Panda Express Black Pepper Chicken (Copycat)

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Panda Express Black Pepper Chicken is marinated ginger soy chicken, in a peppery black pepper sauce with celery and onions that tastes exactly like the Panda Express version you love! And really low in fat and WW points!Panda Express Black Pepper Chicken is marinated ginger soy chicken, in a peppery black pepper sauce with celery and onions that tastes exactly like the Panda Express version you love! And really low in fat and WW points!

This is my first post of the new year and it seems only fitting that it is a Panda Express recipe copycat. Why is that you ask? You guys LOVE them. Every one of the recipes that have been posted here have been among the most popular recipes on the blog. I don’t blame you all, I love them too. In fact while you only see a recipe posted on here once there are recipes I make for us at home and for clients more than once a week. Among those are most of the Panda Express recipes, my Crisp and Juicy Slow Cooker Chicken which we make at home every Sunday night (without exception) and the One Pan Baked Chicken and Rice. Sounds like a lot of chicken right? We have young kids, so plain chicken and baked brown rice are staples in our diets around here.

So back to the task at hand, today’s newest Panda Express Black Pepper Chicken recipe! Let’s add it to the arsenal shall we? And if you would like to take a trip down Chinese food memory lane, here are all the other recipes we have so far so you can build your two or three item plates at home.

I have to say it has been a little while since I had a new recipe on the blog, and in fact the last one was the accompaniment to this meal (the fried rice). While I’ve been gone I have been working on a project for later this year. So while I thought I would use the last week to decompress and relax, I was writing up a storm! Oh and the best part of the holiday? I didn’t cook a single thing for Christmas since we flew home for the occasion and then I took the rest of the weekend off from cooking for good measure ;). The most important thing I realized in the down time? I look forward to these posts and actually felt sort of odd not waking up to all the interaction I have with you guys each day! What I am trying to say is I missed you all!

Its a fresh slate this year, there are a lot of things on the horizon for the blog. Lot’s of new recipes, a few projects I am working on related to blogging and if all goes well I will be launching a hugely innovative feature on this blog at the end of the month. <—I really hope I did not jinx myself here.

So sit back and eat some delicious Panda Express Black Pepper Chicken because it fits into your New Year’s resolution! Panda Express Black Pepper Chicken is marinated ginger soy chicken, in a peppery black pepper sauce with celery and onions that tastes exactly like the Panda Express version you love! And really low in fat and WW points!

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Recipe

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Panda Express Black Pepper Chicken (Copycat)

5
  • Yield: 4
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Course: Main
  • Cuisine: Chinese
Marinated ginger soy chicken, in a peppery black pepper sauce with celery and onions that tastes exactly like the Panda Express version you love! And really low in fat and WW points!

Ingredients

  • 1 pound chicken breast
  • 2 stalks celery thinly sliced on a bias
  • 1/2 medium white onion , chopped into 3/4 - 1 inch squares (look at the photo for reference)
  • 1/4 cup light soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1 tablespoon chili vinegar*
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons coarse ground black pepper (grind fresh, you want the punch of the large, coarse black pepper here. If you use plain black pepper it will completely overpower the dish and ruin it.)
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 4 tablespoons canola oil , divided

Instructions

Note: click on times in the instructions to start a kitchen timer while cooking.

  1. Cut the chicken into one inch bites, and marinade with 2 tablespoons of the soy sauce, 1/2 tablespoon of the chili vinegar, cornstarch and the ground ginger for 30 minutes.
  2. Using two tablespoons of canola oil, heat a wok on high.
  3. When oil is hot and ripples as you move the pan, add the chicken.
  4. Cook on high heat until browned.
  5. Remove from the pan and add in the celery and onions with the remaining two tablespoons of canola oil.
  6. Cook the veggies on high for 30-45 seconds.
  7. You aren't looking to soften them, just to slightly cook them.
  8. Add in the remaining two tablespoons of soy sauce, the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of chili vinegar, the cooked chicken and the black pepper.
  9. Cook for 15 seconds to combine everything and and serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

Recipe adapted from Mye's Kitchen

*I bought this to stay authentic to Mye's recipe on the first pass, after this I just made my own, 1/2 cup vinegar with one jalapeno soaked for 30 minutes, then remove the jalapeno and use 1 tablespoon for this recipe. I go through the vinegar quickly as we make this recipe quite frequently.

Nutrition Information

Yield: 4 , Amount per serving: calories

All images and text © for Dinner, then Dessert, Inc.

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Panda Express Black Pepper Chicken is marinated ginger soy chicken, in a peppery black pepper sauce with celery and onions that tastes exactly like the Panda Express version you love! And really low in fat and WW points!

Panda Express Black Pepper Chicken is marinated ginger soy chicken, in a peppery black pepper sauce with celery and onions that tastes exactly like the Panda Express version you love! And really low in fat and WW points!
Panda Express Black Pepper Chicken is marinated ginger soy chicken, in a peppery black pepper sauce with celery and onions that tastes exactly like the Panda Express version you love! And really low in fat and WW points!

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Comments

    1. Oh you’ll love it, it is peppery and savory and SO GOOD! I think I sort of envy you never having been to PE, you don’t have an addiction to it haha.

      1. i love your recipes they are great. i make the black paper chicken a lot it taste just like pandas thanks for the great recipes 🙂

        1. Hi Pearl, Thanks so much for catching that! I added it in the directions. It is actually half in the marinade and half just before serving. Sorry for the confusion!

  1. This is one of my favorite Panda Express recipes- and I low that is is one of the healthier menu options. I’ll have to check out your others recipes so we can make it a Panda night at home!

  2. We don’t have a Panda Express anywhere around here at all. These recipes give folks like me that aren’t near one the opportunity to try the food.

    1. Depends on the recipe to be honest. Sometimes I literally scour the internet first because you would be surprised how often the actual restaurant gives either the whole recipe away or parts of it. I find cooking segments on talk shows are a place restaurants give away info they may not otherwise do it. Then I look at the descriptions on the menus and search for a similar recipe on the web. Lastly sometimes if you look at other copycat recipes you’ll see in the comment sections that people who used to work in the restaurants will tell you the techniques. After all that, I sit down with the actual restaurant dish and taste and deconstruct with my cheat sheet I have assembled from all my research. Then I shop (usually three times the ingredients for the recipe since I will be testing it multiple times) and come home and experiment. Until I get the flavors I cook in 1/4 recipe quantities. So yeah, as simple as that! 🙂

      1. Hi is their anything you can substitute for the chili vinegar? I couldn’t find anything but sweet chili sauce in any of my grocery stores I shop at.

        Thank you

        1. To get the authentic flavor I would use the note in there about adding the pepper to some vinegar and making your own. You can always substitute a normal vinegar but the unique Panda flavor won’t translate as well. 🙂

    1. Aww thanks Chrisy! If there is anyone who earned a break over the holidays more than me it was you! 🙂 So glad we both got to recharge a bit.

  3. I’ve been enjoying your Panda Express copycat recipes and this looks great as well! I can’t wait to try it out. The fact that it’s lower in fat is awesome too. 🙂

  4. Oooh! I’ll need to try this. The Black Pepper chicken and honey chicken are my favorites when I go to Panda Express. They can be quite pricey so I look forward to trying this.

  5. Haha! I am reading the comments and I have to confess that I have never been to PE either, but I LOVE these recipes. So perfect. Family friendly. We’ve got little kids, too, so anything chicken and rice goes over really well!

    1. I think I may have a skewed idea of how popular it is since I am from Los Angeles and that is where Panda Express is from. Also I grew up eating at Panda Inn as a kid which was the first restaurant they ever opened and the restaurant that inspired Panda Express.

  6. I’m not sure if we have Panda Express in Canada. I don’t think so. I’ve never been to one but every time I see copycat recipes from them it makes me want to go there. Since I can’t this is a fabulous way to make it at home. I love the look of this recipe. We would gobble it up in no time. Plus it’s just so pretty.

    1. Thanks Kim! I’m sure if they aren’t there they will be soon enough, I feel like they are growing quickly! When we moved to DC there was only one 15 miles away. By the time we left 3 years later there was a half dozen of them!

  7. Thanks for this recipe!! It was a huge hit. I thought it was a bit different in tase from Panda, but delicious in its own way!! 3 of us devoured the whole thing (made probably 4 good-sized portions)!! We visit SoCal often from Chicago, and I was surprised this is NOT on the menu of many West Coast Pandas!! Followed directions exactly, made homemade chili vinegar, will absolutely be making this often!! 5 stars (recipe rating feature not wirking).

    1. Betsy, thank you so much for making it and coming back to tell me how it tasted! Can you tell me how it was different? Would love to troubleshoot (even though you still enjoyed it). Thanks so much also for the heads up on the star feature, I will reach out to my tech support on that.

  8. This looks good, but the picture doesn’t look like PE. It seems that PE has some kind of glaze on it? I still plan on trying it to taste compare. BPC is my absolute favorite dish from there.

    1. Hi Wendy! When I was working on this recipe I bought a bunch from Panda (purely for scientific reasons of course and not because it is so delicious) to make sure the flavors were the same. I don’t remember a glaze to the chicken, but I would love to hear your thoughts when you try it. It is definitely one of my favorite dishes too… along with mushroom chicken and orange chicken.

        1. Okay so I saw your link and I thought I was going totally crazy. It is one of my favorites and for some reason I have no memory of that sauciness. I also order the mushroom chicken and I know that one is definitely saucy but I don’t remember it with this one. So I’ve resolved that in the interest of the recipe and purely for scientific reasons I will have to go order some black pepper chicken this week. Haha. I hope you enjoy the recipe!

  9. This was delicious. However, I only used white wine vinegar (I am pregnant and can’t have spicy food. Sad face.) and 2 Tbsp of cornstarch made the sauce WAY too thick. 2 heaping teaspoons mixed in 2 Tbsp cold water should do the trick! Also, my hubby HATES celery. A delicious substitute is fresh green beans!

  10. This looks amazing, I’m definitely going to try it soon! We don’t have PE in northern New England, but I’ve been eating there for about 20 years when I travel. The ONLY thing I’ve ever tried is the Black Pepper Chicken, and when I travel, I look for a PE anywhere near my travels so that I can get my fix. Yes, I’m addicted 🙂 One question about making chili vinegar, do you use white or cider vinegar? I’ve pickled some jalapenos with cider vinegar, but there’s definitely a different taste. Thanks for taking on the very difficult task of eating so much Black Pepper Chicken!

    1. I use white, cider would change the flavor. Since there are so few ingredients it would make it taste different than you remember. Also, I took one for the team working on this recipe, hard job I tell you, eating all that PE chicken, haha. 😉

  11. Hi Sabrina, thanks so much for sharing this recipe! I t is spot on!! Black Pepper Chicken from Panda is my sons favorite and he can testify to how spot on this recipe is in comparison to the Panda recipe. I will certainly be making this again!!

  12. I winged it the first time I made it. Had gone to PE for pepper chicken and they were out (I nearly cried as it is one of my favorite things). So the next day I threw a version together. It was not bad, but not the same. Am shopping tomorrow and plan on trying your version. Thanks!!!

  13. I make this dish once a week, I love it so much! It tastes JUST like Panda’s black pepper chicken. I love the crunchy vegetables so I add more. Also, I don’t use cornstarch ever, because of GMO concerns, so arrowroot powder works really well, maybe even better, because I find arrowroot powder to be smoother, more silky than cornstarch. Thank you for sharing this recipe!

  14. I made this last night and it was amazing. I would recommend you cut the pepper back a little. I love spice and black pepper but it was almost too much and I had hand ground course pepper. I did follow the instructions for making the chili vinegar. I used brown rice wine vinegar and a large Jalapeno. Which I left in the vinegar so they can hang out together still. I made 1 and 1/3 pounds of meat so you have some idea why you would need to cut back on the pepper a bit since it was still a tad too much even with a larger portion of meat. I served it with white rice which was great served plain to cleanse the pallet after eating a bit of the spicy chicken. I will be making this one regularly. I really enjoyed it. Thanks so much for sharing.

    1. YAY! So glad you enjoyed it even though it is a bit more work than most recipes with the homemade chili vinegar. The pepper is YES so strong, but I tried to keep it authentic. I sometimes even use half the black pepper. I mean even in the photos it looks like black pepper invaded! Ha! Thanks for coming back and letting me know how it turned out!

  15. Hi, we tried your recipe the other night, it is really good. We have made it several times now, adding a different little twist each time. The other night we added mushrooms, the recipe turned out absolutely wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing these.

  16. I made this recipe tonight. Black pepper chicken is my favorite dish at Panda Express and I’d been thinking about making it all day with the chicken thighs in our fridge. I realized after starting the recipe, we were out of onions and we did not have chili vinegar, but it still turned out FABULOUS. Its definitely a recipe you can tweak here and there, and its still delicious. Next time, I’ll make sure to add onions and chili vinegar. Thanks so much for the recipe!

  17. This is one of my favorite recipes! Panda’s Black Pepper Chicken is one of my favorite dishes from that restaurant, and I honestly think this recipe is even better! I make it regularly, along with fried rice or sautéed Asian veggies, topped with a splash of sesame oil (just a splash, it goes a long way!). The recipe is great as is, although after making it several times, I now reduce the cornstarch just a bit. Last night I added a bag of frozen petite green beans to get more veggies in our meal. It was so good. I just added a bit more soy sauce and spices in the last step, but honestly I’m not sure I needed to. Next time, I’ll taste it first. Btw, I think the secret to this dishes yumminess is the chili vinegar. The first time I made this dish, I put white vinegar in a mason jar with large jalepeno pepper and let it sit for about 30 minutes, simply because I needed to make dinner. The jalepeno is still in there, but it doesn’t make the dish too hot and spicy. DO NOT leave out the chili vinegar! It makes the meal.

    1. Your comment just totally made my day! Knowing that you love this dish so much you make it regularly, makes me smile! Such great suggestions on adding more veggies in as well and you’re right about the chili vinegar!! It really does make the dish!

    1. You can but because the the jalapeño is soaking in it, the apple flavor might be a bit more pronounced. If you decide to try, I’d love for you to let me know what you thought. Thanks!

  18. I make this all the time! We absolutely love it. So much more cost effective than feeding teenage boys at Panda. It’s very easy and very authentic to Panda Express. The only change I make is that I add the cornstarch to the soy sauce mix at the end, not in the marinade. That is how restaurants do it to get that glaze at the end. DO NOT leave out the chili vinegar. It’s what makes the recipe; otherwise it will just taste like a basic stir fry. Surprisingly, it doesn’t add much heat. But it makes the dish, for sure. I actually left the pepper in my jar of vinegar. Not on purpose, but when I used it the second time, and it wasn’t too hot, I’ve just left it in there. If I’m wanting to get extra veggies in, I add extra celery and sugar snap peas or green beans. Don’t leave out the celery, it’s part of the authentic flavor, too. If I add d yes veggies, I double the soy mixture at the end. Ty’s is for such a great recipe!

  19. Just cooked this tonight and the chicken was cut into one inch “cubes” so the flavour didn’t really penetrate through it all. I def recommend cutting them into thin strips like Panda does and like in the photo! I didn’t have normal vinegar so I used unseasoned rice vinegar and instead of jalapeno, I only had thai green chilis. It worked just as well! Thanks so much for this delicious recipe, it was perfect~

  20. Delicious! I followed the directions and ingredients mostly as described and it turned out great. I did marinate the chicken longer (2 hrs) and also steeped the chili vinegar longer (2 hrs). Reading the reviews I backed off the pepper by 1/4 tbs and the taste is fantastic, but I think using the recipe amount of pepper would be just fine too. I also added the second Tbs of corn starch at the end of the cooking with the remaining soy sauce, pepper, and chili vinegar.My question would be how do I adjust the recipe to get the same taste but for a double size amount? Have you experimented with larger amounts? As for the taste I think your recipe matches the taste of the PE BPC with great precision and flavor! And it also looks great on the plate! I will be making this recipe regularly now. Thank you.

    Rating: 5
    1. I’m so happy to hear you love it so much! If you want to make a larger batch, I would probably do 1 1/2 times the pepper and double everything else otherwise the pepper might be a bit overpowering.

  21. Overall, very tasty!! The sauce on ours turned out to be a slightly darker for some reason. We lowered the pepper by 1/4 of a tablespoon but it was still pretty peppery. We will only put in 3/4 of a tablespoon of pepper next time. Also, we made the homemade chili vinegar which turned out great. Warning though, even after three hand washes, I still burned my eye when I itched it. Washed my hands two more times and the dishes yet still managed to burn my other eye lol. Just be careful! Will be making again, with the pepper adjustment. 🙂

    Rating: 4
  22. My husband and I made this tonight. I added a little extra black pepper so a bit spicy. Can’t wait to try more of your recipes.

    Rating: 5
  23. I just made this! It is super easy, and if you need it to be gluten-free, you just change out the soy sauce for either gluten free tamari or gluten free soy sauce. I had some jalapeno balsamic so I used that, I wish I had seen your note about making your own with the white vinegar because balsamic tends to be sweet. I also had fresh ginger on hand so I decided to use that as well. Mine didn’t come out as saucy or pretty as yours, but it taste really good, so whatever!

    Rating: 4
  24. Looking online, many chili vinegar recipes call for the mixture to almost boil then store it. Am I correct that to make ‘your’ chili vinegar I just soak a sliced jalapeno in white vinegar, no heat or boiling needed?

  25. What a great copycat!!! We made it tonight for dinner and enjoyed it greatly! We are on the Keto diet so I used 1tsp of glucomannan in the place of the cornstarch to stay no carb. It tasted great and hit the spot! We’ll be making this one very often!

    Rating: 5
    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Sorry I don’t have the nutritional facts for recipes on the site but I know there are a lot of free resources on the internet from when I’ve cooked for clients with low calorie diets.

  26. This is the first post I have ever done. I usually stay away from this but I am compelled to let you know I tried your Black Pepper Chicken recipe tonight. First off, this used to be our favorite chicken at Panda Express but seven years ago I became gluten free so that ended our lunch out at Panda Express. I got excited when I found your recipe and just substituted Tamari for soy sauce and arrowroot for the corn starch. I also added a sliced carrot for some color. Well it turned out awesome except for the amount of pepper. It really is soooo much more peppery than Pandas’. I will make it many more times but would cut the pepper in half! And we love pepper.  It actually made us break a sweat!  But sooo good!

  27. I just made this with coconut aminos and pickled jalapeño juice and it is amazing!! Super quick and yummy!! Glad i made enough for leftovers!

  28. I think, maybe there is an error in your recipe? Under Instructions it says, 1. marinade with 2 tablespoons of the soy sauce. Then under 8. it says “Add in the remaining two tablespoons of soy sauce.” So should 1. say use all but two tablespoons of soy sauce?This wasn’t just Good it was awesome!!

    Rating: 5
    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

      The recipe calls for 1/4 cup of soy sauce total and I wanted to break down the measurement for each of the steps as to be clear. Hope this clears up any confusion. 🙂

  29. Just fixed this for dinner – My taste buds were singing!! I cut the pepper in half as I didn’t have fresh ground so used coarse ground pepper instead. Easy, fast and so delicious.

    Rating: 5
  30. Excelent!!! I made it for my wife and 4 kids and they all loved it! I had to substitute a few ingredients but it still tasted as good or better than Panda Express. I served it over brown rice .

    Rating: 5
  31. I love Black pepper chicken. I’m little bit confuse ingredients said ginger powder but instructions said ground ginger. which is the best ? I’ll try to make tonight. Thank you!