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4.34 from 3 votes

Chinese Salt and Pepper Chicken

If you have never tried Chinese Salt and Pepper Chicken, here's the perfect recipe to get you started! This recipe is healthier than take out, but has the flavors of traditional salt and pepper chicken, without the deep frying and the super heavy taste of five spice--I've mellowed this dish out to be the perfect, 30 minute stir fry!
Prep Time1 hr 15 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time1 hr 30 mins
Course: Dinner, lunch
Cuisine: Asian, Chinese
Keyword: asian, chicken
Servings: 4
Calories: 355kcal
Author: Casey Rooney


  • 2-3 chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes about 1 lb.
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tsp brown sugar white sugar works too
  • 1 tsp sea salt, divided plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1 tsp black pepper, divied plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1/4 tsp Chinese 5-spice
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil enough to coat the bottom of your skillet
  • 1 green bell pepper, cut into 1/4" dice See Note 1
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/4" dice See Note 1
  • 1 small onion, cut into 1/4" dice about a cup
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced (the best garlic chopper)
  • green onions, for serving optional
  • sweet soy sauce, for serving optional, see Note 2


  • In a medium bowl, combine cornstarch, brown sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper and Chinese 5 Spice. Add chicken pieces and toss well.
  • In a large skillet or wok, heat oil over high heat. Heat for at least a minute or two to ensure the oil is very hot. You can test the oil by putting a wooden spoon, skewer or chop stick into the oil. If you see the oil form little bubbles around it, it's ready to go! Carefully drop in chicken pieces, spreading them in an even layer.
  • Fry chicken WITHOUT TOUCHING for 2-3 minutes on one side (check for a nice, golden brown, caramelized color). Then, carefully turn chicken (with tongs or a metal spatula) and cook about 2 minutes more. You want the chicken to have a nice, deep golden brown color. Just be aware the sugar will burn if you leave it too long :)
  • Remove chicken from pan and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
  • In the same pan over medium high heat, add onions and peppers. Season with remaining 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally for 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and cook one minute more.
  • Add chicken back into pan. Cook for another minute, tossing until chicken, veggies and garlic are all well-mixed.
  • Top with green onions and a sprinkle more of salt and pepper, if you like. Serve over rice with a drizzle of sweet soy sauce, if desired.


Note 1:
  • Peppers: The biggest substitution you can make in this recipe is to control the spice (heat) level. Traditional Chinese salt and pepper chicken uses red and green chili peppers. I always use bell peppers since it's the most family friendly option! Here are the substitutions you can make to change up the heat level. You can also use a combination of these peppers and create your own heat level!
    • Mild: Red and Green Bell Peppers
    • Medium: Fresno Chilis, Serranos, Jalapeños (any combination).
    • Hot/Super Hot: Thai Chilis...Use sparingly :)
Note 2: Sweet Soy Sauce is a thick, molasses like sauce made from a reduction of soy sauce and sugar. You can easily find it at most Asian markets and I have even see my chain grocery store carry the Lee Kum Kee brand


Calories: 355kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 34g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 101mg | Sodium: 570mg | Potassium: 450mg | Fiber: 1.6g | Sugar: 6g | Calcium: 38mg | Iron: 2mg
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