ingredients when stir frying.  The key technique is to keep the surface of the pan hot and relatively dry until near the end where you deglaze with a bit of liquid to create the sauce. 
  • Have all ingredients ready to go:  Like all stir frys, this dish comes together quickly so make sure you have everything ready to go before turning on the heat.
  • Don’t walk away: Go to the bathroom before, don’t check your phone – watch and don’t look away! Because the pan stays dry most of the time, it’s about a 30 second difference to magically “wok hei” flavour and burnt sadness.
  • Don’t overcrowd your pan:  If you’re making larger portions, it’s better to stir fry in batches to properly brown your vegetables.  


Black bean chicken is best served with thinly sliced chicken – about ⅛” slices.  The easiest way to slice your chicken is to cut it partially frozen.  Place your chicken in the freezer for about 30 minutes prior to cutting to make it easier to handle.  The chicken slices will defrost quickly once cut.

Always slice your chicken breast with a sharp knife against the grain to ensure tender slices.  The grain means the muscular fibres that run in one direction of the chicken breast.  Your knife should make a “T” with these muscular fibers.  Please see the picture below.

Cutting in the same direction as the grain will ensure chewy and stringy chicken breast.


I learned how to tenderize chicken properly following The Woks of Life, which recommends a combination of corn starch, oil and water and time.  Growing up, I always marinated my chicken with cornstarch and seasonings but the addition of water and oil makes the most tender chicken breast!  I’m definitely a big fan!  

This recipe also follows the quick blanch method for a healthier option.  The oil and cornstarch used to tenderize ends up mostly in your blanching liquid while locking in the juices.  Another option is to flash fry the chicken instead for more flavour. However, but I find the black beans more than make up in flavour.  You can also skip the extra oil you’ll need to keep the chicken from sticking to the pan while frying.  


  • Step 1:  Add oil, water, cornstarch and soy sauce to the sliced chicken.  Let it sit to marinate for 15 – 20 minutes while you chop and prepare your other ingredients.
  • Step 2:  Boil water in a deep pan.
  • Step 3:  Add the chicken slices to the boiling water making sure to separate the slices from sticking to each other. Blanch for 1-2 minutes.
  • Step 4:  Once all the slices have changed color from pink to opaque, remove from the water and set aside.  Discard the water.


This dish comes together quickly.  Dinner will be ready in 30 minutes!

  • Step 1: Using the same pan for blanching the chicken, dry the insides with paper towels.  Turn the heat on medium and add oil.
  • Step 2:  Add the onions and bell peppers.  Stir fry for about a minute.
  • Step 3:  Add the minced ginger and fry until fragrant – approximately 15 seconds.
  • Step 4: Add the garlic, chili flakes (if using) and black beans (or black sauce).  Stir and mix.
  • Step 5: The bottom of the pan should be browning but not burning.  If browning too quickly, lower the heat.  Once the onions start to turn translucent, add the Shaoxing wine (or broth/water) to deglaze the pan.  
  • Step 6: Add the sugar and mix thoroughly.  A nice sauce should form.  Add water (optional) if you would like more sauce.
  • Step 7: Add back the chicken and stir everything thoroughly.  Taste a small piece from your dish and salt to taste.
  • Step 8: Serve hot!


Serve black bean chicken hot and immediately it’s off the stove.  For a classic Chinese family dinner, serve it with steamed rice and a plate of Chinese yu choy or Shanghai bok choy.  Also, top it over rice noodles for a quick lunch. For a low carb option, serve it with cauliflower rice or diced silken tofu.  


Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 2 days.  Reheat in the microwave for about 2-3 minutes stirring in between.


Fermentation acts as a preservation method which means any food has a longer shelf life especially if stored in your fridge.  You can probably keep fermented black beans in your fridge forever.  I’ve easily kept jars of black beans in my fridge for over a year!


To save some time on the day of cooking, prepare all the ingredients the day before.  Slice and velvet the chicken and leave it in an airtight container.  I left my chicken over 24 hours in the fridge and it came out even more tender!  Mince the garlic, ginger, chop the peppers and onions.  Have all your ingredients ready to go and dinner can be ready in 15 minutes or less!


Black beans:  You can substitute whole fermented black beans with black bean sauce.  Just make sure to half the amount of sauce used.  For every two tablespoons of whole black beans, use one tablespoon of sauce.

Chilli flakes/oil:  Add a little spice to your black bean chicken by add chilli flakes or chilli oil.

Peppers:  Instead of peppers, use celery, blanched broccoli, cauliflower or string beans.  If you’re choosing a quick cook vegetable like lettuce or spinach, add it last along with your chicken.

Chicken breast:  Use chicken thighs instead of breast and skip the blanching since thighs have a less risk of drying out.  Thinly sliced pork loin or beef will also work well.

Close up of a slice of chicken from black bean chicken.


What does black bean sauce taste like?

Fermented black beans have a funky, earthy, salty rich umami flavour. Black bean sauce has the same flavours but it’s saltier than whole black beans and will sometimes include garlic and soy sauce.

Is Chinese black bean sauce healthy?

Fermented black beans have antioxidant properties, low in saturated fats and are rich in protein, fiber and iron. Black bean sauce unfortunately is quite high in salt content and is mainly used as a flavouring for dishes and should be used in small amounts.

What is Chinese black bean sauce made of?

Chinese black bean sauce is made of fermented black soybeans and includes other seasonings such as soy sauce, sugar, garlic, rice wine and sometimes 5 spice powder.

Is black bean sauce spicy?

Not at all! Black bean sauce is salty, earthy, savoury with a hint of sweetness.

Stir Fried Chicken with Black Bean Sauce (豉汁干葱爆鸡球)

Stir Fried Chicken with Black Bean Sauce (豉汁干葱爆鸡球) - A simple and rich black bean sauce with tons of herbs to bring out the best flavor of the chicken |

This stir fried chicken dish uses a simple and rich black bean sauce with tons of herbs to bring out the best flavor of the chicken.

Today I want to introduce a super simple chicken stir fry recipe with a delicious sauce – black bean sauce. If you’re wondering where the veggies and greens are, let me make a quick introduction.

Unlike most takeout Chinese in the US, authentic Chinese stir fry recipes usually emphasize one ingredient and keep the dish really simple. For example, if it’s a chicken stir fry dish, 80% of the dish will be chicken, and the remaining 20% of the ingredients will be seasoning and spices (unless it’s a Szechuan stir fried chicken, in which case the dish might contain 50% chicken and 50% dried chili peppers). If a dish emphasizes vegetables, it might add a bit of meat (pork belly is commonly used), but only use its flavor to enhance the whole dish. If you visit China, you’d be surprised that you are not able to find “beef with broccoli” in any restaurant. We don’t serve a stir fried dish that’s anything like that.

The recipe I’m introducing today is a good example. You might be surprised at the generous amount of herbs used in this dish, on a single piece of chicken breast. Try it once, and you’ll love the results you get. Although the sauce is already really rich and delicious by itself, adding tons of shallot, ginger, and garlic will largely enhance the intensity of the umami. This is the key to recreating the true flavor of China, even without a wok.

Stir Fried Chicken with Black Bean Sauce (豉汁干葱爆鸡球) - A simple and rich black bean sauce with tons of herbs to bring out the best flavor of the chicken |

Speaking of the sauce, I’m in love with the LKK black bean sauce lately. If you’re tired of using soy sauce to cook noodles and other dishes, give this sauce a try. The sauce uses fermented black beans to create a distinct savory flavor that goes great with black pepper. It’s a popular sauce and is usually used in Cantonese recipes to cook meat and seafood. It’s a great sauce for stir frying and steaming.

In the end, if you really want to add some veggies to this dish, make sure you cook the veggies separately and use those with low moisture. If you’re adding blanched broccoli or asparagus, make sure to drain the water thoroughly. The sauce in this recipe was thick enough, so I didn’t add cornstarch to it and dilute it. Prepare a potato starch slurry (1 teaspoon potato starch + 1 tablespoon water) before cooking. If the sauce doesn’t thicken once you’ve finished stir frying, swirl in the slurry to thicken sauce.


Quick and easy Chinese chicken with black bean sauce stir fry for a fuss-free weeknight dinner! This healthy stir-fry is umami-packed with a fantastic flavoursome sauce which works perfectly with freshly steamed rice.

I decided to share this recipe as a variation to my Beef with Black Bean Sauce, another commonly eaten dish using salted black beans. For more delicious and easy Asian dinners, also check out my Vegan Dumplings using everyday ingredients and Chinese Eggplant with Minced Pork, a classic homestyle dish.

Chicken black bean sauce with sugar snap peas in a small pan

The crisp and sweetness of the sugar snap peas and brown onions add a delightful contrast to the rich sauce and juicy chicken.


Chinese black bean sauce is a very popular and frequently used condiment in Chinese cooking. This sauce is added to stir fries (like this one!), noodles (zhajiangmian), steamed dishes (such as pork short ribs at dim sum/yum cha and steamed fish) and more.

Black bean sauces are widely available and can be found at Asian supermarkets and some major supermarkets (to my Australian readers, these are also available at Coles and Woolworths).

I’m a firm believer that homemade is always better and so you’ll find this recipe uses all the ingredients required for a black bean sauce. It’s extremely easy to make. There is really no need to buy the premade ones (usually diluted in flavour) when you can make a stir fry using the real stuff – salted, fermented black beans!


Fermented black beans are black soy beans that have been salted and fermented over time. The result is umami rich, salty and moorish soft but firm beans. Note, it is not the same as Mexican black beans!

Traditionally, most Chinese households will have fermented black beans in their fridge as opposed to a bottle of store-bought black bean sauce. Growing up, I didn’t even know black bean sauces are available for purchase! We only ever used salted black beans mixed with other complimenting seasonings and aromatics.

Adding salted black beans directly in stir fries (mixed with other condiments and aromatics) adds a lot more depth and flavour compared to using the store-bought sauce.

This recipe will show you just how easy it is to make a black bean sauce stir fry using fermented black beans!

Ps. they’re only about $2 for a whole bag of about 300 grams /11 ounces which lasts a very long time!


  • Fermented black beans (aka salted black beans). The hero of this dish, these salty black soybeans are soft to the touch and adds a savoury, moreish touch to this stir fry. A little goes a long way as too much can make the sauce a little bitter.
    • These black beans are available at most Asian supermarkets. I know you can buy bottles of premade black bean sauces at most major supermarkets these days in the International aisle. But why buy diluted versions when you can use the real stuff!?
  • Oyster sauce is a Chinese cuisine staple condiment that adds a massive amount of flavour to any dish.
  • Sugar snap peas work brilliantly with this black bean stir fry. Feel free to swap out for snow peas, green beans, red capsicums or even cabbage!
  • Shaoxing wine another Chinese cooking staple. This rice wine adds depth to cooking. Substitute: dry sherry.
  • Cornstarch is naturally gluten-free and the perfect sauce thickener. What’s more, this recipe marinates the chicken with cornstarch which will provide a delicious, flavoursome light coating around each piece.


It takes just 12 minutes of cook time to whip up this chicken with black bean sauce! Most of it goes to cooking and browning the chicken as the rest of the ingredients takes literally a couple of minutes.

To start, marinate chicken (cut into bite-size) with soy sauce, oyster sauce, shaoxing wine, cornstarch, garlic and black pepper for 15 minutes.

Whilst the chicken is marinating, get on with prepping the rest of the ingredients (which is not much).

If you’ve never cooked with sugar snap peas, make sure to peel those woody strings off as they can get quite tough to eat. Unlike snow peas, sugar snap peas mostly always have woody strings.

When ready to cook, first release the flavours of garlic, ginger and salted black beans on medium heat with a little oil. Add chicken to brown and caramelise.

In the last 3 minutes of cooking, add peas, green onion and brown. By putting these vegetables in at the end will ensure they stay crisp, sweet yet still cooked through.

So you can just stop here and this chicken and black bean stir fry will be fantastic. But why stop here when you can extend the yumminess to your rice!? In coming tasty sauce. The secret to not diluting the flavours of a stir fry is mixing a little oyster sauce into water and then add it to the stir fry. This will extend without turning the entire dish flat.

Stir well then dinner is ready!


  • Take the time to marinate the chicken for at least 15 minutes. Because the chicken has been cut up into small pieces, just 15 minutes will be sufficient for the marinade to sip into the chicken.
  • Do not overcook the sugar snap peas. They’re best when eaten crisp and only take a couple of minutes to cook. A nice contrast to the soft (and juicy!) chicken pieces. Furthermore, their clean, natural sweetness complements the umami-packed black bean sauce perfectly!
  • Get a good colour on the chicken. Colour equals flavour. To achieve a good caramelisation on the chicken, similar to the way you would steaks. Spread the chicken out in a single layer, turning every 1 or 2 minutes until cooked. This seals the chicken and minimises the release of chicken juices, keeping them in. Also, bear in mind, this step caramelises both the chicken and the marinade, making it even richer in flavour.
  • Squash the fermented black beans with the back of the spatula to help release flavours further.
  • If using chicken breasts instead of thighs be careful not to overcook it! Although marinating chicken helps make it more tender and juicy, it’s always best practice to not overcook chicken breasts to avoid disappointing dry bites!


What is Chinese black bean sauce made of?

Fermented, salted black beans is the key ingredient, combined with soy sauce, ginger, garlic, shaoxing wine, sugar, oil, cornstarch and water. You’ll find this recipe uses all of these ingredients with the exception of sugar. Since oyster sauce is used in this dish, the sugar can be omitted. Oyster sauce has a sweet element to it which works and balances perfectly with this stir fry.

What does chicken in black bean sauce taste like?

An explosion of umami! It tastes sweet, salty, mooreish, garlicky, gingery which is contrasted perfectly with the crisp and freshness of sugar snap peas.

Is Chinese black bean sauce gluten free?

No. Since shaoxing wine is used, which contains small amounts of wheat, it is not gluten-free. However, you can easily substitute the shaoxing wine with with dry sherry in this recipe. It is also worth noting that not all oyster sauces are gluten-free (also used in this recipe) so do your research on which brands of oyster sauces are gluten-free if you are senstive to gluten!

Do I need to add cornstarch to the oyster sauce and water mixture so that the sauce thickens?

Nope! The cornstarch added during the marinating process is sufficient to thicken the sauce for the entire dish as well as adding a glossy coating around the chicken. The result is a gravy-like consistency.

What are some good substitutes for black bean sauce?

Make the sauce seasoning yourself like this recipe! If you cannot get your hands on these black beans, simply leave them out! This recipe will still taste really delicious thanks to the added soy sauce, oyster sauce and shaoxing wine. Remember the fermented black soybeans are quite salty so to compensate, add some salt or a little extra soy sauce.

Are Chinese black beans and Mexican black beans the same?

No! Chinese black beans are made of black soy beans which has been salted and fermented to create that rich, umami flavour. If you bite into a salted black bean, you’ll find it will taste a little bitter. Therefore, salted black beans are often mixed with other condiments to balance out the bitterness.


The great thing about this easy chicken with black bean stir fry is that it keeps well in the fridge for up to 4 days in an airtight container! Up to 4 months in the freezer.

Made this recipe? Let me know your thoughts or questions by dropping a note in the comments section below! I’d love to hear from you 🙂

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