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Taiwanese Salt and Pepper Chicken

Chinese Salt and Pepper Chicken or Popcorn Chicken - crispy fried marinated chicken with basil leaves, get the easy and delicious recipe now |

Taiwanese Salt and Pepper Chicken

Chinese Salt and Pepper Chicken or Popcorn Chicken – crispy fried marinated chicken with basil leaves, get the easy and delicious recipe now |

Prep time:

Cook time:

Total Time:


8 oz chicken breast, cut into bite-size cubes
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1 cup cornstarch
2 cups oil for deep-frying
1/4 teaspoon (or to taste) bottled pepper salt


1 tablespoon scallions, chopped finely
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon rice wine
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon chicken bouillon
1/4 teaspoon pepper salt

1. Mix all the ingredients of Marinade in a big bowl, stir well. Add the chicken pieces and marinate for 30 minutes.

2. Heat up the oil in the wok for deep-frying. Coat the chicken with the cornstarch evenly. Deep-fry the chicken until they turn golden brown, remove from the oil and set aside.

3. Pour the oil out and add the basil leaves and stir a few times before adding the chicken back into the wok. Remove from the wok, add the pepper salt and toss well with the chicken. Serve immediately.

Taiwanese Salt & Pepper Chicken
Taiwanese Salt & Pepper Chicken pictures (1 of 4)

I posted a Taiwanese salt and pepper chicken recipe a few years ago but I used a seasoning which none of my readers can find. Many readers have left comments on my previous post asking me about the magical seasoning in the bottle for the classic and iconic Taiwanese salt and pepper chicken. Unfortunately, not many people have success finding the seasoning outside of California. I promised my readers that I would create a new recipe and make everything from scratch, so here is the recipe you have been waiting for, everyone’s favorite Taiwanese salt and pepper chicken (鹹酥雞).

I tasted this made-from-scratch salt and pepper chicken at my good friend’s house, when she made a big batch for her son’s birthday party. She referred to her Taiwanese recipes cookbook and used a regular salt and pepper seasoning, which can be easily purchased at Asian food stores. I borrowed her cookbook back and made them, and the fried chicken tasted just like any night markets in Taipei. I absolutely loved it.

Taiwanese Salt and Pepper Chicken

For the basil leaves, they are optional but I have to say that if you don’t have basil leaves, they don’t taste quite right and authentic. I love basil leaves but I know many people don’t fancy the taste, or they can’t find them where they are. Either way, this Taiwanese salt and pepper chicken is addictive, and especially great with a can of cold drink or best with beer. Gather a few good friends over, have a lazy summer afternoon or evening, fire up your wok and make a big batch of the fried chicken, and chat the day or evening away. Enjoy!

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22 COMMENTS... read them below or add one

  1. Richard

    What is this pepper salted in China? Is it a liquid, you said “bottled”? and if you can write the name in Chinese I can look it up on the Internet. You would not believe how hard it was to find Hoi Sin sauce here in China. Even with pictures nobody knew what I was talking about/ I have now found it but it took me 4 months

      • Richard

        How about egg roll wrappers, they have never heard of them (or spring roll) I show pictures of them on the Internet and they saw they do not know. Can I take a bunch of dumpling wraps (which are easy to find), roll them together and then roll them out and cut into 20cm squares? Everyone things i am strange! They say they have never used Hoi Sin sauce (for example) and never heard of anyone using it. Keep in mind ovens are not used here (except in supermarkets). Even my wife doesn’t know what I am talking about and she is semi-fluent in English

  2. Lara

    Can I substitute the Chicken Bouillon with something else? Most of the Bouillon powders here have MSG in them (whether labeled or disguised under a diff name).


  3. Francine


    I was reading your previous Salt & Pepper Chicken recipe and this one. What is the difference between the Dark colored and Light colored 5 spice powder? Why can’t I use the dark colored one? I think that is the one I have at home.

  4. Syl_oz

    This is the 2nd recipe that I have tried on this web site (first one was Mongolian beef which was absolutely delicious). This is the best salt n pepper chicken I have ever tasted!!!!! I couldn’t find the pepper salt but managed to find Szechuan pepper salt and used this instead. The whole family loved it!!! Best ever! Thank you for this recipe. I will continue to try your other recipes.

  5. Karen Ong

    Hi Bee, I didn’t know there is this call pepper salt thing ! Can i make my own , like using fine salt plus white pepper powder ? Thxs in advances.

  6. Siewleng

    Can you recommend the brand of rice wine to use? Not sure I have seen it before on the supermarket shelves. Hoping to make this dish soon! Can I sub it with Shaoxing wine? Thanks.

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