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.



Panda Express Orange Chicken

4.95 from 136 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!



  • 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



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


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)

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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  1. Excellent recipe! I’ve tried other orange chicken recipes that had orange marmalade and orange juice in them but this is far superior to those. Sweet, tangy, slightly spicy sauce but I did put in a little bit more red pepper flakes because we like a little more heat in it, but we really enjoyed this!

    1. So sorry it didn’t turn out! In the video, the only real difference is that I make the orange sauce in the pan instead of ahead of time like the recipe card instructions, but that shouldn’t change the meal. If you try again, I’d follow the recipe card, same ingredients but you don’t have to rush making the sauce in the pan and risk burning or wasting food. 🙂

      1. You video also showed the addition of something green in the sauce (looks like sliced green onions/scallions, perhaps?) which isn’t mentioned in the recipe. It also shows what looks to be like a slurry for the corn starch…is that added to the 1/4 cup water?

        1. Green onions were added. It’s optional. At the end, a slurry was made to thicken the sauce but again, not necessary if you bring the sauce to a boil. It just helps the process along. The slurry is water and cornstarch.

  2. Excellent recipe!! I used only 8 tablespoons of vinegar and sugar , I left the rest of the ingredients as they are and the recipe was perfect. Similar but better than Panda Express recipe! Thanks so much for your recipe. It was delicious, I was truly surprised by how good it was.

  3. Hello Sabrina. Would you please send me the exact recipe for Panda Express Sesame Chicken? I love their Orange Chicken, but I love, love, love their Sesame Chicken.

    Thank You

  4. As a shortcut, I bought Chicken Tenders from my local Wal-Mart Deli, cut them up and then made the sauce recipe as written! It was wonderful !!!! Thank you !!!
    I am not much for cooking, but I can definitely throw together a sauce recipe with store-bought tenders! So simple and YummY!!!!

  5. Love your recipes (at least the one’s I’ve tried), but would really like to see a good color photo of the finished dish on your printable recipes…

      1. I’ve never thought pandas orange lacked an orange flavor, I made orange chicken with orange juice and was way better than pandas.

  6. I guess my comment didn’t post, so I will try again. I would love to make these for a family reunion, but I was hoping to do some of the steps ahead of time. You told another commentor that if they were fried and then put in the freezer to use later, they would lose some of the crispiness. What if one were to just bread them and then freeze them, but not fry them yet. Could that work? So just coat the chicken with the cornstarch and flour and then freeze to be pulled out to fry the night of consumption.

    1. I’ve not tested it so I’m not comfortable giving a recommendation. If you decide to try, I’d love to know how it turns out. Good luck!

      1. We made it before going to the reunion. We didn’t bread the chicken ahead of time for dinner, but we will for the reunion.

        We liked it a lot. We didn’t have any rice wine though. The link that you have in your recipe takes you to an Amazon product for white wine, not rice wine. I found some Eden foods Mirin Rice Wine. Is that what I should use?

        We liked the meal a lot; we just thought the orange chicken was too strong, and when we made it we didn’t have rice wine and my hubby only did 9 TBS of sugar and 9 TBS of vinegar because he was scared 10 would be too sweet. Will the rice wine make it have less of a punch and dull the flavors a bit? Or maybe it was because we used bone-in chicken thighs on accident, so 2 pounds wasn’t really 2 pounds once you took the bone away. SO maybe it was just too strong because we had too much sauce for the amount of chicken.

        Anyway it was AMAZING; we just want to make it less strong for the reunion.

        1. I’m so glad everyone loved it! Eden foods mirin rice wine would work perfectly for this recipe. I think it does help marry the flavors.

  7. So in an earlier comment you indicated it would cause the chicken to lose its crispiness if one were to make ahead and freeze, but what if you just cut and bread the chicken (not fry it yet), and then freeze?

    I ask because I want to make this at my family reunion, but it would help if I could have some of it done already. My mom has instructed us to make sure our dinner doesn’t take forever to cook. haha. So I was thinking I could cut and bread the chicken the night before and freeze, and then take it a cooler as we make the 6 hour drive. Then fry and add the sauce once its time for dinner. Would that be OK? If not, my mom will just have to deal with me making a dinner that takes a bit. 😀

    1. Yes, I think that would work. The flour might end up a bit pasty from freezing so it’ll absorb more oil while cooking and make it a little heavier. You also might need to use more oil during frying. Enjoy!

    1. Love it! Anytime I can get the little ones to enjoy something I feel like I have won the lottery!

  8. The flavours are very nice, but ten tablespoons of sugar in the sauce is way too much and it overwhelms everything else. I have had desserts less sweet than this.

  9. My family loved this recipe! Thank you for sharing it. I used to have a hard time making this until I found your recipe. It’s definitely one I’ll be keeping on my Pinterest ??

    1. I’ve not tested it using one. If you decide to try, I’d love to know how they turned out. Thanks!

  10. We made this for dinner last night and it was honestly BETTER than Panda Express! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. My soon-to-be husband begged me to start making this at least once a month!

  11. I want to try this without frying the chicken, using grilled chicken instead. How does the sauce come out when not mixed with breaded chicken?

    1. As long as you cook it together until it thickens, you should be fine. It’ll have a different texture from not being fried but it’ll still taste good. Enjoy!

  12. We love Panda Express orange chicken at my house so I was excited to try this so I could make it at home since it can expensive eating out with a family of 4. While it does taste really good, it is nothing like Panda orange chicken. And it took me almost an hour to make it and uses a lot of dishes for the preparation as well. Asian food tend some to me more labor intensive though. I do really love the mushroom chicken and noodle copycat recipes though.

  13. Absolutely wonderful recipe for the chicken! I tried it before adding the sauce and it was a big win! I will definitely be keeping this recipe for future use! =)

  14. This is a delicious recipe. My husband made it for me this afternoon and it was the best I have had. He increased the orange zest because he knows I love orange zest especially in deserts. We always use chicken breast in our recipes but he knows I prefer the thighs. So this was a nice surprise and so tender. Thank you for a great flavorful recipe that I know I will have him make for me often. 🙂

  15. In your ingredient list you ask for 2 tbsp oil divided, plus more for frying. I only see you using 1 tbsp of oil in your directions … where do you use the second tbsp?
    Also, there is no mention of how deep the oil should be in the skillet or wok. As I have never made a deep fried recipe before I don’t know what that amount should be ?

    1. If you want your chicken to be light and crispy, you’ll want your chicken to be floating in oil usually around 3 inches deep. Enjoy!

  16. Little sweeter than I like but still very good! Next time I’ll probably cut down on the amount of sugar. Still enjoyed very much!

  17. Made this last night but cheated and bought Panda Express sauce! Yes! They make their sauce for sale at grocery store near you, it’s a great short cut for a week night meal!
    Thanks !

  18. Quite simple recipe. I was worried there wouldn’t be enough sauce for the chicken, but there was the perfect amount. The orange flavor was not too strong neither was it too weak. Definitely a keeper!

  19. This recipe is so good! My coworkers loved it and family did too and it was really easy to make… Now it’s my 4th time making it, my co-workers and family are always requesting this orange chicken! I love it!!!

      1. Hi. Would LOVE to try this recipe since I just had orange chicken at Panda Express at the airport in Houston and we don’t have Panda Express here in Denmark unfortunately. However, am I the only one who can’t see the orange sauce mentioned in the list of ingredients but only in the recipe itself? Is it just sauce from squeezed fresh oranges and how much (metric measurements)? Thanks!

        1. I’m so glad you found this recipe! Step 1 in the instructions explains what ingredients to use to make the orange sauce. Those ingredients are included in the ingredient list. Hope this helps! Enjoy.

  20. Made this tonight for the fam and all agreed it’s even better than Panda Express! Thanks so much for sharing this amazing recipe!

    1. I haven’t tested it using one so I’m not comfortable giving a recommendation. You might be able to find a recipe online using similar ingredients and follow that as a guideline. Sorry.

  21. You mentioned using sriracha in the “tools used in making this orange chicken”, but I don’t see sriracha in the ingredient list. Where does it come in?

  22. This is a great recipe! I made this today and I didn’t have any rice wine, but the sauce came out fine! I have to say the orange flavor is VERY strong but I like it (I used the zest of a whole orange – maybe my orange skin was very flavorful). I also used a little bit over a pound of chicken and then added steamed broccoli and sauteed mushrooms which I tossed in the sauce. It tastes AMAZING!

  23. I made this recipe for my first daughter and her husband after their baby was born and they raved about it. When my second daughter came home with her new baby, she and her husband requested this recipe. I make it just as it’s written. Everyone loves it!
    It is a keeper!

  24. Sorry I’m not sure if I forget to click on the stars so I’m sending another posting I give it 5 stars all the way. Even if I had made it without substitutes I’m sure it would be the best. Thank you again. Yes I made this recipe

  25. I usually don’t rate the recipes I make but I just had to rate this one
    because it was so simple to make and was ABSOLUTE the best. I
    wanted you to know just how much my family and I enjoyed your
    recipe it was so tasty I didn’t have an orange so I use OJ and added a little to the egg mixture also I used agave THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH. All the best to you and yours.
    Now I’m going to try some of your other recipes.

  26. Made this last night and it was wonderful! The only thing I changed was I added the juice of the orange as well. Had a great orange flavor that’s even better than what Panda Express offers! ?

  27. 95% of the ratings are from people who haven’t even made the recipe; they just mostly say it LOOKS good and they can’t wait to try it. it really throws off the ratings, and because i’m looking for copycat recipes, i’d like a comparison to the original recipe. there was only one person that stated it was very close to Panda Express.

  28. Unfortunately, I followed a comment and added orange juice. Way way way too citrusy. Makes me sad because this recipe took quite some time – that’s what I get for changing it up before even trying it! Will have to try again lol

  29. Recipe was delicious! My son is a picky eater and he asked for seconds and thirds! I didn’t have all the ingredients on hand so I had to substitute the orange zest for 2teaspoons of Orange juice and less white wine vinegar since I added OJ instead of Zest. I also added less sesame oil and ginger because I find it too overpowering and less crushed chili pepper since my son doesn’t really like spicy food.
    I will definitely be making this recipe again .