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If you haven't made salt and pepper chicken before then this gluten free Chinese starter is going to ROCK YOUR WORLD.
I'm talking chicken chunks coated in a crunchy, salty coating with mouth-watering onions and chilli.
Honestly, this gluten free salt and pepper chicken might be my favourite takeaway dish of all time and it's so quick and easy to make.
It's perfect for sharing due to it's super saltiness - but this is also what makes it so dangerously addictive!
I always imagined this would be difficult to make but I couldn't believe how easy it is - plus this crispy salt and pepper chicken is naturally gluten and dairy free.
Is salt and pepper chicken gluten free?
This salt and pepper chicken recipe is made using cornflour so it's completely gluten free.
It's also a dairy free recipe so even better for people with multiple allergies or intolerances.
In fact, most of the ingredients are just storecupboard basics and really simple, so it's pretty much allergen free.
Salt and pepper chicken is basically just fried chicken, but Chinese style.
I'm not sure if the stuff you order from a Chinese takeaway would be gluten free.
But to be honest I tend to avoid Chinese takeaways unless they are Coeliac UK certified as I can't be sure on cross contamination.
I've been accidentally glutened way too many times so I stick to making my own.
Salt and Pepper Chicken Ingredients
There's a full recipe card below with the quantities and method but here's a bit of an explainer of some of the salt and pepper chicken ingredients.
- Chicken Thighs: To me these are the best meat for this recipe. You could use chicken breast but thigh meat withstands the higher cooking temperatures better. It also has way more flavour. As an alternative you could try tofu or even squid rings.
- Cornflour: Or corn starch in the US - this helps to create a lovely crunch as it fries. Use it to create that delicious salt and pepper coating.
- Sea Salt Flakes: Yes, there is a lot of salt in this recipe. But that's the joy of salt and pepper chicken! It's designed to be eaten as a sharing dish or starter - and you can use table salt instead if you only have this to hand.
- Ground Black Pepper: The pepper is key to the flavouring of this dish. Again, it seems like a lot but we want this dish to be full of flavour.
- Chinese Five Spice: I'm a huge fan of Chinese Five Spice and it gives this salt and pepper chicken a lovely undertone of aniseed, without being overpowering. Just double check the spice mix for any 'may contain' warnings.
- Onion and Spring Onion: If you're sensitive to onion you can omit these (though to me they make the dish). Or just use the green parts of the spring onion instead if you can tolerate that.
- Red Chilli: This gives my salt and pepper chicken a nice kick! If you really hate any heat at all you can omit this but trust me, it won't be the same. A green chilli works just as well, or you could buy pre-chopped chilli if you're feeling lazy. In this dish I do love the spice of the chunks of chilli. Just don't rub your eyes after handling it!
Don't forget the full ingredients list is in the recipe card down below.
But this just helps to explain some of the reasons behind the ingredients used.
A lot of these ingredients can be used in other dishes too so they won't go to waste.
How to make salt and pepper chicken
This salt and pepper chicken recipe is so easy to make, it can be on the table within 20 minutes.
The first step is to create the coating, which is what gives the dish it's flavour and it's crunch.
To do this mix together the cornflour with the salt, pepper and Chinese Five Spice.
Then take your chicken chunks and coat them liberally - you want to make sure you can't see any 'naked' chicken under the coating.
Heat up your oil and fry the chicken until it's golden brown and crispy, before adding the onions, chilli and garlic for a final minute.
Serve immediately for a hot, crunchy, salty delicious dish!
See - I told you it was simple. You won't need to order takeaway again once you make this once and realise how simple it is.
If you want to make this healthier you could try it in an Air Fryer - I don't have one (yet!) so I cannot wait to get one and give it a go.
If you try this please let me know in the comments and otherwise I'll update this if and when I get my hands on one.
My salt and pepper chicken recipe
This easy salt and pepper chicken recipe is gluten and dairy free and makes enough for a starter for two people.
Alternatively it would feed four people as part of a sharing platter - why not make some of my gluten free prawn toast to go with it?
Plus I've even made a video to show you just how easy this is to make:
And if you loved it, please do leave a review to let others know you loved it too! It would mean the world to me.
- 4 chicken thigh fillets (skinless and boneless)
- 1 tbsp cornflour
- 1 tsp sea salt flakes
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp Chinese Five Spice
- 1 onion
- 1 red chilli
- 2 garlic cloves
- 3 spring onions
- Vegetable oil (for frying)
- Cut the chicken thigh fillets into bite-size pieces. Finely chop the onion, spring onions and red chilli and set to one side.
- Add the cornflour, sea salt, black pepper and Chinese 5 Spice to a bowl and mix well until combined. Add the chicken pieces and use your hands (or a spoon) to coat them really well - you shouldn't be able to see any chicken under the coating!
- Add around 1cm of oil to a large wok or frying pan and place on a high heat until hot. Test the oil by either dipping a little bit of chicken in (it should instantly sizzle) or dip in a wooden chopstick and little bubbles should form around it when hot.
- When the oil is hot, add the chicken a few pieces at a time, ensuring they don't stick together. Fry for around 6-8 minutes, turning half way, until the chicken is crispy.
- Add the chopped onions and chilli to the pan and stir fry for another minute. Remove from the heat and use a slotted spoon to remove the chicken and veg onto a plate lined in kitchen towel (to absorb any excess oil). Serve straight away while hot.
- Any leftovers of this salt and pepper chicken can be kept in the fridge - please thoroughly reheat before eating. I'd recommend heating in the oven to avoid losing the 'crunch' on the chicken.
- You could also try this recipe with tofu or squid instead of chicken.
Need some more gluten free meal inspiration?
If you want to have a go at some of the other gluten free Chinese takeaway inspired dinner recipes on the blog, why not give some of these a try?
They’re perfect for creating delicious comfort food when you need it!
- Chicken with cashew nuts
- Gluten Free Chow Mein
- Sweet and Sour Chicken
- Chinese chicken curry
- Gluten free Egg Noodles
- Gluten Free Prawn Toast
And if you have any recipe suggestions, please let me know in the comments what you’d like to see next!
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