Chinese black pepper chicken is a Chinese takeaway favourite. Now you can make it at home!
If you like a good Chinese takeaway, you are going to love this Chinese black pepper chicken stir fry. It’s so easy to prepare and also offers a good chance for you to improve those wok cooking skills.
All is explained below. This Chinese black pepper chicken is so good served simply over a bed of hot jasmine rice.
Chinese black pepper chicken is great served on it’s own or as part of a larger Chinese feast. I have many more recipes for you to try here.
What is Chinese black pepper chicken?
Chinese Black Pepper Chicken is a popular stir-fry dish that features tender pieces of chicken cooked with a savoury and aromatic black pepper sauce. This dish is known for its bold and peppery flavour, making it a favourite in Chinese cuisine, especially in Chinese-American restaurants.
Like so many Chinese recipes, you need to try this one as you cook. I prefer lots of black pepper but this can and should be added to taste.
What are the main ingredients in Chinese black pepper chicken?
Although recipes do vary, following is a list of ingredients you can expect to find in your black pepper chicken:
- Chicken: Usually boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces.
- Black Pepper: A significant amount of ground black pepper is a key flavor component, giving the dish its distinctive peppery kick. You can and should add this to taste.
- Vegetables: You will find most recipes include bell peppers, onions, and spring onions (scallions). You could also add other vegetables like broccoli or snap peas.
- Soy Sauce: Adds saltiness and depth of flavour to the dish.
- Garlic and Ginger: Often minced or sliced to provide aromatic elements.
- Oyster Sauce or Hoisin Sauce: Adds a touch of sweetness and umami to the sauce.
- Cornstarch: You use this in the marinade and also to thicken the sauce.
How do you cook this easy stir-fry?
- Marination: You marinate the chicken pieces with a mixture of soy sauce, black pepper, and sometimes cornstarch. Although not in every recipe, you could add Shaoxing wine or dry sherry which I like as it gives the dish more depth of flavour.
- Stir-Frying: You stir fry the chicken in a wok or skillet until crispy on the exterior but not completely cooked through. Transfer it out of the wok and then return it to the pan to finish of the stir fry with the vegetables and sauce.
- Vegetables: Vegetables are stir-fried separately until they reach the desired tenderness.
- Sauce: A sauce is prepared using soy sauce, oyster sauce or hoisin sauce, more black pepper, and sometimes a bit of sugar for balance. I rarely find it necessary to add sugar but you might like it for a sweeter flavour.
- Combining: The cooked chicken and vegetables are combined with the sauce ensuring every ingredient is well coated.
How long does it take to prepare Chinese black pepper chicken?
This is a quick restaurant style stir fry. It will literally take less than 30 minutes from start to finish, making it a delicious after-work meal.
Can you work ahead?
Yes. All of the chicken and vegetables can be sliced and prepared a couple of days in advance if that’s more convenient. You can also prepare the marinade and sauce.
If you like, the chicken can be marinated for up to 4 hours and this will also add more depth.
How long can you keep leftovers in the fridge?
You can keep any leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days, wrapped tightly. Then all you need to do is heat it up again in a wok or in your microwave.
Can you freeze Chinese black pepper chicken?
Yes. I cook a lot for my blog. In fact, I cook far more food than I can possibly eat.
So I do freeze this one and always get fantastic results. My adult kids love it so they enjoy taking home the frozen dinners.
You can freeze black pepper chicken for up to 6 months. Then just let it defrost and heat it back up in a wok or in your microwave.
How do you add the black pepper?
There is a tablespoon of black pepper in the sauce. That’s not enough for me but it might be for you.
Try the black pepper chicken before serving and decide if you’d like to add more black pepper. This can be added any time during the cooking process.
- Marinate for Flavour:
- You need to take the time to marinate the chicken. A short marination with soy sauce, black pepper, rice wine and perhaps a bit of cornstarch will infuse the chicken with flavour and contribute to a more tender texture. Even 15-30 minutes can make a noticeable difference.
- Control the Heat:
- Adjust the amount of black pepper according to your spice preference. Chinese black pepper chicken is known for its bold pepper flavour, but everyone has different tolerance levels for heat. Start with a moderate amount and adjust to your liking. Freshly ground black pepper can also enhance the flavour.
- Stir-Fry with Precision:
- Stir-frying is a crucial step. If you have a small wok or pan, cook the chicken in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan, which can lead to steaming instead of stir-frying. Aim for a hot wok or skillet, and cook the chicken until it’s just cooked through and has a bit of crispiness.
- Stir-fry the vegetables separately to maintain their texture. Overcooked, soggy vegetables can detract from the overall quality of the dish.
Remember, Chinese cooking often involves quick cooking times at high temperatures, so having all your ingredients prepared and ready to go before you start cooking (mise en place) can make the process smoother. Enjoy your cooking!
Step by step photographs
Have you tried this black pepper chicken?
If so, please leave a star rating in the recipe card below and a comment. I love receiving feedback and I’m sure the other readers of my blog do too. Thank you!
- 500g (1 ¼ lbs) chicken thighs or breasts, sliced against the grain into 6mm ( ¼ inc) thick pieces
- FOR THE MARINADE
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce
- 2 tbsp Shaoxing wine or dry sherry
- 2 tbsp cornflour (corn starch)
- FOR THE SAUCE
- 125mm (1/2 cup) unsalted chicken stock
- 3 tbsp light soy sauce
- 2 tbsp Shaoxing wine or dry sherry
- 1 tbsp sugar or to taste
- 1 tbsp ground black pepper
- FOR THE STIR FRY
- 3 tbsp rapeseed (canola) oil or peanut oil
- 2 tbsp ginger, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp garlic, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp spring onion (scallion), finely chopped
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 2 bell peppers, seeds removed and thinly sliced
- 3 tbsp cold chicken stock or water
- 2 tbsp cornflour (corn starch)
- Whisk the marinade ingredients in a mixing bowl until smooth. Add the chicken and ensure each piece is nicely coated with the marinade. Marinate the chicken while you prepare the rest of the dish or for a few hours. The longer marinating time will intensify the flavour.
- Now whisk the sauce ingredients together in another bowl and set aside. Heat your wok over a high heat and add 2 tablespoons of the oil and swirl it around in your wok.
- When smoking hot, add the chicken in one layer. If you are using a small wok, you might find it easier to cook the chicken in two batches. Fry the chicken for 30 seconds before stirring and then flip it all over to cook the other side for about 30 seconds.
- The chicken will not be completely cooked through at this stage. Transfer the par-cooked chicken to a plate and set aside.
- Add the remaining oil to the wok and stir in the garlic, ginger and spring onion (scallion). Fry for about 30 seconds and then stir in the sliced onion and bell peppers. Fry for another 30 seconds, stirring and tossing your wok as you do and then pour in the prepared sauce.
- Bring to a rolling simmer. As the sauce is coming up to heat, make a slurry by stirring the corn flour (cornstarch) into the water or chicken stock in a small bowl.
- Once the sauce is simmering, slowly add the slurry until you are happy with the consistency of the sauce. The sauce will thicken as you add the slurry so be sure to just add as much as required for your personal preference.
- Return the par-cooked chicken to the wok and simmer until it is cooked through which should only take a couple of minutes. Serve immediately over hot steamed rice.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 522Total Fat: 35gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 26gCholesterol: 67mgSodium: 3153mgCarbohydrates: 30gFiber: 4gSugar: 14gProtein: 22g