Copycat Panda Express black pepper chicken is a yummy way to satisfy your Chinese cravings at home. This homemade takeout recipe comes together in less than 30 minutes.
Takeout Chinese is one of our favorite indulgences and black pepper chicken is a family favorite.
Peppery and full of flavor from a blend of garlic and ginger, it’s just so good!
Plus unlike traditional Americanized Chinese food you’re probably used to, this is a lighter, healthier option.
It’s not deep fried and you can tuck it into lettuce leaves to make lettuce wraps that are amazing.
With this recipe, you can skip heading out or ordering in.
This recipe comes together quickly with only a handful of ingredients.
Here’s what you’ll need for the black pepper chicken. For the chicken itself, you’ll need to get:
- Chicken breasts – I recommend large, boneless and skinless breasts.
- Green bell pepper – I prefer green bell peppers, but you could use orange, yellow, or red ones too.
- White onion – If you prefer, you can use a yellow onion or even a red onion.
- Celery – You’ll need celery stalks. If you want to save some time, you can look for pre-sliced stalks at your local store.
- Cornstarch – Cornstarch will help to thicken the sauce when added.
- Spices – You’ll need garlic powder, freshly cracked black pepper, onion powder, and ground ginger.
- Canola oil – You can use olive oil or another oil that can tolerate higher temperatures.
For the savory sauce, you’ll need:
- Chicken broth – You can use either regular or low sodium.
- Oyster sauce – Oyster sauce adds a rich, salty flavor to the sauce.
- Seasoned rice vinegar – You can use regular rice vinegar or white vinegar in a pinch.
- Minced garlic – You can get minced garlic to save some time or use a garlic press to make it easier.
- Seasonings – You’ll need freshly cracked black pepper, chili powder, and ginger paste.
You’ll also want to have steamed white rice. Jasmine rice works well too, or you can use brown rice.
How to make
Before starting the veggies or chicken, you will need to make the sauce.
To do this, add all the sauce ingredients into a medium mixing bowl.
Whisk them altogether until well combined. Set the bowl aside.
When the sauce is ready, prepare the chicken by cutting off any fat and cutting them into 1″ cubes.
Place the chicken in a medium mixing bowl.
Combine the cornstarch, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
Sprinkle the cornstarch mix evenly over the cubed chicken and toss until evenly coated.
Pour the oil into a large skillet set over medium heat.
When the oil is hot, add about 1/3 of the chicken cubes.
Spread the cubes out and allow them to fully cook.
Stir them occasionally to ensure even cooking.
Repeat the process for the remaining chicken, cooking it in batches.
Transfer the cooked chicken to a waiting plate until all the chicken is cooked.
Once all the chicken is cooked, return it and any juices to the skillet.
Stir the vegetables in and cook until they’re just tender.
When the veggies are ready, pour in the sauce mixture.
Toss the chicken and veggies to coat them in the sauce.
Adjust the heat to medium-high and bring the sauce to a boil.
Once it is boiling, immediately reduce heat so that the mixture starts to simmer.
Allow it to simmer for about 8 to 10 minutes.
Finally, turn off the heat, stir it together well, and allow it to rest for about 1 to 2 minutes before serving over or next to rice.
Tips and tricks
- Don’t over-cook the veggies at first! They should just start to get tender before adding the sauce. Otherwise, they can get mushy.
- Make sure to keep the chicken pieces about 1 inch. This helps them cook quickly and evenly. And it also lets the chicken absorb more of the yummy sauce flavor.
- Make thicker cuts of celery to help preserve their crunch. Thinner slices will be softer and not give you a good crunch.
- You can serve this over white rice, next to the rice, or in lettuce cups for a lower carb meal.
Other Takeout Recipes You Might Enjoy
This copycat Panda Express black pepper chicken is one of our favorites especially when we want takeout but don’t want to overindulge.
Make it to satisfy your takeout cravings!
Looking for other takeout recipes?
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Copycat Panda Express Black Pepper Chicken
For The Chicken
- 2-3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 green bell pepper seeded & diced
- 1 medium white onion diced
- 4 stalks celery sliced
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
- 1/2 tbsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 2 tbsp canola oil
For The Sauce
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1/4 cup oyster sauce
- 1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
- 1/2 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 1/2 tsp ginger paste
- steamed white rice for serving
To Make The Sauce
- Add all of the sauce ingredients to a large mixing bowl. Whisk them together until the mixture's smooth. Set aside.
To Make The Chicken
- Cut any fat off of the breasts, and then carefully cut the breasts into roughly 1" cubes. Transfer the chicken to a mixing bowl.
- In a small prep bowl, combine the cornstarch, salt, & pepper until evenly combined. Sprinkle the cornstarch mix evenly out over the chicken, and toss until evenly coated.
- Add the oil to a large skillet set over medium heat. Once the oil's hot (shimmery), add 1/3 of the prepared chicken to the skillet. Spread it out and let it cook, stirring as needed. It will cook quickly. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked chicken to a waiting plate, and repeat until all of the chicken's cooked.
- Return all of the chicken and any juices to the skillet. Stir the vegetables in, and cook until they're just tender- roughly 5 minutes.
- Pour the chicken broth & sauce mixture into the skillet, gently tossing the chicken & veggies to coat.
- Turn the heat up to medium high, and bring the sauce to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat, and let the mixture simmer for 8-10 minutes. Turn off the heat, stir well, and let the mixture rest for 1-2 minutes before serving.
- Spoon the mixture over steamed white rice, or side by side with the rice. Enjoy!