5 from 2 votes

Salt and Pepper Chicken

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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.

large plate of chinese chicken.

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.

Simple Ingredients

  • Cornstarch
  • 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
chunks of chicken breast.

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.)

  1. Mix together cornstarch, Chinese 5 spice, salt & pepper.
  2. Sprinkle on top of the chicken and mix well to coat.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  4. Add chicken pieces in a single layer and cook, stirring frequently, until all sides are golden brown.
how to make salt and pepper chicken.
  1. 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.
  2. Add the remaining one tablespoon oil and stir in onions, chili pepper, and green chili peppers.
  3. Cook for 2 minutes or just until they are fragrant and tender.
  4. Add chicken and cook for 2 minutes more. Serve salt and pepper chicken immediately with a side of Chinese cucumber salad.
how to cook chinese 5 spice chicken.

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!

incredible week night meal with chinese chicken.

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.

viral tiktok ramen recipe.
5 from 2 votes

Salt and Pepper Chicken (Chinese)

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 14 minutes
Look no further than salt and pepper chicken! This stove-fried dish is seasoned with Chinese five spice, making it a flavorful and satisfying meal. Not only is it delicious, but it's also a great option for those who are short on time. The best part? You can serve it with ramen noodles for an even more filling meal that's sure to please everyone at the dinner table.


  • Cast Iron Skillet


  • ½ cup Cornstarch
  • 2 tps Chinese 5 Spice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp Sesame Oil
  • 1 lb chicken chicken breast, or boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cubed
  • 4 green onions diced and divided
  • 1 small red chili pepper seeds removed and diced
  • 2 small green chili peppers seeds removed and diced


  • Mix together cornstarch, Chinese 5 spice, salt, and ground black pepper.
  • Sprinkle seasonings and spices on top of cubed chicken and mix well to coat. 
  • Heat 1 tablespoon sesame oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add the seasoned chicken and cook, stirring frequently, until all sides are golden brown.
  • Remove cooked chicken from the pan and set aside. If greasy, lay on a paper towel to soak excess grease.
  • Add the remaining one tablespoon of sesame oil and stir in green onions, red chili pepper, and green chili peppers.
  • Cook for 2 minutes or just until they are fragrant and tender.
  • Add salt and pepper chicken and cook for 2 minutes more. Serve this dish immediately while hot over rice, ramen, or other seasoned noodles.


  • Cut the chicken into uniform pieces. This will help the chicken cook evenly.
  • Don’t overcrowd the pan. If you add too much chicken to the pan at once, it will steam instead of fry.
  • Don’t overcook the chicken. The chicken should be cooked through but still tender.
  • Serve the chicken immediately. Salt and pepper chicken is best served hot and fresh.
  • If you don’t have Chinese five spice, you can use a combination of ground ginger, ground cloves, ground nutmeg, and ground star anise.
  • Serve the chicken over rice or noodles.


Serving: 1 | Calories: 251kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 41mg | Sodium: 626mg | Potassium: 187mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 308IU | Vitamin C: 20mg | Calcium: 23mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutritional Disclaimer: The nutritional data provided here is auto-calculated and intended for your convenience only. As it’s generated via automation, its accuracy may be compromised. For precise nutritional insight, please compute the values utilizing the actual ingredients in your recipe through your chosen nutrition calculator or application.

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5 from 2 votes

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