Quick and EASY black pepper chicken! This classic Chinese dish comes together in 20 minutes, all cooked in one pan! Serve with a warm cup of rice and your meal is complete.
Why You’ll Love this Recipe
- A 20-minute meal—a perfect addition to your weekly dinner menu.
- 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.
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.
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 thighs 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.
Black Pepper Stir-fry Sauce Ingredients
This is what you need for the sauce:
- 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 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 it:
Note: Allow the chicken to come to room temperature before cooking. Using cold or frozen meat will not brown properly and can instead become watery.
And, here’s how I make black pepper chicken:
- 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 caramelized 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.
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
- 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!
Try these next
- Chicken Alfredo Pasta with Cream Cheese
- Air-fryer Cilantro Lime Chicken
- Chicken with Mushroom Soup Gravy
- Chicken Teriyaki Meatballs
- Instant Pot Chicken Adobo
Chinese Black Pepper Chicken Stir Fry
- 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs thinly sliced, note 1
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper or to taste
- 1-2 tbsp vegetable oil for cooking
Black Pepper Sauce
- 2 tbsp soy sauce note 2
- 2 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp coarse black pepper add more if preferred
- 2 tbsp water
- 1 small onion
- 1/2 red bell pepper
- 1/2 green or yellow
- 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 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!
- 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.
- Soy Sauce – use all-purpose soy sauce or less sodium soy sauce if preferred.