There is just something about the smell of Chinese food that makes my taste buds go crazy. I love the smell of the fresh garlic and spices from Panda Express when we drive by the restaurant. One of my favorite dishes from Panda Express is the Orange Chicken and so I created my own to make at home
This copycat version tastes just like the Orange Chicken entree at Panda Express.
The best part for me is that our large family can eat it anytime we want now. Panda Express Orange Chicken is sweet & sour with a little hint of spice and this recipe tastes just like the original. I’ve been perfecting this recipe for quite a while now and as a result this recipe always receives rave reviews.
Our Walmart Neighborhood Market has a Panda Express sitting right next door. Whenever we go to get groceries we always smell the mix of asian inspired food filling the air and inevitably one of our kids will say, “Can we go to Panda Express?” It’s always so tempting to say yes, but most often we stay on track.
Could you guess which chicken below is the Panda Express and which is mine without the labels?
To come up with this recipe we bought an order of Orange Chicken by itself . This really confused the lady in the drive through when we pulled up with our van full. We all tried the chicken right away and I saved one or two pieces for later.
I took a note of the different flavors. There was a hint of orange/citrus, a sweet rice wine vinegar taste, salty soy sauce, a hint of garlic and a spicy kick at the end. I saved some of the chicken so that we could have a taste test at the end too. This whole experiment was so fun! If you have been following me on Facebook; the chicken on the left was the Copycat Panda Express Orange Chicken and the right was the Panda Express!
If you would like to skip all the helpful tips and tricks to make this the best copycat version of Panda Express Orange Chicken ever; feel free to scroll down to the bottom of the post where the recipe is.
The great thing about making homemade orange chicken is that you can also make this dish a little healthier. Instead of using the batter and frying; make it into a stir fry. Stir fry the chicken in a skillet with just a tbsp. of oil (no coating) instead of frying it and cook thoroughly. Add the yummy orange sauce into the pan and cook for a few more minutes while tossing the chicken with the sauce.
Tools you’ll need to make Panda Express Orange Chicken:
FAQ about Orange Chicken:
- Does Panda Express Orange Chicken have gluten? If you buy it in the restaurant then it will have gluten. If you want to make your own version without gluten then just follow the recipe below exactly except replace the flour with corn starch or gluten free flour. We have made it several times this way for my youngest daughter and it’s great!
- Is Panda Express Orange Chicken Dark Meat? Yes. Panda Express uses boneless skinless dark meat which is most likely from chicken thighs or legs. I like to use whatever I have on hand. Just make sure that it is boneless and skinless.
- Is Panda Express Orange Chicken Spicy? It does have a mild spicy taste. I know that wether something is spicy or not may be subjective, but even my mom that does not like spicy things will eat this chicken. So I would say it is pretty mild, but you might get a little “kick” in the back of your throat while eating it. The red pepper in this adds all the spicy kick. If you want it spicier just add more red pepper flakes or Sriracha sauce. I like to serve some Sriracha sauce on the side for anyone that wants to add more to the dish after serving.
- How long can orange chicken sit out? According to food safety standards, orange chicken should not be left out at room temperature for longer than two hours.
- How long can orange chicken be stored in the refrigerator? You can safely store orange chicken in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. The chicken will not be crispy when served a second time so keep this in mind.
- How do you reheat orange chicken? My preference is to microwave in a microwave safe dish on high for 1 minute. Stir the chicken after one minute and cook on high for another 30 seconds. Repeat heating for another 30 seconds until the chicken is steaming hot. Be careful when removing from the microwave.
- Is orange chicken the same as sweet and sour? No. While they both have sweet and sour flavors, orange chicken is a dish of its own. Orange chicken has a definite taste of orange where sweet and sour does not.
Panda Express Orange Chicken is our favorite and this copycat recipe is the best! We love to make it all the time for an easy weeknight dinner! If you love this recipe for Orange Chicken please give us a 5 star review below in the comments.
Try out some easy sides to go along with this recipe like baked turkey egg rolls and make some extra orange sauce to dip them in too. The baked turkey egg rolls are another easy recipe to make. If you don’t want to add meat in the egg rolls then just omit the turkey to make vegetable egg rolls. You could also fry these egg rolls instead of baking if you want to make them more like authentic Chinese take out.
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Panda Express Orange Chicken · Copycat Recipe
Ingredients for the chicken:
- 1 pound chicken breasts or thighs (really tasty) cut into irregular 1 inch cubes
- 1-2 cups self- rising flour or cornstarch if making gluten free
- 2 large eggs
- 3 cups Oil for deep frying or as many cups as you need for your fryer
Ingredients for orange chicken glaze/sauce:
- 1 large orange juiced 1 large orange is around 3/4 cups
- 1/4 tsp. orange zest
- 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 3 Tbsp. Sugar
- 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
- 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar found near the soy sauce in most grocery stores- use a brand like Nakano
- 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes or 1/2 tsp. Sriracha sauce Use to taste. Add more if you like it spicy
- 1 clove of garlic minced
- 2 tsp. corn starch
- 1/8 tsp. ground ginger
- Heat the oil in a frying vessel or fryer to 375 degrees. This temperature is optimal for a deep fry. Make sure there is enough oil to cover the chicken.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs until they are mixed thoroughly. In another medium sized bowl put 1 cup of the flour or cornstarch (you can add more later if you need it). Dip the chicken first in the eggs then coat the pieces with the flour. Repeat this step until you have the desired amount to fry.
- Next, take around 1/4 of the coated chicken and add the chicken to the hot oil in the fryer or frying pan. Depending on your frying vessel the chicken will need to be fried in batches. The chicken pieces should not be touching in the fryer. You will know they are ready to take out when the coating is medium brown and the inside of the chicken reaches at least 165 degrees. Around 3 to 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile make the sauce: Combine all the sauce ingredients in a small pot (making sure that the cornstarch is dissolved before cooking. Heat on medium heat until the sauce thickens. This will take around 7 minutes.
- Last step: Place fried chicken in a large sized bowl and pour the sauce on top. Toss lightly until all chicken is coated. Serve immediately.