Black Pepper Chicken (delicious!)

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}


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


  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce (or soy sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch


  • 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)

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.

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

How to make black pepper chicken

  • Spread out the chicken in a heated large skillet
  • Once the surface of the chicken is lightly charred but the inside is still pink, remove from the pan
  • Add the aromatics and saute gently
  • Stir fry the vegetables
  • Pour in the black pepper sauce and cook until it thickens
  • Add back the chicken and stir everything together

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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