Salt and Pepper Chicken. Crispy tender chicken seasoned with salt and pepper fried with delicious aromatics. Ready in 20 minutes.
I’ve always been a huge fan of salt and pepper dishes as they are so flavourful with the right aromatics, yet pretty simple to make at home. It also serves well for dinner or lunch with some steamed rice and vegetables.
Quick & Easy to make
My Chinese salt and pepper chicken is extremely easy to make! Compared to other Chinese meat dishes, you only need several ingredients to whip this up. This will take 20 minutes and it’s a fantastic for a weeknight meal.
No Marinating Time!
My Cantonese salt and pepper chicken requires no marinating time and it still produces a flavourful meat. You can of course marinate it for 20-30 minutes if you’d like.
What you’ll need
For this crispy salt and pepper chicken, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- Boneless skinless chicken thighs
- red chili
- green onion
- white granulated sugar
- Shaoxing wine, or sub with dry sherry wine
- avocado oil, or vegetable oil
Salt and Pepper Chicken Marinade:
- Shaoxing wine, or sub with dry sherry wine
- black pepper
How to make Salt and Pepper Chicken
Below are brief steps with visuals to show you how to make authentic salt and pepper chicken. Please scroll down to the recipe card below to find full instructions and details.
Slice chicken thighs into bite sized pieces, about 6-8 pieces per thigh. Transfer to a bowl.
Season chicken with shoaxing wine, salt and black pepper and mix well with hand.
Add cornstarch to chicken and mix until each piece is coated in starch.
Over medium heat, add oil into wok.
Once the oil is hot (dip a wooden chopstick and look for bubbles), add chicken.
Fry chicken for 3-4 minutes on each side, a total of 7-8 minutes, until golden and crispy. Remove and transfer to a plate.
Discard most of the oil, leaving enough to moisten the pan. Lower heat to Low setting. Add ginger, garlic, red chili, green onion, and sugar. Sauté for 45 seconds.
Add fried chicken and Shaoxing wine and mix again. Once mixed, remove off heat. Enjoy!
Below are tips on making this easy salt and pepper chicken:
Cut chicken into equal bite size pieces for even cooking time
I usually cut each thigh into 6-8 pieces (about 1 x 2-inch-long pieces). I’ll slice the thigh horizontally and then cut them vertically.
Prepare your ingredients ahead of time
I know I say this in every single recipe post but in Asian cooking it is all about preparing the ingredients prior to cooking. Since we are cooking this dish in a hot wok, it is important to have the ingredients lined up and ready to throw into the pan. You do not want to be fumbling around the kitchen looking for ingredients as you cook. This causes overcooking.
Do not overcook chicken
6-8 minutes over medium heat will be suffice for crispy chicken. If you cook any other, the chicken will dry out.
Cook aromatics over low heat
Aromatics like garlic, green onion or ginger tend to burn easily when cooked over very high heat so I like to recommend lowering the heat, so you have more control.
Below are frequently asked questions about this salt and pepper chicken Chinese recipe:
Can I use chicken breast?
Yes, but I would reduce the cooking time by 1-2 minutes as breast tends to dry out faster than thigh due to the lack of fat. Cook until the breast reaches an internal temperature of 165 F.
Can I substitute the Shaoxing wine?
Yes, please use Dry Sherry Wine as this is the next closest substitute.
Do I have to use red chilies?
You don’t have to, but I would strongly recommend them as they offer a great aroma and flavour.
Can I use dried red chilies?
Yes, you may. I would just recommend hydrating them prior to throwing them into the pan.
What is salt and pepper chicken made of?
It’s typically made of Boneless skinless chicken thighs, garlic, red chili, ginger, green onion, white granulated sugar, Shaoxing wine, oil, cornstarch, salt and black pepper.
How do you make salt and pepper chicken?
You’re simply marinating the chicken in shoaxing wine, salt and black pepper and then coating the chicken in cornstarch. Next the chicken is fried until crispy and golden in oil and removed from the heat. Then most of the oil, except 1 tsp will be removed from the pan. Finally, the remaining ingredients will be stir fried with the chicken until coated and that’s it!
Is Salt and pepper chicken fried?
Yes, but my recipe only calls for shallow frying – not deep frying.
Other recipes you may like!
If you enjoyed this Chinese chicken dish, you may enjoy these other recipes:
Well, I hope you give my Salt and Pepper Chicken a try! It always excites me when you make my recipes and I hope this is one you try and most importantly, enjoy.
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20-min. Chinese Salt and Pepper Chicken
- Slice chicken thighs into bite sized pieces, about 6-8 pieces per thigh. Transfer to a bowl.
- Season chicken with shoaxing wine, salt and black pepper and mix well with hands.
- Add cornstarch to chicken and mix until each piece is coated in starch.
- Over medium heat, add oil into wok. Once the oil is hot (dip a wooden chopstick and look for bubbles), add chicken.
- Fry chicken for 3-4 minutes on each side, a total of 7-8 minutes, until golden and crispy. Remove and transfer to a plate.
- Discard most of the oil, leaving enough to moisten the pan. Lower heat to Low setting. Add ginger, garlic, red chili, green onion, and sugar. Sauté for 45 seconds.
- Add fried chicken and Shaoxing wine and mix again. Once mixed, remove off heat. Enjoy!