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?

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

Here’s a video of this Orange Chicken being made (I added green onions in the video, but that’s just for personal taste, the copycat doesn’t actually contain green onions).


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

4.91 from 72 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.

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 agree I saw how much sugar was required and I decided to only add three and a half tablespoons and liked it but still found it very sweet. I bet the ten tablespoons tasted just like Panda’s though because their orange chicken is extremely sweet. Thanks for sharing the recipe is great and altering it to my taste was so easy!

  2. Can you make the orange sauce a day before? I’m going on a trip and if i can make it/bottle it up the day before then I won’t have to bring all the little ingredients!

    1. Yes, you can make it up before hand but you’ll want to keep it refrigerated so if you’re going on a trip I would keep it cool in an insulated cooler bag.

  3. This was amazing. Made it without the sugar but it was still so tasty , in my opinion there was no need for the sugar anyway. Paired with home made fried rice.

  4. This recipe was AMAZING! Enough so that I’m stealing it and calling it my own. (My family will never know). But in all seriousness, this recipe actually impressed one of the pickiest eaters I’ve ever met. My wife!

  5. Delicious! I served it over jasmine rice. Just the smallest amount of sauce gave the rice a wonderful zing. I thought the orange zest provided the right amount of flavor. I would definitely make this again. Can’t wait to try your other recipes, especially if they are as good as this one is. Thank you, Sabrina.

  6. My 11 year old daughter decided she wanted to make dinner last night, and she made this recipe. I’m not a huge fan of Panda Express. But I thought this was better than Panda Express!

  7. Loved it! tried yesterday, was missing one or two ingredients, but came out perfectly. I also used blender on the sauce ingredients to mix those really well. thanks a TON!

  8. Absolutely love your site. So glad I found it. I get to make orange chicken at least once every two weeks. My family is crazy about it. Thank you 

  9. Made this tonight with your Panda Express yakisoba recipe and my husband LOVED it. Said it’s my best meal yet, so you can take credit for that. 🙂

    It’s pretty close to Panda Express’s orange chicken. Whenever I get a craving, I’ll save money and make it at home from now on. So yummy!!

  10. I made this following the recipe and I will never eat out Chinese again! Boy it was good.  I fixed a jasmine fried rice to eat the orange chicken on.  Thanks for the recipe.

  11. I made the Orange Chicken with fried rice for dinner. It turned out great. Our place smelled like Panda Express. Thank you again for sharing.

  12. This was good, but definitely doesn’t taste like Panda Express unfortunately. It tastes like every other orange chicken recipe I’ve tried… Very orangey, very vinegary. Even with all that sugar it’s very pungent, my husband said it tastes like orange peel (bingo!), a little bitter or something. Used one average sized orange for the zest as written. A little disappointed because the chicken came out wonderful and tasted amazing before I put it in the sauce! We all liked it, but were pretty bummed at the same time. Followed the recipe exactly as written. Gonna try some of the other Panda Express recipes on here though. Made this with the fried rice and it was delicious.

  13. I just made this tonight and loved it! My 2 toddlers did, too! I thought the recipe called for too much sugar so I omitted 2 of the 10 tablespoons. The sauce was still very sticky, which I love. Also, I didn’t see rice wine at the store so I omitted that. I added orange juice instead. (Sidenote: I’ve never understood why people leave comments when they hadn’t made the dish)

  14. Hi. You mentioned you were working on slow cooker recipe for orange chicken. I’d like to give it a try–any advice? Thanks.

  15. This was a really easy recipe. It was absolutely delicious. For The past month I have been using Pinterest recipes for Sunday dinner and everything has turned out great!

  16. I’ve made this 4 times, always gluten free with the Pillsbury GF all purpose flour blend and GF soy sauce. The adjustments I made were due to not wanting to go to the store for just 1 or 2 things as well as my Celiac disease requirements. Instead of rice wine I’ve been using plain unspiced Mead and have been using toasted chipotle pepper flakes instead of the chili pepper listed. I also prefer to use raw sugar instead of refined, but that may not change the recipe at all. So far I’m loving it every time and am about to make it again.

  17. I made this recipe tonight, I’m obsessed with Panda Express orange chicken but unfortunately it’s an hour away from me and I can now say I no longer have to wait to have it and it might even be better!! Thank you for the recipe it’s amazing!

  18. Hi – Am planning to make this tonight and am wondering how far ahead of time I might be able to fry up chicken and have it stay crispy (ish?) before tossing into sauce? Would 30min or so be too long?
    Am trying to time things so that all I have to do when everyone gets home is throw chicken and veg into warmed sauce, give it a bit of a twirl, then onto rice:)
    Thanks so much

    1. I’d say if you put it on a cookie sheet you can toss with heated sauce about 30-45 mins ahead? Let it stay in the pan for 30-45 seconds to warm through though. 🙂

  19. i havent made this yet, but i will. and ill tell you why. you say its not like the crock pot one made with BBQ sauce. i made that version of orange chicken (which i love) earlier this week and it was absolutely DISGUSTING. so the fact you say this is not that…. well, it certainly cant be worse LMAO!

  20. We fell in love with dish whilst visiting the States but as we live in the UK there are no Panda Express here and all our Chinese takeaways sell lemon chicken not orange. This is now a firm favourite in our house and I’m making it weekly so thank you so much for this recipe.

    1. It’s such a great copycat and I’m so happy you’re now able to enjoy it at home! Thank you for the 5 stars Sharon!

  21. Hi I just have a little questions. In the video shown after the soy sauce what next putted, is it the vinegar or water? If its the vinegar should be dissolve the 1 tablespoon of cornstarch to the 1/4 cup of water or its dissolve separately? 🙂

    1. You can just put it all in together, no need to dissolve the cornstarch first. I hope this helps clear up any confusion. I hope you enjoy! It’s one of my favorites!!

  22. I absolutely love this recipe, as do everyone I’ve made it for. I’ve always loved panda express’ version and can’t thank you enough for figuring it out for all of us! But, I do have one question, is there any reason for adding the rice wine separate from the orange sauce, after sautéing the garlic, ginger etc..? Wouldn’t it be easier just to add the rice wine to the sauce when you add everything else?

    1. Thank you so much! I’m so glad you all are enjoying it!! It’s so funny that you mention this because I was just looking at this recipe today and was thinking the same thing. It definitely would be easier so go right ahead!

  23. Sabrina, this was perfection. Everything in the recipe is perfectly balanced and tastes just like panda express. I made the orange chicken and the chow mien. I absolutely loved it. I can’t wait to try more of your recipes. Thank you so much.

    1. Yes, you can use breasts instead 🙂 It just won’t be as authentic tasting but definitely a smidge healthier.

  24. this was so good! You can really taste the orange and I added more red flakes to add more spice. I had to double up the recipe for 2 large chicken breast, but it was a major hit and everyone enjoyed it.

  25. holy. crap. friggin’ delicious!

    our kids (16 and 17-yrs-old) are Panda junkies; especially the orange chicken.

    I doubled the recipe because the kids were having friends over for Halloween. I was nervous making something for the first time for a bunch of people; especially a dish they would all measure up to what they regularly get from Panda.

    daughter and her three friends ALL gave it 10-out-of-10

    when I asked my son what he thought, he told me to shut up and serve him some more

    we had a couple of groups of trick-or-treaters come to the door and they IMMEDIATELY yelled, “you’re making orange chicken!?!”

    the only addition I made was 1/2 teaspoon of orange extract ONLY because I bought some oranges that didn’t want to cooperate with the zesting process — 1/4 teaspoon per regular recipe, 1/2 teaspoon for doubling like we did.

    so delicious, Sabrina — thanks so much — definitely will be making this multiple times and my son is dying to see how the honey walnut shrimp comes out!

  26. Just Made Orange Chicken. My Son Loves this Dish. I was Missing two ingredients. 1). The Wine, And 2). The Green Onions. Also In the ingredients where you say to use 10 Table Spoons of white vinegar, I Utilized my oranges and juiced them. It produced about 5 Table Spoons of Juice, I then used the other 5 Table Spoons of Vinegar to keep the Total volume to equal 10 Table Spoons to the Sauce. Besides all that……I Followed it to the “T” …..This Recipe came out DELICIOUS…. 🙂 Thank you. And I will make it again in the Future. By the Way about 1 week ago I made your fried Rice with EGG copy cat recipe.. And it also came out Great. Every one Loved it. I Did make it again for this Orange Chicken Dinner. Thanks Again

  27. Hi Sabrina,

    Greetings from Denmark. :o)

    Just wanted to tell you that I made some of your copycat Panda Express dishes, and they are absolutely spot on! Everybody in my Family loved it. I had to translate your recipes to kilograms instead of cups and ounces, but that worked out fine.
    I made the Orange Chicken, Kung Pao and the Chow Mein, and it was like sitting at Panda Express again. I made the extra effort and went to a Chinese Grocery here in Copenhagen to get some of the more specific ingredients, but that was worth it.
    We travel a lot in The States, and sure have our favorite food from there and have made a lot of other copycat recoipes, and I am always glad when the recipe is spot on, or if I can see how I can change something to make it absolutely right. Didn´t have to change anything here. :o)

    Thank you very much.

    I will follow your blog in the future.

    Thanks, Flemming

  28. Just finished doing this. I used avocado oil and only 7 table spoons of sugar, and instead I added the orange juice to make it sweeter. Couldn’t find any rice wine so I used apple juice and the results were incredible. Really good recipe! My whole family loved it. I’m thinking maybe next time I will just do the chicken without dipping it in flour, because the taste of the sauce on its own is amazing.

    Thanks for sharing this incredible recipe!

  29. This was a lot of work. The chicken was great, the sauce was great but WAY TOO STRONG with orange flavor. Next time I make this, I would actually use lemon zest instead (probably just personal preference). I added a little brown sugar to the sauce, as well.
    Will definitely try again, with a few minor tweaks…

    1. I bet it would be amazing with lemon! I am testing it currently on the amount of orange zest. A current Panda employee told me “orange” quantity used (although they use extract) and mathematically I feel like this should be spot on but I find some oranges are just so much more flavorful in their zest it may need a bit of tweaking. Still working on it while trying to avoid the extract because I’d rather whole ingredients be used. Thanks for the review though, it is a huge help!

  30. Hi,
    I’m going to try this recipe. Please give me a substitute for rice wine. What would you use if you really really had to use something else? I can’t use rice wine 🙁

  31. I just came across these recipes and it looks good! I fell in love with Panda Express when in the States but sadly there aren’t any in South Africa so I’ll have to try and duplicate these recipes here?

  32. I can’t thank you enough. I love Chinese food very much. The problem is we eat Kosher meat, so at Panda Express I have no choice, but to eat veggies, shrimp and chow mein. Orange Chicken looks really good. Now with this recipe, I can try at home. I also need the recipe of Hot and Sour Soup, that’s my favorite as well.

    1. One of my best friends is Kosher, so she was really excited to see this recipe too! I’m working on the hot and sour soup, but it’s hard to do recipe testing now that it’s not on the menu anymore!

  33. We made your king pao chicken and it was awesome!! Trying this one next for the kiddos and can’t wait. No Panda Express where I live now, so we love these recipes 🙂

  34. I made it!!!my girls love panda express,so I thought I should at least try to make it. I put a little spin on it. I marinaded the chicken the the mixture first then fried it. I didn’t even get to make the sauce. They devoured it before I got the chance.lol. I will definitely follow the recipe next time.lol

  35. Unfortunately this recipe just didn’t work for us. When making the orange sauce I thought there was way too much sugar but didn’t trust my inner “cooking force” and went with the recipe. We found this was too sweet for our taste. Thank you for sharing though! You have given me a great starting point to find the right blend of flavors for our family. It’s a fabulous recipe it just needs some tweaking for our personal taste. We are all looking forward to trying your other recipes.

    1. Did you find it to be sweeter than Panda’s? Doing a side by side test I thought they were both equally sweet…which is to say like chicken candy, haha. There is a lot of sugar in the recipe, that is no lie! Thanks for the kind words, I’m glad you’re going to work with the recipe and make them again!

  36. Question, there are three bowls set up in the mixing station but you only mention putting the chicken in the egg mixture and the flour mixture… when do I use the third bowl?!?! Help!

    1. Yikes, I see what you mean, that was written in a confusing manner. That third bowl is the cornstarch mixture that comes into the pan at the very end, it isn’t part of the dredging station. Sorry for the confusion! The station is bowl of chicken, bowl of egg mixture and bowl of flour mixture.