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Chicken/ Hearty Dinners/ Spice

Salt and Chilli Chicken

January 22, 2024 (Last Updated: January 24, 2024) by Chris Collins

Here I’ll share with you the most delicious way to make the iconic salt and chilli chicken!

I couldn’t in good conscious rank my favourite takeaway dishes (they’re all my babies 🤣). However, I can confidently say that salt and chilli chicken would make my top 5 of all time. This recipe has been a long time coming and I’m so pleased to finally share it with you! Follow me…

salt and chilli chicken in small bowl on scrunched up baking paper

Preparing Salt and Chilli Chicken

We’re going to be using boneless skinless chicken thighs for this recipe. This is essential as thigh is much more robust than breast. This is important as we want to fry the chicken and build up a crust without overcooking the chicken. Unfortunately, breast would dry out during this process.

Salt and Chilli Chicken Marinade

It’s important to season the chicken itself since the batter is going to pick up more flavour in the pan. Once we’ve diced the chicken we’re going to coat it in Chinese 5 spice, white pepper and salt, alongside garlic and sesame oil. Let it sit for 30 minutes or so, just to let the flavours properly cling to the chicken and start working their way into the meat.


This is what makes the crispy batter. It’s much lighter than flour and works perfectly in a dish like this. I actually like to coat the chicken in 2 stages:

  1. A couple of tbsp after the marination, which will create a thick, sticky coating around the chicken. Alongside the beaten egg, this helps the main coating stick to the chicken.
  2. One by one coat the chicken in a bowl of cornflour. This is the main batter and what allows the chicken to truly crisp up.

When you’re coating in the second stage just really make sure you work the cornflour into the chicken. A light dusting won’t be sufficient to crisp up the chicken properly.

I also find it easiest to assign a ‘wet’ hand and a ‘dry’ hand, just to reduce mess as you coat the chicken!

Process shots: dice chicken and add to bowl (photo 1), stir in seasoning, garlic and oil (photo 2), add cornflour (photo 3), toss to coat then add beaten egg (photo 4), place in cornflour (photo 5), coat then repeat (photo 6).

6 step by step photos showing how to prepare salt and chilli chicken

Fried Salt and Chilli Chicken

You only need to shallow fry the chicken – you’ll get just as good results as if you were to deep fry. I actually like to fry the chicken in a separate pan from the wok, just to create more space for the chicken. A cast-iron/heavy-based pan works perfectly.

I recommend working in batches to give the chicken space to fry and ensure the oil temperature doesn’t drop too much.

Once cooked, add the chicken to a wire rack above a tray or kitchen roll to catch excess oil.

Process shots: add chicken to oil (photo 1), fry (photo 2), add to wire rack (photo 3).

3 step by step photos showing how to cook salt and chilli chicken

Salt and Chilli Chicken

This is a dry dish, so we don’t need to make a sauce. We’re just going to throw in some onion, pepper and garlic, alongside more seasoning and of course chillies.

What kind of chillies should I use?

I love using Birds Eye Chillies. The flavour profile also matches this dish so perfectly. They’re very hot, so you only need a couple. You can use a different, more mild variety of chilli if you’d prefer.

How salty is this dish?

As the name suggests, this is a fairly salty recipe. You must keep the amount in the marinade the same, but you can alter the salt that goes in the stir fry if you’d prefer.

Process shots: heat oil (photo 1), add onion, peppers, chillies and garlic (photo 2), fry (photo 3), add cooked chicken, spring onion and seasoning (photo 4).

4 step by step photos showing how to make salt and chilli chicken

close up shot of salt and chilli chicken in black wok

Serving Salt and Chilli Chicken

As I mentioned, this is a dry dish, so a sauce is always welcome (curry sauce I’m looking at you!). This works great as an appetiser or as a main with some chips or rice!

Alrighty, let’s tuck into the full recipe for this salt and chilli chicken shall we?!

salt and chilli chicken served in a bowl with curry sauce drizzled on top

How to make Salt and Chilli Chicken (Full Recipe & Video)

close up shot of salt and chilli chicken in black wok

Salt and Chilli Chicken

Here I'll share with you the most delicious way to make the iconic salt and chilli chicken!
5 from 1 vote
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Servings (click & slide): 4
Course: Dinner / Main Course
Cuisine: Chinese
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Resting time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Calories per serving: 486kcal


  • Sharp Knife & Chopping Board
  • Medium Sized Mixing Bowl (for marinating chicken)
  • Large Shallow Dish (for coating chicken)
  • Large Baking Tray (to rest coated chicken)
  • Large Heavy-Based/Cast-Iron Pan & Tongs (for frying chicken)
  • Kitchen Thermometer (for frying chicken)
  • Wire Rack and Kitchen Roll (for resting cooked chicken)
  • Wok or Deep Pan & Wooden Spoon (for stir fry)

Ingredients (check list):


  • 600g / 1.3lb boneless skinless Chicken Thighs, sliced into fairly large bite-sized pieces (1 thigh usually produces 6 pieces)
  • 1 tsp EACH: Chinese 5 Spice, White Pepper, Fine/Table Salt
  • 2 tsp Sesame Oil
  • 2 cloves of Garlic, finely grated into a paste
  • 160g / 2 packed cups Cornflour/Cornstarch, plus more if needed
  • 1 medium Egg, beaten
  • 360ml / 1 1/2 cups Vegetable Oil, or as needed

Stir Fry

  • 1 small/medium White Onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 Red Pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 Green Pepper, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves of Garlic, finely diced
  • 2 Red Birds Eye Chillies, thinly sliced (see notes)
  • 2 Spring Onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp Flaky Sea Salt (see notes)
  • 1/4 tsp Chinese 5 Spice
  • 1/8 tsp White Pepper


  • In a medium-sized mixing bowl combine the diced chicken with sesame oil, garlic, 5 spice, salt and pepper. Leave to marinate for 30 minutes.
  • Add the cornflour to a large shallow dish. Take 2 1/2 tbsp of the cornflour and mix it into the chicken (I find this easiest with my hands). Once evenly combined, leave for a few minutes to allow the cornflour to soak into the chicken. It will be quite sticky at this point, which is fine.
  • Mix the egg into the chicken until evenly combined. One by one, take a piece of chicken, thoroughly coat it in the cornflour, then lightly shake and place on a baking tray. Although tedious, this step is crucial to ensuring the chicken comes out crispy. Really squeeze the cornflour into every crevice of the chicken to create lots of tiny flaky bits. If you run out of cornflour, just add more as needed.
  • Add around 3/4" oil in a heavy-based/cast-iron pan, or enough to cover a little over half the size of the chicken. Turn the heat to medium-high and allow the oil to reach 190C/375F. From there, and working in 2-3 batches, add the chicken and cook until golden and crisp on the outside and piping hot through the centre (approx 3 minutes on each side). Remove the chicken and place on a wire rack with kitchen roll underneath to catch excess oil. Bring the oil back to temp between batches.
  • Take 2 tbsp of the leftover oil and add it to a wok or deep pan over high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onion, peppers, garlic and chillies and stir fry for 2-3 minutes until it all starts to soften slightly. Add in the chicken, spring onion, 5 spice, sea salt and white pepper and toss until everything is well-distributed.
  • Serve up immediately and enjoy!

Quick 1 min demo!


a) Chicken - Don't substitute chicken breast, it must be thigh. Breast will dry up and overcook by the time the outside properly crisps up in the oil.
b) Chillies - This recipe produces a fairly spicy salt and chilli chicken, similar to what you'd get at most takeaways. Birdseye chillies are pretty hot, so 2 go a long way. I sometimes do 3, so consider adding another one if you love spice!
c) Salt - As the name suggests, this is a fairly salty recipe. The salt in the marinade needs to be regular fine salt so you can coat as much of the chicken as possible. I prefer finishing with sea salt, just so you get bigger hits of salty flavour. If you're at all wary then you can adjust the salt the serve, however 1 tsp in the marinade is a must. If you don't have flaky sea salt you could finish with more regular salt, just consider halving the amount to 1/4 tsp and working up. Much easier to add more salt than take it out!
d) Serving - This is a dry dish, so serving with curry sauce is a great idea!
e) Calories - Whole recipe divided by 4 (no sauce or side).

Your Private Notes:


Nutrition Facts
Salt and Chilli Chicken
Amount Per Serving
Calories 486 Calories from Fat 170
% Daily Value*
Fat 18.84g29%
Saturated Fat 9.747g49%
Trans Fat 0.034g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2.811g
Monounsaturated Fat 4.604g
Cholesterol 182mg61%
Sodium 895mg37%
Potassium 597mg17%
Carbohydrates 45.04g15%
Fiber 2.2g9%
Sugar 3.87g4%
Protein 32.44g65%
Vitamin A 1328IU27%
Vitamin C 76mg92%
Calcium 45mg5%
Iron 2.36mg13%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition is based on the absence of salt unless stated as a measurement in the ingredients. Cost is worked out based on ingredients bought from UK supermarkets, then divided by the number of servings. In both instances these values are just for guidance. Please check out my FAQ Page for more info.
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Recipe Rating


  • Reply
    January 31, 2024 at 5:25 pm

    It really tastes like salt&papper chicken, although it took me soooo long, I guess it’s going to be something I can do once in a long while, thank you for the recipe 🙂

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      January 31, 2024 at 7:52 pm

      Cheers Magda! Will definitely get easier with practice 🙂 C.

  • Reply
    January 26, 2024 at 2:46 pm

    5 stars
    Tried this as soon as you posted it and it was perfect. Didn’t make any adjustments. Thanks for the recipe.

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      January 26, 2024 at 8:12 pm

      So great to hear, Karl! Thanks so much for the review 🙂 C.