Panda Express Kung Pao Chicken Copycat

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Panda Express Kung Pao Chicken with zucchini, bell peppers and crunchy peanuts in an easy ginger garlic sauce, the recipe is authentically Panda Express!

Panda Express Kung Pao Chicken is Full of spicy chicken, zucchini, red bell peppers and crunchy peanuts in an easy ginger garlic sauce, this recipe is authentically Panda Express!

Panda Express Kung Pao Chicken recipe straight from the source! A chef from Panda Express gave the recipe to a reporter in Honolulu and now I am bringing it to you with the addition of zucchini and red bell pepper just as it is served in the restaurants.

You know me, I absolutely love copycat recipes. There is just some part of me that finds something I love and then I need to figure out a way to make it at home. When I happen to land on authentic recipes that the restaurants have shared, then i feel like it is an even more exciting “get” and I move those recipes to the top of the list to test.

In fact in the list below the Spicy Cashew Chicken and the Kung Pao Chicken Spaghetti are authentic recipes released by the restaurants. Sometimes in obscure places like the Spicy Cashew Chicken that was only shared on a morning show on a local broadcast or this recipe which was shared in a local news story about a location opening up in Honolulu in 2007. Sometimes being an internet detective pays off!

Serve it up with your favorite Panda Express recipes… especially the ones you can find here on the Panda Express Recipes Index where I have EVERY SINGLE Panda Express recipe including Panda Express Orange ChickenPanda Express Chow MeinPanda Express Mushroom Chicken and more!

Or if you fancy additional Chinese food recipes but don’t need them to be Panda Express Copycats… check out:

You’ll love this Panda Express Kung Pao Chicken, even if you have never enjoyed it at Panda because the amount of oil per serving is just 1 tablespoon and with the addition of white meat chicken, zucchini and bell peppers, this dish is very healthy even though it is “take out.”

If you want to cut down the fat even further you can either ditch the peanuts in the pan and just sprinkle a couple of crushed peanuts on top or cut down on the oil by using half.

Authentic Panda Express Kung Pao Chicken from Panda Express themselves and SO EASY!

Tools Used in the making of this Panda Express Kung Pao Spaghetti:
Soy Sauce: Nothing much to say here except Kikkoman has the best flavor overall and I always recommend reduced sodium.
Panda Express Kung Pao Sauce: If you don’t want to make the sauce yourself you can buy the bottled variety and follow the recipe for the vegetables and chicken to complete the dish.
Wok: The best way to cook quickly and over high heat for Asian dishes, this wok is the perfect stir fry pan.
Sesame Oil: The flavor of sesame oil in this dish is unmistakeable and not really able to be substituted. Some Asian grocery stores will try and sell less expensive options that aren’t actually sesame oil, so just be sure the one you’re buying is authentic sesame oil.

Recipe

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Panda Express Kung Pao Chicken

4.96 from 25 votes
  • Yield: 4 servings
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Course: Main Course
  • Cuisine: Chinese
  • Author: Sabrina Snyder
Panda Express Kung Pao Chicken is Full of spicy chicken, zucchini, red bell peppers and crunchy peanuts in an easy ginger garlic sauce, this recipe is authentically Panda Express!

Ingredients

  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast , diced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 large egg
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon cooking wine (I used white wine)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce (I use Kikkoman Reduced Sodium)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil (divided use)
  • 12 whole dry chili peppers , smaller than 3 inches; if longer, cut in half
  • 1/4 cup diced green onion , white part only, in 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground garlic
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red chili pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1/2 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 ounces dry roasted peanuts
  • 1 red bell pepper , cut into 3/4 inch cubes
  • 1 large zucchini , cut into 3/4 inch cubes

Instructions

Note: click on times in the instructions to start a kitchen timer while cooking.

  1. Combine the chicken, 1/4 cup water, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 egg, 1/4 cup cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

  2. In a small bowl add the wine, soy sauce and water and set aside.
  3. Heat wok/skillet on high heat 10 seconds, you want that pan to be nice and hot!

  4. Add 2 tablespoons vegetable oil.
  5. Remove chicken from marinade and add to wok, cooking on high heat for 60 seconds.

  6. Remove the chicken from the pan, add another 1/2 tablespoon of oil and the red bell pepper and zucchini.
  7. Cook on high and cook for 1-2 minutes, until just caramelized and slightly cooked.

  8. Remove vegetables and add the chili peppers.
  9. Stir until they darken a bit, then add the green onions, peanuts, ginger, garlic, crushed red pepper, and sesame oil.
  10. Stir for 2-3 seconds and immediately add the wine/soy/water mixture.

  11. Bring it to a boil, then add the cornstarch and water mix and stir until it has thickened.
  12. Add the chicken and vegetables back in, stir to combine.
  13. To make my chicken more like Panda Express I actually cut the chicken into large cubes then pulsed it twice in the food processor for just a 1/2 second each just to break it apart and give is the same unique look.

Recipe Notes

To make my chicken more like Panda Express I actually cut the chicken into large cubes then pulsed it twice in the food processor for just a 1/2 second each just to break it apart and give is the same unique look.

Nutrition Information

Yield: 4 servings, Amount per serving: 436 calories, Calories: 436g, Carbohydrates: 17g, Protein: 30g, Fat: 27g, Saturated Fat: 14g, Cholesterol: 93mg, Sodium: 1173mg, Potassium: 791mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 1700g, Vitamin C: 49.7g, Calcium: 29g, Iron: 1.8g

All images and text © for Dinner, then Dessert.

Keywords: kung pao, kung pao chicken, Panda Express Kung Pao Chicken (Copycat)
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Here are some pictures from when the post was originally photographed in September 2015:

Full of Spicy Wok fired Chicken Breast, Zucchini, Red Bell Peppers and crunchy Peanuts in a Sesame Ginger-Garlic Sauce, this recipe is Authentically Panda Express! The recipe is straight from the source! http://archives.starbulletin.com/2007/01/17/features/story01.html BACK TO TOP art CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM Panda Express customer favorite Kung Pao Chicken. CLICK FOR LARGE Kung Pao Chicken is tasty, too No luck getting that Orange Chicken recipe, but Panda was willing to part with another of its top dishes. Kung Pao Chicken 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced into 1/2-inch pieces, rinsed and drained 1 teaspoon cooking wine 2-1/2 tablespoons soy sauce 1/3 cup water 2-1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided use 12 whole dry chili peppers (smaller than 3 inches; if longer, cut in half) 1/4 cup diced green onion, white part only, in 1/2-inch pieces 1 teaspoon ground ginger 1 teaspoon ground garlic 1 teaspoon crushed red chili pepper 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1/2 tablespoon water 1 teaspoon sesame oil 2 ounces dry roasted peanuts » Marinade: 1/4 cup water 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 egg 1/4 cup cornstarch 2 tablespoons vegetable oil Combine marinade ingredients. Add chicken; refrigerate at least 1 hour. Combine wine, soy sauce and water; set aside. Heat wok on high heat 10 seconds. Add 2 tablespoons oil and heat well. Remove chicken from marinade and add to wok. Stir-fry quickly, 60 seconds. Remove chicken; drain well. Add chili peppers. Stir-fry until they darken. If wok becomes too dry, add 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil. Add green onions, ginger, garlic and crushed red chili pepper. Stir-fry 5 seconds. Return chicken to wok; stir soy sauce/wine mixture and add; stir until sauce boils, then add cornstarch mix to thicken. Add sesame oil and peanuts. Stir and fold until ingredients are thoroughly mixed. Serves 3.Full of Spicy Wok fired Chicken Breast, Zucchini, Red Bell Peppers and crunchy Peanuts in a Sesame Ginger-Garlic Sauce, this recipe is Authentically Panda Express! The recipe is straight from the source! http://archives.starbulletin.com/2007/01/17/features/story01.html BACK TO TOP art CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM Panda Express customer favorite Kung Pao Chicken. CLICK FOR LARGE Kung Pao Chicken is tasty, too No luck getting that Orange Chicken recipe, but Panda was willing to part with another of its top dishes. Kung Pao Chicken 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced into 1/2-inch pieces, rinsed and drained 1 teaspoon cooking wine 2-1/2 tablespoons soy sauce 1/3 cup water 2-1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided use 12 whole dry chili peppers (smaller than 3 inches; if longer, cut in half) 1/4 cup diced green onion, white part only, in 1/2-inch pieces 1 teaspoon ground ginger 1 teaspoon ground garlic 1 teaspoon crushed red chili pepper 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1/2 tablespoon water 1 teaspoon sesame oil 2 ounces dry roasted peanuts » Marinade: 1/4 cup water 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 egg 1/4 cup cornstarch 2 tablespoons vegetable oil Combine marinade ingredients. Add chicken; refrigerate at least 1 hour. Combine wine, soy sauce and water; set aside. Heat wok on high heat 10 seconds. Add 2 tablespoons oil and heat well. Remove chicken from marinade and add to wok. Stir-fry quickly, 60 seconds. Remove chicken; drain well. Add chili peppers. Stir-fry until they darken. If wok becomes too dry, add 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil. Add green onions, ginger, garlic and crushed red chili pepper. Stir-fry 5 seconds. Return chicken to wok; stir soy sauce/wine mixture and add; stir until sauce boils, then add cornstarch mix to thicken. Add sesame oil and peanuts. Stir and fold until ingredients are thoroughly mixed. Serves 3.

Full of Spicy Wok fired Chicken Breast, Zucchini, Red Bell Peppers and crunchy Peanuts in a Sesame Ginger-Garlic Sauce, this recipe is Authentically Panda Express! The recipe is straight from the source! http://archives.starbulletin.com/2007/01/17/features/story01.html BACK TO TOP art CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM Panda Express customer favorite Kung Pao Chicken. CLICK FOR LARGE Kung Pao Chicken is tasty, too No luck getting that Orange Chicken recipe, but Panda was willing to part with another of its top dishes. Kung Pao Chicken 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced into 1/2-inch pieces, rinsed and drained 1 teaspoon cooking wine 2-1/2 tablespoons soy sauce 1/3 cup water 2-1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided use 12 whole dry chili peppers (smaller than 3 inches; if longer, cut in half) 1/4 cup diced green onion, white part only, in 1/2-inch pieces 1 teaspoon ground ginger 1 teaspoon ground garlic 1 teaspoon crushed red chili pepper 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1/2 tablespoon water 1 teaspoon sesame oil 2 ounces dry roasted peanuts » Marinade: 1/4 cup water 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 egg 1/4 cup cornstarch 2 tablespoons vegetable oil Combine marinade ingredients. Add chicken; refrigerate at least 1 hour. Combine wine, soy sauce and water; set aside. Heat wok on high heat 10 seconds. Add 2 tablespoons oil and heat well. Remove chicken from marinade and add to wok. Stir-fry quickly, 60 seconds. Remove chicken; drain well. Add chili peppers. Stir-fry until they darken. If wok becomes too dry, add 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil. Add green onions, ginger, garlic and crushed red chili pepper. Stir-fry 5 seconds. Return chicken to wok; stir soy sauce/wine mixture and add; stir until sauce boils, then add cornstarch mix to thicken. Add sesame oil and peanuts. Stir and fold until ingredients are thoroughly mixed. Serves 3.Full of Spicy Wok fired Chicken Breast, Zucchini, Red Bell Peppers and crunchy Peanuts in a Sesame Ginger-Garlic Sauce, this recipe is Authentically Panda Express! The recipe is straight from the source! http://archives.starbulletin.com/2007/01/17/features/story01.html BACK TO TOP art CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM Panda Express customer favorite Kung Pao Chicken. CLICK FOR LARGE Kung Pao Chicken is tasty, too No luck getting that Orange Chicken recipe, but Panda was willing to part with another of its top dishes. Kung Pao Chicken 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced into 1/2-inch pieces, rinsed and drained 1 teaspoon cooking wine 2-1/2 tablespoons soy sauce 1/3 cup water 2-1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided use 12 whole dry chili peppers (smaller than 3 inches; if longer, cut in half) 1/4 cup diced green onion, white part only, in 1/2-inch pieces 1 teaspoon ground ginger 1 teaspoon ground garlic 1 teaspoon crushed red chili pepper 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1/2 tablespoon water 1 teaspoon sesame oil 2 ounces dry roasted peanuts » Marinade: 1/4 cup water 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 egg 1/4 cup cornstarch 2 tablespoons vegetable oil Combine marinade ingredients. Add chicken; refrigerate at least 1 hour. Combine wine, soy sauce and water; set aside. Heat wok on high heat 10 seconds. Add 2 tablespoons oil and heat well. Remove chicken from marinade and add to wok. Stir-fry quickly, 60 seconds. Remove chicken; drain well. Add chili peppers. Stir-fry until they darken. If wok becomes too dry, add 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil. Add green onions, ginger, garlic and crushed red chili pepper. Stir-fry 5 seconds. Return chicken to wok; stir soy sauce/wine mixture and add; stir until sauce boils, then add cornstarch mix to thicken. Add sesame oil and peanuts. Stir and fold until ingredients are thoroughly mixed. Serves 3.

We LOVED this Panda Express Kung Pao Chicken, it was so easy to make and the best copycat!
Panda Express Kung Pao Chicken is Full of spicy chicken, zucchini, red bell peppers and crunchy peanuts in an easy ginger garlic sauce, this recipe is authentically Panda Express!

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Comments

  1. Thanks for this recipe Sabrina. Love this recipe!—I’ve made it 3x now. The only thing I did differently from the first time is I add 1 T. peanut butter to the sauce. This recipe, served along with your copycat Panda lo mein and brown rice, is now a regular in our menu rotation.

  2. This was absolutely fantastic! Made it as-is for the first try and it was wonderful. And now that I know the recipe works I can make changes to my own family’s tastes. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe.

  3. Thank you. I am not a chef or a cook. I made this as a surprise for my wife who was returning from a long day out.

    It was fun for me to make (I had most of the mess cleaned up before she walked in) and she loved it.

    It even worked in a hot frying pan instead of a wok, and making some nominal changes due to what was on hand (celery in place of zuchini, for example). It took me several minutes to sear the chicken versus 60 seconds. I didn’t want any pink showing on the chicken at this stage. I didn’t know how much more cooking it would get.

    The recipe was very mild (a “1” , not spicy at all). We added more crushed red chili peppers to our individual servings. I would increase the amount of red crushed chili peppers to make it a 2 or 3 on the spiciness level (on 1-5 scale). My taste is to have it a noticeable warm glow, but not burning.

    We will have this again. Thank you.

  4. I love Kung Pao so I was excited to try this recipe. But I’m guessing I used the wrong dried peppers?? My store only had “Oriental hot chilies”. I googled it to see if they were the same and couldn’t find any info that they were not the right ones…but they were soooo hot! Even after picking them all out, my kids couldn’t eat the dinner. Are they the wrong peppers? Maybe I will attempt it again if you can help. Thanks.

  5. To make it closer to the actual recipe you’ll need to cook the marinaded meat in enough oil to submerge at 275 for about 50 seconds. The veggies are blanched in boiling water for 10 seconds. then once those are done you add oil to a hot wok, then hot chili peppers, cook till just brown, not red or black. Immediately add green onions, garlic and ginger, then meat. Next cooking wine and soy sauce mixture with cornstarch. The sauce should thicken before adding the veggies. At the very end once it is tossed together, add the sesame oil THEN the peanuts. This is an important step because the peanuts will become soggy if they are not added at the end. You will know it is done when the sauce is almost a solid.

  6. To be truly “authentic” this recipe must use chicken thigh meat rather than breast meat. Other than that it is a great recipe.

  7. This recipe is amazing. I’m too novice to know better, so I did make some substitutions and alterations (clearly watching cooking shows has made me perhaps a little too confident). Used pre-cooked chicken, which didn’t take to the marinade as much as fresh probably would but still good. All spice for ginger. And I added baby corn (with the zucchini) and celery (with the onions). I also didn’t have Thai chilies at my local market so I substituted sweet chili garlic sauce and a splash of Sriracha and it turned out BETTER than the PE version (which is saying something because before I made this today was obsessed). Thank you so much for sharing!