Panda Express Orange Chicken (Copycat)

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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.

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!

Want some of the most popular Panda Express recipes?

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 1/2 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.

 

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.
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.

Recipe

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Panda Express Orange Chicken

4.93 from 97 votes
  • Yield: 6 servings
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Course: Main Course
  • Cuisine: Chinese
  • Author: Sabrina Snyder
Panda Express Orange Chicken with tender chicken thighs fried crisp and tossed in a magical perfect-copycat sauce!

Ingredients

FOR THE CHICKEN:

  • 2 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1" pieces
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 pinch black pepper
  • 2 tbsp oil divided, plus more for frying
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup flour

FOR THE SAUCE:

TO FINISH:

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ginger root minced
  • 2 teaspoons garlic minced
  • 1/2 tsp hot red chili pepper crushed

Instructions

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

  1. To make the sauce combine the 1 tablespoon cornstarch, rice wine, water, sesame oil, soy sauce, sugar, white vinegar and orange zest.
  2. To coat the chicken add the egg, salt, pepper and 1 tablespoon oil into a bowl and whisk together in a large bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, add 1/2 cup corn starch and flour and mix well.
  4. In a large frying pan or a wok, heat oil in a wok 375 degrees.
  5. Dip chicken pieces in the egg mixture, then dredge in the flour mixture.
  6. Fry the chicken for 3 to 4 minutes or until golden and crisp.

  7. Transfer to a cooling rack and repeat with remaining chicken.
  8. When you are done with the chicken, drain most of the oil from the pan (leave about a tablespoon).
  9. Add the ginger, garlic and crushed red peppers, cooking for about 10 seconds.

  10. Add the orange sauce and bring to boil.

  11. Turn off the heat, and add cooked chicken and stir until well mixed.

Recipe Video

Nutrition Information

Yield: 6 servings, Amount per serving: 419 calories, Calories: 419g, Carbohydrates: 36g, Protein: 36g, Fat: 12g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 122mg, Sodium: 1171mg, Potassium: 601mg, Sugar: 20g, Vitamin A: 40g, Vitamin C: 0.3g, Calcium: 15g, Iron: 1.5g

All images and text © for Dinner, then Dessert.

Keyword: Panda Express Orange Chicken (Copycat)
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The pictures above are from a newly photographed, but here were the originals from 2015: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!

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Comments

  1. I made this recipe a few days ago and we’re still talking about how DELICIOUS it was! I can’t believe how perfect it came out. Thank you sharing! We’ll never go out and buy it again.

  2. Hi Sabrina
    I just wanted to thank you for sharing this recipe, my wife and I live in Australia and we first got to taste Panda Express back in 2009 on one of our trips to the USA, we make Panda Express one of our must haves when we visit the USA as it does not exist in Australia.
    Now with your help we can have this delicious meal when ever we want at home. The Orange Chicken is my wife’s favourite dish and mine in Beijing Beef which we also cook very regularly. These recipes are so tasty and better than anything from a restaurant.
    Once again thank you for sharing these recipes. We will look forward to trying many more in the future.

    Thank you
    Paul

    1. I’m so happy to have helped with satisfying the craving! Thanks for taking the time to come back and let me know, Paul.

  3. Omg. Me and hubby is making this right now and the chicken is good even before the orange sauce and maybe it’s just me but this taste better than said restaurant. I’m going to make this again definitely.

  4. The family loved this dish. Didn’t have oranges so I used clementines and red wine vinegar instead of rice wine.

    Its definitely going in to the recipe book

  5. Very impressed with this recipe. Very, very good and delicious. Hit my orange chicken craving better than takeout. Make it, it’s worth it. Thanks for a great recipe!

    1. Doubled the recipe and would cut back on vinegar and orange zest if doubled again.. Great flavor just too much vinegar.

  6. I subbed apple cider vinegar for rice wine and it was excellent. Many steps but did not find it difficult. I used breasts also.

  7. Thank you for this recipe Sabrina! I have just discovered your page and this recipe was SO GOOD! Loved it exactly as written (except using chicken breast since that’s what I had!). Thank goodness I only made a small portion, since I 100% would have eaten the entire batch no matter how big! Yum 🙂

  8. My 12 year old son just made this by following the directions. The only thing is we didn’t have rice wine so we used white cooking wine. Everything else was the same. It had a GREAT flavour!! I only wished it was more crunchy but the flavor is very good. The whole thing was good actually, I’m just being picky. My son said he wouldn’t do it again because it was “too much work.” Welcome to cooking from scratch!!! Haha

  9. What kind of oil is the best for frying the chicken in this recipe. Lately I’ve been reading that Canola oil is not good for frying (what I’ve always used) Also, one time I made this the cornstarch mixture came off on the oil and it was still good, but I had a big mess. Thank you.

  10. I have never left a review for a Pinterest recipe before but this causes for a review because it deserves it! This is literally the BEST recipe I have ever tried from Pinterest. It is amazing. Tastes exactly like real Chinese. The ONLY thing I did different is I used white grape fruit juice vs rice wine because I didn’t have any. Everything else I followed exactly like the recipe. 5 stars!!!

  11. Thanks for sharing! Made it tonight and it was a big sucess ? shared this to some of friends who are fans of panda express orange chicken.
    I didn’t use the vinegar at all. Instead, I used lemon juice and lemon zest and mixed them with everything listed in the sauce ingredients into a measuring cup.

  12. I just made this and it taste EXACTLY like the Panda Express orange chicken! I’m so excited because I live in Amsterdam and craved Panda Express. Thank you so much for this recipe! I followed the recipe except used 6 tablespoon white vinegar and 7 tablespoons of sugar.

  13. This is a great alternative and the best copycat recipe I’ve found for orange chicken so far. I found the sauce to be a bit too zesty – too vinegary – so I would cut that down a bit if making again. Further, I would use mandarins instead of orange and use the juice of the fruit to reduce the water amount (dislike having wasted ingredients). The time to prepare and cook are grossly underestimated – not a quick weeknight meal. Estimate altogether a 2 hour prep/cook time – perhaps even a bit longer to prepare side dishes to accompany. I needed to triple the egg wash and starch/flour mixtures to coat 2.32lbs of chicken thighs. Oh, I doubled the sauce mixture as I tend to like things a bit saucy and I added a couple dashes of sriracha as well as a pinch of red pepper flakes and it was the perfect amount. Perhaps I’d also saute in a shallot with the garlic and ginger and then use an immersion blender to blend then add the orange sauce to simmer. Thanks for sharing.

  14. Made this as the main dish with the ragoons as the appetizer. Both recipes are perfect. Spot on in flavor to those from Panda. My son who loves eating out says this was the best chicken he has ever tasted. I used 3 chicken breasts instead of thighs. Thanks!

  15. This recipe is fantastic and instructions easy to follow. Thank you so much for supplying – we don’t have Panda Express is Australia and this recipe is a great reminder of the Orange Chicken we fell in love with on vacation.

  16. Okay, this is phenomenal. Takes just a bit of time and SO worth it. Easy to make in a small college apartment kitchen. This will be one of those recipes that is committed to memory and a staple in my repertoire in no time!

  17. Tried this recipe because my son wanted orange chicken and I didn’t feel like eating at this crappy Chinese fast food chain down the street from our place. I followed this recipe except I decreased the white vinegar to half and I chopped the ginger root instead on mincing it. It turned out amazing. Better than the restaurant. My husband is a huge critic of my cooking and he loved it. The most important critic of mine is my son. After one bite he tells me I am the best cook. Even better than dads. Aww…

  18. The high marks is what made me choose this recipe, and now I know why! This recipe and all of Sabrina’s Panda Express Copycat Recipes will be my go-to recipes to satisfy my family’s PE cravings. I only purchased the chicken thighs and I had all the other ingredients in my home, so it made for a very inexpensive dinner. We didn’t have an orange at the house, but we used the zest from a couple of mandarins (Cuties) instead. The orange flavor is more intense in these mandarins which I loved! The sauce was PERFECT and the coating on the chicken held up under the glaze. There wasn’t anything left. The next recipes I want to try are the Beijing Beef and the Honey Sesame Chicken because those are my personal favorites. Thanks so much for such amazing, spot-on recipes!

    1. Hey thanks for posting Dave! I was totally put off by the amt of sugar it calls for, so I’ll give it a try your way! (Jeez, no wonder it’s so good at Panda! ?)

  19. Thanks so much for this! I love orange chicken but I’ve been eating low carb so finding a recipe I could alter was fantastic. It didn’t even need much changing – I just swapped out the sugar for erythritol and liquid stevia, and switched out corn starch with xantham gum. The sauce came out tasting exactly as I remember! tossed over freshly baked chicken wings, it was so perfect!

  20. I love Panda Express´ orange chicken and I wanted to try making it by myself. Great recipe but I wonder if there’s been a mistake in the ingredients list. 10 tablespoons of vinegar left my chicken tasting horrible! I cut the vinegar flavor with even more sugar, and it worked but it wasn’t what I hoped for. I will definitely try it again, but not with all that vinegar!
    Also it took me way longer than 30 mins.

  21. Excellent! My family loved it. Very Panda Express flavor – but better. We had it with white rice and a side of sauteed Gai Choy which is similar to Bok Choy only with a spicy mustard taste. Very good with the sweet and tangy orange chicken.

  22. Omg it was sooooo good. I couldn’t stop eating it. I was scared at first because of the amount of vinegar but I didn’t even taste it. Panda Express will no longer see me in their restaurant.

  23. I’ve been looking for a good Orange Chicken recipe cause in Germany we don’t have a lot places who offer it. This is absolutely amazing. I brought my parents a plate and my mom loved it so much she asked me to make it for her birthday next year 😀
    Thanks for this, really appreciate it!

  24. This was really easy to put together and very tasty! My whole family loved it. The only change I made was subsituting 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper for the red pepper flakes, because I didn’t have those. Will definitely make this again.

    1. You could substitute orange juice for the water in the sauce. That isn’t tested so I can’t speak to if it will give you the exact same flavors, but I bet it will still be pretty delicious. Just don’t add both the water and the orange juice or you’ll thin the sauce too much.

  25. Hey, me and my mom were going to make this for dinner tonight, I was wondering, can we replace the rice wine with Orange Juice or Apple Juice? Preferably orange juice cause that’s what we have, and if so, do we have to give more of it or less of it? Thank’s best regards, Nathaniel

    1. If you want non-alcoholic, you can use white grape juice or apple juice. Keep in mind it will be slightly sweeter but it will still be good 🙂

  26. Thank you so much for this recipe. I made it for my boys today and they loved it. I usually ask them when I try something new. Is this a keeper recipe? They both shouted yes! It’s so good! Thank you Sabrina for sharing and making this Dad Look like a great Chef.

      1. Was there a particular reason why you went with chicken thighs as opposed to, lets say, chicken breasts? Are chicken thighs softer, do they taste better, cheaper at the supermarket? I’m new to cooking so I’m clueless 🙂

        1. Chicken thighs have a lot more flavor, have higher fat content (meaning the stay moist better) and they are budget friendly. Always my top choice unless I’m cooking breasts with something that will keep moisture in and/or adds a lot of flavor like wrapping them in bacon. 🙂

          Feel free to ask as many questions as you need – I love helping those that are new to cooking 🙂