Chinese cuisine is one of my favorites because it’s flavorful and many dishes are easy to make, such as this black pepper chicken, which only take about 15 minutes. Your whole family will love it!
The best part about making stir fries is their versatility.
Every part of a stir fry – the sauce, the protein, and the vegetables – can be substituted with a variety of ingredients, and still taste absolutely delicious. Think big flavor in one single satisfying bite.
Toss all the ingredients in a large pan, stir fry for a few minutes and voilà – dinner is served. It doesn’t get better than that! Some prefer sweet sauces while I always go for tangy and a little spicy, just like this black pepper chicken stir fry dish.
The crunchy celery and bell pepper add color and a different texture to this chicken stir fry. But feel free to use your own favorite vegetable mix for this recipe!
Stir Fry Sauce
This basic stir fry sauce consists of four ingredients: chicken stock, garlic, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and cornstarch. Here, I’ve added a few extra ingredients to recreate the sourness found in Szechuan cuisine.
There’s also plenty of black pepper and peppercorns added to make your nostrils tickle. Though you won’t get the same runny nose/heat sweats effect that you would from red chilies, the dish still packs enough heat to satisfy the benign masochist in you!
Marinating and Stir Frying
There are two steps to this recipe: marinating and stir frying.
- Marinating the chicken ensures that each piece is full flavored and can stand on its own. The marinade also ensures that the chicken is moist and tender. This recipe calls for the chicken to marinate for 30 minutes, but feel free to leave it for longer – up to 3-4 hours – for an even more tender and flavorful chicken.
- Stir frying should only take a few minutes. Make sure the pan (or wok) is hot before adding any ingredients. Add your protein first and fully cook it. Transfer it to a plate and flash fry the vegetables until they are tender but still yielding a crunch. Return the protein to the pan (or wok), stir fry, and add the sauce. Enjoy!
Ingredients for Black Pepper Chicken
- Chicken stock: Use a low sodium chicken stock. You can also just use water.
- Cornstarch: Cornstarch is used in the marinade to velvet the chicken (give it that super tender texture) and is mixed with the stock and added at the end of the cooking to thicken the sauce.
- Chicken: You can technically use any part of a chicken to make this dish. But I personally prefer using boneless, skinless, breasts, because they are easier to eat.
- Oil: Use a neutral oil such as grapeseed oil or vegetable oil.
- Garlic: The garlic is used add a pungent and sweet element to the stir fry.
- Celery: Celery takes on the flavor of sauce really well, especially when it thinly sliced. Therefore, it makes it a great vegetable for stir fries.
- Bell pepper: I’m using a red bell pepper for a pop of vibrant color but you can use green or yellow too.
- Oyster sauce: I highly recommend using a high quality oyster sauce when making stir fries. That’s because they are more complex in flavor, are less sweet, and have a pungent element cheaper brands don’t.
- Rice vinegar: Use plain rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar as an alternative.
- Sugar: A little sugar is mixed in to balance the sour and salty elements.
- Black pepper: Fresh or ground black pepper. Or you can use ground white pepper for stronger pepper taste, without the floral element.
- Peppercorns: I’m using black peppercorn but feel free to use pink or green peppercorns. The dish may slightly vary in flavor (more or less floral) and pepper intensity, but will still taste delicious.
While I find this recipe absolutely delicious, there are plenty of other variations you can try if you want to get creative in the kitchen. For example, if you want to add more heat, add a chopped Thai chilis. Or if you are a lover of that tongue numbing effect, try adding a few Szechuan peppercorns. Here are several other ingredients that people like to use when making their black pepper chicken:
- Lemon or lime juice for a more tart and cleansing taste.
- Dark brown sugar for something closer to molasses.
- Low sodium soy sauce if you are watching your sodium intake.
- Other vegetables such as chopped red onions, white onions, leek, broccoli, snow peas, or baby corn.
How to Make Black Pepper Chicken
Scroll all the way down to the recipe card for the full recipe.
- Gather all of your cooking tools and ingredient.
- Whisk the stock and cornstarch in a small bowl and set it aside.
- Add all of the ingredients for the marinade in a separate bowl and stir well. Add the chicken and mix well to coat each piece evenly.
- Refrigerate it for 30 minutes, up to 3 hours (for more flavorful).
- Place a wok or a large skillet over medium-high heat and wait 1 to 2 minutes. When the wok or skillet is hot, add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and swirl to coat the surface evenly. Add the chicken and stir fry for 4 to 5 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.
- Turn the heat off and transfer the chicken to a plate. Wipe the pan clean with a paper towel and turn the heat back up to medium-high. Add remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to the pan along with garlic, celery and bell peppers.
- Stir fry until the vegetables are soft but still yielding a crunch – about 4 minutes. Add the cooked chicken, oyster sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, ground black pepper, and peppercorns. Stir well.
- Whisk the chicken stock and cornstarch mixture before adding it to the pan. Keep stirring until the sauce thickens and all the ingredients are evenly coated. Enjoy!
What to Serve with Black Pepper Chicken
Bring the Chinese restaurant to you – Serve this black pepper chicken over rice, or, as my husband prefers, over pasta!
For a complete Chinese meal, check out some of favorite, easy-to-make recipes:
Easy and Popular Chinese Dishes
Did you enjoy this flavorful black pepper chicken dish? Are there changes you made that you would like to share?Print
Black Pepper Chicken
This is a peppery and savory chicken stir fry recipe ready in just 15 minutes!
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 15 minutes
- Yield: 2 people 1x
- Category: Main
- Method: Stir frying
- Cuisine: Chinese
- 1/4 cup low sodium chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast (sliced into bite size cubes)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 cloves garlic (peeled and minced)
- 2 stalks celery (thinly sliced on the bias)
- 1 large red bell pepper (cored, seeded and sliced into bite size pieces)
- 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 1 1/2 tablespoon plain rice vinegar
- 1 1/2 teaspoon palm sugar (or granulated sugar)
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper (add an additional teaspoon if you prefer very hot)
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
For the marinade:
- 2 tablespoons plain rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons palm sugar (or granulated sugar)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 clove garlic (peeled and minced)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Mix the chicken stock and cornstarch in a bowl and set aside.
- Whisk all the ingredients for the marinade in a mixing bowl and add the sliced chicken breast. Coat well and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or up to 3 hours for a more flavorful meal.
- Place your wok or skillet over medium-high heat and wait until the surface is hot – about 1 minute. Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, swirl to coat the surface, and add the chicken. Stir fry for 4 to 5 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.
- Turn the heat off and transfer the chicken to a plate. Wipe the pan clean with a paper towel and turn the heat back to medium-high. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to the wok along with the garlic, celery and bell pepper.
- Cook for 4 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft but still yielding a crunch. Return the chicken to the pan and add oyster sauce, rice vinegar, palm sugar, ground black pepper and peppercorns.
- Give the chicken stock and cornstarch mixture a stir, and add it to the wok, stirring continuously until sauce thickens all the ingredients are evenly coated.
- Turn the heat off and serve.
Store the leftovers in an airtight storage container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
- Serving Size: 1 serving
- Calories: 464
- Sugar: 11.7g
- Sodium: 1169.5mg
- Fat: 13.6g
- Saturated Fat: 3.8g
- Unsaturated Fat: 2.6g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 26.9g
- Fiber: 2.5g
- Protein: 54.5g
- Cholesterol: 173.4mg
Keywords: recipe, stir fry, Asian, Panda Express