These Salt and Pepper Chips are a great take on a classic takeaway dish. Thick cut chips tossed in an aromatic homemade salt and pepper spice mix.
Someone once said to me that salt and pepper chips were the answer to any and all issues.
That someone, was in fact me. And this is what I continue to tell myself in the face of any challenge, irrespective of how mild or negligible said challenge may be.
If you’re a thick cut chip fan and you love food that involves spices and aromatics in abundance. ‘A journey for the palate’, if you will, then this may perhaps be just the recipe for you.
What are Salt and Pepper Chips?
Salt and pepper chips are probably one of my staples whenever I order a Chinese takeout. It’s quite a simple dish though full of aromatics and spices.
It usually consists of thick cut chips which are fried and then tossed in onions, garlic, chillies, and a salt and pepper spice mix. I’ll explain the spice mix in more depth later on and show you how to make your own too!
This dish can also be found with thinner fries too, but I honestly think it works best with the thick cut chips. The crispy exteriors and the fluffy centres entwined with the spices works so incredibly well.
It’s quite a classic takeout dish, at least in the UK
I’m not quite sure how authentic they are to traditional Chinese cooking. But the story of how they came about is a testament to the plight of immigrants and the ways in which they adapted and assimilated.
It’s said that salt and pepper chips were first created in the 1960s in Liverpool by Chinese immigrant-owned fish and chip shops. It was a way to assimilate their cultural flavours with a much loved British staple – chips.
It’s part of my ‘30 Minute Recipes’ series!
This entire series will be full of recipes that can all be made in UNDER 30 MINUTES. They’re perfect for busy days, or for those evenings when you just want something quick.
In fact, they’re all recipes that I make for my own lunches and dinners. Though I’m always cooking for the blog, those recipes don’t make up my lunches and dinners.
You can find the rest of the recipes here.
Why is it called Salt and Pepper?
Unlike the name suggests, the salt and pepper spice mix usually consists of far more than just salt and pepper. It’s often a mix of salt, white pepper/Sichuan pepper, Chinese 5 spice, MSG, and sugar.
These are all essential in order to produce the same flavour you would experience if you were to order this in a restaurant.
How to make your own salt and pepper seasoning
You just need all the ingredients listed above. I’ve included the quantities in the recipe at the end of the blogpost, though that’s specific to how much you’ll require for this recipe.
You could also scale it up to make a larger amount and keep this stored in a jar for whenever you feel like making a salt and pepper dish. You’ll need:
- 10tsp Chinese 5 spice
- 10tsp sugar
- 5tsp garlic powder
- 2.5tsp white pepper
- 5tsp salt
- 2.5tsp MSG
What to serve with Salt and Pepper Chips
This is a perfect side dish to serve alone or as part of an array of appetisers. You could also make some Salt and Pepper Tofu, or wok fried vegetables, or even some crispy tofu pancakes.
What you’ll need
I’ll cover the main ones below but the full recipe can be found at the end of the blogpost
- Chunky thick cut oven chips – you could make the chips from scratch if you wanted to, but the beauty of salt and pepper chips is that they’re almost always made from frozen packs of chips. Plus it makes it even easier and quicker to make
- MSG – this is known as monosodium glutamate, and it sadly has become a controversial ingredient due to an old notorious report by a physician in the 1960s – which had no basis or evidence behind it. It’s a naturally occurring sodium salt of glutamic acid that is present in many of the things we love to eat e.g. tomatoes, mushrooms, certain cheeses, kelp, soy sauce, and so much more
- Chinese 5 spice – this is a Chinese spice mix that contains 5 different spices, normally star anise, fennel, cinnamon, clove, and pepper (usually Sichuan). It’s a key flavour in salt and pepper spice mixes. It can be purchased from the seasoning aisle in most large supermarkets
The KEY TIPS to getting this recipe right
- Have everything chopped and ready – this is a dish which cooks quickly, so you want everything prepped before hand. This is known as ‘mise en place’
- Use a wok if you have one – using a seasoned wok (like a carbon steel one) will impart a distinct flavour to your dishes which is known as ‘wok hei’. This is that restaurant flavour that is often missing when trying to recreate dishes at home
How to make Salt and Pepper Chips
1) Start by air frying or baking some frozen oven chips. I always prefer thick cut chips for this recipe but fries would also work too
2) In the meantime, mix together all the seasoning ingredients (salt, sugar, 5 spice, garlic powder, white pepper and MSG if using)
3) You can make extra of this seasoning to keep on hand (see above)
4) Heat a wok or frying pan over a medium-high heat. Then add oil and sauté onions, garlic, and bird eye chillies
5) This is a very quick cooking process, it honestly takes minutes so it’s worth having everything prepped and ready (mise en place)
6) Next add in the green peppers and red chillies
7) Continue to cook for around 30-45 seconds
8) Then add in all the chips
9) Followed by the salt and pepper seasoning
10) And finally the spring onions. Toss it all to combine and enjoy immediately
Frequently asked questions
Can Salt and Pepper Chips be made in advance? And what’s the best way to store them?
You can make it in advance, but I don’t think you should and I’ll explain why. This is a dish that’s best enjoyed fresh, it doesn’t quite reheat the same as the chips and vegetables become soft.
However if you must make this in advance, you can store it in an air tight container for up to 3 days. Reheat in a wok over a high heat as this will reduce the extent by which the chips and vegetables soften.
Which types of chips work best? Can we use oven chips?
Chunky thick cut chips work best, though you could also use fries if you wanted to. I personally tend to use the Tesco own brand homestyle straight cut oven chips which are brilliant. And they’re far cheaper than a few of the other brands.
Yes oven chips are exactly what we want here! They can be baked or air fried perfectly.
What else can we use the salt and pepper spice mix for?
You can use it to make Salt and Pepper Tofu, aubergines (eggplant), green beans, mushrooms. Sprinkle some of the seasoning on to any wok fried vegetables or noodles. It adds an extra ‘oomph’ of flavour and a little goes a long way.
If you enjoyed this recipe
Please do let me know! Leave a review and a rating below, I’d love to know how you got on.
Until then, happy cooking!
- 500g frozen oven chips
- 1tbsp neutral oil, e.g. sunflower or vegetable
- 1 small green pepper, sliced
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 small white onion, cut into chunks
- 2 large red chillies, sliced
- 1 bird eye red chilli, minced
- 2 spring onion greens/scallion greens, roughly chopped
- 1tsp Chinese 5 spice
- 1/2tsp garlic powder
- 1/4tsp white pepper
- 1/2tsp salt
- 1/4tsp MSG
- 1tsp white sugar
- Start by air frying or baking some frozen oven chips as per the packaging instructions. I always prefer thick cut chips for this recipe but fries would also work too
- In the meantime, it's worth preparing all the other ingredients and keeping them ready. This recipe takes minutes to cook and so it's worth having everything sliced, minced, chopped, and ready to go. This is called mise en place
- To make the salt and pepper spice mix, simply mix together the Chinese 5 spice, garlic powder, white pepper, salt, sugar, and MSG (if using). If you're not using MSG, add the same amount of additional salt (1/4tsp). If you'd like to make a larger amount of the salt and pepper spice mix to keep on hand - see blogpost for more details and measurements
- Heat a wok or frying pan over a medium-high heat. A carbon steel wok will impart 'wok-hei', which is the smoky caramelised flavour that you find in restaurant food and takeout spots. So if you have one, it's worth using here
- Add the oil followed by the onion, garlic, and red bird eye chillies. Sauté briefly for around 30 seconds, and then add in the green peppers, and red chillies. Continue to sauté for another 30-45 seconds, stirring continuously
- Next, add the cooked chips along with the salt and pepper spice mix and the spring onions
- Toss everything together several times to ensure the seasoning is fully dispersed throughout the chips
- Serve up immediately - this is best served right away as the chips will soften and cool down if left
The salt and pepper spice mix can also be used in other recipes like my Salt and Pepper Tofu. It will also work really well with aubergine/eggplant, green beans, mushrooms, and broccoli.
You can also use a pinch of the salt and pepper spice mix in stir fries to add additional flavour. It's a great spice mix to keep on hand. If you're not keen to make your own, pre-made mixes are readily available in East Asian supermarkets. So it's best to have a look there to purchase some.
Nutrition InformationYield 3 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 374Total Fat 11.5gSaturated Fat 1.4gSodium 253mgCarbohydrates 62.6gFiber 15.7gProtein 5g