A Spicy Perspective

Black Pepper Chicken Stir Fry

This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission.

Amazing Black Pepper Chicken Stir Fry (Copycat Panda Express!) This Low Carb & Gluten Free Chinese Takeout Recipe favorite is easy to make at home, and even more delicious!

Healthy Black Pepper Chicken Recipe (Copycat Panda Express)

Panda Express Takeout Fake-Out

I can resist almost all fast food options.

When I’m out running errands, and I’m suddenly famished, I can drive right by all the burger places and fried chicken chains… But I have a hard time passing up Panda Express.

Even though it’s impractical to eat in the car. And even though some of the dishes are just as terrible for you as a burger and fries, I find myself pulling into the drive-through window, in a hypnotic state.

What is it about hot cheap Chinese takeout that makes it so irresistible?!

Skillet with the finished chicken recipe

Gluten-Free Chinese Takeout

If you are gluten–free, you probably already know that the Panda Express restaurant chain states on their website that they offer no gluten-free food items. What a bummer!

This always baffles me, because swapping gluten-free soy sauce for regular soy sauce is all it would take, in some of their dishes.

Regardless, we still love Panda Express with great passion, I just can’t take my daughter Ava there.

Instead, we make gluten-free versions of her favorite Panda Express dishes at home.

They taste just as (if not more) amazing at home, and we have full quality control on ingredients and portions.

Chopped up vegetables for this Chinese recipe

Chinese Black Pepper Chicken Stir Fry

Black Pepper Chicken is my go-to Panda Express order, because it’s bold and zesty, yet is one of their lighter menu options.

It’s essentially made of chicken thighs, onions, celery, and a rich full-bodied spicy black pepper sauce.

Fortunately, this recipe is easy to replicate at home, using organic ingredients (if desired) and of course gluten-free soy sauce.

It takes just a few minutes to prep and cook, and would even be considered low carb, if you skip the side of rice or noodles!

Ready to get started?


  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs(or chicken breasts)
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cups sliced celery, 1/3-inch cut on a bias
  • 1/2 cup low sodium gluten-free soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil (or coconut oil)
  • 1 tablespoon coarse ground black pepper (use a pepper mill)
  • 1/4-3/4 cup water
Making Healthy Black Pepper Chicken Recipe  with the seasoning measured out

How To Make Panda Express Black Pepper Chicken (Gluten-Free!)

  1. Make the sauce. Mix the soy sauce, rice vinegar, cornstarch, ginger, garlic powder, crushed red pepper, and liquid smoke. The liquid smoke gives the sauce that unique Panda Express can’t-quite-put-your-finger-on-it flavor, so don’t skip it! Also, you will marinate the chicken in the sauce for a few minutes, then thicken the sauce in the pan.
  2. Chop, chop. Cut the chicken thighs and vegetables (onions, and celery) into small pieces. Place the chicken in the sauce.
  3. Crack that pepper. Grind the pepper on the largest setting. If you use fine pre-ground pepper the pepper taste will be too powerful. The pieces need to be mostly large.
  4. Sizzle it. In a wok, stir fry the onions and celery for about 1 minute. Then add the chicken to the hot wok. Stir fry for 2 minutes, stirring.
  5. Sauce it up. Add the sauce and the black pepper. Stir as the sauce thickens. Stir in the onions and celery. Simmer another 1-2 minutes.

Get the Full (Printable) Black Pepper Chicken Recipe Below

Wooden spoon stirring this chinese favorite

Easy Black Pepper Chicken Recipe

See how easy that was?

Our Black Pepper Chicken (Copycat Panda Express) is so inviting. The black pepper sauce is bold and spicy, not overpowering. It makes a perfect midweek meal, or takeout alternative for gluten-free friends and family.

P.S. If marinating the chicken in the sauce, then adding it to the pan weirds you out, you can make two separate batches. One for the marinade and one for the sauce. 

To me, it all gets cooked so it doesn’t matter.

However, don’t skip the marination time. Even though the chicken only soaks in the sauce for a few minutes, it does impact the overall flavor and helps make the meat more tender.

Serve over your favorite white rice recipe

More Asian Stir Fry Favorites

Gluten Free Healthy Chicken Recipe

Frequently Asked Questions

How long can I store this recipe? 

You can keep this recipe’s leftovers in an airtight container and keep it in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. 

Can I Freeze This Chicken Stir Fry Recipe?

This recipe will store nicely in the freezer when in an airtight container for up to 3 months. 

What other veggies can I add? 

Other great stir-fry veggies that you can add are broccoli or bell pepper.

Black Chopsticks used to eat this panda express copycat recipe

Check the printable recipe card below for nutritional information including calories, carbohydrates, saturated fat, cholesterol, and fiber percentages.

Healthy Black Pepper Chicken Recipe (Copycat Panda Express) #ASpicyPerspective #glutenfree #lowcarb #takeout #copycat
Print Recipe
5 from 20 votes
Leave a Review »

Black Pepper Chicken Stir Fry

Prep Time: 14 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Total Time: 22 minutes
Amazing Black Pepper Chicken Stir Fry (Copycat Panda Express!) This Low Carb & Gluten Free Chinese Takeout Recipe favorite is easy to make at home, and even more delicious!
Servings: 6



  • In a medium bowl, mix the soy sauce, rice vinegar, cornstarch, ginger, garlic powder, crushed red pepper, and liquid smoke.
  • Chop the chicken thighs into small bite-size pieces, no more than 3/4 inch. (Panda express uses very small pieces.) Place the chicken pieces in the marinade. 
  • Allow the chicken to marinate at least 10 minutes, but longer is better. Meanwhile, chop the onions and celery. Grind the pepper on the largest setting. If you use pre-ground fine pepper the taste will be too powerful.
  • Place a wok (or large skillet) over high heat. Add the oil. Once it’s hot, stir fry the onions and celery for about 1 minute. It should be just starting to cook, and still firm. Quickly remove from the wok.
  • Remove the chicken from the marinade with a skimmer, reserving the marinade for later use. Place the chicken in the hot wok. Stir fry for 2 minutes, stirring. 
  • Whisk the marinade and pour it in the wok. Add the black pepper. Stir as the sauce thickens. If it thickens too much, add 1/4 cup water at a time to loosen the sauce until it’s the right consistency. It should be thick enough to coat the chicken, but not gummy. Stir in the onions and celery. Simmer another 1-2 minutes. Serve warm.



Serving: 0.75cup, Calories: 269kcal, Carbohydrates: 9g, Protein: 30g, Fat: 11g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 143mg, Sodium: 675mg, Potassium: 546mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 235IU, Vitamin C: 2.9mg, Calcium: 41mg, Iron: 1.9mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Chinese
Author: Sommer Collier

Making this recipe? Follow us on Instagram and tag @ASpicyPerspective so we can share what you’re cooking!

Share This Recipe With Friends!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Did you make this recipe? Rate it!

23 comments on “Black Pepper Chicken Stir Fry”

  1. This is such a perfect dinner for weeknights! Everyone enjoyed it!

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this amazing recipe! Will surely have this again! It’s really easy to make and it tasted so delicious! Highly recommended!

  3. Very easy and very tasty thanks!

    I used 500g thigh fillets, and a couple of subs…
    Soy sauce only used half as I ran out.
    Rice vinegar… I used apple cider vinegar
    Added 2 bell peppers sliced into squares.
    Served with rice

  4. My family loved this recipe so much. No more takeout for us!

  5. I love black pepper chicken but I’ve also enjoyed black pepper shrimp on buffets. Do you have a suggestion of cooking time for shrimp?

  6. Bravo. This is absolutely amazing. 

  7. It came out delicious!

    The only thing I changed, only because I didn’t have it, was the celery. I used Italian hot peppers and it gave it a nice spiciness. 5 out of 5 recommend!

  8. Is the liquid smoke used in this recipe Mesquite, Hickory or another flavor?

  9. Made this tonight, used bok choy instead of celery, it was fantastic! I didn’t pay close attention to the recipe and put the pepper in the marinade, it was still one of the best recipes I’ve tried this year. I will absolutely make this again (and again)! I made an additional 1/2 recipe of the marinade to add at the end, (you can never have too much sauce right?) it was perfect. Great black pepper flavor, warms your lips up without being a painful hot. If you don’t have a wok, but love this kind of dish, get one! It makes it alot easier to get the even heat (and room) you need to do a stir fry right. Loved it!!!

  10. I didn’t know how easy this favorite take out dish would be to make at home but it was! And tasted so good too!.

  11. Everyone at my house loved it! A new favorite dinner at my house!

  12. I LOVE when I can make my favorite take out recipes at home!

  13. This was such a great way to get all of that amazing flavor without breaking our budget by taking my family out. Everyone cleaned their plates!

  14. I can’t wait to try this again! Perfect meal for my family!

  15. Such a great recipe. This will be my go-to recipe for chicken stir fry from now on. Thanks!

  16. We love the Panda version…but this was even better. YUM!!!

  17. HUGE fan of healthy, made at home takeout food! Can’t wait for this to become a regular in our dinner rotation

  18. Tried it and loved it!

  19. Who needs take out when you can make something as good as (if not better) than what you’d get at the restaurant? This is delicious!

  20. I’ve never had Panda Express’ version, but I’ll be making this chicken stir fry over and over!!

  21. Panda’s black pepper chicken is my weakness! Can’t wait to be able to make it my self! And a more healthy version? who doesn’t love that!