Panda Express Black Pepper Chicken


Who doesn’t love Panda Express? Over the years they have developed and produced hundreds of delicious Asian-inspired recipes that will forever and always be the source of tons of precious memories to all their loyal customers.

Their Black Pepper Chicken is no exception. This incredibly flavorful dish is one of a few that truly capture the essence of Asian-flavors, all thanks to Panda Express. And now, finally, you can make it right in the comfort of your own home!

Black Pepper Chicken

Although this recipe might seem very long and complicated, it is actually a very easy and straightforward process.

Most of the work is in weighing out all of the ingredients, but trust me, it is so worth it! The combination of flavors that Panda Express uses to create this unique flavor profile cannot be matched by any other restaurant franchise. 

You can even use the whole recipe as a base and substitute the chicken with other ingredients to create multiple dinners from one easy recipe.

What’s even better is that you can make the sauce a few days in advance to make meal prep much easier and it can be used in and on many other recipes.

A fantastic and healthy home-made take-out dish that will have your whole family begging for seconds and thirds!

How To Make Panda Express Black Pepper Chicken

Combine all of the sauce ingredients together in a medium bowl and set aside for later use.

Prepare your chicken thighs; they need to be skinned and deboned. Then dice the chicken into 1-inch blocks. Set aside until needed. 

In a medium-sized bowl, combine the corn starch, salt, pepper and garlic, onions and ginger powder. Toss the chicken in the mixture until all the pieces are well coated.

In a large non-stick pan, heat the peanut oil and fry the chicken pieces in small batches. They should cook a few minutes on both sides. Set aside the cooked chicken until you need it.

Add the bell pepper, onion, celery and all of the cooked chicken back into the large pan and fry for about 5-8 minutes or until the vegetables have become tender.

Add the mixed sauce ingredients and bring the mixture to a boil before lowering the heat and allowing the mixture to simmer for 10 minutes. The sauce must become thick before it’s ready to be served.

Serve immediately with rice and any garnish of your choice.


For the Chicken:

Chicken Thighs: Boneless and skinless, they are the main protein of the dish, chosen for their juiciness and flavor.

Corn Starch: Used to coat the chicken, giving it a light, crispy texture when fried.

Fine Salt, Black Pepper, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Ginger Powder: These seasonings add depth and flavor to the chicken.

Peanut Oil: Used for frying, it adds a subtle nutty flavor and ensures the chicken is cooked to a perfect crispness.

Green Bell Pepper, Brown Onion, Celery: These vegetables add crunch and freshness to the dish, complementing the chicken.

For the Sauce:

Chicken Broth: Forms the base of the sauce, adding depth and richness.

Oyster Sauce: Provides a unique, savory flavor that is key to the dish.

Rice Wine Vinegar: Adds acidity, balancing the flavors in the sauce.

Fresh Garlic: Enhances the sauce with its pungent, aromatic flavor.

Freshly Ground Black Pepper, Chili Powder, Garlic Powder: These spices add heat and complexity to the sauce.

Panda Express Black Pepper Chicken

4 from 16 votes
Recipe by Laura Ritterman Course: MainCuisine: ChineseDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time





This incredibly easy Black Pepper Chicken is a must-try recipe especially if you live for Panda Express! It is incredibly easy and is filled with flavor and texture!


  • For the chicken
  • 6 chicken thighs, boneless, skin removed

  • 4 tablespoons 4 corn starch

  • 1/2 teaspoon 1/2 fine salt

  • 1 teaspoon 1 freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 tablespoon 1 garlic powder

  • ½ tablespoon onion powder

  • 1 teaspoon 1 ginger powder

  • 2 tablespoons 2 peanut oil

  • 1 green bell pepper, diced

  • 1 brown onion, sliced

  • 3 celery stalks, sliced

  • 2 cups 2 rice, cooked according to package instructions

  • For the sauce
  • ½ cup chicken broth

  • ¼ cup oyster sauce

  • ¼ cup rice wine vinegar

  • ½ tablespoon fresh garlic, minced

  • 1 teaspoon 1 freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon 1 chili powder

  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder


  • Start by combining all of the sauce ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl and set them aside until they are needed.
  • Then continue by preparing your chicken. If it hasn’t been deboned and skinned, do so now (there are tons of tutorials available to help you). Dice each chicken thigh into 1-inch blocks.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the corn starch, fine salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and ginger powder. Toss the chicken pieces in the corn starch mixture until they are all well and evenly coated.
  • Heat the peanut oil in a large non-stick frying pan and cook the coated chicken in batches over medium heat.
  • Remove each batch from the pan and set aside on a plate. Continue until all the chicken has been cooked.
  • Once all of the chicken has been cooked, place it back into the pan and add the green bell pepper, onion and celery. Add more peanut oil if needed and sauté for about 5-8 minutes or until the vegetables have become tender.
  • Add the sauce ingredients and bring the mixture to a boil. Once it has begun to boil, reduce the heat and allow the mixture to simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the sauce has become thicker.
  • Serve hot over a bowl of cooked rice and garnish with sesame seeds and chives.

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Tips & Tricks

  1. Perfectly Preparing the Chicken: When prepping the chicken thighs, ensure they are evenly cut into 1-inch cubes. This not only helps in even cooking but also ensures each piece is thoroughly coated with the seasoning and cornstarch mixture. I’ve found that uniform pieces result in a more enjoyable texture in every bite.
  2. Achieving the Ideal Coating: The cornstarch coating is key to getting that signature crispy texture. Make sure to coat the chicken pieces evenly and shake off any excess cornstarch. This step makes a huge difference in achieving a light, crispy coating without it being too thick or doughy.
  3. The Art of Frying: Frying the chicken in peanut oil at the right temperature (around 350°F) is crucial. It’s important not to overcrowd the pan, as this can lower the oil’s temperature and lead to less crispy chicken. I usually fry in batches, ensuring each piece turns golden brown and delicious.
  4. Balancing the Sauce: The sauce’s flavor balance is essential. The right amount of freshly ground black pepper, combined with oyster sauce and rice wine vinegar, creates a harmonious blend of savory and spicy. I always taste and adjust the seasoning as needed, ensuring the sauce complements the chicken perfectly.
  5. Vegetable Texture: Adding the green bell pepper, onion, and celery at the right time is important to maintain their crunch. I sauté them just until they’re tender but still have a bit of bite. This adds a lovely texture contrast to the dish and keeps the vegetables vibrant and flavorful.


If you are allergic to peanut oil, or simply don’t like it, you can substitute it with sesame or plain olive oil. Sesame oil works great as it helps carry the Asian-flavor-profile of the dish, just like peanut oil would’ve.

For an all-vegetarian option, replace the chicken with a vegetable like sweet potato or aubergine. You can also replace the chicken broth with vegetable broth.

This recipe, although originally chicken, can also use beef as the main protein! That is what I love about Panda Express and their recipes; you have one base recipe that you can chop and change as much as you’d like.

Other Recipes

Panda Express Orange Chicken

Panda Express Mushroom Chicken

Panda Express chow mein

Fried Rice


This is the best copycat Panda Express Black Pepper Chicken recipe you will ever find! All of the ingredients are incredibly well balanced and creates a very harmonious and tasty dish!

The next time you’re craving Panda Express, try this recipe – you won’t be disappointed!

panda express black pepper chicken recipe


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