This black pepper chicken is made with slices of tender chicken breast, onions, and bell pepper. It's an easy stir fry that takes less than 30 minutes, and it is super flavorful and quite addictive! Perfect with a bowl of steamed white rice or try it with our egg fried rice.
General Tso's chicken and sesame chicken are, no question, the most popular Chinese takeout dishes. But don't sleep on this black pepper chicken!
We make it different than most other recipes. No soy sauce. No oyster sauce. But 110 percent easy, tasty, and addictive!
Please scroll down to the recipe card for the ingredient quantities!
For marinating the chicken:
- Chicken breast - Although we always opt for dark meat chicken for the most flavor and max juiciness, chicken breast is a better choice for black pepper chicken because white meat chicken will give the dish a cleaner flavor.
- Water - The water will be absorb by the chicken and will keep it juicy.
- Shaoxing rice wine - A little shaoxing rice wine will help to get rid of any unwanted chicken flavor and make the chicken fragrant.
- Salt - For seasoning the chicken.
- Baking soda - Just a little bit of baking soda goes a long way. Baking soda will help to tenderize the chicken and also help the chicken absorb and hold onto moisture, which keeps the chicken juicy.
- Cornstarch - Cornstarch binds the leftover moisture in the marinade make a batter. It's also a crucial ingredient for velveting the chicken, which protects the chicken when cooking and keeps the chicken juicy.
- Oil - The oil in the marinade helps to make the thin batter less sticky, which makes the chicken easier to separate when cooking.
The rest of the dish:
- Onion and bell pepper - These are the classic veggies in black pepper chicken. Both adds flavor and texture to the dish.
- Garlic - Freshly minced garlic is absolutely needed. It adds so much flavor and fragrance.
- Butter - Most chinese takeout dishes do not use butter, but black pepper chicken really benefits from the extra bit of richness and buttery flavor added. We recommend unsalted butter to prevent oversalting.
- Shaoxing rice wine - In this recipe, Shaoxing rice wine adds tons of flavor and make the whole dish more aromatic. We highly recommend using.
- Black pepper - This is the main seasoning of the dish. So use plenty! Pre-ground black pepper is a great choice, but if you are using freshly cracked black pepper, we recommend a medium to coarse grind.
- Salt, sugar, chicken bouillon powder, and msg - These are the other seasonings that bring this black pepper chicken together and make it super tasty and addictive! Msg is optional, but highly recommended. If you prefer, you could use more chicken bouillon powder instead.
- Oil - Any neutral oil is fine. The oil is for pan frying the chicken but also, a little of oil mixed with butter helps to keep the butter from burning.
How to make black pepper chicken
Please scroll down to the recipe card for the full recipe and instructions!
1. Marinate the chicken. Mix together the sliced chicken breast, water, shaoxing rice wine, salt, and baking soda until most of the liquid has been absorbed by the chicken. Then add the cornstarch and mix until the chicken is evenly coated. Finish by adding the oil and mix until well combined. Set aside until needed.
2. Pan fry the chicken. Heat a large pan over medium to medium high heat and generously cover the bottom of the pan with oil. Add the chicken and cook both sides until just cooked. Remove from pan. Cook in small batches if necessary and don't overcrowd the pan!
3. Stir fry the garlic. Reserving 1 tablespoon of oil in the pan, add the butter and stir to melt it. Once the butter has melted, add the garlic and stir fry until fragrant.
4. Add the veggies and chicken. To the garlic, add the onions and bell peppers. Stir fry briefly until the veggies are evenly coated and fragrant. Return the chicken to the pan and stir fry to combine.
5. Add rice wine and season. Drizzle the shaoxing rice wine around the pan and stir fry until the alcohol is cooked off. Season with black pepper, salt, sugar, chicken bouillon, and msg (optioinal). Toss to combine and stir fry for another minute. Serve and enjoy!
🌟 Pro tip: The seasoning step of this dish is kind of fast paced because the seasonings can get stuck to one part of the dish if sitting for too long. So if needed, mix together the dry seasonings ahead of time to help you save time.
- Don't overcrowd the pan when cooking the chicken. Cook the chicken in smaller batches as needed and make sure to separate and open up the chicken so that each piece gets evenly cooked.
- Avoid overcooking the onion and bell pepper. Keeping the veggies fresh in this dish helps to add texture. Also, it's a nice break to go between well seasoned, tender chicken, and crispy, juicy veggies.
- Toss immediately once the seasoning is added. When the seasonings are sprinkled into the chicken, it is best to start tossing immediately. This way the seasonings, especially the black pepper, won't get stuck onto only a small part of the dish.
Storage and reheating
Leftover black pepper chicken should be let chilled completely before storing in the fridge in an airtight container. It will be good for up to 4 days.
To reheat the black pepper chicken, either cover and microwave until heated through, or stir fry on the stovetop on medium to medium high heat until hot.
Our black pepper chicken recipes uses shaoxing cooking wine, which contains wheat and is not gluten free. If you're looking for a substitute, dry sherry is good gluten free option. Just dilute the sherry with some water before using.
If you prefer to not use alcohol, substitute the shaoxing rice wine for some chicken stock or water.
If you’ve made this recipe or any recipes from our blog, please tag us on Instagram using #twoplaidaprons! You can also tag us in your Instagram stories using @two_plaid_aprons. We would love to see your creations! It absolutely makes our day! 🥰
Black Pepper Chicken
For the chicken:
- 20 ounces skinless boneless chicken breast cut into ¼ inch slices (about 2 chicken breasts)
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon Shaoxing cooking wine (optional but recommended)
- ½ teaspoon Kosher salt fine salt is okay too
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon oil any neutral oil is fine
For the rest of the dish:
- 1 small yellow onion sliced
- 1 bell pepper deseeded and sliced
- 1 tablespoon garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon Shaoxing cooking wine
- 1½ teaspoons black pepper medium ground (or more to your preference)
- ¾ teaspoon Kosher salt (if using fine salt, may need to use a little less)
- ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon chicken bouillon powder
- ¼ teaspoon msg (optional)
- Oil as needed for cooking (any neutral oil is fine)
- Marinate the chicken:Combine the sliced chicken breast, water, shaoxing rice wine, salt, and baking soda in to a mixing bowl. Mix well until the chicken has absorb most of the liquid
- Add the cornstarch and mix until the chicken is well evenly coated. Following, add the oil and mix until well combined. Set aside as you prepare the rest of the ingredients. If you have time, allow the chicken to marinate for 30 minutes or even overnight in the fridge.
- Make the black pepper chicken:In a wok or sauté pan over medium to medium high heat, add enough oil to generously coat the bottom of the pan. Once the oil is hot, add the marinated chicken and cook on both sides until the chicken is cooked through. Remove from the wok/pan and set aside. *Make sure to not overcrowd the pan and cook the chicken in small batches if necessary. Do separate the chicken so that each piece gets evenly cooked. Also, this chicken doesn't need to have much color. Pale yellow is perfectly fine.*
- Once the chicken is cooked, leave about 1 tablespoon of oil in the pan and drain the excess. Keeping at medium high heat, add the butter and allow it to melt. Stir as needed.
- When the butter has melted, add the minced garlic and stir fry until fragrant, about 15 to 30 seconds.
- Add the onion and bell pepper and stir fry for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until the veggies are evenly coated and fragrant.
- Return the chicken to the pan and give it a brief stir fry to combine. Drizzle the shaoxing rice wine around the pan and stir fry until alcohol is cooked off and smells fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Season the chicken with black pepper, salt, sugar, chicken bouillon powder, and msg. Immediately toss and stir fry to distribute the seasonings evenly, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.*If you prefer, mix together the black pepper, salt, sugar, chicken bouillon powder, and msg, so that you can add all the seasonings at one time.*
- Transfer the black pepper to a serving plate and enjoy while hot!
- MSG - This is totally optional if you prefer not using it. We added msg because it gives the dish an extra boost of flavor. Feel free to substitute it for more chicken bouillon powder or a little more salt.
- Salt - If you prefer heavily seasoned flavors, we recommend increasing the salt to 1 teaspoon per recipe. It will also make this black pepper chicken a great beer snack!
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