Panda Express Black Pepper Chicken (Copycat)

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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Panda Express Black Pepper Chicken (Copycat)

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!
Yield 4
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Main
Cuisine Chinese
Author Sabrina Snyder


  • 1 pound chicken breast
  • 2 stalks celery , thinly sliced on a bias
  • 1/2 medium white onion , chopped into ¾ - 1 inch squares (look at the photo for reference)
  • 1/4 cup low sodium 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


  • Cut the chicken into one inch bites, and marinade with 2 tablespoons of the soy sauce, ½ tablespoon of the chili vinegar, cornstarch and the ground ginger for 30 minutes.
  • Using two tablespoons of canola oil, heat a wok on high.
  • When oil is hot and ripples as you move the pan, add the chicken.
  • Cook on high heat until browned.
  • Remove from the pan and add in the celery and onions with the remaining two tablespoons of canola oil.
  • Cook the veggies on high for 30-45 seconds.
  • You aren't looking to soften them, just to slightly cook them.
  • Add in the remaining two tablespoons of soy sauce, the remaining ½ tablespoon of chili vinegar, the cooked chicken and the black pepper.
  • Cook for 15 seconds to combine everything and and serve immediately.


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, ½ 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.


Calories: 289kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 72mg | Sodium: 665mg | Potassium: 498mg | Vitamin A: 35IU | Vitamin C: 2.4mg | Calcium: 22mg | Iron: 1mg
Keyword: Panda Express Black Pepper Chicken (Copycat), Panda Express recipes

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!

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the upcoming cookbook: Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients which is being published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.


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    1. It’s in the notes of the recipe:

      ½ cup vinegar with one jalapeno soaked for 30 minutes, then remove the jalapeno and use 1 tablespoon for this recipe.

  1. First time making. Do you take the chicken out of the marinate, or use chicken and marinate when you cook the chicken

  2. Hi Sabrina, I made this recipe and I loved it! But I do have a question. What would the shelf life be on the jalapeño vinegar? I hate to throw so much away each time I make this. Thank you ?

  3. Hi Sabrina, I truly love this recipe. We have had it many times. I have recently decided to try going Whole Food Plant Based.
    I was wondering if this recipe would still work using tofu instead of chicken?
    Also, what changes would you make for it to work?
    Any help would be appreciated because I would really miss having this in my rotation.
    Thanks, Dana

  4. Question: To make the chili vinegar is the jalapeno sliced/diced with seeds removed or just dropped whole in the vinegar ?

  5. Panda’s Black Pepper Chicken was always my order when going there, so imagine my disappointment when they took it off the menu (at least here locally).
    Was excited to try this recipe and am thrilled with the results !!! 5 stars on every count! Easy! Fast! Authentic Flavor!
    The only thing I did different due to lack of having a jalepeno, was I took some juice from a jar of sliced jalapenos along with vinegar to sub for the chilli vinegar. Can’t comment as to how it compares as I have not had it the other way, but it fully met my expectations as a copy recipe for Panda’s dish. So Happy!

  6. This was amazing! The homemade chili vinegar plus some added garlic gave it great heat and flavor! Made the copycat PE mixed veg which helped tone down the heat and the copycat fried rice too, both so good!

  7. I make this recipe CONSTANTLY. I live in Korea, so I use Korean peppers instead of jalapeños for the chili vinegar, and the taste isn’t dramatically different. I also cut up fresh ginger and freeze it in small amounts for this recipe alone. I never get sick of chicken with this recipe!

  8. Made this tonight and it was delicious. More importantly family loved it too!
    Did add 2 teaspoons mince garlic with the veggies, other than that your recipe was spot on perfection! Thank you for sharing this!!

    I felt the 2 tablespoons of cracked pepper was exactly like Panda Express!

  9. Just bought all the ingredients to make this black pepper chicken of yours, sounds delicious.
    Well, I’m gonna start cooking, will let you know what my family says, I’ll keep in touch. Thank you for sharing.

  10. I loved your recipe. It’s better than the Panda Express one! The marinated, browned chicken is so yum that it can be a dish all by itself, eaten as it is, or added to an asian salad.

  11. This is perfect! …though I agree 1-1.5 TEAspoon of freshly grated pepper is more the intention. More would be too much. Thank you!

    Also, why is everyone commenting they can’t find the jalapeno vinegar?! …it’s NOT SOMETHING TO FIND …the recipe is right here on the page!

      1. As mentioned above, Your chili vinegar recipe called for vinegar and jalapeño. I did use jarred jalapeño and it turned out good.

  12. My family loved this! We didn’t have the chilli vinegar & did the jalapeno & vinegar & it still came out great. This is one for the books.

    Thank you for sharing! ???

  13. Can I add extra stars??? This is my hubby’s fav at PE. I found your site and decided to try this fantastic PE Black Pepper Chicken. However, unlike the restaurant, I used chicken breasts (healthier). My guy raved about it. Said it was better than Panda Express! He wants to know when we’re having it again. Thanks Sabrina. I’m also going to make many more of your copycat recipes.

  14. Made this again tonight but this time with boneless, skinless chicken thighs and it was equally as good. I use half the pepper (course freshly ground) and half the oil and it’s so good and probably the best copycat recipe I’ve ever made. I’m not sure I could even tell the difference between this and real Panda side-by-side. One of my new favorites and will now be in regular dinner rotation! Thank you!

  15. With some changes, I found this recipe as yummy as everyone claimed! I do realize different strokes for different folks. This is what worked for us.

    I wanted 1 1/2 lbs chicken. I absolutely recommend the seasoned rice vinegar over the jalapeno in vinegar ( I tried it both ways). When I made this the 1 1/2 T ground black pepper was way too much. I would eyeball it and keep it to between 1-2 tsp. Served over Jasmine rice it is delicious!

  16. I just made this and I agree that it’s even better than the original! The only change I made was to add carrots cut on the bias just like the celery. I used regular soy sauce because that’s all I had but next time will use low
    sodium as the recipe indicated. Thank you for a clearly written, easy to follow recipe.

  17. So good and easy, just like Panda but better – especially because my Panda doesn’t make the black pepper chicken anymore. Thank you!!!

  18. So stinkin’ good!! Love this more than the original. Definitely going into the recipe box under favorites. Thank you!
    Side note: did not have a chance to make my own chili oil, but the rice vinegar was the perfect substitute:)

  19. It is perfect! My boyfriend and I have made it twice this past week. I made my own vinegar as suggested as I could not find it in the store. The first time I tried to substitute flour for the corn starch, but it was more soggy. Finally I found corn starch at the store for the second make and it was perfection! Thank you for this.

  20. This meal had so much flavor. My husband and 7 year old son loved it and had seconds, which rarely happens with my cooking, lol. My 4 year old son was not into it, but he’s especially picky. Maybe next time I will set aside a couple pieces of chicken for him before I add the Freshly ground pepper. I will definitely make this again, I couldn’t believe how juicy and flavorful the chicken was. I followed the recipe exactly, except I couldn’t find chile vinegar anywhere (and during the pandemic, I didn’t want to be hopping from store to store looking for it) so I used rice wine vinegar that I had in my cupboard, still tasted amazing. I served it over rice. I’d like to double the veggies, next time, or add a third vegetable, as it didn’t seem like a lot. I recommend you try this recipe… so delicious.

  21. I love this recipe, the secret jalapeño
    chili vinegar is fantastic.

    Having with dark meat and chicken breast, I veered towards dark meat so it wouldn’t be dry.

    Using a trick from TheWoksOfLife, marinate the sliced white meat in 2-3Tbsp water (massage it in, wait 20 min) then add all the seasonings to the raw chicken from DinnerThenDessert. Cook 60 seconds-2 min in the wok each side then remove chick. Add veggies, soy sauce & more chili vinegar then black pepper & mostly cooked chicken. It’s SO juicy!

    It’s one of/the BEST Cantonese recipes I’ve made!

  22. Having this for the 2nd time this week. It tastes amazing. I found Alessi (brand) Italian/Asian fusion sauce. It is balsamic vinegar and chili pepper sauce. I used it for the chili vinegar. Perfect dish for me as on WW.

  23. This is awesome! Whenever I’m in the mood for Panda Express’s chow mein, I almost always get their black pepper chicken as the entree (something about the chicken’s sauce seems to pair well with the noodles). And what surprised me the most is that you don’t need to add garlic or extra salt on top of all the flavorings. It definitely feels lighter than the original. 🙂

    Also, just to add a tiny little extra kick, I sprinkled a little bit of some multicolored peppercorn mix that has Szechuan peppercorns in it.

  24. When I make this for my mom I have to pull her part out before adding the black pepper. (She is allergic to it.) But it still really good.

  25. This is really good! I’d recommend halving the pepper, using thighs, and slicing them in strips (as opposed to chunks) to get a bit closer to the restaurant version, but this is great too, just a bit different.

  26. I made this dish last night. I couldn’t find chili vinegar so I ended up using hot sesame oil. I have to say this is one of the best dishes I’ve made! And, it was really easy to make. Thank you for sharing this.

  27. I’m a former chef of Panda express for 4 years. Your version of black pepper was actually better than the ones we make. I guess at least it’s a bit healthier but still super yummy. The right kick is on the spot. I actually recommend this to every food-lover person I talk to.

  28. I love finding copy cat recipes from my favorite places to eat and this hands down is the best one I have found so far! It’s easy to make and so delicious. The second time, I did adapt it to my WW lifestyle and it still tasted the same and amazing! Thank you!

  29. I have made this 4x now and finally am remembering to leave a comment! Thank you so much for this delicious recipe. I had Panda’s black peppered chicken for the first time a couple months ago and needed to find a copycat recipe ASAP so that I could make the same dish without feeling bad about spending a ton of money on take-out. ;D

    This recipe is exactly what I was looking for. 🙂 For everyone wondering if the chili vinegar is necessary, I would say it adds a lot of flavor and is very easy to make. I just leave the container of white vinegar + the jalapeno in my fridge and have used it for the last 2 months.

    Thanks again for saving me money. 😉 I can’t wait for dinner tonight!

      1. I had the same question in my mind but thinking about it, I decided that it would need to be sliced at least in half lengthwise so that the juices can infuse with the vinegar and spice it up. Also, I questioned what size jalapenos they do come in a variety of sizes. I happen to have rather large ones in the fridge right now (3-5″) so I decided 1/2 cup vinegar would probably do well with 1/2 of a large jalapeno or a whole small one. Good luck.

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