Black Pepper Chicken

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This black pepper chicken is one of my favorite takeout dishes reimagined at home! Juicy sliced chicken thighs are marinated and then cooked in a mouthwatering stir-fry sauce with black pepper, ginger, and garlic.

If you’re looking for another easy Chinese takeout-inspired recipe, I love my sweet and spicy salt and pepper chicken. This homemade General Tso’s chicken is a firm favorite in our house!

Overhead view of black pepper chicken in a skillet.


I’m coming at you with another easy homemade takeout fakeout. This time, it’s black pepper chicken. What’s that? Glad you asked ‘cause this might just be one of the best things to hit my kitchen lately, and it’s a favorite, especially with my little ones! They absolutely love the combination of juicy marinated chicken thighs, crisp bell peppers, and garlic, all tossed in a sweet-savory black pepper stir-fry sauce.

I usually marinate the chicken just for about half an hour, but it’s enough to infuse incredible flavor that even my little ones rave about. They always ask for seconds, which is the ultimate compliment. Give it a try—I’m sure it’ll be a hit at your house, too!

Why I Love This Black Pepper Chicken Recipe

Family-friendly. Some Chinese takeout recipes can be heavy on the chili, but not this one. Black pepper chicken is a mild and savory stir fry with a touch of sweetness and spice from the honey and ginger. Even my kids love it served over rice.

Ready in an hour (or less). The chicken is quick to prep and cook, and it takes about 30 minutes to marinate in the fridge. Trust me, the extra marinating time is worth it.

Authentic flavors. The marinated chicken gets a little crisp as it sears in the pan, the veggies get tender, and the black pepper sauce wraps up every inch of this stir-fry like an umami-filled hug. The taste and texture are just as good, if not better than when I ordered this dish as takeout.

Ingredients for black pepper chicken with text labels overlaying each ingredient.

Ingredients You’ll Need

These are the ingredients in my black pepper chicken recipe, including what you’ll need for the homemade sauce. Scroll to the printable recipe card below for exact amounts and complete directions.

For the Stir Fry 

  • Oil – Choose a good quality vegetable oil that holds up in the heat, like canola oil.
  • Shallot – If you like, the shallot can be substituted with yellow onion. 
  • Scallions – I like to separate the white ends from the green tops of the scallions, and I use the whites in the sauce and the greens for garnish.
  • Bell Peppers – Red, green, yellow, or any color of bell pepper you’d like. Chop the peppers up into 1” pieces, or slice them.
  • Garlic – I always say measure garlic with your heart. Feel free to adapt the number of cloves to taste.

For the Sauce

  • Chicken Stock – I like to use low-sodium chicken broth or stock.
  • Soy Sauce – You can replace soy sauce with coconut aminos or tamari if you’d like.
  • Dry Sherry – If you have traditional Chinese rice wine (or Japanese mirin or sake), use it! I use dry sherry vinegar since it’s easy to find. You can also substitute sherry with a dry white wine, or, for an alcohol-free alternative, use white wine vinegar.
  • Sesame Oil – A little sesame oil goes a long way in terms of authentic Asian flavor. There’s really no substitute! I like toasted sesame oil, but the regular kind works, too.
  • Honey – Or use another sweetener, like maple syrup, agave, or plain ol’ sugar.
  • Ginger – Ground ginger, or I’ll sometimes substitute 1 tablespoon of fresh grated ginger for every ¼ teaspoon of ground.
  • Black Pepper – It’s hard to make black pepper chicken without black pepper! Freshly cracked is best, but any ground pepper will work here.
  • Chicken – I love sliced boneless chicken thighs in this recipe because they’re super tender and harder to overcook. You can use chicken breast, just keep in mind that it cooks much faster than thigh meat.
  • Cornstarch – You’ll make a slurry of cornstarch and water to thicken the stir-fry sauce.

How to Make Black Pepper Chicken

Most stir-fry recipes follow a simple formula: whisk the sauce, saute the ingredients, and fry everything together in a skillet. This Chinese black pepper chicken is no different. Follow the steps below:

  1. Marinate the chicken. First, whisk together the sauce ingredients. Add about ¼ cup of the marinade to a Ziploc bag with your chicken, and let the chicken marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes. 
  2. Thicken the sauce. Next, you’ll make a quick slurry of cornstarch and water and stir this into what’s left of the sauce. 
  3. Cook the chicken. Brown the marinated chicken strips in a hot skillet with oil until they’re browned all over. Move the seared chicken to a plate.
  4. Saute the veggies. In the same pan, fry up your shallot, scallions, and bell peppers. Stir in the garlic.
  5. Put it all together. Finally, toss the chicken back into the pan with the veggies and stir in the black pepper sauce. Give everything a quick stir-fry to thicken the sauce and heat through the chicken.
  6. Serve. I dished up my black pepper chicken over rice, garnished with green scallions, and it was perfect. See below for more tasty serving suggestions!
Wooden spoon stirring through chicken stir fry in a skillet.

Recipe Tips & Variations

  • Marinate the chicken. For best results, I always budget at least 15-20 minutes, but ideally, 30 minutes for the chicken to marinate. If you’re really pressed for time, you can skip marinating.
  • Change up the protein. You can make this recipe with just about any protein in place of chicken. Try it with beef, pork, or shrimp, or press some firm tofu for a vegetarian option. Keep in mind that the cooking times will be different.
  • Make it spicy. My version of black pepper chicken is very mild, so if you like a little heat in your stir-fry, go ahead and add your favorite sliced chilies, chili paste, or hot sauce.
  • Use any veggies you like. This recipe is a great way to make use of leftovers, especially veggies that are kicking around in the fridge. On top of bell peppers, you can use broccoli, bok choy, snap peas… anything you’ve got.
Two bowls of black pepper chicken stir fry served over rice.

Serving Suggestions

Black pepper chicken is one of my favorite weeknight dinners when everyone’s busy schedules call for something tasty and fast (without dashing to our local takeout spot!). I’ll spoon this saucy stir-fry over a bed of fluffy jasmine rice or noodles, and voila. I also love these stir-fry zoodles as a low-carb option. 

On nights when we’re not as pressed for time, we’ll make it a real Chinese takeout fakeout meal with a side of air fryer spring rolls or homemade crab rangoon and shrimp fried rice.

Bowl of rice topped with sliced chicken thighs and diced red peppers.

Storing and Reheating Leftovers

Keep any leftover chicken stir-fry in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. To reheat, warm the leftovers in a skillet on the stovetop or in the microwave until the chicken is hot throughout. Sprinkling the chicken with a little water helps loosen the sauce.

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Black Pepper Chicken

This black pepper chicken is prepared with juicy marinated chicken thighs and cooked in a Chinese-style stir-fry sauce with crisp vegetables, black pepper, ginger, and garlic.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Marinade Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 4


For the chicken and the sauce

  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, sliced
  • tablespoons cornstarch
  • tablespoons water

For the stir fry

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 shallot, sliced
  • 3 scallions, whites and greens separated
  • 2 red bell peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
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  • Make the marinade. Whisk together the chicken stock, soy sauce, dry sherry, toasted sesame oil, honey, ground ginger, and black pepper.
  • Marinate the chicken. Place the chicken in a Ziplock bag along with ¼ cup of the marinade. Seal the bag and massage the marinade into the chicken. Place the chicken in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  • Thicken the sauce. Whisk together the cornstarch and water to make a slurry. Whisk the slurry into the remaining marinade/sauce. Set aside.
  • Brown the chicken. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large heavy-bottomed skillet or wok over medium-high heat and add the chicken, discarding the bag with the marinade. Saute the chicken until browned on all sides and then transfer it to a plate and set aside.
  • Saute the veggies. Add the remaining oil to the pan, followed by the shallot, the whites of the scallions, and the bell pepper. Saute for 3 minutes or until softened, and then add the garlic. Saute for an additional minute.
  • Put it all together. Return the chicken to the pan along with the sauce and saute until the sauce has thickened and the chicken is cooked through.
  • Serve. Remove it from the heat and serve it warm, garnished with the greens of the scallions.


Serving: 7ounces | Calories: 311kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 109mg | Sodium: 1770mg | Potassium: 579mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 1987IU | Vitamin C: 79mg | Calcium: 40mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.

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  1. Donna says:

    What can I substitute for the sherry?

    1. Katerina says:

      You can use rice wine vinegar or Japanese mirin, as well as dry white wine or white wine vinegar.