This Black Pepper Chicken Stir Fry makes a quick crowd pleasing weeknight dinner. The crispy chicken and colourful vegetables are tossed in a fiery stir fry sauce then served over steamed rice.
On busy nights, nothing satisfies like a quick and easy dinner. I call them ‘go to’ dinners because I go to them over and over again. To qualify they must be delicious, quick to make (45-60 mins), and take very little effort. Easy Beef Stir Fry with Snow Peas is always a winner in our house, followed by Easy Orange Chicken.
What’s your busy night ‘go to’ dish?
Black Pepper Chicken Stir Fry
There’s nothing quicker than a stir fry. It’s even faster (and cheaper) than ordering from most takeaway places. Even better, when you make this Black Pepper Chicken recipe at home, you know what is in it. Fresh chicken and veggies plus aromatics like onion, garlic, and ginger. Then there’s the spicy, sweet, and fiery sauce. It just doesn’t get any better.
As the name implies, Black Pepper chicken packs a punch. However, it’s not a face melting uncomfortable heat. Most people really enjoy the spice level of this dish. That said, you can decrease the amount of black pepper (and hot sauce) to adjust the dish to your comfort level.
What is Black Pepper Chicken?
As far as I can tell Black Pepper Chicken is a North American style Chinese dish which resembles Laziji or Szechuan Mala Chicken, a very popular Szechuan style dish in China. The tongue numbing Szechuan peppercorns are replaced by bell peppers and the heat is mostly from freshly ground black pepper.
While Black Pepper Chicken contains less fire power than Mala chicken, the techniques are quite similar resulting in crispy golden bites of chicken with perfectly crisp vegetables.
It’s interesting to note that there is also a South Indian style version of this dish which is a dry curry that contains tomatoes and other Indian spices.
None of the ingredients in this dish are difficult to find. Most can be found at any grocery store, though a visit to an Asian market may be required.
- Chicken Breasts
- Soy Sauce
- Rice Wine Vinegar
- Shaoxing Cooking Wine
- Red Bell Pepper
- Green Bell Pepper
- Black Peppercorns
- Brown Sugar
- Oyster Sauce
You can use boneless skinless chicken breasts or chicken thighs for this stir fry. Truthfully, I prefer chicken thighs as the contain a bit more fat and are more flavourful than chicken breasts. Either will work in this recipe.
Cornstarch is much more than a thickener in this recipe. It coats the chicken and helps it stay crispy on the outside while protecting the inside of the chicken.
There are no surprises with the aromatics and vegetables in this recipe. Onions, garlic, and ginger are quite common in recipes around the world. If you don’t love bell peppers, you can replace them with snow peas, snap peas, celery, carrots, or broccoli. You do you.
Any hot sauce will do. You can use sriracha, hot chili sauce, or even Thai chili sauce. However, the oyster sauce is a ‘must have’ and cannot be replaced.
Lastly, but certainly not least (and I can’t emphasize this enough) you will need freshly ground black pepper for this recipe. This spice is the heart of the dish. If you use black peppercorns and grind them yourself, this dish will come alive with flavour.
The Velveting Technique
The marinade serves to boost the flavour of the final dish but it also performs a role in a technique called velveting.
During velveting, a thick coating consisting of cornstarch and sauce adheres to the chicken. This gives the meat a velvety smooth texture and protects it from drying out during cooking.
Once the chicken is coated, it is traditionally immersed in hot oil or even water. However, a hot wok with a touch of oil will do the trick when stir frying.
How to Make Black Pepper Chicken
While there are many cooking techniques used in Chinese cuisine, Stir Fry technique is one of the most well known. It involves pan frying similar sized pieces of meat, vegetables, or tofu in a well oiled hot wok. A wooden spatula or chopsticks are used to keep the food in constant motion during cooking.
Mise en Place
To begin, place the chicken in a bowl and sprinkle in the cornstarch. Stir the chicken with your hands to make sure it all becomes coated. Next, add the salt, black pepper, soy sauce, rice vinegar, the 1⁄2 teaspoon garlic, and Shaoxing cooking wine to the bowl of chicken. Mix well then set aside while you prepare the vegetables.
Wash, core, and de-seed the bell peppers. Cut them into large cubes. Peel and chop the onion into similar sized pieces.
Lastly, in a small bowl combine the sauce ingredients together then set it aside. It is best to have everything all ready to go before you start stir frying because everything cooks quickly.
Cooking the Dish
Pour 2 Tablespoons in a wok or large high sided pan. Heat oil on medium high heat, then add the chicken. Stir fry the chicken pieces until they become crisp, golden, and evenly cooked from inside. Once done, transfer the chicken onto a plate and wipe out the pan. If you are doubling the recipe, you can cook the chicken in batches.
Heat another tablespoon of oil in the pan and add the onion, garlic and ginger. Stir fry on high heat for a minute or until the onion softens and garlic becomes fragrant. Add the peppers to the pan and fry for another minute to ensure peppers remain crispy.
Next, add the sauce to the pan and allow it to heat up. Lastly, add the chicken back into the pan and stir to coat the chicken in sauce. Serve the dish hot with rice garnished with chopped spring onion.
What To Do With Leftovers
Stir Fry is always best eaten the same day you make it. However you can store any leftovers in the fridge for up to 4 days. Chinese Black Pepper Chicken is tasty as leftovers, though the peppers may lose a little crunch and the chicken won’t be crispy. Always reheat leftover chicken to 165 F (75 C).
If you make this Black Pepper Chicken Stir Fry recipe please be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Pinterest for my latest recipes. Also, if you do make this recipe please tag me on Instagram, I’d love to see what you guys are making! Thank you so much for reading my blog.
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (or 4 chicken thighs)
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon (plus 1/2 teaspoon) garlic; minced
- 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
- 3 Tablespoons oil; divided
- 1 teaspoon ginger; minced
- 1 large onion; chopped
- 1 red bell pepper; cubed
- 1 green bell pepper; cubed
- steamed rice and chopped green onion to serve
- 1 Tablespoon Shaoxing cooking wine
FOR THE SAUCE
- 3 Tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon sriracha or hot chili sauce
- 2 Tablespoons oyster sauce
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon Shaoxing cooking wine
- 2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
- Place the chicken in a bowl and sprinkle in the cornstarch. Stir the chicken with your hands to make sure it all becomes coated.
- Next add salt, black pepper, soy sauce, rice vinegar, the 1⁄2 teaspoon garlic, and Shaoxing cooking wine to the bowl of chicken. Mix well then set aside while you prepare the vegetables.
- Wash, core, and de-seed the bell peppers. Cut them into large cubes.
- Peel and chop the onion into similar sized pieces.
- Whisk the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.
- Pour 2 Tablespoons in a wok or large high sided pan. Heat oil on medium high heat, then add the chicken.
- Stir fry the chicken pieces until they become crisp, golden, and evenly cooked from inside. Once done transfer the chicken onto a plate and wipe out the pan.
- Heat another tablespoon of oil in the pan and add the onion, garlic and ginger. Stir fry on high heat for a minute or until the onion softens and garlic becomes fragrant.
- Add the peppers to the pan. Stir fry for another minute to ensure peppers remain crispy.
- Pour the sauce into the pan and allow it to heat up. Add the chicken back into the pan and stir to coat the chicken in sauce.
- Serve hot with rice garnished with chopped spring onion.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 336Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 51mgSodium: 1395mgCarbohydrates: 31gFiber: 2gSugar: 10gProtein: 22g
Nutritional calculation was provided by Nutritionix and is an estimation only. For special diets or medical issues please use your preferred calculator.