This Salt & Pepper Chicken is a homemade version of the classic Chinese takeout dish. It’s easy to prepare and takes less than 30 minutes to make start to finish. The chicken is crispy, spicy and addictively good. I think you will love this healthier version of Salt Pepper Chicken. 


Why You Will Love This Salt & Pepper Chicken

  • This Salt & Pepper Chicken recipe is incredibly easy to make and takes less than 30 minutes start to finish.
  • It tastes like the classic chinese takeaway dish, but can be made at home for a quick and easy meal.
  • The combination of Chinese 5 spice, salt and pepper is such a unique mix of flavors that will set your taste buds alight! 
  • This Salt and Pepper Chicken recipe is made with simple ingredients that you can find in any grocery store 


What Is Salt & Pepper Chicken

Salt and pepper chicken is a popular dish in Chinese cuisine, and is believed to have originated in the southern region of China, specifically in Guangdong province. It has become even more popular in Western countries and is served in most Chinese restaurants and found on the majority of Chinese takeout menus. It’s a simple and flavorful dish made with bite-sized pieces of chicken that are seasoned with salt, pepper, and other spices, then fried until crispy.



Ingredients You Need To Make Salt & Pepper Chicken

  • Chicken: I prefer using boneless skinless chicken thighs because I find that they have more flavor, but chicken breasts can be used instead.
  • Pepper: traditionally salt and pepper chicken uses white pepper, but I am aware that that is an ingredient that can be hard to find so I have used black pepper in its place. Feel free to use either for this recipe 
  • Red Fresno Chili Pepper: For even more heat feel free to use thai chilies, but I find that a Fresno adds just the right amount of spice. 
  • Spring Onions: also known as scallions or green onions. Use 1 bunch, remove the root ends and then cut them into.1 inch pieces. 
  • Onion: I recommend thinly slicing the yellow onion, but if you prefer them to be chunkier you can cut the onion into 1/2 inch sized pieces.
  • Chinese 5 spice powder:  this is a key ingredient that can not be skipped and is what gives the chicken  the unique flavor. salt and pepper chicken is renowned for. 
  • Arrowroot Powder: To make this recipe Paleo and grain free, I use arrowroot powder to coat the chicken, but corn starch can be used in its place. 
  • Egg: Eggs contain enzymes called proteases that break down the proteins in the chicken, which can make the meat more tender. The egg whites also have a high water content, which can help to keep the chicken moist during cooking
  • Ginger: I like chopping the fresh ginger into little pieces rather than grating so that it adds a crunchy texture to the chicken dish. 
  • Garlic: I recommend using fresh garlic rather than jarred garlic 
  • Coconut Aminos: Feel free to use coconut aminos, soy sauce or tamari interchangeably in this recipe depending on the diet/allergies that you have. 
  • Oil: I prefer using avocado oil to cook the chicken due to its high smoke point, but vegetable oil can also be used. The smoke point is the oil temperature at which it begins to break down and produce visible smoke. This breakdown releases compounds such as free fatty acids and glycerol, which can give the food you are cooking an unpleasant flavor and smell. Peanut oil is another oil which has a high smoke point and is commonly used in asian cooking. 


What Is Chinese 5 Spice

Chinese five-spice powder is a blend of five different spices commonly used in Chinese cuisine. While the exact ingredients may vary slightly depending on regional preferences and individual recipes, the typical spices include star anise, cloves, cinnamon, sichuan peppercorns (or sometimes black peppercorns) and fennel seeds. Chinese 5 spice is the secret ingredient in salt and pepper chicken that really makes the dish. 




How To Make Salt & Pepper Chicken

  1. Place the chicken pieces in a bowl with an egg and leave to sit for 10 minutes, this will help to tenderise the chicken. 
  2. Stir together the arrowroot powder, chinese 5 spice, kosher salt and black pepper. 
  3. Heat oil in a wok or large skillet on medium-high heat. Once hot work in batches adding the chicken to the flour mixture and then placing them in a single layer in the hot oil. Don’t overcrowd the wok otherwise the chicken won’t become crispy.  Cook for 2-3 minutes per side until the chicken is golden brown in color and crispy. Set the cooked crispy chicken aside on a plate and repeat with the remaining chicken. 
  4. Next add the onion, green onions, ginger, garlic and fresno pepper to the large wok. Add in the coconut aminos (or soy sauce) and cook for a few minutes until the onions have softened and then add the chicken to the wok. Once the chicken is warm, serve. 

You can find more detailed step-by-step instructions in the recipe card below. 


Is This Salt & Pepper Chicken Spicy?

This Salt and Pepper Chicken recipe can easily be adapted to make it as spicy, or not spicy as you prefer. If you like spicy food I recommend leaving the seeds in the chili pepper, and adding a second chili pepper if you really want it to be lip tinglingly hot. If you prefer a more mild dish, remove the seeds from the chili, and potentially only use half the pepper. 


Can I Use A Different Cut Of Chicken

I prefer using chicken thighs, but chicken breasts can also be used. To make the bite-sized pieces of chicken as crispy as possible, I recommend cutting the chicken breast horizontally to create to thin cutlets, or alternatively place a chicken breast between parchment paper and pound it with a meat mallet to thin it out and tenderise it before cutting it into thin strips. 



Substitute for Arrowroot Powder

I like using arrowroot powder because it is a grain free flour which creates a wonderfully crisp coating on foods. If you do not have arrowroot powder, feel free to use cornstart or potato starch. 



What To Serve With This Salt and Pepper Chicken

This salt and pepper chicken is so substantial that I like eating a big bowl of it on its own, but if you want a more substantial meal you can serve it over white rice or cauliflower rice. 


What About Leftovers

Leftover Salt & Pepper Chicken will last for up to 4 days stored in an airtight container in the fridge. I recommend reheating any leftover chicken in the microwave, or in a skillet with a splash of sesame oil on medium heat until just warmed through.


Love healthy versions of takeout dishes? Here are a few more that you might enjoy:

If you make this recipe let me know in the comment section below, I would love to hear what you think or take a photo and tag me (@everylastbite_) on Instagram, I love seeing your photos!

Salt & Pepper Chicken

This Salt & Pepper Chicken is a homemade version of the classic Chinese takeout dish. It's easy to prepare and takes less than 30 minutes to make start to finish. The chicken is crispy, spicy and addictively good.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Diets Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Grain Free, Keto, Paleo, Whole30
Servings 4
Calories 444 kcal


  • 8 Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs
  • 1 Egg
  • 2/3 cup Arrowroot Powder or Corn Starch
  • 1 ½ tbsp Chinese 5 Spice
  • 1 tsp Black Pepper
  • 2 tsp Salt
  • 2 tbsp Avocado Oil or more as needed
  • 1 medium Yellow Onion halved and then thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch Scallions cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped ginger
  • 2 Garlic Cloves finely chopped
  • 1 Red Fresno Pepper halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp Coconut Aminos (or tamari or soy sauce)


  • Start by cutting the chicken thighs into thin strips. Place the sliced chicken in a bowl, add in the egg and stir to ensure all of the chicken strips are coated in the egg. Set aside to let the egg tenderize the chicken while you cut the veggies.
  • In a low flat bowl add in the arrowroot powder, chinese 5 spice, pepper and salt. Stir together.
  • Heat the oil in a wok on medium high heat. Working in batches of 2-3, add some of the chicken into the flour and spice mixture and toss to ensure the strips are well coated. Add the chicken to the wok and cook for approximately 3-4 minutes until golden brown and then flip each piece and cook on the other side. The chicken should be crispy and golden. Set the chicken aside on a plate and repeat cooking the remaining batches and set aside.
  • Add the onion, scallions, ginger, garlic and pepper to the wok and cook stirring consistency to ensure nothing burns. After 3 minutes of cooking, add in the coconut aminos and continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes until the onion is soft and translucent. Add in the chicken and toss. Remove from the heat and serve
Calories: 444kcalCarbohydrates: 23gProtein: 46gFat: 18gSaturated Fat: 4gSodium: 1467mgPotassium: 653mgFiber: 1gSugar: 0.3gCalcium: 63mgIron: 3mg
Tried this recipe?Leave a comment below and let us know how it was!