Orange Chicken With Panda Express Sauce

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Orange Chicken With Panda Express Sauce, it’s the perfect easy meal for busy weeknights. This recipe takes just 30 minutes from start to finish! You can have Orange Chicken With Panda Express Sauce on your table in less than 30 minutes!

Making Orange Chicken With Panda Express Sauce at home is so easy, much better and quicker than Panda Express. A quick stir fry with orange sauce and your family will never know the difference!

Original Orange Chicken by Panda Express

Total Time

1 hr 5 min

Prep Time

20 minutes

Cook Time

15 minutes

Ingredients

for 8 servings

CHICKEN

  • 2 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs(905 g)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 cup cornstarch(125 g)
  • 3 cups flour(375 g)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ½ cups water(360 mL)
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 6 cups oil(1 ½ L), for frying

ORANGE SAUCE

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • ¼ teaspoon chili flake
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon ginger, minced
  • ¼ cup sugar(50 g)
  • ¼ cup brown sugar(55 g)
  • ¼ cup orange juice(60 mL)
  • ¼ cup white distilled vinegar(60 mL)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

Preparation

  1. On a cutting board, cut chicken into 1×1-inch (2×2-cm) cubes and set aside.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine salt, white pepper, cornstarch, and flour. Whisk to combine.
  3. Add the egg, water, and oil until it reaches the consistency of pancake batter.
  4. Add the chicken to the batter and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
  5. Heat oil in a wok or heavy bottom pan to 350˚F (180˚C).
  6. Gently add the chicken and cook for 5-6 minutes until lightly golden brown.
  7. Remove the chicken from the pan and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
  8. Set a heavy bottomed pot over medium- high heat and add the oil.
  9. Once the oil begins to shimmer, add the red pepper flakes, ginger, and garlic, and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
  10. Add the sugar and brown sugar, and stir to combine.
  11. Add in the orange juice and allow the sugars to begin to dissolve in the liquid, stirring occasionally.
  12. Add in the vinegar and soy sauce, and stir to combine.
  13. Add the cornstarch and water together and whisk to combine. Add to the pan and stir.
  14. Continue to cook the sauce until maple syrup consistency is achieved.
  15. Add in the fried chicken and stir until completely coated in the sauce.
  16. Top with sesame oil.
  17. Enjoy!

Panda Express Orange Chicken (Copycat)

Panda Express Orange Chicken with tender chicken thighs fried crisp and tossed in a magical perfect-copycat sauce!

Panda Express Orange Chicken with tender chicken thighs fried crisp and tossed in a magical perfect-copycat sauce!

Panda Express Orange Chicken is the most popular recipe on the Panda Express menu and I’m sure you all know why! This recipe will make you dance a little in your chair as you eat it because it is just right on the money!

This recipe is different than the orange chicken recipe with orange marmalade that is SUPER popular online because the sauce in that recipe is based on a mixture of barbecue sauce and orange marmalade. While some of the pictures may look slightly similar, this Panda Express Orange Chicken is going to taste a lot different.

Panda Express Orange Chicken

Panda Express Orange Chicken

Looking for the ENTIRE Panda Express Recipe List? I have recreated the entire menu on the blog and have a Panda Express Recipe Index so you can easily access them! I have an entire section of the site dedicated to your favorite copycat recipes too!

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This Panda Express Orange Chicken Copycat is spot on and is SO EASY. PLUS theres a video!

It may seem like there are a lot of ingredients at play here and a lot of dishes to dirty, but it really does come together pretty quickly and at the end of the cooking when you have a plate of this chicken waiting to be eaten you’ll forget all about that pile of dishes left behind!

If you would like to kick up the heat a little bit and make this a spicy orange chicken, I suggest about ½ tablespoon of Sriracha mixed into the sauce. Any additional heat you can add with crushed red peppers.

If you’re looking to make your Orange Chicken healthy I have THE EXACT SAME Panda Express Orange Chicken recipe on the blog adapted for a much healthier meal. Look at Ground Orange Chicken (1 Pan!) and I even make it into a burrito (which was AMAZING) —> Orange Chicken Burrito. Most people make a version of baked orange chicken to lighten the calories, I do it instead with ground chicken which is browned really well first to give the crispy texture without the breading.

Panda Express Orange Chicken with tender chicken thighs fried crisp and tossed in a magical perfect-copycat sauce!

You all have loved this recipe so much since I posted it originally in 2015, I made a Q&A section of the most popular questions I was asked:

Orange Chicken Recipe for Crockpot/Slow Cooker?

I used to actually make this recipe in the slow cooker when Tyson made raw chicken tenders. I’d just put the tenders in the slow cooker with the sauce, cook on low for 3 hours, then add in a bit of cornstarch/water slurry and cook an additional hour. Now, I make small nuggets, bread them in panko then freeze them and cook them the same way. This recipe is coming soon on the blog.

 How do you make an orange sauce?

Orange Sauce is a mixture of vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, orange zest and crushed crushed red peppers that thicken in a pan with deep fried battered chicken with will help thicken the sauce, It is super easy to make.

What is in General Tso’s chicken?

General Tso’s Chicken (you can find it here on the blog) is probably the closest tasting dish to Orange Chicken. Though it doesn’t contain any orange, it does have many similar ingredients including soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, cornstarch as well as dried red chili peppers and garlic. It is tossed with deep fried chicken pieces as well.

How do you make sesame chicken?

Sesame Chicken Definitely has a similar flavor profile to Orange Chicken but  it is normally made with chicken broth, sugar, vinegar, dark soy sauce and sesame oil which is cooked down in the pan to thicken before being added to the chicken.

What is in Orange Beef?

Orange Beef is the far less known version of Chinese Food with orange flavors. Since orange chicken is so popular most people don’t order the beef version. Simply purchase the best beef you are comfortable buying (I prefer ribeye, chuck roast works okay too) and freeze for 30 minutes. Slice VERY thinly against the grain and cook it just like you would the orange chicken.

Tools used in the making of this Panda Express Orange Chicken:
Wok: The best way to cook quickly and over high heat for Asian dishes, this wok is the perfect stir fry pan.
Sriracha: Quite possibly the king of all pre-made hot sauces as far as I’m concerned. Adds heat without overwhelming you and can be used in almost every cuisine. Try mixing with mayo to make a perfect spicy mayo!
Citrus Zester: This zests your citrus perfectly without getting any of the pith in the recipe.
Soy Sauce: Nothing much to say here except Kikkoman has the best flavor overall and I always recommend reduced sodium.

Panda Express Orange Chicken Copycat [Video]

Cook time

COOK TIME: 20 MINUTES

Panda Express Orange Chicken Copycat is an easy Chinese dish that is made with crispy and flavorful chicken, tossed in a delicious and tangy orange sauce. This is the perfect budget-friendly dinner for the whole family to enjoy. 

If you are craving Chinese food that is affordable and quick to make then this recipe is the perfect one to try. It is crispy, flavorful, and ready in less than 30 minutes from start to finish. You can also try my General Tso Chicken, Moo Goo Gai Pan, and Mongolian Beef recipe.

Panda express orange chicken (copycat) recipe

This Orange Chicken recipe tastes just like the famous Panda Express restaurant dish. The only difference is that you can make it easily at home at a fraction of the cost. This recipe yields super tender chicken meat that is soaked in a tangy, orange-based sauce. I actually think it easily beats the take-out version!

Play Video

Another benefit of making it at home is that you can control the ingredients and adjust them accordingly. Also, if you have a larger family, or if you are hosting a gathering, feel free to easily double or triple it. 

This recipe tastes just like the original version of Orange Chicken, but the sauce here is tangier, with a sweet and sour taste to it, which is also deeper and more flavorful. We like serving it over white rice, brown rice, or soba noodles. I’ve been perfecting this recipe for quite a while now and as a result this dish always receives rave reviews.

Panda Express orange chicken copycat ingredients

How to make panda express orange chicken:

  1. Prepare the Sauce: To make the famous sauce, you have to combine cornstarch, rice wine, water, orange juice, sesame oil, white sugar, brown sugar, white vinegar, orange zest, ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes. First, you stir it and set it aside to cook later.
  2. Prepare the meat: To fry the chicken you have to prepare two shallow bowls, one with a beaten and seasoned egg and another with a mixture of flour and cornstarch, Then, dip the chicken pieces into the egg mixture, after that drenge them into the flour mixture.
  3. Fry: Next, heat oil in a large pan or frying wok to 375 degrees F and fry the chicken pieces in batches, until cooked through, crispy and golden. Set aside once done.
  4. Boil the Sauce: Discard the oil from the pan, leaving in only about one tablespoon, and add the sauce. Then, stir and bring it to a boil.
  5. Add back the Chicken: Add back the fried chicken into the sauce and stir until well combined. The dish is done when the sauce has thickened. Serve with rice.

Panda express orange chicken recipe variations:

  • Instant Pot version: You can make it in the Instant Pot, check our recipe for Instant Pot Orange Chicken.
  • Veggies: Make it healthier by stir-frying some veggies BEFORE adding the sauce back into the pan. Some suggestions that would be delicious include: sliced bell peppers, sliced red onion, broccoli, bok choy, sugar snap peas.
  • Make it Spicier: If you prefer your Chinese food to have a spicy kick, make sure to add more red pepper flakes, even some hot sauce or cayenne pepper into the sauce.
  • Make it healthier: For a healthier version, substitute sugars with honey or maple syrup. You can also lightly fry the chicken or bake it and chop it into pieces.
  • Other Meats: This recipe can be done with pork and beef as well.
  • Vegetarian: Make it vegetarian by using tofu. You can fry some firm tofu or bake it until crispy, and after that use in this recipe.
  • Play with the toppings: Top it with crushed peanuts, red pepper flakes, chopped scallions, and sesame seeds.
Crispy Panda Express orange chicken copycat

Orange chicken vs sweet and sour chicken – what is the difference?

The difference is basically in the sauce that is used. Sweet and Sour Chicken is also traditionally made with more veggies like onions, bell peppers, and pineapple.

Also, the sweet and Sour Sauce is a vinegar-based sauce. This is what it gives that classic sour and acidic taste, that is balanced with some sweetness from the sugar and juices used to make it.

On the other hand, the orange sauce is a much sweeter sauce, not as acidic, with a more pronounced citrus flavor.

How to store orange chicken?

  • Store it in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the fringe. Keep in mind, that the meat will get a nit soggy in the fridge and won’t be as crispy.
  • You can also fry and freeze the chicken separately, and the sauce separately for up to 3 months. Thaw and combine when ready to serve.

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