If you’re a fan of Chinese cuisine, you’ve probably heard of salt and pepper chicken. This popular dish is a classic example of the delicious and flavorful offerings that Chinese cooking is known for.
Salt and pepper chicken is a simple yet delicious recipe that is crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. The name itself hints at the seasoning that gives this dish its unique taste and texture.
Why you’ll adore Chicken with Chinese Salt & Pepper
It’s delicious and simple to prepare. Salt and pepper chicken is a simple dish to prepare, but it’s full of flavor. The crispy chicken is seasoned to perfection with salt, pepper, and Chinese five spice.
It has a lot of protein. Chicken is a lean protein that is low in fat and calories. Salt & pepper chicken is a filling and healthful dinner that will keep you satisfied until your next meal.
Unfortunately, cornstarch is not keto-friendly, but if you leave it out, the flavors come together for a seriously nutritious alternative.
It is reasonably priced. Salt and pepper chicken is a low-cost recipe to prepare. All of the ingredients are widely available at most grocery stores, and if you have a well-stocked pantry, you’ll be halfway there.
While boneless skinless chicken breast is slightly more expensive (especially in today’s grocery prices), flavourful and less expensive chicken thighs can be used with equally wonderful results.
- Chinese 5 spice
- salt and ground black pepper
- sesame oil
- chicken breast or boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- green onions, diced and divided
- red chili pepper, seeds removed and diced
- green chili peppers, seeds removed and diced
How to make Salt and Pepper Chicken
(please note that my pictures are out of order from my instructions. When I made the collage, I accidentally added the veggies in the pan before the chicken. In truth, it doesn’t matter which order you do your cooking.)
- Mix together cornstarch, Chinese 5 spice, salt & pepper.
- Sprinkle on top of the chicken and mix well to coat.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add chicken pieces in a single layer and cook, stirring frequently, until all sides are golden brown.
- Remove chicken from pan and set aside. If you need to, cook chicken in batches. You can also lay on paper towels to soak up any excess grease.
- Add the remaining one tablespoon oil and stir in onions, chili pepper, and green chili peppers.
- Cook for 2 minutes or just until they are fragrant and tender.
- Add chicken and cook for 2 minutes more. Serve salt and pepper chicken immediately with a side of Chinese cucumber salad.
While you will note there are already green onions in this dish, green onions are one of my very favorite toppings at the end as well. I also add green onions on Honey buttered fried chicken, orange chicken, and crispy sesame chicken for color and flavor in my own bowl.
What is Chinese 5 Spice?
Chinese five spice is a spice blend that is often used in Chinese cuisine, such as salt and pepper chicken. Star anise, cloves, cinnamon, fennel seeds, and Szechuan peppercorns are common ingredients. The spices are combined to create a distinct flavor that is both sweet and spicy.
Here are some of the benefits of using Chinese five spice:
- It adds a unique flavor to dishes.
- It can help to balance out the flavors of other ingredients.
- It can help to tenderize meat.
Try these flavors with air fryer chicken thighs, juicy chicken 101, or to coat chicken wings. Game day ready, this dinner recipe brings all the extra flavor!
Alter the Heat
Here are some ways to tone down the heat of salt and pepper chicken:
- Use less chili peppers. If you are using fresh chili peppers, remove the seeds and ribs before chopping them. In our example, you may notice that we used red peppers over red chili peppers. This is mainly because none of our stores are currently carrying red chili peppers, but this is also a great way to keep the color and lower the heat.
- Sweeten to taste. Chili peppers’ heat can be mitigated by using sugar or honey.
- Add some acidity. Chili peppers can also be tempered with lemon, lime, or vinegar.
It should be noted that these are only broad suggestions. To reduce the heat of salt and pepper chicken, try and see what works best for you.
Want more coating around the chicken? A flour mixture of equal parts all-purpose flour and cornstarch does well for me in most Chinese recipes and gives a bit of a more crispy coating. There are also other cooking methods like stir frying and deep frying, all of which provide delicious flavor with your fresh ingredients.
Best Side Dishes for Salt Pepper Chicken
- Rice: Rice is a classic side dish that pairs perfectly with salt and pepper chicken. The fluffy rice helps balance the crispy chicken and the spicy flavors of the dish. We use this Ninja Foodi Rice recipe or our rice cooker.
- Noodles: Noodles are another excellent side dish for salt and pepper chicken. The noodles can be stir-fried alongside the chicken or eaten separately. Garlic Sesame noodles, buffalo chicken ramen, and tiktok ramen are all QUICK choices.
- Vegetables: Vegetables are a healthy and tasty way to fill out a salt and pepper chicken supper. Broccoli, carrots, a spring onion, Asian cabbage salad, and oven roasted mini peppers are some of my favorite vegetables to serve with this recipe.
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