Salt and pepper chicken in a pan with rice

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This salt and pepper chicken is a beautifully quick and simple dish that you can enjoy as a snack, starter or even as a main meal served with rice. It combines tender chicken breast with a soft spiced batter and it is incredibly moreish!

What is it?

It seems that the origin of salt and pepper chicken is in Taiwan, where this is a popular street-food dish. However, its popularity has spread and you’ll now find it on many Chinese menus around the world. The chicken is fried in a spiced flour mixture and combined with some sauteed red pepper, chilli, diced onion and spring onion (scallion).

The beauty of this dish is its simplicity. Only a few ingredients and less than 10 minutes of cooking time make this a great recipe for a hectic weekday or a lazy weekend evening.

Salt and pepper chicken with rice in a bowl

What seasonings are used?

Five spice is very widely used across all of China and Taiwan and also in some Vietnamese dishes. Its popularity is driven by its ability to add unique flavour to any dish in which it’s used!

The flour for this recipe is flavoured with salt, pepper and Chinese five-spice which transforms a plain chicken breast into a flavoursome and morish dish!

Five spice is a mixture of star anise, cinnamon, Szechuan peppercorn, cloves and fennel seed. If you are buying it especially for this recipe then don’t worry – you will find it useful for a whole host of dishes. Use it as a spice rub on pork or chicken, add it into a batter or make these delicious hoisin duck wraps or healthy salmon tacos.

Can you make it in advance?

This recipe is best made at the time you are going to serve it. The chicken is coated in the spices and flour and then fried in oil to give a flavoursome and slightly crisp coating. The texture won’t be as crisp if eaten later, but if you do have leftovers then you can reheat in the oven – don’t use the microwave or this will give you a very soggy result!

You can also prepare things in advance to make the cooking process quicker. Prepare the vegetables and chicken and keep covered and chilled until ready to use and mix the flour and spices together and keep sealed at room temperature until cooking.

What can you serve it with?

You can serve this chicken as either a starter or a main. It’s great as an appetiser to share – mound on a plate and position in the middle of the table for people to help themselves. You can also serve it as a main course with some egg fried or jasmine rice. As it’s fairly dry it may work best served as part of a ‘platter’ with other dishes as well.

Salt and pepper chicken in a bowl


For this salt and pepper chicken you will need (jump to the printable recipe card for full measurements):

Salt and pepper chicken ingredients
  • skinless chicken breast, sliced – you can also use boneless thigh pieces
  • chinese five spice
  • cornflour / cornstarch
  • salt and pepper
  • oil – for frying (vegetable or canola/rapeseed are both fine)
  • garlic – finely chopped/minced
  • red bell pepper – diced
  • spring onion – sliced
  • red chillis – finely chopped (plus extra for garnish)

How to make it

For more detailed instructions jump to the printable recipe card.

  1. Mix the salt, pepper, five spice and cornflour. Coat the chicken pieces in the mixture
  2. Fry the chicken in the oil for around 6 minutes, until golden. Set aside on a plate lined with kitchen towel.
  3. In a clean pan, add a little more oil and then fry the pepper and onion for 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic, chilli and spring onion and cook for a further minute.
  4. Add the chicken to the pan and toss everything together before serving.
Recipe steps

If you are looking for more great Asian-inspired recipes then check out:

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Salt and pepper chicken in a pan with rice

Salt and Pepper Chicken

  • Author: caroline
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 1 1x


Tender chicken coated in a spiced aromatic flour. This salt and pepper chicken is a perfect starter to share or addition to a Chinese platter! 

The default recipe serves one.


  • 120g / 4.2oz skinless chicken breast, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp chinese 5 spice
  • 1 tbsp cornflour/cornstarch
  • 1 large pinch salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 60ml / 1/4 cup oil + 1 tsp
  • 1/2 red pepper/capsicum, diced
  • 1/4 onion, diced
  • 1 large spring onion/scallion, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped/minced
  • 1 chilli, finely chopped
  • to garnish (optional): extra whole chillis and chopped coriander


  1. First mix together the salt, pepper, five spice and cornflour.
  2. Toss the chicken through the flour mixture, making sure that each piece is coated.
  3. Heat the oil over high heat in a frying pan until hot. You’ll need enough oil to roughly cover the chicken. You can check the oil is hot enough by adding a small pinch of the flour to the oil and if it simmers in the oil it is ready.
  4. Carefully add the chicken a piece at a time to the oil and cook for around 6 minutes until golden, turning halfway through the cooking time. Make sure not to overcrowd the pan and work in batches if needed, so you can make sure each piece cooks without touching other pieces.
  5. When cooked remove the chicken with a slotted spoon and place on a plate covered with kitchen towel to absorb any excess oil.
  6. When all the chicken is cooked set aside the pan with the hot oil to cool. In a clean frying pan add another tsp of oil and place over medium-high heat. Add the onion and pepper and cook for 3-4 minutes until the onion has started to colour a little. Add the garlic, chilli and spring onion and cook for a further minute.

  7. Add the chicken to the pan and toss everything together before serving.


  1. Note that the size of the chilli relates to how hot it is. The smaller it is the more heat it will pack. Therefore if you use a smaller chilli it will turn out hotter so you may want to use a smaller amount.
  2. If you don’t have any 5 spice then you can substitute star anise (the main ingredient in 5 spice) or garam masala – or a mixture of both.
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Fry
  • Cuisine: Chinese


  • Serving Size: 1
  • Calories: 475
  • Fat: 32g
  • Carbohydrates: 16g
  • Protein: 32g

Keywords: chicken, chinese, asian, dinner, starter, spicy

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