Black Pepper Chicken – Copycat Panda Express Recipe

Black pepper chicken recipe is a tasty copycat Panda Express recipe that will get rave reviews. This homemade version is not only better for you but also ready to serve in just 30 minutes. It’s the perfect solution for those busy weeknights when you’re craving Asian food but don’t have the time for a complicated recipe.

Sir frying black pepper chicken in a wok.

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This black pepper chicken recipe is a tasty copycat Panda Express recipe that’s not only healthier but also ready to serve in just 30 minutes.

You might like to prepare another Chinese dish to pair with this one. I love vegan tofu kung pao. Or try this tasty tangerine chicken stir fry, that’s a little spicy, a little sweet, and a little savory.

A copycat takeout recipe of asian black pepper chicken served with rice and enjoyed using chopsticks.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Quick: This Chinese black pepper chicken recipe is a real time-saver. With simple steps like cutting, coating, and frying up the chicken, you’ll have a delicious meal ready in under 30 minutes!
Better than Takeout: It’s the perfect restaurant-style recipe that tastes even better than takeout! Plus, it’s much healthier! A win-win situation if you ask me.
Surprisingly Simple: Despite its complex flavors, this recipe is surprisingly simple to make. The best part is that it’s all made in one wok so that means less washing up afterwards, too! It’s a foolproof recipe that even beginner cooks can master.

A plate of stir fried chicken with black pepper on a white plate.

Chinese Black Pepper Chicken Recipe Ingredients

A complete list of ingredients and amounts can be found in the recipe card below.

Chicken breasts: This is the lean protein we’ll be using for the base of this recipe. It provides a hearty base that will absorb the flavors of our black pepper sauce.
Garlic and Ginger powder: These aromatic spices will infuse our dish with a warm, spicy depth of flavor.
Garlic, Ginger, and Shallot: These fresh ingredients will add a burst of flavor to our black pepper sauce. It’s what adds a delicious contrast to the rich soy sauce.
Shaoxing wine: This Chinese rice wine will add a subtle sweetness to our sauce, balancing out the salty soy sauce. If you’ve ever wondered what gives a Chinese dish its authentic taste, it’s definitely this ingredient!
Oyster Sauce and Rice Wine Vinegar: These will add a tangy, umami flavor to our sauce, making it even more delicious.
Soy Sauce: The recipe calls for two kinds of soy sauce (dark and light) to add a nice flavor accent, but if you only have one kind, you can use that. The flavour will be slightly different though, of course.
Cornstarch Slurry: This mixture of cornstarch and water will be used to thicken our sauce, which will ensure that it coats our chicken perfectly.

Chinese black pepper chicken and copycat panda express black pepper chicken recipe ingredients on a wooden table.

How to Make Panda Express Black Pepper Chicken 

For more detailed instructions with weights and measurements, jump to the printable recipe card.

Prepare the chicken: Cut the chicken into 1” pieces and toss with cornstarch, pepper, salt, garlic, and ginger powder.
Fry the chicken: Heat oil in a wok and fry the chicken in batches for 4 minutes each. Place fried chicken on a wire rack and keep warm in a preheated oven.
Prepare the sauce: In the cleaned wok, stir fry minced garlic, ginger, and shallot. Add Shaoxing wine and cook to reduce. Puree the mixture in a food processor.
Combine the sauce and chicken: Return the pureed mixture to the wok, add sauces and seasonings, and bring to a boil.
Add cornstarch slurry: Stir in the cornstarch slurry and simmer. Add chopped celery, onions, and chicken, and cook for 5 minutes.  Serve your black pepper chicken Panda Express copycat with rice.

A copycat Panda Express black pepper chicken recipe is presented on a wooden table, showing a wok filled with meat and vegetables.
Copycat black pepper chicken recipe served on a plate with chopsticks.

Substitutions and Variations

Chicken: You can substitute the chicken breasts with tofu or prawns for a vegetarian or seafood variation.
Cornstarch: If you’re out of cornstarch, you can use arrowroot powder as a gluten-free thickening alternative.
Spices: Feel free to experiment with different spices. You can even add some chili flakes or chili sauce for a kick of spice.
Vegetables: You can swap the celery and onion for other veggies like bell peppers or courgettes, depending on what you have on hand.
Shaoxing wine alternative: If you don’t have Shaoxing wine, you can use dry sherry or a gluten-free chicken broth as a substitute.

Chinese black pepper chicken cooked in a pan with onions and bell peppers.

Serving Suggestions

Main Course: Chinese black pepper chicken can be served as a main course with a side of steamed jasmine rice or gluten-free noodles to soak up all the sauce. You might also want to try my PF Chang’s copycat fried rice!
Side Dish: A fresh, crisp salad would complement the rich flavours of the copycat Panda Express black pepper chicken. Try a simple cucumber salad or this delicious Asian zoodle salad.
Other Asian Dishes: I don’t know about you, but whenever I’m craving takeout, I always want to have a few different options. If that sounds like you, try this vegan tofu kung pao or general tso shrimp stir fry!
Condiments: For those who like a bit of extra heat, serve it with a side of chili sauce. A sprinkle of sesame seeds or chopped spring onions would also add a nice touch.
Dessert: Who doesn’t love a delicious dessert after a meal like this? If you’re in the mood to try something different, you’re bound to find something tasty in this mango recipes collection. 

Chinese black pepper chicken stir fry on a white plate with rice.

How to Store Black Pepper Chicken 

Store: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They should remain fresh and tasty for up to 3 days.
Freeze: Unfortunately, freezing black pepper chicken isn’t recommended as it can alter the texture and flavor of the dish. However, you can freeze the chicken separately before adding the black pepper sauce, for up to 3 months.
Thaw: If you’ve frozen the chicken separately, it’s best to thaw it in the refrigerator overnight before cooking and adding the black pepper sauce.
Reheat: Leftovers can be reheated either on the stove or in the microwave. Just make sure that they’re heated thoroughly before serving.

A plate of stir fried chicken with black pepper on a white plate.

Top Tips 

Equal Chicken Pieces: When cutting your chicken breasts into 1” pieces, aim for uniformity in size and thickness. This will guarantee even cooking and a consistent texture throughout your dish.
Work in Stages: When frying your chicken, avoid overcrowding the wok. Working in batches will allow each piece to cook evenly and achieve a deliciously crispy exterior.
Keep Your Chicken Warm: After frying, keep your chicken warm in a preheated oven while you prepare the sauce. This will guarantee that your chicken remains hot and crispy until serving.
Don’t Rush the Simmer: Once your sauce starts to boil, lower the heat and let it simmer. This will allow the flavours to meld together and the sauce to thicken which makes a huge difference!
Finish with Freshness: Add your chopped celery and onions towards the end of cooking. This will make sure that they retain their crunch and fresh flavor, providing a nice contrast to the rich sauce and tender chicken.

Copycat panda express black pepper chicken recipe cooked in a pan with a wooden spoon.

Black Pepper Chicken FAQs

Are black peppercorns spicy?

Black pepper does have a mild pungency, but it’s not as spicy as chili peppers. The kick in black peppercorns comes from a compound called piperin, which offers a unique flavor. This recipe calls for coarse black pepper, a versatile ingredient that can enhance the flavor of both savory and sweet dishes, such as strawberries with raspberry vinegar.

Can I use chicken thighs instead of breasts for this recipe?

Absolutely! Chicken thighs can be a great substitute for breasts in this recipe. They’re juicy and full of flavour. Just make sure to adjust the cooking time as thighs may take a bit longer to cook than breasts.

Is this recipe suitable for a gluten-free diet?

Yes, this recipe is gluten-free. However, always check the labels of your sauces to make sure that they don’t contain any hidden gluten. Soy sauce, in particular, can sometimes contain wheat, so look for a gluten-free version if necessary.

A plate of black pepper chicken fried rice on a wooden table.
Chinese black pepper chicken and rice on a white plate.
Black pepper chicken on a plate with rice.
Delicious Chinese black pepper chicken stir fry with rice.

Black Pepper Chicken Recipe

Sir frying black pepper chicken in a wok.

Black Pepper Chicken – Copycat Panda Express Recipe

5 from 75 votes
Course: Main Course, Meals
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: wok
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 135kcal
Author: Bella Bucchiotti
Black pepper chicken is a tasty copycat Panda Express recipe. Although this Chinese inspired chicken is restaurant style, it's so much better than takeout. You can have it on the table in just 30 minutes. So if you're craving Asian food or stir fry, try this!
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Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts boneless skinless, cut into 1” pieces
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 Teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 Teaspoon salt
  • 1 Teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 Teaspoon ginger powder
  • 3 Stalks celery chopped
  • 1 white onion small, chopped

Black Pepper Sauce

  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 Teaspoon garlic minced
  • 2 Teaspoon ginger minced
  • 2 Teaspoon shallot minced
  • ¼ Cup shaoxing wine
  • 2 Tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoon soy sauce dark
  • 2 Tablespoon soy sauce low sodium
  • 1 Tablespoon black pepper coarse
  • 1 Teaspoon cornstarch for cornstarch slurry
  • 1 Teaspoon water for cornstarch slurry

Instructions

  • Heat 2” of vegetable oil in a wok to 350 degrees F. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.
  • Cut chicken breast into 1” pieces of equal size and thickness. Add to a large mixing bowl. Add cornstarch, pepper, salt, garlic, and ginger powder to the bowl and toss to coat.
  • Carefully add chicken to the hot oil, careful not to overcrowd. *work in batches*
  • Fry chicken for 4 minutes per batch. Place onto a wire rack lined baking sheet as you work.
  • Once all the chicken pieces are fried, place the baking sheet into the oven to keep warm. Clean the wok and return to the stove over medium heat.
  • Prepare the sauce. Add vegetable oil to the pan.
  • Next, add minced garlic, ginger, and shallot. Stir fry for 2 minutes to soften.
  • Pour in the shaoxing wine and stir. Cook for 2 minutes to reduce, then remove from heat. Pour the contents of the wok into a food processor and puree for 10 to 15 seconds.
  • Return the wok to the stove over medium heat. Add the pureed shallot mix to the wok and combine with oyster sauce, rice wine vinegar, dark soy sauce, low sodium soy sauce, and black pepper. Whisk well, and cook until the liquid starts to boil. Once boiling, stir in the cornstarch slurry. Lower the heat to a simmer.
  • Next, add chopped celery, chopped onions, and chicken. Toss to coat in sauce and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Serve with rice.

Nutrition

Calories: 135kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 0.5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 48mg | Sodium: 1327mg | Potassium: 426mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 120IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 30mg | Iron: 1mg
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The nutrition information provided are only estimates based on an online nutritional calculator. I am not a certified nutritionist. Please consult a professional nutritionist or doctor for accurate information and any dietary restrictions and concerns you may have.

Chinese black pepper chicken is a takeout or restaurant style dish you can make in just 30 minutes. It’s delicious served with rice or noodles, or even your favourite vegetables. This recipe for Panda Express black pepper chicken is sure to become a go-to meal.

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Bella Bucchiotti

Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella is a storyteller, food lover, dog mom and adventure seeker living on the Pacific coast. She shares her passion for recipes, dogs, sustainability, adventures, travel and philanthropy, in hopes of encouraging followers to run the extra mile, try new recipes, visit unfamiliar places and stand for a cause. Bella lives with Type 1 Diabetes and Celiac Disease.

Bella Bucchiotti is a freelance food, travel, and lifestyle writer for MSN and the Associated Press Wire.

Welcome to xoxoBella! I am Bella Bucchiotti and I am a recipe developer, content creator and writer. Here you will find delicious recipes, travel inspiration, crafts, pet tips and more.

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Recipe Rating




  1. Andrea Parks-Brar wrote:

    5 stars
    Drooling over this. Need to make a grocery run to get what I need to make asap.

    Posted 9.4.22 Reply
    • Dontay Lesser wrote:

      5 stars
      I loved it so much

      Posted 4.14.23 Reply
    • Dontay Lesser wrote:

      5 stars
      I loved it so much. It’s worth making it a 2nd time.I wish I could add a photo to show all of you

      Posted 4.14.23 Reply
  2. Shannon Crawford wrote:

    5 stars
    The whole family loved this. Easy and delicious. Will be making it again.

    Posted 9.12.23 Reply
  3. Avery L. wrote:

    5 stars
    What a fantastic recipe! Loved it from the first bite.

    Posted 2.12.24 Reply