Black Pepper Chicken


September 10, 2023

Chinese Main Dishes Recipes Tastier Than Takeout Wok

Black Pepper Chicken is most commonly known from Panda Express. This copycat version is so delicious and SUPER easy to make! This Chinese takeout restaurant dish has been requested so many time and for good reason – it’s so good and easy to make, you’re never going to want to order it at a restaurant again!

Watch the Black Pepper Chicken Recipe Video Below!

Close up of Black pepper chicken in a bowl with rice

Ingredients for Black Pepper Chicken

I love this Black Pepper Chicken recipe because only a few ingredients will make crispy, juicy chicken. Firstly, here are the ingredients you will need!

  • Chicken Thigh (You can also use chicken breast for this recipe)
  • Light Soy Sauce
  • Sesame Oil
  • Salt
  • White Pepper
  • Freshly Ground Coarse Black Pepper
  • Avocado Oil (or other neutral oil like canola or vegetable)
  • Cornstarch
  • Chicken Stock – I always recommend Kettle & Fire – use code CJPINS for 20% off your order here!
  • Oyster Sauce
  • Shaoxing wine
  • Sugar
  • MSG
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Onion
  • Celery
raw ingredients for black pepper chicken on a table


I like to use chicken thigh in this recipe but if you prefer chicken breast, feel free to substitute here!

Yes, they’re different! Dark soy sauce is thicker, darker, and sweeter (as well as has a higher sodium content) than regular soy sauce. Because I use these two ingredients at 1:1 ratio and there are so few ingredients in the sauce, there is not a substitute I can recommend 🙁

As always, this is optional 🙂

My favorite neutral oil is avocado oil, but you can also use canola or vegetable oil! I don’t use olive oil when cooking Chinese food for two reasons: 1. It has a low burning point and 2. I find that the flavor profile does not usually go with the dish. 

If you cannot or do not want to use wine, you can sub with sherry, mirin, or chicken stock!

Black Pepper Chicken: Recipe Instructions

Cut the Chicken

The first step in making this recipe is cutting the chicken into 1″ pieces. Cut the chicken into uniform pieces so they cook evenly in the pan or wok.

Cutting chicken on a cutting board

Next, place the sliced chicken into a bowl with light soy sauce, white pepper, salt, sesame oil, neutral oil and cornstarch. Mix well with your hands and let marinate for at least 20 minutes.

marinated chicken in a bowl

Next, mix the sauce by combining chicken stock (I always use Kettle & Fire – get 20% off your order when you use code CJPINS!), light soy sauce, oyster sauce, shaoxing wine, sugar, cornstarch, and msg. I always like to premix my sauce to have it ready to go during the fast cooking process.

mixing black pepper chicken sauce

Velvet the Chicken in Neutral Oil

After the chicken is marinated, heat about a cup of neutral oil (I always prefer avocado oil) over high heat until smoking. Fry the chicken pieces (in batches if needed) for 2 minutes or until they are cooked through and golden brown. Remove the chicken and the excess oil to leave about 2 tbsp of oil left in the pan.

cooking chicken in a wok

Fry the aromatics

Next, sauté the garlic and ginger for about 15 seconds until fragrant.

frying garlic and ginger in a wok

Sauté Onions and Celery

Once the aromatics are fragrant, add the onions and cook for another minute.

frying celery and onion in a wok

Add Chicken and Sauce

Once the vegetables are crisp and cooked through, add back the chicken along with the sauce. Work quickly to mix the sauce together to evenly coat all the ingredients in the pan.

Cooking black pepper chicken with sauce

Continue cooking for another 1-2 minutes until the sauce has thickened and your Black Pepper Chicken is done! I love serving this with a freshly steamed bowl of rice.

black pepper chicken in a wok

If you liked this Black Pepper Chicken recipe, check out some of the most popular Chinese Take-Out recipes on the blog!

black pepper chicken on a plate with rice


Velveting is a key Chinese cooking technique that involves marinating the protein in cornstarch and various seasonings (such as white pepper, salt, shaoxing wine, and oils) before quickly passing it through hot oil. It’s one of my favorite ways to guarantee moist and tender meat, and it’s a trick that I don’t hear home chefs talk about often. I love incorporating it into my recipes because it’s one of the best ways to make restaurant quality Chinese food at home!

In most of my recipes, I like to cut my vegetables to a similar size – this ensures that one vegetable is not ‘more’ cooked than others, and it also is more aesthetically pleasing! You can adjust the size of the vegetables to your preference (smaller or larger) – just make sure to adjust the cooking time so they are ‘done’ to your liking!

Close up of Black pepper chicken in a bowl with rice

Black Pepper Chicken

by Chris Joe
Black Pepper Chicken is so easy and delicious to make at home in about 30 minutes! The chicken is juicy and paired with the crisp vegetables and savory black pepper sauce!
5 from 15 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings 3



Vegetables & Aromatics

  • 3 stalks celery cut at an angle to 1" pieces
  • 1 yellow onion sliced
  • 5 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 inch ginger minced



  • Slice chicken thigh into 1" pieces into a bowl with soy sauce, sesame oil, salt, white pepper, avocado oil and cornstarch. Mix until combined and marinate for 20.
  • Slice celery at an angle into 1" pieces, onion into 1" pedals, and mince garlic and ginger and set aside.
  • In a small bowl, mix oyster sauce, light soy sauce, coarse black pepper, shaoxing wine (or sherry cooking wine), sugar, chicken stock, and cornstarch and set aside.
  • Over high heat, cook chicken for 2-3 minutes until cooked through and set aside.
  • Over high heat, fry garlic and ginger for 15 seconds until fragrant. Add celery and onion and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add back chicken and sauce and continue cooking for 1-2 minutes to combine, until sauce has thickened. Serve with freshly steamed rice & enjoy!
Keyword black pepper, celery, chicken, onion
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Recipe Rating

  1. 5 stars
    Such a simple recipe to make, I like pepper so I added a fair bit extra but the overall balance of flavors worked really well in this dish, and loved the sweetness of the celery and onion against it all.

  2. 5 stars
    If I could give 100 stars I would!!!! This is the exact recipe for PE!!!! I’ve been so upset mine doesn’t have it anymore. You have made my culinary year! THANK YOU & I LOVE YOU!

  3. 5 stars
    While I made a few modifications to meet my dietary restrictions, this recipe was amazing! Clearly it is very forgiving with the modifications, as I cannot believe it was so wonderful! I’m going to look through your other recipes too – thank you so much!!!

  4. 5 stars
    10/10 – This was absolutely delicious and easy to make. The prep may take a little while but it is worth it. Highly recommended!

      1. The oil you cook in is mentioned in the long form format but not the condensed recipe version. This is delicious and everyone I have cooked it for has loved it. Non Chinese don’t cook celery very often

  5. 5 stars
    This is a dangerous recipe. It is too tempting to eat it all before anyone else gets a plate. Make double so you can have leftovers (or just seconds and thirds lol) so easy and simple but to die for. Thanks!

  6. 5 stars
    I made this for dinner tonight. It was an amazing, easy meal with so much flavor. I love how the recipe is written—showing you the main components, giving you tips & setting you up to be successful. I copied this down in my little “recipe book,” to make whenever my husband and I are happy for it. The only ingredient I didn’t have was MSG, but I’m thinking of picking some up next time I’m at the Asian supermarket, because I want to see how it enhances the flavor!