This Turmeric Black Pepper Chicken is healthy, flavorful, and so easy to make. Ready in just 30 minutes, this warmly-spiced chicken breast recipe is perfect for a quick weeknight meal. Serve with rice or noodles for a delicious, well-balanced dinner.
I love experimenting with new flavors and spices in the kitchen.
So, when I stumbled across The New York Times' recipe for turmeric black pepper chicken, I was excited to give it a try!
The combination of turmeric and black pepper sounded delicious. But, I knew I wanted to add my own twist to the recipe make it even more flavorful.
To make this black pepper turmeric chicken recipe truly my own, I incorporated other flavors like garlic, ginger, and soy sauce. The addition of garlic added a delightful aromatic punch, while ginger brought a hint of warmth and complexity. The soy sauce infused the chicken with its savory umami goodness, elevating the overall flavor profile.
I also decided to kick up the heat by increasing the amount of black pepper. The result was a bolder, spicier, more peppery dish.
Needless to say, I am super happy with the way this recipe turned out! The chicken is tender and juicy, coated in a vibrant golden sauce that is rich in flavor and complexity.
So, if you want to learn how to make the best turmeric black pepper chicken, keep reading to learn everything you need to know.
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Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Healthy- High in protein, healthy fats, and fiber, this chicken dinner is a balanced meal that will leave you feeling full and satisfied. Plus, turmeric, ginger, and garlic may have some anti-inflammatory benefits.
- Flavorful- The earthy, floral, slightly bitter flavor of turmeric really shines in this dish. Balanced by sweet honey, tangy lime juice, and savory soy sauce, this turmeric chicken recipe is truly delicious.
- Ready in 30 Minutes- This easy chicken recipe comes together quickly so, it's perfect for an easy weeknight dinner.
- Easy to Make- Made with mostly pantry staples, this stir-fried turmeric black pepper chicken recipe is great for anyone just learning to cook at home.
Here are some notes on the key ingredients. For the full list of ingredients, check out the recipe card below.
- Chicken Breast- Trim and cut the boneless, skinless chicken breast into one-inch cubes so they cook quickly.
- Turmeric Powder- A vibrant yellow spice that adds a distinct earthy, floral, and slightly bitter flavor to the dish.
- Black Pepper- Use freshly cracked black pepper for the best flavor.
- Flour- All-purpose flour coats the chicken breast cubes, helping to create a crispy outer layer when sautéed.
- Honey- Adds a sweet flavor to the chicken, which plays nicely with the savory and tangy flavors.
- Lime Juice- Tangy, fresh, and citrusy, the flavor of lime juice balances the sweetness of the honey and the savoriness of the soy sauce.
- Soy Sauce- Adds a savory, umami flavor. Use low-sodium soy sauce to help control the amount of sodium in the final dish.
- Ginger- Warm and slightly spicy, ginger pairs well with turmeric and other flavors in this recipe.
- Canola Oil- A neutral-flavored oil with a high smoke point that's perfect for sautéing.
- Cornstarch- When mixed with water, cornstarch makes a slurry that acts as a thickening agent for the sauce.
- Asparagus- Pairs well with the turmeric and black pepper flavors, and provides a fresh, crunchy texture to the dish.
Sustainability Tip: Don't toss those asparagus ends! Use them, along with other vegetable scraps, to make vegetable stock.
Substitutions and Variations
Here are a few ways you can try customizing this turmeric black pepper chicken recipe to fit your diet and taste preferences.
- Chicken Breast- Try swapping chicken breast for chicken thighs, pork, shrimp, or tofu.
- Turmeric Powder- Replace ground turmeric with curry powder in a pinch. Keep in mind that this will alter the flavor profile of the dish.
- Flour- To make this recipe gluten-free, you can use a gluten-free all-purpose flour or substitute with cornstarch.
- Honey- Substitute honey with maple syrup, brown sugar, or agave nectar.
- Lime Juice- Swap lime juice for orange juice, lemon juice, or unseasoned rice vinegar.
- Soy Sauce- Tamari, coconut aminos, or liquid aminos can be used in place of soy sauce.
- Ginger- Use 1 tablespoon of freshly grated ginger in place of ground ginger.
- Canola Oil- Any neutral-flavored, high-heat oil can be used in place of canola oil. Try avocado oil, light olive oil, grapeseed oil, or sunflower oil.
- Cornstarch- Replace cornstarch with an equal amount of arrowroot starch or potato starch as a thickening agent.
- Asparagus- Substitute the asparagus for any vegetable you enjoy! Broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, green beans, or snap peas make great choices.
- Gluten-Free- Swap soy sauce for tamari, coconut aminos, or liquid aminos and the flour for cornstarch or gluten-free flour to make gluten-free turmeric black pepper chicken.
- Spicy- Make spicy turmeric black pepper chicken by adding cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes to the sauce.
- Coconut- Add a splash of coconut milk to the sauce for additional flavor and creaminess.
- Herbs- Chopped fresh cilantro, parsley, basil, or mint would give this easy turmeric black pepper chicken another layer of flavor.
Fun Fact: The compound in black pepper known as piperine is thought to increase the anti-inflammatory effects of turmeric.
How to Make Turmeric Black Pepper Chicken
Here is how to make turmeric black pepper chicken with asparagus.
Step 1: Make the sauce. In a small bowl, stir together the honey, soy sauce, lime juice, grated garlic, black pepper, and ground ginger. Set the honey mixture aside.
Step 2: Season the chicken. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, turmeric powder, salt, and black pepper. Toss the chicken breast cubes in the flour mixture until they are well coated.
Step 3: Sauté the chicken. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add the coated chicken cubes and sauté them until they turn golden brown and are cooked through, which should take about 5 minutes.
Step 4: Cook the asparagus. Add the asparagus pieces to the skillet and cook for an additional 5-7 minutes, until they are tender.
Step 5: Add the sauce. Reduce the heat to low and pour the sauce over the chicken and asparagus. Scrape the bottom of the skillet to incorporate any flavorful bits. Allow the mixture to simmer for 1-2 minutes.
Step 6: Thicken the sauce. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the water and cornstarch to create a cornstarch slurry. Slowly stir the slurry into the skillet, allowing it to simmer until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat and serve.
Tips for Success
- Cut the chicken uniformly. Cutting the chicken into equal, one-inch cubes will help them cook quickly and evenly.
- Prepare all ingredients ahead. This dish comes together quickly so, it's helpful to have all of your ingredients prepared before you start cooking. This will make for an easy and stress-free cooking experience.
- Scrape up the crispy bits. Don't worry if the chicken sticks to the bottom of the pan. These crispy bits scape up easily once the sauce is added, making for an even more flavorful meal.
- Add the cornstarch slowly. Slowly pour the cornstarch slurry into the simmering sauce while continuously stirring. This will prevent lumps and allow the sauce to thicken evenly.
What to Serve With Turmeric Black Pepper Chicken
Enjoy this turmeric black pepper chicken stir fry on its own, or pair it with a variety of side dishes for a more well-rounded meal.
Serve this flavorful chicken and asparagus dish over your favorite rice, noodles, or other grains. Jasmine rice, brown rice, quinoa, farro, rice noodles, and udon noodles all make excellent side dishes. Try my Teriyaki Udon Noodles for a unique combination of flavors.
Alternatively, for a low-carb dinner, pair this healthy turmeric black pepper chicken recipe with roasted or sautéed vegetables. Carrots and green beans, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, and zucchini are great choices.
If you're looking for a bread option, serve this turmeric and black pepper chicken with fresh naan bread. These soft and pillowy flatbreads are perfect for soaking up the delicious sauce.
Finally, serve a cooling yogurt-based dip alongside this chicken dish to complement the warm and slightly spicy flavors of the turmeric, ginger, and black pepper.
Storage and Reheating
How to Store
- Refrigerator- Store leftover turmeric black pepper chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
- Freezer- For longer storage, freeze leftover black pepper and turmeric chicken for up to 6 months.
How to Reheat
- Stovetop- Place the chicken and asparagus in a small skillet or saucepan over low heat. Add a splash of water or chicken stock to loosen up the sauce and prevent it from sticking to the skillet. Bring to a simmer and heat until the chicken is fully heated through.
- Oven- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the chicken in an oven-safe casserole dish along with a few tablespoons of water. Cover the dish with foil and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the chicken is thoroughly heated.
- Microwave- Place the turmeric chicken in a microwave-safe bowl and cover it with a microwave-safe lid or damp paper towel. Reheat on medium power (50%) in 1-minute intervals, stirring in between, until the chicken is heated through.
- Air Fryer- Preheat the air fryer to 350°F. Spread the leftover chicken out on a piece of aluminum foil and place inside the air fryer basket. Heat for 5 minutes or until the chicken is fully warmed through.
Quick Note: Chicken should always be cooked and reheated to an internal temperature of 165°F. Using a meat thermometer is the most accurate way to determine the internal temperature of chicken.
While this dish tastes best when freshly cooked, you can prepare the sauce up to one week in advance. You can also cut the chicken breast into cubes and store them in the refrigerator up to 24 hours before cooking.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, you can substitute boneless, skinless chicken thighs for chicken breast in this recipe. Keep in mind that the cooking time may vary slightly, as chicken thighs tend to be more forgiving and take a little longer to cook through.
While fresh asparagus is recommended for the best texture and flavor, you can use frozen asparagus as a substitute if needed. Make sure to thaw and drain it before adding it to the dish. Keep in mind that frozen asparagus might be slightly softer than fresh asparagus when cooked.
If you prefer a milder or spicier version of the turmeric black pepper chicken, you can easily adjust the amount of black pepper to suit your taste. Reduce the amount for a milder flavor or increase it for a bolder, spicier kick. Feel free to experiment and find the perfect level of spiciness that you enjoy.
Yes, you can make this recipe gluten-free by using a gluten-free all-purpose flour or a gluten-free alternative like rice flour or almond flour for coating the chicken. Also, ensure that the soy sauce you use is specifically labeled as gluten-free or replace it with a gluten-free soy sauce alternative.
Turmeric Black Pepper Chicken
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
- Juice of 1 lime about 2 tablespoons
- 1 clove garlic grated or finely minced
- 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- ¼ teaspoons ground ginger
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons turmeric powder
- ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into 1-inch cubes
- 4 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 bunch (about 1 pound) asparagus spears ends trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- In a small bowl, stir together the honey, soy sauce, lime juice, grated garlic, black pepper, and ground ginger. Set the sauce aside.3 tablespoons honey, 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce, Juice of 1 lime, 1 clove garlic, 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, ¼ teaspoons ground ginger
- In a medium bowl, combine the flour, turmeric powder, salt, and black pepper. Toss the chicken breast cubes in the flour mixture until they are well coated.2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons turmeric powder, ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast
- Heat the canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the coated chicken cubes and sauté them until they turn golden brown and are cooked through, which should take about 5 minutes.4 tablespoons canola oil
- Add the asparagus pieces to the skillet and cook for an additional 5-7 minutes, until they are tender.1 bunch (about 1 pound) asparagus spears
- Reduce the heat to low and pour the sauce over the chicken and asparagus. Scrape the bottom of the skillet to incorporate any flavorful bits. Allow the mixture to simmer for 1-2 minutes.
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the water and cornstarch to create a cornstarch slurry. Slowly stir the slurry into the skillet, allowing it to simmer until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat and serve.2 tablespoons water, 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- Quick Tip: This dish comes together quickly so, it's helpful to have all of your ingredients prepared before you start cooking. This will make for an easy and stress-free cooking experience.
- Storage: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
- Make Ahead: Prepare the sauce up to one week in advance. The chicken can be cubed up to 24 hours before cooking.