Growing up, I never had chips from a Chinese takeaway. We didn’t even really buy rice from the takeway. We just had homemade boiled white rice or “hoose rice” as Kevin Bridges calls it 😂
When I was a teenager, my friends learnt how to drive and we’d do the rounds of the takeaways on the weekend. One of my friend’s go-to was Chinese salt and pepper chips. I tried some. 18 year old me finally understood what all the fuss was about.
Sure, it’s not authentic – but dang, are they tasty.
The entire time my husband and I have been together, we have never had a Chinese takeaway. In my opinion, the risk of cross-contamination in Chinese restaurants outweighs almost every other cuisine. There’s gluten in the soy sauce. There’s gluten in the flour. There’s gluten in some of the faux meats they offer.
Whilst there are a couple of Chinese restaurants in Glasgow that have a gluten-free menu, I haven’t seen these salt and pepper chips feature on any. So, I guess it’s time to make them from scratch ourselves again!
What are salt and pepper chips?
Salt and pepper chips are a Chinese takeaway invention. They were invented in the 1990s in Liverpool by Chinese immigrants who opened up chip shops. Locals loved their salt and pepper chicken wings and ribs, so they applied their special spice mix to chips and the rest is history!
The salt and pepper mix differs from place to place, but generally it includes salt and pepper (duh), Chinese Five Spice, sugar, and chilli. The chips are deep fried and then tossed in a wok with chunky chopped onions, chillies, pepper and spring onion. Sometimes soy sauce and sesame soil is added for an extra kick, but again, recipes vary.
How to make salt and pepper chips at home
Salty and sweet food combos are one of my favourites, typically for desserts, but this savoury dish is the exception. There’s something about this unique blend of sugar, salt, and spice that makes these chips so more-ish. Teamed with the crunch of the onions and peppers and the nutty sesame oil, I could eat all four portions in this recipe by myself.
I remember salt and chilli chips being absolutely laced with oil. This recipe is bursting with flavour without the ridiculous amount of saturated fat that comes with the takeaway version. Who said you gain weight on a gluten-free diet?
It’s straightforward to make these Chinese salt and pepper chips at home. You mix up the spice blend. You toss your chips in it and bake. You fry off onions, chillies, spring onions, and peppers in a wok. Then, when your chips are done, you add them to the wok, drizzle soy sauce and sesame oil and more spice blend, and serve!
Making things from scratch is not only enjoyable but you can customise everything to your own flavour specifications, save a ton of cash, and it’s almost almost far kinder to your waistline.
How many calories are there in salt and pepper chips?
I don’t focus on calories when creating my recipes but I know it is important to some people.
I don’t have a precise number but I imagine for a standard portion of real Chinese takeaway salt and pepper chips, you’re looking at close to 1000 calories
This homemade variation is approximately 350 calories if you divide it by 4 ****people so it’s the perfect Friday night fakeaway dish! It’s even fewer calories if you divide it further.
What can you serve with salt and pepper chips?
You can serve these Chinese salt and pepper chips with just about anything you would normally get at the takeaway. We often have Chinese fakeaway nights with friends and family and serve these. We have them with:
- Sweet and sour tofu (or chicken or Quorn)
- Peanut satay chicken or vegetables
- Chicken or vegetables in oyster sauce
You could also simply add some chicken, Quorn, or tofu to the chips themselves and you’ll have a complete meal!
So, give this recipe a spin and tell me what you think! For another healthy and gluten-free spin on an Asian restaurant classic, check out this Japanese vegan katsu curry recipe.
Chinese Salt and Pepper Chips (With Air Fryer Option)
- 800 g white potatoes (cut into 1/2-inch thick wedges or chip slices)
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil, divided
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp Chinese Five Spice
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/4 tsp chilli powder
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 2 bell peppers, sliced
- 4 spring onions, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp tamari
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- Preheat your oven or air fryer to 200 degrees C.
- (Oven Baked) Toss your sliced potatoes with 2 tbsp oil, salt and pepper, and scatter on an oven tray and pop in the oven for around 30 minutes until crispy.
- (Air fryer) Toss your sliced potatoes with 2 tbsp oil, salt and pepper, and place in air fryer basket for around 20 minutes until crispy.
- While you're waiting on the chips, mix all the spices, salt and sugar together and set aside.
- Fry onion and pepper in the remaining oil in a wok on a high heat for around 5-10 minutes. You want them to cook down but retain their crunch.
- When the chips are ready, add to the wok with the vegetables and mix together, being careful not to break up the chips. Add the spring onions, spice mix and tamari, ensuring everything is fully coated.
- Drizzle with sesame oil and serve!