Black Pepper Chicken

Hot and spicy Black Pepper Chicken! Make this Chinese restaurant classic in less than 30 minutes!

black pepper chicken in skillet

Black Pepper Chicken

If you like your food hot and spicy, you will love this Black Pepper Chicken. This classic Chinese restaurant dish hits all of the right notes with fresh flavours and, as a bonus, you can make it in less than 30 minutes!

Black Pepper Chicken is one of those dishes which is perfect to make on a busy weeknight. And served simply with a bowl of steamed rice, it’s also perfect for slumping on the sofa with your favourite show on Netflix.

Why This Recipe Works

  • You can make this Black Pepper Chicken in less than 30 minutes!
  • The chicken only needs a short time to marinate while you are preparing the other ingredients.
  • Use the vegetables in the recipe below, or any of your favourite vegetables. See suggestions below in the recipe.
  • Easily substitute the chicken for beef or tofu.
black pepper chicken in large pan

Black Pepper Sauce

The secret to this Black Pepper Sauce is to use black peppercorns which have been freshly ground.

Freshly ground pepper is more potent than pepper which has been ground the day before, and it is definitely stronger than the already-ground pepper which you can buy in the supermarkets.

Try to grind the peppercorns, try to use a coarse setting or even a mortar and pestle.

black pepper chicken in skillet with mortar and pestle

Tips for Making Black Pepper Chicken

  1. Like with most stir-fries, the idea is to cook everything quickly and on high heat.
  2. Although this Black Pepper Chicken is a “one pan dish”, to keep the temperature in the pan constantly on high heat, it helps to cook the ingredients separately.
  3. Cook the chicken first in the pan, and in batches, to get a nice golden colour on the meat. If you add all of the chicken at the same time, you will over-crowd the pan, which will cause the chicken to braise instead of brown.
  4. Cook the vegetables only until they have softened slightly. I like my vegetables in stir-fries to still be crisp.
  5. Once the vegetables are cooked to your liking, return the chicken to the pan, together with the Black Pepper Sauce.
  6. The sauce needs to simmer on medium-high heat for the cornflour (cornstarch) to thicken. Depending on how much meat and/or vegetables are in the pan, you may need to add some water to create more sauce.

More Chinese Recipes

For more Chinese recipes, you may also like:

Chinese Hot and Sour Soup

Satay Chicken Stir-Fry

Sweet and Sour Chicken


Black Pepper Chicken

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 11 reviews

  • Author: Thanh | Eat, Little Bird
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 3 to 4
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: Chinese
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Hot and spicy Black Pepper Chicken! Make this Chinese restaurant classic in less than 30 minutes!


For the marinade

  • 1 tablespoon Chinese shoaxing cooking wine
  • 1 teaspoon sweet dark soy sauce (kecap manis)
  • 1 teaspoon oyster sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 300 g (11 oz) chicken breast fillets, sliced thickly

For the Black Pepper Sauce

For the Black Pepper Chicken

  • 23 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 brown onion, diced large
  • 1/2 green capsicum (bell pepper), diced large
  • 1/2 red capsicum (bell pepper), diced large
  • 1 celery stalk, sliced thickly on the diagonal

To serve


For the marinade

  1. Mix together the ingredients for the marinade in a large bowl.
  2. Add the chicken and mix to coat the chicken in the marinade.
  3. Set the chicken aside to marinate for about 20 minutes while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

For the Black Pepper Sauce

  1. Mix together all of the ingredients for the Black Pepper Sauce in a small bowl or jug.

For the Black Pepper Chicken

  1. Heat some oil in a large wok or frying pan over high heat.
  2. Cook the chicken in batches until they are lightly golden all over. They do not need to be cooked all the way through because you will cook them some more later.
  3. Use a slotted spoon to remove the chicken to a large plate.
  4. Add the garlic and onion to the pan, and cook for about 1 minute until the garlic starts to release its aroma.
  5. Add the remaining vegetables to the pan, and toss everything together.
  6. Cook for several minutes until the vegetables start to soften slightly. I like my vegetables to retain some crispness, so I only cook them for several minutes.
  7. Return the chicken to the pan, together with any juices which have collected on the plate.
  8. Pour the Black Pepper Sauce into the pan.
  9. Give everything a good stir and let the sauce simmer gently for a few minutes until it has thickened nicely, and the chicken has warmed through.
  10. Taste the sauce for seasoning. If the sauce is too thick or strongly flavoured, add a dash of hot water. 
  11. Garnish with red chillies and coriander (cilantro) before serving.

Kitchen Notes

Make sure you grind the pepper just before using. Freshly ground pepper is much more potent than pepper which is purchased already ground, or even ground the day before. For this recipe, make sure you use a very coarse grind, or you can even crush the peppercorns using a mortar and pestle.

This recipe works equally well with thinly sliced beef. I like to use rump steak or beef fillet.

I often replace the meat with large chunks of firm tofu. Marinate and cook the tofu as per the recipe. For an extra special version, I love Ottolenghi’s recipe for Black Pepper Tofu.

This is a great recipe to use up leftover vegetables in your fridge. Other veges I like to use here include:
* carrots, sliced thinly on the diagonal
* green beans, topped and tailed
* asparagus, cut into large lengths
* courgette (zucchini), sliced thickly
* Chinese cabbage, cut into large pieces
* bok choy or pak choi, cut into large pieces
* baby corn, halved lengthwise

To convert from cups to grams, and vice-versa, please see this handy Conversion Chart for Basic Ingredients.

Did you make this recipe?

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  1. Chris 6 April 2020

    Great recipe and easy to make at home. The family loved it. Will try this next time with beef. Thanks for the recipe!

  2. Celine 23 March 2021

    We love this recipe. We’ve made it twice now and use different vegetables, but I think celery is a must. We also serve with lots of rice.

  3. David 3 February 2022

    This was really delicious!

  4. Amy 19 March 2022

    This was fantastic with rice. Will make again!

  5. Jenny 17 May 2022

    Wow, so delicious!! Family loved it!

  6. Chris 29 May 2022

    This was soooo good! It tasted way better than takeaway!

  7. Maggie 3 July 2022

    Really nice recipe. My kids really liked this dish, although I didn’t add as much pepper for them.

  8. Christine 7 July 2022

    Love your recipes as always. This one was also a winner 🙂

  9. Damien 30 August 2022

    We really enjoyed this recipe. Nice, easy and delicious.

  10. Lyn 19 September 2022

    I made this with firm tofu and it was fantastic!!

  11. Allie 9 October 2022


  12. Tony L 18 December 2022

    Delicious recipe, substituted dry sherry for the Chinese cooking wine, double the sauce and added more of the onion and bell peppers for more vegies. Great over rice!!

    • Eat, Little Bird 19 December 2022

      Hi Tony,
      So glad you enjoyed this recipe! That’s a great idea to double the sauce and vegies – I also love to have extra sauce to drizzle over my rice.

  13. Julie 13 January 2023

    I’ve made this recipe several times now with beef and chicken, and the taste is amazing. Thanks for the recipe !

  14. Meghan 17 February 2023

    Your recipes are always great 🙂