That Spicy Chick

Spicy Pepper Chicken

This Spicy Pepper Chicken is quick and easy to make, and full of the BEST spicy peppery flavors! Tender chicken pieces get tossed with aromatics, onion, red bell pepper, and dried red chilies in a mouthwatering sauce infused with black pepper and ground Sichuan red peppercorns.

Top view of bowl with a chicken, bell pepper, and onion stir-fry.

Six peppers.

That’s how many types of peppers there are in this tasty and addictive Spicy Pepper Chicken stir-fry!

We have:

  • Ground white pepper flavoring the chicken in the marinade.
  • Ground Sichuan red peppercorns and freshly cracked black pepper in the mouthwatering spicy and sweet sauce.
  • Red bell pepper to add some crunch.
  • Chopped fresh red chilies for fiery hot notes!
  • And crispy Thai dried red chilies for heat, and also because they add a pretty touch!

This Spicy Pepper Chicken is a simple and humble stir-fry. But let me tell you, it packs a punch and is so incredibly flavorful! Pair it with some steamed rice and maybe a side of steamed or stir-fried Asian greens, and you’ll have yourself a delicious homecooked Chinese meal!

Front view of bowl with Chinese chicken stir-fry and two bowls with rice behind.

Why This Recipe Works

  • It’s a quick and easy stir-fry that’s great for a main dish on any given weeknight.
  • Using Sichuan red peppercorns in addition to freshly cracked black pepper infuses the dish with a wonderful numbing and floral peppery flavor.
  • Marinating the chicken thighs briefly and cooking them first keeps them juicy and tender during the stir-fry.
  • The stir-fry sauce is perfectly balanced with the right amount of salty, sweet, and spicy notes with just a hint of tang.
  • It’s a one wok wonder AND ready in just 30 minutes. This means less clean up and food getting into your hungry belly pronto!

Guys, this dish is simple and straightforward to make. But it’s really just wonderful all around – big on flavor, low in effort, and simply sooo delicious. 😋 I think you guys are going to love it!

Ingredients

Fresh ingredients for Spicy Pepper Chicken on a wooden board.
Ingredients for Spicy Pepper Chicken Stir-fry
  • Marinated Chicken: I used boneless and skinless chicken thighs here because I love how juicy and tender they are once cooked. But boneless and skinless breasts would work too if you prefer to use them instead. I cut the thighs into bite-sized pieces and tossed them in a simple marinade made with a grated garlic clove, ground white pepper, low sodium light soy sauce, corn starch, and sesame oil.
  • Veggies: I kept it simple and used just onion and red bell pepper. But feel free to sub in or add any stir-fry friendly veggies you like. Diced celery, snap peas, carrots, broccoli, etc. would all taste great.
  • Red Chilies: Feel free to use as many or as few as you like based on your heat level preference. You’re welcome to deseed them to make the dish milder, or omit them completely.
  • Oil: I use canola oil, but any other neutral flavored cooking oil with a high smoke point will work.
Stir-fry sauce ingredients for Spicy Pepper Chicken, and sauce in a glass measuring cup with a spoon.
Stir-fry sauce ingredients for Spicy Pepper Chicken
  • Sichuan Red Peppercorns (花椒 – huājiāo): These give the dish its addictive spicy numbing flavor! They’re also known as prickly ash. You can try finding them in Chinese or Asian supermarkets, or order them online. We’ll be toasting them first to bring out their flavors, then grinding them into a fine powder.
  • Shao Xing Rice Wine: This is a fragrant Chinese cooking wine. You can find in Asian supermarkets (or online). If unavailable, use dry sherry instead.
  • Dark Soy Sauce: This is a Chinese dark soy sauce, and it is used for color. If you don’t have it on hand, simply use additional low sodium light soy sauce in its place.
  • Chinkiang Vinegar: This is a Chinese black vinegar. It should be available at Asian or Chinese supermarkets. Substitute with half balsamic vinegar and half white vinegar if you can’t find it.
Top view of small bowl with Sichuan red peppercorns.
Sichuan Red Peppercorns (花椒 – huājiāo)

Full ingredient list and amounts are in the recipe card below.

How to Make Spicy Pepper Chicken

Prep:

  1. Marinate the chicken: Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces, then add to a bowl along with the rest of the marinade ingredients and toss until combined well.
  2. Prepare fresh ingredients: Dice the onion and bell pepper. Mince the garlic, roughly chop the ginger, and chop the chilies and spring onion, separating the white from the green parts. Destem the Thai dried red chilies.
  3. Make the sauce: Toast the Sichuan red peppercorns in a dry wok until fragrant, making sure to shake the pan often so that they don’t burn. Then transfer to a mortar and pestle (or mini blender) and pound into a fine powder. Add the ground Sichuan red peppercorns to a measuring cup or small bowl, followed by the rest of the sauce ingredients. Mix with a spoon until combined well and set aside.

For the Spicy Pepper Chicken:

Process steps to make Spicy Pepper Chicken.
  1. Fry the red chilies: In a bit of oil until crisp and fragrant. Then transfer them to a paper towel lined plate to drain.
  2. Cook the chicken: Add more oil to the wok, then cook the marinated chicken for a few minutes, until no longer pink and cooked through. Transfer the chicken to a clean bowl.
  3. Stir-fry the onion and aromatics: Add the remaining oil to the wok, then stir-fry the onion, spring onion whites, and ginger and for a minute. Then add the garlic and chilies and stir-fry everything for few more seconds until fragrant.
  4. Add the bell pepper, chicken, and sauce: Add the bell pepper and Thai dried red chilies and toss briefly to combine. Then add the chicken and sauce and stir-fry continuously for about a minute, until everything is coated well in the sauce and it starts to thicken.
  5. Toss through spring onion greens: Add the spring onion and toss briefly to combine, then switch off the heat.
  6. Serve: Transfer to a serving bowl/dish and garnish with the remaining spring onion greens. Serve immediately with warm steamed rice!

Full detailed instructions are in the recipe card below.

Top view of bowl with a chicken, bell pepper, and onion stir-fry. Two bowls with steamed rice behind.

Cook’s Tips

  • Prep everything ready before you start cooking. As with most stir-fries, this one goes by very fast. It’s best to have everything ready to go before you switch on the stove.
  • Use good quality Sichuan red peppercorns. The fresher they are, the better flavor they will infuse the dish with.
  • Cut the bell pepper and onion approximately the same size as the chicken. This promotes even cooking.
Spoon holding up a bite of chicken, bell pepper, and onion stir-fry.

FAQs

What can I use instead of Sichuan red peppercorns?

If you are not a fan of the numbing spicy flavor that is intrinsic to Sichuan red peppercorns, or if they’re not easy to track down, you can use more freshly cracked black pepper and make this a black pepper chicken stir-fry instead.

Can I make this gluten-free?

Use a gluten free oyster sauce, soy sauces, and dry sherry instead of the Shao Xing rice wine. For the Chinkiang vinegar, substitute with 1 TSP balsamic vinegar and 1 TSP rice vinegar (or white vinegar).

Can I use a different protein?

Sliced pork tenderloin or loin, or beef flank or skirt steak would work well. You could also make it with some crispy pan-fried tofu cubes if you want to make this vegetarian/vegan.

Can I make it vegetarian/vegan?

Use pan-fried tofu cubes for the protein. Cut a large block of firm or extra firm tofu (350-400 grams) into cubes. Then season with salt and pepper. Pan-fry in a bit of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until crisp and golden on all sides. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate to drain. Follow the rest of the instructions for the recipe, and add the crispy tofu cubes into the wok when you would add the cooked chicken back in.

Spoon holding up a bite of chicken, bell pepper, and onion, and close-up of Chinese chicken pieces. Text overlay " Spicy Pepper Chicken Stir-fry".

More Easy Weeknight Stir-fries


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Print
Top view of bowl with a chicken, bell pepper, and onion stir-fry.

Spicy Pepper Chicken

This Spicy Pepper Chicken is quick and easy to make, and full of the BEST spicy peppery flavors. Juicy and tender chicken pieces get tossed in a mouthwatering sauce infused with freshly cracked black pepper and ground Sichuan red peppercorns. 

  • Author: Lavina
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 15
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stir-fry
  • Cuisine: Chinese
Scale

Ingredients

For the Chicken Marinade:

  • 400 grams (14 ounces) Chicken Thighs or Breasts, boneless, skinless – cleaned and pat-dried, excess fat trimmed, and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 Garlic clove – grated
  • ½ TSP ground White Pepper
  • 2 TSP Low Sodium Light Soy Sauce
  • 2 TSP Corn Starch
  • 1 TSP Sesame Oil

For the Sauce:

For the Spicy Pepper Chicken Stir-fry:

  • 1 Yellow Onion – diced
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper – cored, deseeded, diced
  • 10 Garlic cloves – minced
  • 2-inch knob of Ginger – thinly sliced into rounds, then roughly chopped
  • 412 Red Chilies, to taste (Bird’s eye preferred, but Holland or any other small hot chilies will work)
  • 2 Spring Onion – chopped, white and green parts separated
  • 410 Thai Dried Red Chilies, to taste
  • 3 TBLS Canola Oil (or any other neutral flavored cooking oil with a high smoke point)

Instructions

Prep:

  1. Marinate the chicken: Clean and trim off any excess fat from the chicken thighs. Then cut into bite-sized pieces and add to a medium sized mixing bowl. Add the grated garlic, ground white pepper, low sodium light soy sauce, corn starch, and sesame oil. Mix until combined well, then set aside while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Prepare fresh ingredients: Dice the onion and bell pepper. Mince the garlic, roughly chop the ginger, and chop the red chilies and spring onion, separating the white from the green parts. Destem the Thai dried red chilies.
  3. Make the sauce: Toast the Sichuan red peppercorns in a dry wok until fragrant, making sure to shake the pan often so that they don’t burn. Then transfer to a mortar and pestle (or mini blender) and pound into a fine powder. Add 1 TBLS of the Sichuan red peppercorns to a measuring cup or small bowl, followed by the freshly cracked black pepper, corn starch, oyster sauce, Shao Xing rice wine, low sodium light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, chinkiang vinegar, light brown sugar, sesame oil, and water. Mix with a spoon until combined well and set aside.

For the Spicy Pepper Chicken:

  1. Fry the red chilies: Heat ½ tablespoon of canola oil in a large wok over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the Thai dried red chilies and sauté for 30-40 seconds, until crisp and fragrant. Use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a paper towel lined plate to drain. (No need to the wipe out the wok.)
  2. Cook the chicken: Add 1.5 tablespoons of oil to the wok and heat over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the chicken and spread out the pieces immediately around the wok. Cook undisturbed for a minute, then stir-fry for another minute until the chicken has cooked through. Transfer to a clean bowl using a slotted spoon.
  3. Stir-fry the onion and aromatics: Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the wok and heat over medium-high heat. Add the onion, spring onion whites, and ginger and stir-fry for a minute, until the onion starts to soften. Next, add the garlic and chilies and stir-fry for 30 seconds until fragrant.
  4. Add the bell pepper, chicken, and sauce: Add the bell pepper and Thai dried red chilies and toss to combine. Then add the chicken and pour in the sauce. Stir-fry continuously for about a minute, until everything is coated well in the sauce and it starts to thicken.
  5. Toss through spring onion greens: Stir in most of the spring onion greens (reserve some for garnish), then switch off the heat.
  6. To Serve: Transfer to a serving bowl/dish and garnish with the remaining spring onion greens. Serve immediately with warm steamed rice.

Notes

Ingredient Notes, Cook’s Tips, and FAQs

  1. Sichuan Red Peppercorns (花椒 – huājiāo): These give the dish it’s addictive spicy numbing flavor. It’s also known as prickly ash. It is available in Chinese or Asian supermarkets, or you can order it online. Use good quality Sichuan red peppercorns. The fresher they are, the better flavor they will infuse the dish with. If you are not a fan of the numbing spicy flavor that they have, you can use more freshly cracked black pepper and make this a black pepper chicken stir-fry instead.
  2. Chinese ingredients for the sauce: Shao Xing rice wine, dark soy sauce, and chinkiang vinegar can all be found at Asian or Chinese supermarkets or online. You can substitute dry sherry for the Shao Xing rice wine, low sodium light soy sauce for the dark soy sauce, and half balsamic vinegar and half white vinegar for chinkiang vinegar if needed.
  3. Chilies: Use as many or as few as you like based on your heat level preference. Or deseed them to make the dish milder, or omit them completely.
  4. Veggies: Feel free to sub in or add any stir-fry friendly veggies you like. Diced celery, snap peas, carrots, broccoli, etc. would all taste great.
  5. Cut the bell pepper and onion approximately the same size as the chicken. This promotes even cooking.
  6. Can I make this gluten-free? Use a gluten free oyster sauce, soy sauces, and dry sherry instead of the Shao Xing rice wine. For the chinkiang vinegar, substitute with 1 TSP balsamic vinegar and 1 TSP rice vinegar (or white vinegar).
  7. Can I use a different protein? Sliced pork tenderloin or loin, or beef flank or skirt steak would work well. You could also make this with some crispy pan-fried tofu cubes if you want to make it vegetarian/vegan.
  8. To make it vegetarian/vegan: Use pan-fried tofu cubes for the protein. Cut a large block of firm or extra firm tofu (350-400 grams) into cubes. Then season with salt and pepper. Pan-fry in a bit of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until crisp and golden on all sides. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate to drain. Follow the rest of the instructions for the recipe, and add the crispy tofu cubes into the wok when you would add the cooked chicken back in.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/4 of recipe
  • Calories: 368
  • Sugar: 10.5g
  • Sodium: 944.4mg
  • Fat: 19.3g
  • Saturated Fat: 2.5g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 15.3g
  • Trans Fat: 0.1g
  • Carbohydrates: 27.2g
  • Fiber: 4.4g
  • Protein: 24.7g
  • Cholesterol: 94mg

The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary based on several factors. It should only be used as a general guideline. For more information, please see our Disclosure.

This post may contain affiliate links. We are a part of the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you) by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary based on several factors. It should only be used as a general guideline. For more information, please see our Disclosure.

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