One of the favourite dishes in Chinese restaurants and Chinese takeaways throughout the UK, salt and pepper chicken is deliciously comforting, wonderfully comforting and extremely easy to make at home.
Succulent chicken pieces, fresh and tangy vegetables and earthy spices combine for a sublime stir fry that will blow you away!
Why You'll Love This Salt And Pepper Chicken Recipe
- The flavours are sensational!
- It's a relatively simple recipe to put together, considering how incredible the taste is
- It tastes just as good, if not even better, than your favourite Chinese takeaway dish
- You can make a big batch of salt and pepper seasoning and use it with some other delicious fakeaway dishes
Equipment Needed To Make This Recipe
- Large deep frying pan – you'll need this to deep fry your chicken, before adding it to the wok to stir fry with the vegetables
- Large wok – a wok is the way to go when making any kind of Chinese dish. The height of the sides of the wok pan serve to retain heat within the pan, while the rounded shape of helps to conduct heat and keep everything cooking at a high temperature. This is ideal for flash flying and getting the best out of spices. Go for a wok that's at least 28cm, although 30cm would be ideal.
- Curved spatula – a curved wooden spatula is the perfect companion for your wok. The curved shape helps to get into the corners to keep those fabulous ingredients moving as they quickly cook.
- Chopsticks – want to eat this dish in an authentic way? Get yourself a good quality pair of chopsticks and immerse yourself in the Chinese dining experience!
How To Make Salt And Pepper Chicken
Place the cornflour, salt, pepper and Chinese 5 spice in a bowl.
Toss the chopped chicken thighs in the cornflour mixture until everything is covered.
Now the chicken is ready to be deep fried. Do it in batches.
Fry the onions, peppers and chillies in a wok for a few minutes.
Add the fried chicken, spring onions and salt and pepper seasoning to the vegetables. Fry for another few minutes then serve immediately. Enjoy!
Don't crowd the frying pan when frying the chicken. It needs space to be able to take on that wonderful golden brown colour and crispy texture. Drain the fried chicken on paper towels to remove any excess oil.
What To Serve With Salt And Pepper Chicken
In my opinion it is best to stick to the original version of salt and chilli chicken when it comes to serving. This means serving the chicken stir fry with white rice, either steamed or boiled.
Use a good quality basmati rice and if you have a rice cooker then even better. For a bit of extra flavour put a little bit of vegetable stock in the boiling water, and give the rice a faint herbal aroma. Plain white rice is of course also an option.
You could even go for more flavour and serve it with egg fried rice.
If you don’t feel like rice, you can also serve the meal with noodles. Choose from normal egg noodles, the thin, clear glass noodles, or even fried noodles. In fact, if you want to eat the dish using chopsticks, noodles are much easier to handle!
This salt and pepper chicken is delicious when served with a simple side, but you could also add a dipping sauce on the side, such as a soy sauce dip, vinegar, sweet chilli dip or plum sauce.
Check the Asian section of your supermarket or your local Chinese supermarket – there are some fantastic dipping sauces out there!
A round, full bodied red pinot noir would work wonderfully well with the spices in this recipe, as would an off-dry white wine like a Riesling.
Variations To This Recipe
- You can shallow fry the chicken with less crispy but slightly healthier results.
- You could also cook the chicken in an air fryer.
- Feel free to add more of the seasoning if you prefer, but remember it’s quite salty!
- If you don't want to make your own salt and pepper seasoning, you can buy it online.
- The spice mixture itself consists only of dried and ground spices. If you can’t get enough kick in your food you can add more chilli to the mixture.
- Alternatively, use extra-hot ground chilli powder instead of chilli flakes. For a more oriental aroma add a pinch of cinnamon or cardamom to the mixture. You can also consider these Aleppo pepper substitutes as well as these chilli powder substitutes.
- Add two tablespoons of rice wine to the pan after frying the vegetables. This will add a wonderful fragrance and flavour.
- Add a topping for a final flourish to this salt and pepper chicken recipe. Fresh coriander is of course an ever-welcome addition to Asian food. If you find the flavour a little too dominant for the salt and chilli chicken, there are some alternatives.
- My favourite topping is actually finely chopped tops of spring onion. The green tops give a lovely freshness to the dish without overpowering it.
- Replace boneless skinless chicken thighs with chicken breasts if you prefer.
- A fun variation of salt and chilli chicken is to make the dish with chicken wings instead. The process is otherwise the same. Again, for extra tenderness you can brine the chicken wings before starting. Brined chicken wings are even quite good on their own. Check out my recipe here.
- You can also use a different meat – I recommend pork.
- Replace with tofu, seitan or mushrooms to make this a vegan salt and pepper dish. See my salt and pepper tofu recipe.
- Replace the vegetable oil with sesame oil when stir frying the chicken and vegetables to add a nutty, authentic Chinese flavour.
Use a quality wok when cooking up this salt and pepper sensation! The wok is the way to go with authentic asian recipes, as you'll be able to cook on a high heat, while easily distributing the heat throughout all the ingredients.
What is Chinese salt and pepper seasoning?
It’s a delicious spice mix that brings big bold flavour to a variety of dishes.
Salt and pepper seasoning is hugely popular in the UK, especially in Liverpool – it's where salt and pepper chips originated – as well as in Scotland.
Chinese salt and pepper seasoning has been used in Chinese takeaways since the 1960s. It's becoming more and more popular, leading to many foodies making their own batch at home.
How do you make Chinese salt and pepper seasoning?
To find out how to make the perfect batch of this flavourful spice blend, check out my Salt and Pepper Seasoning recipe.
What's in Chinese five spice?
Chinese five spice is a spice mix that contains cinnamon, star anise, cloves, Sichuan pepper and fennel seeds.
How do you store salt and pepper chicken?
Salt and pepper chicken leftovers should be stored in an airtight container, once it has cooled down.
Your salt and pepper chicken leftovers will stay fresh for up to three days.
Can you prep this ahead of time?
The seasoning can be made in a large batch and stored in an airtight container. You can use it at your own pace because it doesn't go off.
As for the rest, I recommend you make it fresh for the best results.
More amazing Asian recipes
If you're a fan of Asian cuisines, you'll want to try these incredible recipes:
- Salt and chilli chicken – a classic Chinese takeaway dish, salt and pepper chicken
- Salt and pepper chips – another hugely popular takeaway dish, salt and pepper chips make for a delicious side or a homemade takeaway treat
- Salt and pepper spring rolls - a great way to start your Chinese meal!
- Chicken and sweetcorn soup - a delicious Chinese starter!
- Sweet chilli chicken stir fry – delicious and extremely easy to make
- Orange peel chicken – this classic Asian recipe is the perfect midweek fakeaway meal
- Prawn dumplings with soy and mirin dipping sauce – fried finger food doesn't get much better!
- Hong Kong style sweet and sour chicken. There are a lot of possibilities and many delicious meals to be had.