To know Panda Express orange chicken is to love it. It’s a phenomenal dish that’s hard to pass up when you’re craving Chinese.
The combo of breaded, fried chicken paired with deeply flavorful sauce is divine. But do you ever think about how it’s made?
What exactly is involved in producing a dish like this one? Well, worry no more!
This post will take an inside look at the Panda Express orange chicken recipe.
I’ll take you through the process step by step. So come along and find out what makes this fantastic entrée so irresistible!
Panda Express Orange Chicken
Ask any Panda Express employee what their most popular dish is. The resounding answer will be orange chicken.
It’s their best-selling entrée and for good reason!
With this recipe, you won’t have to leave your house to enjoy it.
The first thing I want to say about the recipe is this: Don’t let it scare you!
It uses a lot of ingredients and has several steps. However, the recipe is unbelievably easy to follow.
Plus, the ingredients are simple ones; you probably have 90% of them in your kitchen right now.
You’ll have several dishes to wash at the end, it’s true.
But once you get a taste of that sweet sauce and bite into that crunchy crust, you won’t care. This recipe truly is a Panda Express copycat.
It tastes absolutely incredible, and you’ll love it.
How to Make Panda Express Orange Chicken
If you want to jump straight to the recipe, you can find that below.
However, I want first to break down all those steps a little.
In this section, I’ll simplify the recipe and show you that it’s not as difficult as you think.
Here are the primary steps to making delicious copycat Panda Express orange chicken:
1. Prepare the chicken.
Before you fry the chicken, you need to dip it in two different bowls. This step is no different from the preparation of any fried chicken meal.
You start by chopping the chicken into bite-sized pieces.
Then, dip those into the wet mixture (egg, salt, pepper, and oil) followed by the dry (cornstarch and flour).
2. Cook the chicken.
Next, you’ll cook your chicken in a wok heated to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Work in small batches and fry the chicken until it reaches the perfect golden-brown hue.
Each piece shouldn’t need more than 3 or 4 minutes in the oil.
3. Mix up the sauce.
Some people do this before starting with the chicken. It takes only minutes to pull together, so I typically do it while my chicken drains.
You only add some of the ingredients at first. Start with the soy sauce, orange juice, brown sugar, and orange zest.
(This is all you’ll need even if you decide to make the sauce first.)
4. Heat the sauce.
This step is the same whether you make your sauce before or after cooking the chicken. Clean and heat your wok.
Then, add oil, ginger root, garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, and green onions.
Stir-fry the mixture for a few seconds until your kitchen starts to smell amazing.
Then, add the rice wine and the sauce mixture you made earlier. Stir the mixture and bring it to a boil.
5. Return the chicken to the wok.
Once the mixture is boiling, drop your cooked chicken pieces back into the wok.
Stir it well, coating each piece completely.
Continue to stir it gently until the sauce reaches a thick consistency.
Then, remove it from the heat and drizzle it with sesame oil if you want.
6. Plate and serve.
Serve the chicken and sauce over cooked jasmine rice.
Because this recipe is so easy to follow, I only have a few tips for you:
- Use fresh-squeezed orange juice if possible. Doing so will result in the best and brightest orange flavor. If fresh-squeezed isn’t an option, use juice, not orange juice concentrate.
- Try to keep the chicken pieces separated while frying. They cook more thoroughly that way. Also, once you get them in place, leave them be. Constantly moving them around will make it difficult to get a crispy crust.
Panda Express Orange Chicken Recipe Variations
This copycat recipe is so good that I’m not sure you’ll want to play with it too much.
However, if you’re feeling creative, here are a few variations to keep in mind:
- Spice it up. Add cayenne and red pepper flakes if you like your food with a kick. Hot sauce is another option, though it might make it tangier, too.
- Leave out the brown sugar. If you want a slightly healthier option, forego the brown sugar. Instead, use natural sweeteners like maple syrup or honey. The taste won’t be exactly the same, but it’ll still be close.
- Mix in some veggies. You can stir-fry other veggies before you add the sauce to the wok. Dress up the meal however you like, with white or red onions, peppers, mushrooms, and more.
- Play with the toppings. Try sesame seeds or peanuts for a bit of added crunch. Other options are chopped green onions, thinly sliced leeks, a dash of cayenne, etc.
Remember, you can also try this recipe out with beef, pork, or tofu.
How to Store Orange Chicken
If you have any leftovers, place them in an airtight container and stick them in the fridge. They should keep for about 3 days.
However, the chicken won’t retain its crispiness, so keep that in mind.
Despite the slightly soggy texture, the dish tastes just as good.
Can I Freeze Orange Chicken?
If you’ve mixed all the sauce and chicken, freezing may not be an option.
(You can freeze it. It just won’t reheat well when mixed together.)
However, freezing is a great way to extend this recipe’s life if you can freeze them separately.
Store the chicken in its own freezer-safe container. Then, store the sauce similarly.
They should last in the freezer for approximately 3 months.
When you want to reheat them, do so separately, as well. The sauce reheats best on the stove.
Put the chicken in the oven (400 degrees Fahrenheit) and heat it for about 15 minutes.
Then, combine the two and serve it over freshly cooked rice.
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