Copycat Instant Pot Panda Express Black Pepper Chicken Recipe

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Black Pepper Chicken is one of the most raved about fast Chinese takeout recipes. In fact, Low-Calorie Panda Express Black Pepper Chicken is a family favorite. This recipe is my homemade copycat Panda Express recipe.

Whether you’re craving some Asian food or are just looking to prepare a special something for guests, your Instant Pot has you covered. This copycat recipe will provide that perfect Panda Express chicken you know and love.

Not only does it take away a lot of cooking effort you have to put in, but it also means less mess, and less time you’ll need to clean up after you’re done.

Our favorite way to serve pepper chicken is with our Instant Pot rice. So don't wait, and make sure to try this copy cat recipe for Chinese chicken recipe today.

black pepper chicken

Black Pepper Chicken Recipe

And here’s a quick and easy Asian chicken recipe you can try- it’s versatile, delicious and has just the right balance of flavors that everyone will love.

You also don’t need a huge list of fancy ingredients to nail this one. The black pepper sauce compliments the chicken perfectly.

instant pot black pepper chicken in white bowl

Can I Use a Store Bought Sauce Instead?

If you’re looking to cut down on the cooking and prep time, you can definitely use a store-bought sauce that has just the right taste and flavors as per your personal preference.

But with just 10 minutes of prep time, you don’t really need to put in that much effort, to be honest. You will get a similar flavor to the famous Panda Express sauce that can't be beaten.

This recipe is on the panda express gluten-free menu! With a few changes in ingredients, you can make this a keto Panda Express dish as well.

Panda Express Copycat Recipes

Can I Switch to Another Meat for Black Pepper Chicken?

If you don’t have chicken, or are just looking to experiment this recipe with another meat- say beef, you could do that too. Just keep in mind that the cooking time will obviously be different.

If you’re a vegetarian, you could also try making this with your favorite veggies (think bell peppers, cauliflower, carrots, potatoes or baby corn).

Remember that veggies don’t need as much cooking as meats do. Add them a little later to your instant pot, so that they don’t overcook and turn all mushy- they should ideally retain that crunchiness to them. When slicing celery, cut them diagonally. That way, you’ll get more of a crunchy bite out of them! 

Tofu can be another excellent protein option to consider for this recipe. A good idea is to cut tofu into cubes and then grill the tofu cubes first and then add it into the mix. 

black pepper chicken

Serving Suggestions For Fried Black Pepper Chicken

Depending on your personal preference, you can have this black pepper chicken dry and serve it as an appetizer, or add a little more slurry to it, making it a sort of a gravy that you can serve with steamed rice, over boiled noodles or even with some flatbread! 

This replica recipe can be an excellent one to try out when you’re craving for that Chinese food recipe with chicken for takeout, but still don’t want to go ahead and order.

Make it once and you’ll be surprised at how incredibly easy it is, and how easily it could just become your family’s next favorite home cooked meal.

Oh and let’s not forget how this one has zero MSG and other additives that usually come along with most of your takeouts. 

Plus, it can be a great way to ensure that you’re right on track with your frugal lifestyle.

How to Clean Instant Pot Inner Pot

Sprinkle some Bar Keepers Friend in the bottom of the pot, add a touch of water, and give it a scrub with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. This simple combination really does work wonders!

Instant Pot Chicken Recipes like Black Pepper Chicken

There are many Instant Pot Chicken recipes, and we have several right here on A Pressure Cooker. Pressure cooker chicken recipes are easy to make, inexpensive, and kid-friendly chicken recipes.

Is Panda Express Healthy

Panda Express does have some healthy options, but you will find a lot of their menu can contain sugary and high carb recipes.

You can easily find Panda Express keto options to enjoy if you are looking for lower carb options. Just like this chicken pepper stir fry, you can change out the ingredients to fit your dietary needs. That is a perk of making food at home.

Favorite Instant Pot Chicken Recipes

Want more recipes to try out that feature chicken in your pressure cooker. Here are some popular recipes on my blog.

Chicken with peppers and onions is another favorite flavor combination used in our fajita soup recipe.

Common Questions

What is in Panda Express black pepper chicken?

Panda Express's black pepper chicken is full of onions, celery, chicken, and a delicious saucy black pepper sauce. This is a very popular Chinese chicken option.

Does Panda Express use white meat chicken?

Typically Panda Express uses a lot more of white meat over dark meat in their recipes. You might find a few of their options have some dark meat, but overall white chicken is used.

How to make black pepper sauce?

For cooking the black pepper sauce in the Instant Pot you will cook as directed. Then at the end of cooking. You will flip the pot to saute and add in a cornstarch slurry.

This is going to help thicken up the sauce to coat the chicken and vegetables. An Asian black chicken that pairs great with Panda Express noodles or rice.

Can you pressure cook chicken too long?

You can pressure cook chicken too long in the Instant Pot just as you would in any other method. Try to have even cut chicken to try and ensure an even cook.

What is the white stuff coming out of my chicken?

The white stuff that comes out of the chicken as it cooks is water and protein. This is a natural occurrence and happens with any cooking method you opt to cook your chicken with.

Variations To Black Pepper Chicken and Peppers Recipe

  • Swap out some of the vegetables added into the chicken dish. Red peppers, green peppers, mushrooms, etc.
  • You can use arrowroot and water to replace cornstarch and water for thickening the sauce if you need. Both work at making the sauce become thick and stick to the chicken.
  • Feel free to use boneless chicken thighs, breasts, or even tenderloins to chop up and use. Or swap to a different cut of meat if you want.
  • You can use vegetable stock to replace chicken stock if you would like.
  • Don't skip making the homemade sauce - it makes the best Chinese chicken dish.
  • If you have a larger Instant Pot you can easily double the recipe and serve a larger crowd.
  • Instead of white rice, pair with Chinese rice, quinoa, etc.

Restaurant Recipe at Home

Do you love making restaurant copy-cat recipes at home? It's so much fun (and more budget-friendly) to make all those Olive Garden and Chinese restaurant meals at home.

We especially love chicken Chinese food like mushroom chicken and Panda Express chow mein. Our broccoli beef and then, of course, this black pepper sauce Chinese recipe.


Yield: 4 servings

Black Pepper Chicken

panda express black pepper chicken in white bowl

Easy Black Pepper Chicken is a tasty chicken dinner that is a quick dinner recipe with little prep. Enjoy this flavorful meal with a side salad.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 9 minutes
Additional Time 10 minutes
Total Time 29 minutes


    1. Using a large bowl, whisk together all sauce ingredients until combined.
    2. Set aside.
    3. Add seasonings to the chicken.
    4. Turn the Instant Pot on to “Saute” mode. Let the display say “Hot”. Add the olive oil and let it simmer.
    5. Now add the chicken and let it cook for 2 minutes.
    6. Add the chopped celery and onion and let it saute for another 2 minutes.
    7. Add the sauce to the chicken and mix until combined.
    8. Turn off the saute mode and put the lid on. Make sure the pressure valve is in the sealing position.
    9. Select the pressure cook mode and set the time for 5 minutes.
    10. When the pot beeps, let the pressure release the natural way for another 5 minutes then do a quick release.
    11. While the chicken is cooking, mix the cornstarch with water to make a slurry.
    12. Turn the saute mode on and add the cornstarch slurry and simmer for a couple of minutes or until the sauce thickens.
    13. Serve over the white rice and enjoy! Use this Instant Pot rice recipe.


Instant Pot Black Pepper Chicken Variations

  • Add a touch of curry leaves to enhance flavor.
  • Sprinkle with soy sauce to serve.
  • Give the garlic sauce a kick with an extra teaspoon of garlic.


  • Can my dog have Black Pepper Chicken? It is not recommended that you share Black Pepper Chicken with your dog. This recipe includes ingredients that are harmful to your pet's health. Among them are garlic and onion, which can generate intoxication pictures. In addition, the strong flavor of chili can give your dog a hard time, stomach pain, sweating, vomiting, among others.
  • Can my dog have Black Pepper Chicken? Chances are your cat doesn't like to eat Black Pepper Chicken, and he is absolutely right. Ingredients such as chili pepper, garlic, and onion will repulse your cat just by smelling them. Garlic and onion are known to be toxic ingredients for your furry friend's system. Also, the intense spicy flavor of chili pepper can cause stomach pain, burning eyes and nose, and vomiting.

Nutrition Information



Serving Size


Amount Per Serving Calories 413Total Fat 11gSaturated Fat 2gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 8gCholesterol 97mgSodium 740mgCarbohydrates 36gFiber 2gSugar 2gProtein 39g

Did you make this recipe?

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More Great Instant Pot Recipes


  • Jessica McCoy

    Jessica McCoy is a seasoned food blogger with 14+ years of experience in the industry. As a self-taught home cook, she enjoys creating and finetuning easy recipes that are fool proof and simple for anyone to make. Her expertise is in all things kitchen: cooking tips, air fryer recipes, Instant Pot and other pressure cooking recipes, and slow cooker recipes. Jessica was the previous owner of AllSheCooks, where she focused on easy every day recipes including budget friendly dinner recipes and desserts.

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  1. The recipe directions are incomplete. Where do you use the garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder and ground ginger listed in the top part of the ingredient list? The sauce ingredients are different amounts. I tried to find earlier comments to see if my question has already been answered, but couldn’t find the place to see them.

    1. Thanks for your comment. The recipe instructions have been updated and should be more clear now. Pleas let me know if you have additional questions.

    1. There is always a jump to recipe button at the top of each post for your convenience. It takes you right to the recipe.

  2. Compared to the picture, this ended up extremely saucy. Doesn't look anything like the picture once completed. Followed the measurements to a T, but there was just lots of gravy/sauce.

    That said, it was ok. Actually better the second day. Here are some changes I plan to make next time

    • I thought the chili powder gave it too much spice, so I'll either half that or completely omit that next time.
    • Plan to swap water chestnuts for the celery because it cooks down to mush.
    • Half the rice wine vinegar. It tasted a little too vinegary for my liking. The vinegar flavor is more mellow the second day, however.

    All in all, not too bad. Worth a try, makes quite a bit of food with plenty leftovers. I also recommend serving with soy sauce as recommended in the variations. It really helped cut the spice down and add some extra flavor.

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