Black Pepper Chicken

You would never know this Black Pepper Chicken is homemade! It tastes better than the restaurant version and is packed with so much flavor! The chicken is crispy crunchy with a kick of black pepper AND Sichuan peppercorns! This will be your new go to takeout inspired meal!

Making your favorite Asian restaurant dishes at home is so easy! Try my Pepper Steak or Sweet and Sour Chicken. Both are ready in 30 minutes!Black pepper chicken in a white bowl with a serving spoon.

Quick and easy dinners make our lives so much easier in the evenings. And what’s even better? When it tastes just like take out! This Black Pepper Chicken is so easy to throw together  you’d think you’re at Panda Express. It’s just like the real deal!

I prefer to make takeout dishes at home because it’s much healthier. I load up on vegetables (you can even add extra if you want!), use low sodium soy sauce, and skip funny ingredients like MSG. I’ve discovered that making your own stir fry sauces is so simple and I can control the amount of sugar and salt added, making everything taste even better!

What you’ll need to make Copycat Panda Express Black Pepper Chicken

Marinade

  • Chicken: Boneless, skinless chicken thighs are my go-to for this recipe, however, chicken breasts or turkey breasts, or thighs could easily be substituted. However I find that chicken thighs stay the juiciest and are the most tender cut of meat for stir fry’s.
  • Cornstarch: Cornstarch coats the chicken, and thickens up the stir fry sauce later on.
  • Soy sauce: I always opt for low sodium soy sauce, so if you’re using regular soy sauce, you may need to cut it a little with water, or just use a little less.
  • Pepper: Two kinds of pepper seasoning are in this Black Pepper Chicken recipe: ground black pepper and ground Sichuan Peppercorn. I grind mine fresh on the spot for the best flavor. You can find Sichuan peppercorn at Asian markets or online.

Stir fry Veggies

  • Oil: A neutral-tasting oil like canola, vegetable, avocado, or light olive oil is best.
  • Vegetables: Simple red bell pepper, celery, and onion are the vegetables I chose. You can easily throw in other stir-fry vegetables if you have them on hand!
  • Ginger and garlic: Minced garlic and ginger provide a ton of flavor to this recipe. You can buy them pre-minced for ease!

Stir Fry Sauce

  • Oyster sauce: Salty, sweet, and a little fishy, oyster sauce is kind of like a mixture of soy sauce and bbq sauce. It adds so much umami to this Black Pepper Chicken dish! You can buy it online, at large supermarkets, or at Asian markets.
  • Vinegar: Rice wine vinegar is ideal for this recipe, however, apple cider vinegar can be substituted in a pinch.
  • Honey: To add sweetness and flavor I used honey. Brown sugar is a good substitute if needed.
  • Water: Just to thin it down a little I added water. You can add more if you find the sauce is too salty.

Black pepper chicken in a skillet.

How to make Black Pepper Chicken

  1. Marinade: Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and let the chicken sit for 15 minutes while you are prepping the rest of the ingredients. This Chinese technique is called “velveting” and is typically used in stir fries to help seal in juices, keep the chicken tender and help with browning.

Marinating chicken in a clear bowl with a silver spoon.

2. Make the sauce: Add all of the ingredients to a small bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside until ready to use.

Mixing a brown sauce in a white bowl with a white spoon.

3. Cook the chicken: Add oil to a wok or large skillet with high sides. (This helps with oil splatter.) Heat oil over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add in the marinated chicken and cook in batches. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side then transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat with the remaining chicken and set aside.

Cooked chicken on a paper towel.

4. Sauté the vegetables: Add bell peppers, celery, and onion to the same skillet the chicken was cooked in. Cook for 4 minutes or until the vegetables start to get golden brown and tender. Add in garlic and ginger and cook for an additional minute.Vegetables sautéing in a wok. 5. Assemble & Serve: Add the sauce and the cooked chicken back to the skillet with the vegetables and toss to coat. Simmer for 1-2 minutes to heat the chicken back up and thicken the sauce a bit. Serve immediately over rice with sesame seeds for garnish and an extra sprinkle of black pepper, if desired.

Black pepper chicken in a wok on the stove.

Tips for Success

  • You can substitute chicken thighs for chicken breast, turkey breast, or turkey thighs if desired. To keep the chicken moist and juicy I always use chicken thighs.
  • Toss in other stir-fry vegetables like different colored bell peppers, snap peas, baby corn, broccoli, carrots, bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, zucchini, and yellow squash.
  • Cut the sauce with extra water if you’re using regular soy sauce so it’s not too salty.
  • Store leftover Black Pepper Chicken in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • Reheat in the microwave, on the stove, or in the oven until piping hot.
  • Freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw completely before reheating.

Black pepper chicken in a white bowl.

What can I serve with Black Pepper Chicken?

There are so many great side dishes to go along with black pepper chicken. Here are my favorites:

Black pepper chicken in a white wok.

More homemade takeout recipes to try

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Black Pepper Chicken

5 from 7 votes
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 4

You would never know this Black Pepper Chicken is homemade! It tastes better than the restaurant version and is packed with so much flavor! The chicken is crispy crunchy with a kick of black pepper AND Sichuan peppercorns! This will be your new go to takeout inspired meal!

Ingredients

Marinade

  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs, cubed into bite size pieces
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp Sichuan peppercorn, freshly ground
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper, freshly ground

Stir fry Veggies

  • 1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 3 ribs celery, sliced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 tsp ginger, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

Sauce

  • 1/4 cup oyster sauce
  • 3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2 tbsp water, or more if you find the sauce is too salty
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp Sichuan peppercorn, freshly ground
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
  • extra black pepper for sprinkling before serving

Instructions

Images:
  • Marinade: Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and let the chicken sit for 15 minutes while you are prepping the rest of the ingredients.
  • Sauce: Add all of the ingredients to a small bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside until ready to use.
  • Cook chicken: Add oil to a wok or large skillet with high sides. (This helps with oil splatter.) Heat oil over medium high heat.
    When oil is hot add in the marinated chicken and cook in batches.
    Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side then transfer to a paper towel lined plate. Repeat with the remaining chicken and set aside.
  • Saute vegetables: Add the bell peppers, celery and onion to the same skillet the chicken was cooked in.
    Cook for 4 minutes or until the vegetables start to get golden brown and tender.
    Add in garlic and ginger and cook for an additional minute.
  • Assemble / Serve: Add the sauce and the cooked chicken back to the skillet with the vegetables and toss to coat.
    Simmer for 1-2 minutes to heat the chicken back up and thicken the sauce a bit.
    Serve immediately over rice with sesame seeds for garnish and an extra sprinkle of black pepper, if desired.
Nutrition Facts
Black Pepper Chicken
Amount Per Serving
Calories 386 Calories from Fat 234
% Daily Value*
Fat 26g40%
Saturated Fat 3g19%
Trans Fat 0.1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 7g
Monounsaturated Fat 14g
Cholesterol 108mg36%
Sodium 812mg35%
Potassium 516mg15%
Carbohydrates 15g5%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 6g7%
Protein 24g48%
Vitamin A 1096IU22%
Vitamin C 42mg51%
Calcium 46mg5%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: Black Pepper Chicken, Chicken Thighs, Chinese Copycat Recipes, Easy Takeout Recipes