Chinese Pepper Chicken

Quick and easy Chinese pepper chicken! This classic take out dish comes together in 20 minutes, all cooked in one pan! Serve with a warm cup of rice and your meal is complete.

chicken stir-fry with Chinese black pepper sauce.

Chinese Pepper Chicken

  • A 20-minute meal—a perfect addition to your weekly dinner menu. No need for Chinese takeout.
  • Uses easy-to-prepare, quick-to-cook–the secret to making a quick stir-fry is using thin slices of chicken and using vegetables that require minimal preparation and short cooking time.
  • You will love the black pepper sauce! It is definitely PEPPERY, one of the most flavorful stir-fry sauces you’ll ever have.
  • Versatile–with so many vegetable options you can use.
Chinese Pepper chicken with red and green bell peppers served on a plate.

Best Cut of Chicken for stir-frying

My recommended cut of chicken for stir-frying is chicken thighs. It is tender, juicy, and contains just enough fat, which makes stir-fries more flavorful. What I love about it is it doesn’t overcook easily.

chicken thighs being sliced on a chopping board.

You can also use chicken breast for stir-fries. It is leaner and healthier but you have to make sure it doesn’t overcook or it will become tough and dry.

How to Slice the Chicken Thighs

A few tips on how to prepare chicken pieces for stir-fries:

  • Trim off excess fat around the chicken thighs before slicing. I like using a sharp paring knife to do this. Removing excess fat will make your stir fries less greasy tasting.
  • Slice chicken into thin wider strips, about 1/4-inch strips. A sharp knife will help you get even slices of chicken. Remember, the thinner the strips, the quicker they will cook through.
  • Slice against the grain to make the chicken more tender.


This is what you need for the Chinese Black Pepper Chicken sauce:

chicken thighs, oyster sauce, soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, sugar, yellow onion, garlic, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, and cornstarch.
  • Oyster Sauce – is a key ingredient in making Chinese stir-fry dishes. It gives the dish a unique umami flavor that you can’t easily replicate with other seasoning ingredients.
  • Soy Sauce – use regular soy sauce. My preferred brand for stir-fry recipes is Kikkoman. I don’t recommend using dark soy sauce as it’s too strong.
  • Garlic – use fresh cloves garlic for the best flavor.
  • Shaoxing Wine – is also known as Chinese rice wine. This is the secret to making a restaurant-style stir-fry is using Shaoxing wine. It adds a nice flavor and signature Chinese dish aroma.
  • Black Pepper – use FRESHLY ground black pepper, preferably coarse or large grind. This is the secret to making the best black pepper sauce.
  • Sugar – just a bit is needed to balance the sauce’s flavor.

How to Make Chinese Pepper Chicken

And, here’s how I make black pepper chicken:

step-by-step process on how to cook Chinese black pepper chicken stir-fry.

Cooking tips

  • Allow the chicken to come to room temperature before cooking. Using cold or frozen meat will not brown properly and can instead become watery.
  • Marinate the chicken in black pepper for at least 5 minutes to make it extra aromatic and “peppery”. To save time, do this as the first step, and then prepare the rest of the ingredients like slicing the vegetables and making the sauce.
  • Coat chicken thighs in cornstarch to help seal the juices and protect the meat from overcooking in high heat. The starch will not only help thicken the sauce but will also help bind the sauce to the meat making it deliciously flavorful.
  • Stir-fry the chicken in hot oil over HIGH HEAT– this will quickly cook and caramelize the strips of chicken. The pan is ready when you see a wisp of smoke. If you put the meat too early, it may become watery and will not caramelize. Be careful not to overcook.
  • Do not overcook the vegetables – I like my vegetable crisps yet tender when it comes to stir-fries. When the chicken is no longer pink or half-cooked, add the vegetables. Stir-fry for a minute or two just until it becomes fragrant. Pour the black pepper sauce and water to deglaze the pan (MORE FLAVOR!). Cook until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are still crunchy yet tender.
Chinese black pepper chicken served with white rice on a plate.

Other Vegetables You Can Use

Classic black pepper beef stir-fry uses red and green bell pepper as an add-in vegetable, but why limit yourselves to just one? You can also use these other vegetables which are equally easy to cook. These are:

  • sugar snap peas
  • broccoli
  • green beans
  • sliced mushrooms – use brown or white button mushrooms and even portobello mushrooms.
  • broccolini – steam or boil for 1 to 2 minutes before stir-frying
  • hand-torn cabbage
  • green onion or scallions
  • carrots – thinly sliced
  • baby corn – boil for 1 to 2 minutes before stir-frying with the chicken.

Variations and Substitutes

  • Make it less salty – use low-sodium soy sauce. You can buy this in Asian stores and online.
  • Make it extra saucy – add an extra splash of water, around 2 tablespoons.
  • Make it spicy – add chopped red chilies.


Best eaten straight out of the pan while warm and fresh! Serve with rice or noodles. Do you see the chicken and sauce glistening? Delicious! Make it today and I hope you enjoy it!

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Black pepper chicken with Chinese style sauce served on a plate with white rice.

Chinese Pepper Chicken

Rate this recipe
Make this classic Chinese black pepper chicken in 20 minutes. The secret to making a quick stir-fry is using thin slices of chicken and bell peppers which requires minimal preparation and short cooking time.
Servings4 servings
preparation time12 minutes
Total cooking time15 minutes


  • 1 pound skinless boneless chicken thighs ( thinly sliced, note 1)
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper (or to taste)
  • 1-2 tbsp vegetable oil

Black Pepper Sauce


  • 1 small onion
  • ½ red bell pepper
  • ½ green or yellow bell pepper
  • 2 stalks green onions (for garnish, optional)


  • Season chicken thighs with freshly ground black pepper. Add cornstarch and massage until all slices are coated. Set aside. Prepare and slice the vegetables.
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs,2 tsp cornstarch,1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • Combine all the sauce ingredients (except for the water) in a small bowl. Stir until sugar is dissolved.
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce,2 tbsp oyster sauce,1 tbsp Shaoxing wine,1 tsp sugar
  • Heat vegetable oil in a wok or pan over high heat. When a wisp of smoke appears, add the chicken strips. Sear until half-cooked and no longer pink.
  • Add the vegetables to the pan and stir-fry for 1 minute.
  • Pour the sauce and toss to coat the meat and vegetables. Pour water to deglaze the pan. Continue cooking for 2 to 3 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.
  • Remove from heat and serve with rice. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes & Tips:

  1. Chicken – I prefer using chicken thighs for my stir-fries. You can also use chicken breast but be careful not to overcook as it can become dry.
  2. Soy Sauce – use all-purpose soy sauce or less sodium soy sauce if preferred.
Author : Mella
Course : Main Course
Cuisine : Chinese
Keyword : black pepper chicken stir fry, Chinese black pepper chicken
Nutrition Facts
Chinese Pepper Chicken
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat
Trans Fat
Polyunsaturated Fat
Monounsaturated Fat
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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