Salt and pepper chicken is a Chinese homemade family dish. Learn how to make it using wings, thighs, or breast pieces with our healthy recipe.
This classic recipe is a traditional family dish that almost everyone in your family will love. With only a few ingredients, you can easily make this delicious Chinese household dish.
The main part that stands out in this dish is the spices and vegetable combination, which is packed with lots of flavours. To make this recipe, you can use almost every part of the chicken, but wings, breasts, and thighs are popularly used.
This salt and pepper chicken recipe focuses on how to prepare the dish by pan-frying. However, we will also cover the methods of making this satisfying dish using an oven or air fryer.
The calorie and fat count will be cut into almost half as you need less oil to fry the meat in them. It is the healthiest and most affordable version to fry the fowl protein if you want to cut calorie count.
What is it?
Salt and pepper chicken is one of the most delightful dishes you can try as a main dish with rice, or you can enjoy it as an appetizer or snack. This dish takes only some minutes to prepare and cook. You can make pan-fried, air-fried, and oven-baked versions as your wish.
It is a common Chinese household dish that can be seen at a family dinner table setting. Due to its popularity and scrumptiousness, many Asian takeaways restaurants include it as a must-have menu item.
The main part of this dish is its spices that synergises well with fresh and tangy vegetables. From mixed chillies to spring onions to peppers, this dish utilizes the harmonious flavours of the ingredients that pack a punch to your tastebuds!
In any Chinese takeaway, this menu item is loved by almost everyone as it’s delicious and affordable! The most popular takeaway version is 'salt and pepper chicken wings', or ‘salt and pepper chicken and chips’.
Cuts of meat
You can make this classic Chinese household dish recipe with any cut of meat. For this recipe, we will use the breast to make a juicy and flavorful fried dish. Fried chicken is delicious and got lots of proteins and vitamins, which are good for your health.
Every part of meat has its own cooking time and texture. There are three types of chicken parts that are popularly used for frying.
This version is popularly used to make crispy salt and pepper chicken fry as their skin becomes crispy, juicy, and gives flavorful texture. For our recipe, we will be using the breasts to prepare this Chinese recipe.
However, you need to use medium temperature to fry as high temperature can dry out the meat. It takes at least 5 to 7 minutes to get the perfect brown texture.
The thighs are naturally full of chicken essence, moister, softer, and more flavourful than other parts of the meats.
The cooking process is quite similar, but the frying time takes at least 2 to 3 minutes which is much faster than other parts.
This version takes some time as you need to marinate for some hours to get deeper flavours for some delicious salt and pepper chicken wings.
Wings are the cheapest part of the meat, and when you fry them, their skin becomes extremely crispy and juicy inside. You need to fry it for at least 5 minutes to get a golden brown texture.
Usually, a portion of salt and pepper chicken will have around 487 kcal.
Nevertheless, we have to keep in mind that the calorie count will depend on which cooking method you use for frying the meat and the ingredients on it.
You can use every part of the fowl to cook the salt and pepper chicken recipe. However, the cooking time can vary depending on what parts you use for frying.
The taste of the meal will also differ based on the natural taste of each part. Therefore, we should give it some thought on which part of the fowl to use for this dish.
The five-spice powder is a very popular ingredient in Chinese and overall Asian cuisine. Essentially it is made up of a blend of star anise, cloves, Chinese cinnamon, Sichuan peppers and fennel seeds.
It helps unlock the five key flavours of spices which are: sweet, sour, salty, bitter and savouriness (umami). This spice powder gives Chinese dishes its iconic taste combination.
Five Spice Powder, 1.92-Ounce Bottle
You can get this spice from almost every Asian store, supermarket or online. It is a must thing for this crispy salt and pepper chicken recipe as it gives the meat pieces a tasty moreish flavour.
You can get corn flour from every grocery store. But you can alternatively use potato starch if you don’t have cornflour.
You can modify the spice amount in this Chinese recipe by using hotter or milder chillies. For our recipe, we use a combination of red and green chillis to make it a medium-hot dish.
You can use capsicum if you like it mild. To make this salt and pepper chicken dish spicier, you can use Thai chillies that are very hot but great!
- Always use fresh ingredients to get more wholesome flavours and texture.
- If you have enough time to cook, then you can marinate the white meat for some hours. After that, you can coat it with cornflour and start frying.
- You can use any type of vegetable oil for frying. A neutral flavoured oil like Canola oil will work better.
- If you are on a specific weight loss diet plan, you can cut some calories by baking or air frying the salt and pepper chicken. Read on to learn how to prepare this dish using an oven and an air fryer.
- Frying time can vary depending on your pan and stove. If you use an electric stove and nonstick pan, it will take a lot of time to get a brown texture from the meat. If you have a powerful gas stove and heavy-duty pan, then the cooking time will become faster. Hence, always keep an eye out for the condition of the meat when you are frying it to get the best results.
- Do not overcrowd the pan or oven tray or air frying tray with the meat pieces. Try to cook in batches to get a perfectly fried, crispy salt and pepper chicken.
Using an Airfryer
You can get juicy, crispy, crunchy fried chicken goodness without any mess, hassle, or extra calories with air fryer cooking. Making air-fried chicken is very easy as you do not need to heat up the kitchen stove.
Simply add all the marinated poultry meat pieces to the fryer and fry them. Be careful not to overcrowd the fryer; place them in a single layer. To make healthy salt and pepper chicken in the air fry,
- At first, coat the air fryer with a brush with some oil. Marinate the protein well and keep them in the air frying basket.
- Set the temperature to 380°F (195°C) for 25 minutes and toss the basket every 5 to 7 minutes. You can cook additional 5 minutes at 400°F (205°C) if the chicken needs a nice and brown texture, or else you can skip it.
- Prepare the vegetables in a pan with 1 to 2 teaspoon of oil. Mix the vegetables with fried meat and serve immediately.
The process above is similar to making other air fried chicken recipes e.g. Air fried Korean fried chicken.
Using an oven
Oven baking is quite healthy and an easier option for cooking. You can bake salt and pepper chicken without creating a mess from frying in the kitchen area. You usually need lots of oil for pan-frying, but you can use less oil with an oven, which is healthier.
To make the healthy salt and pepper chicken in the oven,
- Start preheating the oven to 350°F (180°C). Place the baking tray with aluminium foil in the oven for heating.
- Mix all the ingredients, put them on the baking tray in a single layer, and bake for 10 minutes. It will depend on your oven either you turn on the grill or preheat it.
- For grilling, do it for 2 to 3 minutes to make the meat crisper. Be careful and keep a close eye on it; the meat pieces should not get overcooked.
- While the poultry meat bakes or grills, prepare the vegetable mix in a large pan with 1-2 tbs oil. After that mix the meat and vegetables. Serve and enjoy crispy salt and pepper chicken immediately!
Salt and Pepper Chicken | Chinese Family Recipe
For the chicken
- 600 g chicken breast, sliced
- ½ tablespoon Chinese five-spice
- ½ tablespoon salt
- 1¼ tablespoon ground black pepper
- 1 cup cornflour
- 2 cups vegetable oil, for frying
For vegetable toppings
- 1 cup mixed (red and green) chillies, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 4 pcs spring onions, sliced
- 1 pc small onion, chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon white pepper
- 1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice
- Dice chicken breasts into even pieces and add salt, Chinese five-spice, and black pepper in a bowl. Toss to coat the breasts thoroughly.
- Then, toss the breast pieces in the cornflour, and be sure to coat them properly.
- Take a skillet or pan and take one cup of oil for frying. Set the temperature on medium heat and wait until the oil is properly heated. Add the coated meat to the pan one piece at a time to ensure the oil does not boil over.
- Fry for 5 to 7 minutes and stir the salt and pepper chicken to get brown on every side. You may need to cook them in 2 batches.
- After frying them properly, take them out from the pan and place them in a paper towel or kitchen roll to soak up the excess oil.
- Place a wok at a high temperature and add 2 tablespoon vegetable oil, garlic, chopped onions, and fry them until they are light brown. Add mixed chillies, spring onions, and stir them to fry for a minute. Then add a pinch of salt, black pepper, and Chinese five-spice and stir to coat the vegetables.
- Then add fried chickens to the vegetables, stir to coat the meat with the vegetable mix, and cook for another one minute or until they are properly mixed.
- Take the salt and pepper chicken out from heat and serve immediately. Enjoy!
Calories have been calculated using an online calculator. Nutritional information offered on Honest Food Talks is for general information purposes and are only rough estimations.
We also would like to recommend Chef Ajay Kumar’s recipe as another alternative recipe that you could try.
Instead of using the Chinese five-spice powder, he uses a mixture of sesame oil, chicken powder, garlic, ginger and sugar. He has made a terrific video recipe that shows his whole cooking process.
Did you enjoy making our classic Chinese household dish recipe? Share with us your joy by tagging us on @honestfoodtalks on Instagram!
Next, check out this iconic Cantonese fried dish recipe called Sweet and Sour chicken balls!