Black Pepper Chicken

5 from 35 votes
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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!

Close up of Black pepper chicken in a bowl with rice

Watch the Black Pepper Chicken Recipe Video Below!

raw ingredients for black pepper chicken on a table

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!

See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.

  • Chicken Thigh – I like to use chicken thigh in this recipe but if you prefer chicken breast, feel free to substitute here!
  • Neutral Oil – 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. 
  • Shaoxing wine – If you cannot or do not want to use wine, you can sub with sherry, mirin, or chicken stock.
  • MSG – As always, this is optional.

Black Pepper Chicken: Recipe Instructions

Cut the Chicken

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

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.

Next, mix the sauce by combining chicken stock, 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.

Velvet the Chicken

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.

Fry the Aromatics

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

Sauté Onions and Celery

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

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.

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

black pepper chicken on a plate with rice

Recipe Tips for Black Pepper Chicken


  • 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!

Cooking With a Wok (Alternatives)

By now, you know that I LOVE cooking with my carbon steel wok! It is my #1 most recommended kitchen tool, as I believe it is perfect for high-heat cooking and results in restaurant quality Chinese food!

If it is your first time cooking with a wok, make sure to read my “How To Season a Wok” post. There is a video included that shows exactly how to season your brand new wok and how to maintain it so it lasts for years.

If you cannot or do not want to use a wok, you can use a large pan, cast iron, or even a dutch oven.

My KEY TIP would be to avoid crowding your pan – crowding can lead to your XX not cooking thoroughly and becoming mushy. If you think your dish will be crowded, use a larger pan, cast iron, or dutch oven, OR cook in batches.

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

If you tried this Black Pepper Chicken or any other recipe on my website, please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it went in the comments below!

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5 from 35 votes

Black Pepper Chicken

Servings: 3
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Close up of Black pepper chicken in a bowl with rice
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!



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!

Additional Info

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Chinese
Tried this recipe?Mention @cj.eats_ or tag #cjeatsrecipes!

About CJ

I’m a third generation Chinese-American home cook who has always loved cooking & eating! Welcome to my food blog, where you can find trusted, tested, easy & approachable recipes for the everyday home cook that taste delicious! I am so glad you're here!

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    This was my recipe I ever tried from your site after seeing your IG post. I love this and can’t get enough so I was excited to try it when you made it look so easy to make! Well, your recipe definitely was but it tastes even better than what I’ve been having from take out! Thank you CJ!

  2. 5 stars
    As someone who continuously has to meal prep for my shifts this recipe is quick and easy for my fiancé and I. Its super easy to follow and very tasty for multiple meals in a row.


  3. This is on rotation in my house so much ! We love it for the lovely flavors & nice kick from the black pepper . I always have celery, ginger , garlic & chicken thighs in my fridge& pantry so on days I need a quick dinner without the fuss I make this ! I can’t tell u how many times I’ve made this recipe ! Love it !!! Instagram account @tanziasamad