Black Pepper Chicken

5 from 9 votes
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Real-deal Chinese restaurant-style black pepper chicken with juicy and tender chicken, crisp veggies, and a rich, savory, smoky sauce. Top it with steamed rice to make a healthy meal that can be done in under 30 minutes. {Gluten Free adaptable}

Real-deal Chinese restaurant style black pepper chicken cooked in a wok

Black pepper chicken is one of the meals on my dinner rotation menu. Not only because it’s so delicious, but also because it is loaded with healthy lean protein and colorful veggies that makes it perfect as a one-pot meal.

Making restaurant stir fry might look challenging at first glance, but once you’ve followed a solid recipe once, you’ll understand the workflow and the whole process will become way less intimidating. Plus, once you’ve tasted how great a homemade stir fry is, you’ll prefer it over takeout. The homemade version also contains less oil, sugar, and sodium, which is better for your body.

In the past, I’ve posted many stir fry recipes that use a nonstick skillet, such as Honey Garlic Shrimp, Cashew Chicken, and Mongolian Beef. Because, like most families in the US, we have an electric stove at home and it’s not powerful enough to heat up a traditional wok to make a proper stir fry. But I do get a lot of requests for wok stir fry recipes, because wok cooking creates that heavenly smoky taste that you can’t get from a nonstick skillet.

Black pepper chicken served in plates with rice on the side

The perfect wok for any stove

Today I want to share some great news – I finally found the perfect wok that works on both electric and gas stoves!

I want to introduce you to the Kuhn Rikon Covered Wok Skillet (US$70). It is a lightweight iron-constructed wok that has a flat bottom. The two biggest reasons I love this wok are:

  1. It heats up fast, even on an electric stove, and it holds heat well. I can make a regular family-size stir fry with plenty of ingredients in the same pot, without making the wok temperature drop too much. Of course, you can use the wok on many other types of stoves as well, such as gas, electric, induction, ceran, and halogen.
  2. The wok is light enough to handle with one hand. It’s way lighter than the carbon steel and cast iron woks I’ve had previously. So the cooking and cleanup are much easier.

The wok has a flat surface and it balances itself on your cooking surface. So it’s very easy to handle and you don’t need to cook with a wok ring. I also like the padded rubber handle, which stays cool during cooking.

Must-have wok accessories

Wok cover

The Kuhn Rikon Covered Wok Skillet comes with a glass cover, which is a plus (since many traditional woks don’t come with covers). I always prefer a glass cover over a metal cover because you can see what’s happening while cooking, without uncovering the wok, which lets out the steam. The glass cover has a very well-built stainless steel handle that feels very solid in the hand. The cover is such an important part for wok cooking because it seals in liquid and lets the food cook through with steam. It’s very important for Chinese cooking, since you might need to cover the pan when you make braised chicken or cook thicker cuts such as chicken thighs.

Wok spatula

A spatula that’s designed specifically for wok cooking is very important for making stir fries. I highly recommend the Kuhn Rikon Wok Spatula (US$18), for three reasons.

  1. The spatula is shaped like a shovel, so it’s easy to scoop up food with it. This is important because stir frying usually requires you to transfer the half-cooked food to a plate and add it back later during the cooking.
  2. The wok spatula also has a long handle that will prevent your hand from getting too close to the wok, which produces super hot steam during cooking.
  3. It also has a sharp edge, which helps you to release seared food from the pan and prevent scorching.

Plus, the graceful design of the wok spatula is a pleasant to the eye, and the stainless build is durable and easy to handle.

Chinese restaurant style black pepper chicken in a wok close up

Cooking notes

1. The key for tender juicy chicken

No matter whether you use chicken breasts or thighs, if you follow these procedures you will get super tender chicken just like in a Chinese restaurant:

  • Always cut the meat against the grain. Try to maintain the same thickness and size for each slice.
  • Always marinate the chicken. The whole process will help soften the chicken and create a rich flavor.
  • Let the chicken sear for 30 seconds before stirring. If you try to stir the chicken immediately, you’ll find it stuck to the pan due to the cornstarch in the recipe. If you let the chicken cook for a bit before moving, the meat will come out well-seared without being torn apart.

2. Why you need to remove the chicken once

Transferring the half-cooked chicken to a plate before adding the rest of the ingredients is crucial for two reasons.

  • When you add the sauce and veggies, the pan temperature will drop significantly. If you don’t take the chicken out beforehand, the veggies won’t be seared properly, and the sauce will reduce very slowly. Both result in a soupy dish with steamed ingredients.
  • The chicken is slightly underdone when you remove it, and is just cooked through once added back. If you leave the chicken in the wok the whole time, by the time that the veggies are cooked, the chicken will be way overdone – dry and chewy.

3. Get used to the pace of stir frying

I found that Chinese stir frying has a much faster pace than most Western cooking. When I start cooking a dish, it takes me about 5 minutes (or maybe less) to finish. This means you have less than a minute between adding ingredients. So do read through the recipe before cooking, and move quickly once you start.

Chinese restaurant style black pepper chicken

One last word

When you finish cooking, take a few minutes to rinse your wok with hot water to remove any bits stuck to the pan. Never use detergent after you season the wok, or soak the wok, since doing so will damage the coating. Once you’ve cleaned the wok, dry it a cloth or paper towel, and brush a thin layer of oil onto the inside of it. I usually put it back on the electric stove and use the residual heat to dry it completely.

Take good care of your wok and the patina will form over time. Your wok will become more and more nonstick, and easier to work with. It’s so pleasant to make Chinese stir fries with a wok, so you can create delicious and healthy food that tastes even better than the restaurant version!

Chinese restaurant style black pepper chicken served on a plate close up

More delicious stir fry recipes

If you give this recipe a try, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it (once you’ve tried it), and take a picture and tag it @omnivorescookbook on Instagram! I’d love to see what you come up with.

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Black Pepper Chicken - Real-deal Chinese restaurant-style black pepper chicken with juicy and tender chicken, crisp veggies, and a rich, savory, smoky sauce. {Gluten Free adaptable} #recipe #easy #asian #healthy #sponsored

Black Pepper Chicken

5 from 9 votes
Real-deal Chinese restaurant-style black pepper chicken with juicy and tender chicken, crisp veggies, and a rich, savory, smoky sauce. Top it with steamed rice to make a healthy meal that can be done in under 30 minutes. {Gluten Free adaptable}To make the dish gluten-free, use tamari or coconut aminos instead of soy sauce (both light and dark), and use dry sherry instead of Shaoxing wine.
Author: Maggie Zhu
Course: Main
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: takeout
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4


  • 1 pound (450 grams) chicken breasts or thighs, sliced against the grain into 1/4-inch (5-mm) thick pieces



  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce (or soy sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
  • 2 teaspoons dark soy sauce (or soy sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Stir fry

  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic , minced
  • 1/2 white onion , chopped
  • 2 bell peppers , chopped (I used mixed colors)


  • Combine chicken, soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, and cornstarch in a medium-sized bowl. Gently mix by hand until the chicken is coated with a thin layer of the mixture. Marinate for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Combine all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Mix well and set aside.
  • Chop the aromatics and vegetables. Add the ginger and garlic to a small bowl. Add the onion and all the chopped peppers to another bowl.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a wok (or nonstick pan) over high heat. When oil is hot, add the chicken. Immediately spread the chicken into a single layer using a spatula. Sear for 30 seconds or so, until the bottom is lightly browned. Flip the chicken. Let cook for 15 to 20 seconds. Stir occasionally, until both sides are browned but still a bit pink inside. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.
  • Add the remaining tablespoon of oil into the wok. Add the ginger and garlic. Give it a quick stir until fragrant. Add the white onion and peppers. Stir and cook for 20 seconds.
  • Stir the sauce mixture until the cornstarch is dissolved completely, and pour it into the skillet. Stir with a spatula immediately and cook until the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, a few seconds. Add back the cooked chicken. Quickly stir a few times to coat everything with the sauce. Turn off heat and remove the skillet from the stove. Immediately transfer everything to a big plate so the ingredients won’t keep cooking in the hot skillet.
  • Serve hot with steamed rice or on top of boiled noodles.


Serving: 4g, Calories: 269kcal, Carbohydrates: 17.8g, Protein: 26.1g, Fat: 10g, Saturated Fat: 1.2g, Cholesterol: 73mg, Sodium: 674mg, Potassium: 607mg, Fiber: 1.3g, Sugar: 9.4g, Calcium: 20mg, Iron: 1.1mg
Did You Make This Recipe?Don't forget the last step! Tag me @OmnivoresCookbook and #OmnivoresCookbook on Instagram!
Black Pepper Chicken - Real-deal Chinese restaurant-style black pepper chicken with juicy and tender chicken, crisp veggies, and a rich, savory, smoky sauce. {Gluten Free adaptable} #recipe #easy #asian #healthy #sponsored

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Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Danielle says:

    5 stars
    I just moved into this apartment temporarily while we search for a house and it has an electric stove (I’ve been cooking with gas for years). I’m so sad because I can’t use my wok on the stove. Since we’re only here temporarily, I prob won’t buy the flat bottomed wok, but what a great option for those who live permanently with electric stoves. I am in love with this recipe. Give me black pepper anything and I’m happy. And your tips are always so helpful. I’ll need to invest in the wok spatula.

  2. Sytse says:

    5 stars
    Hi Maggy,
    Again a wonderfully easy and tasty dish!
    I used salty shaoxing wine, without adding the extra salt to the dish, but it was still a bit too salty to my taste. I will follow your advice and look for natural wine.
    Thank you so much for your fine recipes!

  3. Taylor says:

    This was phenomenal. Thank you for the recipe. I used a spice grinder to freshly grind whole Tellicherry black peppercorns for a vibrant pepper flavor.

  4. Kay says:

    5 stars
    Wow! I really enjoyed this recipe and can’t wait to enjoy the leftovers tomorrow! Using superior Shaoxing wine definitely made a wonderful difference.

  5. Kaitlyn Weber says:

    5 stars
    I’ve been searching for over a year for alternatives to take out and this by far is the best recipe I have ever found and will no longer search for anything better. I did not have dry sherry or the shaoxing wine, so I used the only thing I had which was Mirin. Still tasted amazing!

  6. Feifei says:

    5 stars
    My fiancé and I wanted to use up the rest of our chicken breasts and onions so we made this for dinner. We made the mistake of using chicken broth with added salt so it turned out a little too salty but otherwise delicious! So easy too!

    Also, Maggie, I have been following your blog for years now and thought I should let you know. Your blog is my go-to Chinese recipe blog! I love that you have authentic northern dishes as well as takeout recipes.

    Keep up the great work!

  7. Ed Kowy says:

    hi, i saw your comment. I too am forced to cook on an electric stove which I also hate. I still use my wok though. Get yourself a wok ring, and allow the wok to heat till smoking. If you keep the ring on the burner, I found it tends to override the thermostat and keep the burner on. Also, though, because it does not get as hot you need to cook in smaller batches and a bit slower than normal. Can be done though. Good luck.

  8. Richard says:

    I have tried this one several times now. My wife’s stomach can’t stand hot food, so I needed to come up with a solution.
    After trying with mixed colored pepper instead of black pepper, which was a bit less hot. I now use about half the amount of black pepper needed and instead of the common black pepper I use Tellicherry. It has a really nice taste with that.
    Thanks for this gorgeous recipe!

  9. Joanie says:

    5 stars

  10. Ed Dodson says:

    I just prepared Black Pepper Chicken for a large family group and it was great. I was able to switch from 4 servings to 7 with short notice. I hac to cook it on the stovetop in a Dutch oven due to the volume, and I think this was harder than using the wok; this points out my need for a better Wok. Unfortunately Kuhn Rikon was out of the wok you recommended but they are to contact me when they get them in.
    I did get the Shaoxing Wine and everyone liked it.
    Thanks for the recipe Maggie. Stay safe there in Austin.
    Ed Dodson
    Sebastian, Florida

  11. Claudine B says:

    5 stars
    Merci, c’est vraiment délicieux ! I will do it again. I used dry porto and some pepper from Cambodia. It was easy and perfect.

  12. Julie says:

    5 stars
    This is a great recipe, and the step-by-step helped me keep from over cooking the chicken as I usually do. I made a few changes, because I always like more aromatics, and to make it an all-in-one meal with lots of veggies. I doubled (at least) the ginger and garlic, and added a bunch of broccolini which I blanched until nearly done and added with the chicken.

  13. Paula pearce says:

    5 stars
    My husband and I absolutely love this recipe. I add half a cup of water to make more sauce and serve it with bean sprouts and home made prawn toast.

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