Inspired by Panda Express, this Black Pepper Chicken is tastier and better for you than any restaurant version. Plus, it’s so easy to make! Juicy chicken breasts are coated in a sweet and spicy black pepper stir fry sauce and combined with crisp veggies for a satisfying meal you’ll be making on repeat!
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The Best Black Pepper Chicken
If you’re like us, you love Panda Express’ black pepper chicken. Flavorful, juicy, and made with just a hint of spicy kick, it’s just so good. Especially when served piping hot over a bed of rice! So, naturally, we were super excited when we found out we could make black pepper chicken right at home. Featuring all the same flavors you know and love, our version is unbelievably quick, budget-friendly, and healthier than the fast food version, too. You really can’t go wrong! It’s one recipe our families ask for again and again, and we’re happy to oblige!
Ingredients You’ll Need
This recipe utilizes several different components including a marinade, a sauce, and stir-fry ingredients, but don’t worry! Many of the items needed are throughout the entire dish. So, the ingredient list isn’t all that long.
- Chicken – You can’t have black pepper chicken without the chicken! We used breasts to keep the fat content a little lower, but thighs work well, too.
- Reduced-Sodium Soy Sauce and Dark Soy Sauce – Both have a savory, salty taste. However, dark soy sauce is slightly sweeter. So, combining the two creates a balance of flavors guaranteed to knock your socks off.
- Low-Sodium Chicken Broth – Used to thin out the sauce without diluting its flavor.
- Rice Wine Vinegar – The acidity helps create a natural sweetness.
- Cornstarch – Used to thicken the marinade and sauce, helping them cling to the chicken.
- Go Chu Jang – Easily found in the Asian section of most grocery stores, this is a paste that is sweet, spicy, and completely delicious!
- Sugar – Just a dash helps balance out the savory, umami flavors.
- Spices – Black pepper, salt, and minced ginger are all you need.
- Sesame Oil – A little goes a long way to add nutty undertones to this recipe.
- Minced Ginger – For the best results, we recommend buying fresh ginger and mincing it yourself.
- Veggies – A combination of garlic, white onions, green peppers, red peppers, and green onions adds flavor, bulk, and nutrients, making this a healthy meal you can feel good about eating.
How to Make Black Pepper Chicken
This recipe requires a bit of prep work, but once you have everything ready, it cooks in just a few minutes!
- Prepare the Chicken. Combine the ingredients for the marinade in a bowl, whisking until they’re smooth. Then, slice the chicken into even pieces, and submerge it in the mixture, making sure it’s completely coated. Set it aside.
- Create the Sauce. In a separate bowl, whisk all the ingredients for the sauce together until smooth, and set it aside.
- Cook the Chicken. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the chicken in a single layer, letting it sear until the bottom is lightly browned. Flip the chicken over, letting it cook until all sides are just lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
- Cook the Veggies. Add more oil to the skillet along with the onion and garlic, cooking until they’re fragrant. Add the remaining veggies, cooking for 1 minute.
- Combine the Ingredients. Transfer the chicken back to the skillet along with the sauce, stirring just until the sauce has thickened and coats the rest of the ingredients.
Tips and Tricks
One of the beautiful things about stir fry recipes is that they’re really easy to make. However, we have a few extra tips that will ensure your black pepper chicken turns out perfectly!
- Slice Evenly. Be sure to slice your chicken into small, evenly-sized pieces so they cook quickly and evenly.
- Cut Against the Grain. This means slicing your chicken against the long fibers and tough parts of the meat, guaranteeing it stays tender and juicy.
- Cook In Batches. If you plan on doubling this recipe, don’t add all of the ingredients to the pan. Instead, work in batches, using the original measurements. Otherwise, they won’t cook and become crisp.
- Work Quickly. Have all of your ingredients close by, and pay attention to what you’re doing! Once you’ve got all the components prepared, this black pepper chicken cooks in minutes.
How to Store
We love to make this recipe ahead of time for easy meals throughout the week! Follow the tips below to keep it fresh.
Refrigerator: Once cooked and fully cooled, leftovers can be transferred to an airtight container and stored in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.
Freezer: For a longer-lasting
Reheat: When you’re ready to eat, warm leftovers in a skillet on the stove. Or, just pop them in the microwave.
Black Pepper Chicken Common Questions
Either work! Most black pepper chicken recipes use breasts because they’re juicier and are likely to stay moister. However, if you follow our recipe using breasts, you have nothing to worry about.
Why do you set the chicken aside?
If you don’t remove the chicken from the pan, the veggies won’t sear well, and the sauce won’t thicken. It will also overcook and become dry if left in the skillet the entire time.
More Takeout-Inspired Meals
Looking for more healthy versions of your favorite fast food recipes? Try out some of our favorites below!
- Orange Chicken
- Kung Pao Chicken
- Crispy Rice Bowl SweetGreen Copycat
- Minestrone Soup (Copycat Olive Garden Minestrone)
Black Pepper Chicken Recipe
- 2 Tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 1/2 lb chicken breasts or thighs, sliced against the grain into 1/4” (5 mm) thick pieces
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 4 Tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon dark soy sauce
- 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 Tablespoon Go Chu Jang sauce
- 2 Tablespoons sugar
- 2 1/2 teaspoons black pepper coarsely ground
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 Tablespoons sesame oil or peanut oil
- 1 Tablespoon fresh ginger minced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 white onion chopped
- 4 green onion stalks diced
- 2 green peppers sliced
- 2 red peppers sliced
- Combine the soy sauce, rice wine, and cornstarch in a medium-sized bowl. Add the sliced chicken breast, making sure it is completely coated. Side aside for 10-15 minutes to marinate.
- Combine all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Mix well, and set aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add the chicken in a single layer. Sear for 1 minute, until the bottom is lightly browned. Flip the chicken, and continue to cook 15-20 seconds or until both sides are slightly browned but still pink in the center, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a plate, and set aside.
- Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the skillet along with the ginger and garlic. Cook for 1 minute or until fragrant, stirring occasionally. Add the white onion, scallions, and peppers. Cooking for 1 minute, stirring continuously.
- Add the cooked chicken to the skillet with the veggies, and pour the prepared sauce on top. Stir fry for 1 minute or until the sauce has thickened and the chicken is cooked through, stirring continuously.
- Serve warm.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.