Black Pepper Chicken

5 from 13 votes
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An easy black pepper chicken with juicy tender chicken, crisp vegetables and a rich savory black pepper sauce. It takes no time to put together and tastes better than your usual Chinese restaurant takeout! {Gluten-Free Adaptable}

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

Black pepper chicken should be one of the meals on your dinner menu rotation. Not only because it’s so easy to put together and delicious, but also because it is loaded with healthy lean protein and colorful veggies that make 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.

Black pepper chicken served in plates with rice on the side
Chinese restaurant style black pepper chicken served on a plate close up

Black pepper chicken ingredients

For black pepper chicken, you probably already have most of the ingredients in your pantry.

Make sure you cut the ingredients, prepare the sauce, and marinate the chicken before you start cooking. When the stir fry starts, you will need to move fast so the ingredients won’t overcook.

When you’re ready to cook, your table should have:

  • Minced ginger and garlic in a plate
  • Mixed sauce (it’s nice to have a small spoon on the side because you’ll need to stir the sauce again before adding it to the pan)
  • Marinated chicken
Ingredients for Black Pepper Chicken
Chinese restaurant style black pepper chicken

I like to prepare by grouping my ingredients together so it makes the cooking easier, plus you will have fewer bowls to clean up later.

Cooking notes

1. The key for tender juicy chicken

No matter whether you use chicken breasts or thighs, if you follow this procedure you will get super tender chicken just like you’d get at 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 it. 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 it, 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 skillet 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.

How to make black pepper chicken

  1. Spread out the chicken in a heated large skillet
  2. Once the surface of the chicken is lightly charred but the inside is still pink, remove from the pan
  3. Add the aromatics and saute gently
  4. Stir fry the vegetables
  5. Pour in the black pepper sauce and cook until it thickens
  6. Add back the chicken and stir everything together
Black Pepper Chicken Process
Chinese restaurant style black pepper chicken in a wok close up

That’s it! The chicken is tender and juicy and the vegetables crisp with vibrant colors. You can serve it by itself or over steamed rice. For a healthier meal, try to use steamed brown rice. If you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days, or in the freezer for a month or two. I hope you enjoy!

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An easy black pepper chicken with juicy tender chicken, crisp vegetables and a rich savory black pepper sauce. It takes no time to put together and tastes better than your usual Chinese restaurant takeout! {Gluten-Free Adaptable}

Black Pepper Chicken

5 from 13 votes
An easy black pepper chicken with juicy tender chicken, crisp vegetables and a rich savory black pepper sauce. It takes no time to put together and tastes better than your usual Chinese restaurant takeout! {Gluten-Free Adaptable}
To make the dish gluten-free, use tamari 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

Ingredients

  • 1 lb (450 g) chicken breasts (or thighs) , sliced against the grain into 1/4” (5-mm) thick pieces

Marinade

Sauce

  • 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 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic , minced
  • 1/2 white onion , chopped
  • 2 bell peppers , chopped (I used mixed colors)

Instructions

  • 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.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add the chicken. Immediately spread the chicken into a single layer using a spatula, with as little overlap as possible. Sear for 30 seconds or so, until the bottom is lightly browned. Flip the chicken. 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 1 tablespoon of oil to the skillet. 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 as a main dish.

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving, 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: 1mg
Did You Make This Recipe?Don’t forget the last step! Leave a comment below, and tag me @OmnivoresCookbook and #OmnivoresCookbook on Instagram!

The post was published on July 11, 2018 and updated by Jun 9, 2022.

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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
    Delicious!!

  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.

  14. Jenn says:

    5 stars
    This recipe is awesome!! It is almost identical to the dish as it comes from my favorite Thai restaurant. I doubled the sauce because my family loves sauce. It was a hit and easy to make!! Thank you for the recipe!

  15. sandra vanderwood says:

    5 stars
    Wonderful Recipe and I was grateful for the extra information on “how to cook the chicken”
    thank you very much.

  16. Patrick says:

    5 stars
    Another great tasting and easy to prepare dish! I always prepare per your recipe the first time and rarely make changes to them. The black pepper is a different kind of heat and we loved it. I have a Cole & Mason battery powered pepper mill and use it daily so this recipe caught my eye! I’m thinking this is a regional favorite because I’ve never see Black Pepper Chicken on a Chinese restaurant menu in the Phoenix metro area where I’ve been for 40+ years. At any rate, this one is going into my internet cookbook as part of the regular meal rotation. Thanks Maggie.

  17. Diana says:

    5 stars
    Really enjoyed this recipe and it was easy to follow along. This was a big hit with everyone at home (my kids ate peppers! It’s a miracle!) definitely adding this into our weeknight rotation

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