Chicken With Black Pepper Recipe

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Chicken With Black Pepper recipe is a widely popular dish at home and in Chinese restaurants. One of the keys to an outstanding Chicken With Black Pepper recipe is making sure that the chicken is properly coated and fried until crispy. For added flavor, try adding some freshly chopped garlic a minute before removing the chicken to drain.

BLACK PEPPER CHICKEN

This restaurant-style Chinese Black Pepper Chicken recipe is quick and easy to make at home, totally versatile if you’d like to sub in different veggies or proteins, and so comforting and delicious.

This 20-Minute Black Pepper Chicken recipe is quick and easy to make, and tastes even more delicious than the restaurant version! Feel free to sub in shrimp or tofu or beef or pork (in place of chicken), and add any of your other favorite veggies to the stir-fry. One of my favorite Chinese take-out recipes...made at home! | gimmesomeoven.com

Ok, I probably should have posted this throwback recipe on a Thursday. But hey, we’re smack dab in the throes of getting-ready-to-move-chaos around here, and I have no idea what day it is most of the time anyway. ?  So I figure today is probably as good as any day to post an old comfort food recipe.

And by comfort food, I’m talking specifically about my college days comfort food today.

Although, let’s back up a sec. I should probably point out first that I grew up downright spoiled by the most amazing little local Chinese restaurant down the street from our house in Wichita. Our family went there for lunch every single Saturday growing up, and good grief, they had the most magical touch ever with stir-fry sauces and fried rice and egg drop soup. So when I moved away to go to college in teeny-tiny-town Kansas, naturally, I immediately convinced a group of friends to go check out the town’s one Chinese restaurant. Wellllll, let’s just say that the pickin’s there — even with the $4.99 all-you-can-eat buffet — turned out to be slim. At most. (Case in point, this was the place whose egg drop soup officially compelled me to learn how to make my own.)

However. I’ve gotta say that they did know how to make a mean Black Pepper Chicken. ?

And on those late night buffet runs, particularly after an intense study sesh or a long band practice, it always had a way of hitting the spot. And fifteen years later, classic black pepper chicken is still a fave.

Nowadays, though, I make it in my own kitchen where I have full control over the ingredients. Often I’ll toss in whatever extra veggies I might have on hand, or mix things up using shrimp or tofu instead of chicken. But when I’m feeling extra nostalgic, I can always count on the classic combo — tender juicy chicken, crisp celery and bell pepper, zesty red onions, and a ultra-peppery sauce — to satisfy the craving. And man, it still just tastes as good as ever.

Guaranteed to help you tackle that macroeconomics final. Or, you know, a Tuesday.

This 20-Minute Black Pepper Chicken recipe is quick and easy to make, and tastes even more delicious than the restaurant version! Feel free to sub in shrimp or tofu or beef or pork (in place of chicken), and add any of your other favorite veggies to the stir-fry. One of my favorite Chinese take-out recipes...made at home! | gimmesomeoven.com

The other bonus about this recipe is that it’s ultra easy to make. Simply stir-fry your chicken, celery, bell pepper and red onions until tender. Then while they are cooking, whisk together your stir-fry sauce. Stir it in, and let it thicken for a minute…

This 20-Minute Black Pepper Chicken recipe is quick and easy to make, and tastes even more delicious than the restaurant version! Feel free to sub in shrimp or tofu or beef or pork (in place of chicken), and add any of your other favorite veggies to the stir-fry. One of my favorite Chinese take-out recipes...made at home! | gimmesomeoven.com

…then serve it up however you’d like! I often make a batch of rice or quinoa to go along with it, but just about any sides will do. Oh, and of course, don’t forget a twist of extra freshly-cracked black pepper. Because…black pepper chicken. ?

So simple, and always a hit. Enjoy, everyone!

BLACK PEPPER CHICKEN

  •  prep time: 7 MINUTES
  •  cook time: 13 MINUTES
  •  total time: 20 MINUTES
  •  yield: 4 -6 SERVINGS 1X

DESCRIPTION

This restaurant-style Chinese Black Pepper Chicken recipe is quick and easy to make at home, totally versatile if you’d like to sub in different veggies or proteins, and so comforting and delicious.


INGREDIENTS

SCALE1x2x3x

  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil (or any mild-flavored oil), divided
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 small bell pepper, cored and thinly-sliced
  • 1 small red onion, peeled and thinly-sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, thinly-sliced on a bias
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons freshly-cracked black pepper (or more to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • optional toppings: thinly-sliced green onions, toasted sesame seeds

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat in a large sauté pan or wok.  Add chicken and sauté for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink on the inside.  Use a slotted spoon to transfer the chicken to a clean plate, and set aside.
  2. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the sauté pan, along with the bell pepper, onion, celery and garlic.  Sauté for 5-6 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Meanwhile, as the veggies are sautéing, whisk together the soy sauce, cornstarch, oyster sauce, vinegar, black pepper and ginger in a small bowl until combined.
  4. Once the veggies are ready go to, add the chicken and sauce mixture to the pan, and stir until the veggies and chicken are evenly coated.  Continue to cook for 1-2 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened.  Taste, and season with extra soy sauce and/or black pepper as desired.
  5. Remove from heat, and serve immediately, sprinkled with your desired toppings.

Black Pepper Chicken

You’re in for a treat with this quick and easy restaurant style Chinese inspired Black Pepper Chicken that’s totally delicious and made at home in just 30 minutes. It’s incredibly saucy, sticky, crispy and sweet, perfect for a quick weeknight dinner.

black pepper chicken on a bed of rice on a black plate.

Black Pepper Chicken

I love making these one pot dishes, where any mess in the kitchen is kept to a minimum. Trust me, this makes a difference when you’re trying to make dinner on a busy weeknight. This versatile recipe for black pepper chicken allows you to easily add or substitute other vegetables, such as broccoli or carrots. If you prefer pork or beef as your protein, go for that! When finished, this is best served over some cooked rice. It balances out the intense taste of all the great spices and Asian ingredients.

This black pepper chicken is incredibly crispy, sticky, saucy and sweet, all my favorites when it comes to a great chicken dinner. Serve this over some rice and you’ve got yourself an easy dinner that your whole family will enjoy.

Ingredient Notes

overhead shot of ingredients needed to make black pepper chicken.

CHICKEN

  • Chicken – Chicken thighs, boneless and skinless cut into 1 inch cubes. I prefer using chicken thighs because they’re juicier and more tender but chicken breast can be used as well.
  • Soy Sauce – I use low sodium soy sauce to have a bit more control over the saltiness of the dish. You can use regular if that’s what you have on hand.
  • Garlic – Fresh minced garlic is used and always adds a terrific flavor.
  • Cornstarch – The cornstarch is tossed with the chicken pieces, then fried, resulting in extra crispy chicken.
  • Vegetable oil– I use vegetable oil but any mild flavored oil like safflower, or sunflower will work as well.
  • Onions – One large onion, chopped for lots of great flavor.
  • Bell Pepper – Red pepper was used but any color pepper works well. Cut into 1 small ½ inch pieces.
  • Sesame oil – If you can find toasted sesame oil, buy it! The flavor is amazing.

BLACK PEPPER SAUCE

  • Sichuan peppercorn powder – Sichuan peppercorns taste a bit citrusy and are not spicy. It actually induces a tingling numbness when you eat it, rather than a fiery heat. This can be found in all Asian stores.
  • Pepper – Freshly ground black pepper is preferred, and its spicy heat is essential in this dish.
  • Oyster Sauce – Provides a sweet and salty taste, with a caramel undertone.
  • Soy Sauce – Low sodium sauce again.
  • Shaoxing Wine – This medium-dry wine produced in Shaoxing has a rich, slightly nutty taste. Some good substitutes can be dry sherry or mirin.

How To Make Black Pepper Chicken

  1. Combine chicken, soy and garlic: In a medium size bowl, combine the chicken pieces with the 1 tablespoon of soy sauce and minced garlic. Toss well. Sprinkle the cornstarch over the chicken and toss well.
  2. Combine sauce ingredients: In a small bowl, combine all the black pepper sauce ingredients together.
  3. Cook the chicken: Add the vegetable oil to a wok or large skillet and heat over high heat. Add half the chicken to the wok and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer the chicken to a paper towel lined plate and repeat with remaining chicken.
  4. Sauté onion and peppers: If there’s no vegetable oil left in the skillet, add another tablespoon or so. Add the onion and peppers to the wok and cook for a minute. Add the chicken back to the wok and the prepared black pepper sauce. Toss until well combined. Drizzle the sesame oil over the chicken and stir.
  5. Serve: Serve immediately over rice.

FAQ’s

Are chicken thighs better than breasts?

Chicken thighs can be used in all the same ways as chicken breasts but they contain more fats and less protein than the breasts but the difference is that thighs are a bit juicier and more tender. Thighs are cheaper but also taste great!

What can I use as a substitute for Shaoxing wine?

Dry sherry or mirin make great substitutes.

Is Sichuan peppercorns same as black peppercorns?

Sichuan peppercorns are similar in appearance to black pepper, this mildly hot spice is distinctively aromatic, making it a necessary element in many traditional Chinese dishes.

Some Tips

  1. Have all your ingredients ready to go before you start cooking as the cooking process goes quickly.
  2.  If you don’t have access to Sichuan peppercorn powder, the alternative is to use freshly ground black pepper and ground coriander seeds.
black pepper chicken on a bed of rice on a black plate.

Leftovers

This pepper chicken will last 3–4 days in the fridge when stored in an airtight container! You can reheat it either in the microwave, or covered in a pan over medium heat.

FREEZER

If you want to keep leftovers longer, pop them into an airtight container and place in the freezer. Your leftover stir fry will keep for 3–4 months in the freezer.

CHINESE BLACK PEPPER CHICKEN (黑椒鸡丁)

Forget about Panda Express! This is the best Chinese Black Pepper Chicken recipe with the best black pepper sauce you can make from home easily. Juicy and flavorful cubed chicken breasts with intensely flavored black pepper sauce…you’ll want to drizzle it on everything! Throw in some crisp peppers and crunchy celery, so simple and easy to make, you can make this tonight!

cubed chicken breasts with black pepper sauce served in a plate
Juicy cubed chicken breasts with intensely flavored black pepper sauce

CHINESE PEPPER CHICKEN RECIPE WITH THE BEST BLACK PEPPER SAUCE

My first experience with black pepper chicken was at the airport in Utah. I was on my way back from a conference and decided to give Panda Express a try. I can’t say if I remember how the dish tasted but the black pepper sauce vaguely reminded me of a sauce that we would use in steak houses in Taiwan.

My readers love the Chinese Pepper Steak recipe so I figured why not share a chicken version. With a few simple tweaks, the cubed chicken breasts become juicy and flavorful and you’ll love my take on the super fragrant black pepper sauce.

Ingredients to make the dish

WHAT GOES IN PEPPER CHICKEN?

  • Cubed chicken breasts
  • Celery
  • Red bell pepper
  • Yellow onion
  • Black pepper sauce (gluten-free, paleo, sweetened with jam)
    • Freshly ground black pepper
    • Sichuan peppercorn powder (optional. ink in the recipe card)
    • Coconut aminos
    • Fruit jam (apricot, peach, or pineapple. See recipe for Whole30)
    • Chicken or vegetable stock

HOW TO MAKE BLACK PEPPER CHICKEN STIR-FRY

  1. Slice and season: Cube the chicken breasts to similar sizes and do a quick marinate.
  2. Dice the vegetables: This dish comes together quickly so prepare the vegetables and the sauce and set them aside ready to use.
  3. Coat: Lightly coat the chicken with arrowroot or potato starch right before pan frying.
  4. Pan fry: pan fry the chicken in a single layer without disturbing for about 2-3 minutes per side. Set the chicken aside.
  5. Add: Saute the vegetables until crisp but not mushy.
  6. Combine: combine the chicken and the black pepper sauce toss and serve!
Black pepper sauce in a bowl
Super flavorful and fragrant black pepper sauce…so good!

MY SECRET BLACK PEPPER SAUCE…SUPER FLAVORFUL!

  1. Most pepper chicken recipes use oyster sauce, if you happen to have a bottle of my homemade vegetarian oyster sauce, you can use that to replace coconut aminos in the sauce.
  2. My black pepper sauce is sweetened with a touch of apricot fruit jam. It’s a little sweet and little tart, and the jam helps thicken the sauce therefore you can use less starch (i.e. less carb)!
  3. I added a secret pepper powder– Chinese Sichuan Peppercorn powder. It’s a ground version of the whole Sichuan peppercorns that I found on Amazon. The pepper powder is finely ground so it’s easier to use, eat, and less pungent. Although it is an optional ingredients, if, however, you are a big fan of Chinese pepper chicken fan, grab a bottle (product link in my recipe card)! Here are the black pepper sauce components:

FRESHLY GROUND BLACK PEPPER

Ground black pepper in a can won’t do the job for this recipe. The flavor won’t be as intense. I recommend you grind the peppercorns in your own pepper mill.

SICHUAN PEPPERCORN POWDER (OPTIONAL)

This is my personal touch to make the sauce extra fragrant. Sichuan peppercorn powder is milder in flavor than the whole peppercorns. It adds a nice floral flavor and with little tingly sensation in the mouthfeel. The sichuan peppercorn powder is also a good substitute for people who aren’t used to the whole peppercorn flavor. I ordered mine on Amazon (link in my recipe card). You can definitely skip this ingredient if you don’t have it handy.

FRUIT JAM (OR PITTED DATES/PRUNES)

A little touch of sweetness to balance the heat and the piney flavor from the peppercorns. The fruit jam also acts as a thickener to round the sauce together. I use St. Dalfour brand apricot, peach, or orange will work well for the sauce. If you are on Whole30, use soft pitted dates or prunes and blend them with the rest of sauce to make a sauce.

CHICKEN STOCK

I use chicken stock to thin the sauce. If you aren’t on a specific dietary requirement, you can use Chinese shao hsing wine, Taiwanese michu, or Japanese mirin to replace the stock.

COCONUT AMINOS

Coconut aminos taste naturally sweeter than soy sauce or tamari. It’s made from coconut blossoms. My recipe measurements are based on using coconut aminos and I follow my tastebuds to make a dish taste right. Regular soy sauce, particularly tamari, is way more salty and tastes more flat (i.e. less well-rounded flavor), and therefore it needs to be balanced with a sweetener (often sugar) to make a dish taste right.

Golden shallow fried cubed chicken breasts on a white plate
Look at that tender and flavorful cubed chicken breasts!

JUICY FLAVORFUL CUBED CHICKEN BREASTS

Most of the black pepper chicken recipes call for chicken thighs because thighs are usually more moist than breasts. However, I found that if you season the chicken correctly and control your stove top temperature well, chicken breasts can be equally tender and flavorful, and they crisp up beautifully because of less moisture content. So please read the recipe instructions from beginning to the end first before you start this dish. Often, I leave extra tips in the notes sections to answer some of the common questions my readers tend to have.

TIPS FOR THE BEST BLACK PEPPER CHICKEN RECIPE

  • Dice the chicken to similar size so the cook time will be even.
  • Slice the celery on a diagonal for more crunch
  • Secret Black pepper sauce – this dish comes together quickly so prepare the sauce and vegetables first before you start cooking.
  • A light coating of the chicken cubes before pan-frying – wait until the oil is hot then quickly coat the chicken right before pan frying. If you coat the chicken too early, they turn watery and gloopy.
  • Small batch cooking – the recipe is written for 1 lb chicken. If you do a larger batch, I recommend you pan fry the chicken in a separate batch so each piece can crisp up beautifully.

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