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

4.95 from 132 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 was skeptical being that the only orange flavor is coming from the zest but it was more than enough orange flavor. Better than Panda Express, I’m done looking for an orange chicken recipe.

  2. Awesome recipe!!! First attempt at orange chicken and this one I will definitely be using again!!! No need to look for another orange chicken recipe this is the one!!!

  3. Where I live in Spain, there is no Panda Express like back home in Texas. So to satisfy my craving, I came across your recipe — and it’s the bomb! I don’t have a lot of experience cooking, but the recipe was so good that my son thought I went to Panda Express to get it for him for lunch — and then he wanted it for dinner too. Unfortunately there were no leftovers from lunch earlier, and even though I wanted more too, I wasn’t about to spoil it by making it again. But for sure early next week!! Thank you for sharing.

    1. This makes me so happy, Phillip! Thanks for coming back to let me know. So glad to have helped out with a craving.

  4. Thank you for sharing this recipe. Our Panda Express always runs out of this early in the evening or during the lunch hour. Then, if they do re-cook it around closing time (when we, unfortunately, happen to go), they let it set too long and burns it somewhat, so it doesn’t always taste 100% like it should. But, after getting frustrated a few times by their own recipe not living up to our standards, we plan to prepare our own homecooked version. Now, don’t get me wrong — when they have it spot-on, it is great. But, at our Panda, for some reason, it is not always living up to our (or even their) standards of how it should taste. So, I know that Dinner-Then-Dessert is going to do a better job to show us how to make it consistently good.

    1. I’m glad to be of service with sharing this recipe. It stinks when you’re craving it and it ends up falling flat from the usual standards.

  5. Great recipe, but the vinegar was way too much. It tasted very sour. Next time, I would decrease by half and use 5tablespoons.

  6. What I did is slice the legs to small portion and baked them while chicken is being baked I did the orange white vinegar with orange zest sautéed garlic unions then add the orange juice half cup put some white vinegar then put the cornstarch add a little ground pepper on it add a little salt set aside then get the chicken toast the sauce on top the add sesame seed w/thin slice of green union it makes me WOW I never taste this so way good Home Made Orange Chicken

  7. Loved this! I’ve never made orange chicken before, but the husband, son and grandsons all like it so I gave it a try. Lots of prep and dirty dishes but well worth it! Next time I’ll double it so there are leftovers.

      1. Since there is no orange juice in the recipe, the orange zest is the only ingredient providing orange flavor. If you leave out the zest the orange chicken just becomes… chicken.

  8. Made this for the 1st time last night and it was a success. Panda Express Orange Chicken is my son’s favorite so I wanted to make it for him. I also made the chow mein noodles. It did take a little longer than I expected but it was worth it. I will be making this again.

  9. Well just finished making this for dinner like I said I would and it’s a big Thumbs Up!!!!! My bf went crazy over it and said it was better than the real thing:)))
    Definitely will make this again loved the sauce!!!!

  10. Oh my God!!! I almost cried standing in my kitchen because of how good this chicken WAS. I say was because before I could even plate it I had eaten all of it so I had to go back to the kitchen to make more for my family lol. Thank you so much for posting this. This is WAY better than Panda Express. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to eat Panda Express orange chicken again when I know I can make it better. 10/10!!!!
    Now I’m about to make the chow mein and I’m sure it’ll be amazing also.

  11. I love the flavor. This is my sons FAVORITE DISH. However, mine doesn’t seem to be crispy enough. Could you advice please?

    1. It could be that the oil wasn’t hot enough when fried. Make sure not to overcrowd the pan while frying to which in turn drops the temperature of the oil. Hope this helps for next time. I’m so glad it’s his favorite!!

  12. Excellent recipe. The flavors are wonderful, with just the right amount of tang. I added a good shot of red pepper flakes to mine, and it gave it the spice I was looking for. Thank you for sharing!

  13. Did not turn out well at all. I used all of the ingredients that the recipe called for and it was bitter and the sauce was runny. In addition, the chicken had a very lumpy texture.

  14. My family loves this recipe. I did change a couple of things. First, we use orange juice instead of water. We’ve already zested the orange, we might as well use the juice, too. I also add a ton of vegetables. Tonight I added onions, broccoli, carrots, bell peppers and sugar snap peas. I usually make a recipe and a half of the sauce in order to cover all the chicken and the vegetables I add.

  15. Amazing Recipe! I didnt have sesame oil so i subbed peanut oil. Also, subbed some of the vinegar in the sauce for fresh squeezed orange juice. Really brought out the orange flavor!!

    Will make again!

  16. YOOO I just made this tonight and it’s no joke! No oddball ingredients except the rice wine for me who doesn’t touch cooking wine at all. You won’t need the whole orange though, maybe the zest of one whole cutie or half a regular-sized orange.

    My next goal is my favorite thing from Panda- BEIJING BEEF!!

  17. Last night was my 2nd time making this recipe!
    And it’s so good.
    I do a couple of things different–using the juice of the orange instead of water as the base…and then I had to add water to the cooked sauce because it thickened up too much.
    And only did 4 tbsps of sugar versus 10…
    Absolutely a family favorite!
    thanks! Eva

  18. Excellent!!! Just had it for dinner 15 min ago and everyone loved it. I’ve been a fan of Panda Express Orange chicken for 20 years and this is as close as it gets!
    Thanks Sabrina.

  19. The recipe is good, however, there is something not quite right with the sauce. Too much of everything – orange, ginger, and vinegar.

  20. I tried it’s amazing! I love the sweetness to it! I’m almost 14, I made all by myself to try and made it gf! Super good will make again!

  21. Does not taste like Panda Express at all, texture is off too.

    I would not repeat this recipe either.

    Also would suggest cutting down on soy sauce, and making it more of a glaze.

  22. Not my favorite. There was a lot of vinegar and it was pretty overwhelming by the end of the dish. I’ll go back to my old standby.

  23. This looks good but I have a question. Ten tablespoons is almost 2/3 cup. Is that really the amount of vinegar to use, or is it a typo? Maybe ten teaspoons??

  24. Hi, your recipe calls for rice wine, but the link for it takes you to Holland White Wine on Amazon. So is this supposed to use white wine and not rice wine?

    1. They might have changed the amazon link since this recipe was first posted. Sorry about that. You’ll want to use rice wine.

      1. Hi, is that Mirin (Japanese rice wine) or Shaoxing (chinese rice wine) or something else?
        Thank you!

  25. Hey Sabrina!
    I am interested in trying you recipe but I was wondering if I could add orange juice instead of orange zest? If so how much could I add?

    1. Yes, you can use around 1/4 to 1/2 cup of orange juice if you’d like. Just make sure to cook the sauce longer for it to thicken up. Make sure to take the chicken out of the pan so it doesn’t get soggy.

      1. This was nasty! Too much vinegar completely ruined the recipe. I tried to cut it with orange juice and more cooking wine and it didn’t help. Tastes nothing like Panda Express. Pass on this recipe guys don’t waste your time or money buying groceries for this.

        1. The zest really is plenty orange for this dish but you can play around with it and use whatever you prefer. Have fun!

  26. I can’t believe how good this is!!! This is amazing!!! Definitely a great recipe!
    So easy and delicious, will definitely make this again!

    PS:
    I am 13 and I made this recipe all by myself! And if I can do it, so can you!!!

  27. I came here from Julien Solomita’s Youtube video and am glad I did!

    Made some changes: 1) made a half batch but with 14 oz of gently torn up pieces of firm tofu instead of chicken (I’m not vegan but I like tofu), 2) increased the garlic per household preference (probably 1.5 T), 3) used the full batch quantity of ginger (again per preference), 4) used a couple of teaspoons of chicken boullion powder to the flour mixture instead of the salt in the egg/oil to give the tofu a bit of savory flavor and seasoning, 5) rice vinegar instead of white, and 6) orange juice instead of water.

    Even though that looks like a lot of changes, the core recipe remained very much the same. It was so good, I will definitely make it again! Thanks!

  28. Awesome!! we made it to try as my son can’t eat it from panda express because of the additives and he said this was perfect! Taste just like Panda Express

  29. Oh my gosh!!!
    I was very skeptical with this recipie, but after I saw the youtuber Julien Solomita make this recipe – in vegan form – I was VERY interested.
    I followed the recipe to a T and it was amazing. After I did the initial taste, I personally thought I could use some more orange, so I sliced up the orange used for zest and squeezed 1/4 of it on top and mixed it togather while it was still on the stove.
    I will be making this again and again!!

  30. 10 tablespoons of white vinegar made this recipe almost inedible although I knew it was on the right track. Made it again with just 2 tablespoons of white vinegar and it’s spot on. We don’t have Panda Express in Australia so I am grateful to be able to recreate this dish that I enjoyed while in the US.

  31. This looks amazing and I want to make it with white rice, what’s your perfect white rice recipe? I don’t have a rice cooker

  32. This is an amazing recipe!! It’s doesn’t really taste like the Panda version, but a delicious recipe non the less! I did LESS than a quarter of the orange zest though, not sure if I was using bigger oranges or what, but the orange was extremely overpowering. Delicious recipe with that alteration. Thank you, great job!