Panda Express Orange Chicken: What You Should Know Before Ordering - Mashed (2023)

VonWax Milligan/Aug. 30, 2021 12:36 p.m. EST

If you're ever in the mood for a filling meal that's fun and doesn't break the bank,Panda Expressmakes an excellent choice. The Chinese-inspired Californian chain has been satisfying customers' taste buds since it was founded nearly 40 years ago in 1983. The company's co-founders, Andrew and Peggy Cherng, are two Asian-American immigrants who met as college students. at Baker University in Baldwin City, KansasLos Angeles Times. After graduating, the couple entered the hospitality industry as they wanted to bring the excitement of their home country's cuisine to the United States while adding their own twist.

The best-selling Panda Express menu item of all time is without a doubtorange chicken. the spicy,Bittersweet ChickenThe dish, created by the chain's chef a few years after it opened, was so successful that orange chicken is now a mainstay of Chinese-American cuisine (viaNPR). But as we all know, nothing beats the original. If you've never tried Panda Express Orange Chicken, you'll love it.

(Video) The Truth About Panda Express' Famous Orange Chicken

What is Panda Express Orange Chicken?

There are countless ways to improve a dish. Sometimes it's a spice that does the trick. Other times, it's a homemade sauce that adds the needed pizzazz. Whatever the method, it's that little something extra that makes a plate burst. And that's exactlywhat makes panda express orange chicken so delicious. Although the recipe isn't truly Chinese, it pays homage to the flavors found in Hunan provincial cuisineNPR.

Panda Express considers its original orange chicken to be its trademark, as stated on the brand's To describe the appetizer as simply as possible, it's essentially crispy, breaded and fried chicken pieces tossed in a sweet and tangy orange-scented sauce (more on that in a moment). are you drooling already There is much to learn about this legendary specialty, as well as the fact that it is the comfort food of choice for many diners looking to experience different flavors on their palate.

When did Panda Express add orange chicken to its menu?

Panda Express Orange Chicken: What You Should Know Before Ordering - Mashed (3)

Ken Wolter/Shutterstock

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While many millennials grew up eating orange chicken, the dish is long gone. The original recipe for the famous dish was invented at a Panda Express location in Hawaii in 1987 — and the creative force behind it was the chain's former chef Andy Kao. He traveled to the Aloha State with CEO Andrew Cherng to conduct critical culinary research that would influence the company for years to come, explains a video from Uber Eats (viaYoutube).

Inspired by Hawaiian and Hunan cuisine, Chef Kao has prepared different variations of chicken with fresh, locally grown citrus fruits. A bone-in version of the dish proved successful, so the team tested a boneless version based on customer feedback.NPRreports. The dish returned to California soon after and became the sensation we know today. Panda Express now sells nearly £100million of orange chicken a year in its stores, with one in two customers ordering the popular main course (via YouTube).

How much is the Panda Express orange chicken?

Tired of running to the supermarket and then running home to light the stove or turn on the oven to save money? Don't worry: if you're in the mood for a cheap and quick lunch or dinner that's healthy and of consistent quality, Panda Express is the place to be.

At each of the more than 2,200 network locations (viaScrapeHero) customers can choose from different portion sizes for their meals. A bowl that includes an entree and a side costs about $6. A platter, where you can choose two entrees and one side, is $10 (main menu items) a la carte and ranges from $4 to $10 (viaPanda Express). Not bad for a tasty meal to sip chilled or enjoy as leftovers.

(Video) Panda Express' Orange Chicken Is Delicious, And Here's Why

How does Panda Express Orange Chicken taste?

Panda Express' Orange Chicken has been filling bellies around the world since it made its big debut in the fast-food world - and it's the company's best-seller for good reason. For starters, the chicken itself manages to be so tender because it is sodark meatof the bird's leg, explains head of product development Jimmy Wang (viaYoutube). When breaded and fried, each bite gets a contrasting texture: juicy on the inside and crispy on the outside.

Then there's the iconic orange sauce, which delivers a balance of lemony sweetness and acidity with hints of warmth and warmthumami. While Andrew Cherng compared it to "dessert before dinner" in an interview with Orange ChickenNPR, many customers find that the dish is neither extremely sweet nor unbearably spicy.

And even if you don't eat meat, you're in luck:Panda Express launches plant-based orange chickenin partnership with Beyond Meat. The article washard to findas it's currently only available in select locations - although the company is considering a national release (egEat this, not that!).

How is Panda Express Orange Chicken made?

Panda Express Orange Chicken: What You Should Know Before Ordering - Mashed (6)


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In a video with Tasty, Jimmy Wang, director of product development, shares how Panda Express employees prepare their famous orange chicken every day (viaYoutube). The dish starts with 1 inch pieceschicken thighscoated with "the right amount" of batter. Salt, white pepper, cornstarch, and flour make up the dry ingredients of the easy glaze and are mixed with oil, egg, and water until smooth. The chicken cools in the batter for 30 minutes, then is fried in small batches for six minutes until golden.

The popular orange sauce is prepared in a hot wok with sautéed fresh ginger, garlic and chili flakes. Once these ingredients are fragrant, chefs add white and brown sugar, orange juice, vinegar, and soy saucecornstarchadd, bring the mixture to a boil and reduce to the consistency of maple syrup. Finally, the chicken is tossed in the hot sauce — along with a tablespoon of sesame oil to give it a shine and a nutty flavor — until well coated and ready to enjoy.

Panda Express Orange Chicken Nutrition Facts

A little indulgence never hurt anyone, right? While Panda Express's orange chicken is fun every day, you'll think of the fried platter as an occasional comfort food rather than a healthy staple. A 5.7-ounce serving of orange chicken contains 490 calories, with 210 calories from fat, according to the companywebsiteread. The same serving also has over 800 milligrams of sodium, 80 milligrams of cholesterol, and 19 grams of sugar.

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Perhaps the bright side of nutrition labeling is that one serving of orange chicken contains 25 grams of protein. Additionally, diners can choose to serve their meat with steamed rice or "Super Greens" (broccoli, kale, and cabbage) for a lighter side to a delicious main course. Also, you can be more aware of what you are doingcopycat orange chickenat home. Wherever you decide to eat this blend of flavors, you're sure to be delighted with every bite.



Is Panda Express orange chicken unhealthy? ›

We know it's a total fan favorite, but the orange chicken at Panda Express is not the healthiest option on the menu. In fact, it's one of the highest-calorie, highest-sugar options. (No wonder its sauce is so finger-licking sweet!)

Why does Panda Express orange chicken taste different? ›

To accommodate their milder palates, he also removed whole dried chilis to dial down the spice. The dish "takes a hybrid approach of bridging cultures, ingredients and flavors while respecting its roots,” Jimmy Wang, Panda Express' head chef of culinary innovation, said in an email.

Is Panda Express orange chicken supposed to be spicy? ›

Compared to General Tso's, orange chicken usually has a lighter-colored sweet, sour, savory glaze. It's not as spicy-hot because dried red chiles aren't as common or used as heavily in this dish.

Is orange chicken from Panda Express breaded? ›

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.

What is the healthiest thing in panda? ›

11 Of The Healthiest Things You Can Order At Panda Express
  • Side of Super Greens. Twitter. ...
  • String Bean Chicken Breast. Twitter. ...
  • Sizzling Shrimp. Twitter. ...
  • Grilled Teriyaki Chicken. Twitter. ...
  • Honey Walnut Shrimp. Twitter. ...
  • Brown Steamed Rice. Panda Express. ...
  • Chicken Potstickers. Facebook. ...
  • Fortune Cookies. Panda Express.
Mar 10, 2023

Which is healthier lo mein or rice? ›

So what's the healthier order, fried rice or lo mein? Short answer: lo mein. Yes, both dishes usually come slathered in sauce, but the rice offers the unfortunate double-whammy of being fried in oil first.

Which is better General Tso or orange chicken? ›

If you prefer a crispy fried chicken, sesame or orange chicken is your best bet. If you like a stir-fry, go for General Tso.

What is the spiciest food at Panda? ›

Kung Pao Chicken

Panda Express says it's Sichuan-inspired, which makes sense because it's likely the spiciest option available (though it's really not too spicy at all). Other Panda entrees can feel one note, but Kung Pao Chicken is anything but.

Is Panda orange chicken white or dark meat? ›

Since California produces $1 billion worth of citrus annually, using an orange flavor was a natural fit. The chicken itself is made with dark meat that is lightly battered then fried. Before creating orange chicken as we know it, Panda Express restaurants in Hawaii served a similar dish with bone-in meat.

What sauce is Panda Express orange chicken? ›

Panda Express Orange Chicken Recipe FAQ

All of the flavor in the Asian chicken dish comes from the Panda Express signature orange chicken sauce, which features orange peel, soy sauce, vinegar, and red chili peppers. This gives the dish a citrusy sweet and tangy flavor with just a hint of heat.

Does Panda Express use MSG in orange chicken? ›

From world-famous orange chicken to delicious chow mein, Panda Express defines American-Chinese cuisine with bold flavors and fresh ingredients. Panda Express entrees and sides contain zero grams of trans fat per serving and adds no MSG in their food.

Why is orange chicken so good? ›

One distinct characteristic of orange chicken is that it is sweet, and that comes from the addition of brown sugar (and honey), which gives the sauce it's sticky, caramelized glaze. The addition of brown sugar in many Asian recipes helps to balance out sour flavors and spices added to the dish.

What is the Beyond orange chicken at Panda Express made out of? ›

Co-developed with Beyond Meat, the new Orange Chicken features plant protein wok-tossed in Panda's signature sweet, spicy and tangy orange sauce. According to Panda, the product offers fans all the classic crunchy texture and flavor of the chain's beloved Original Orange Chicken.

Is Beyond orange chicken better than regular orange chicken? ›

Compared to the dish that made the Panda famous, the Beyond the Original Orange Chicken is a worthy replacement. The differences are slight. It's the texture or that the plant-based version carries slightly fewer calories. In general, they're awfully close to being identical.

Why is Panda Express chicken so soft? ›

Ever notice how the chicken in stir fries at your favourite Chinese restaurant is incredibly tender? It's because they tenderise chicken using a simple method called Velveting Chicken using baking soda. It's a quick and easy method that any home cook can do, and can also be used for beef.

What food makes up 99% of a pandas diet? ›

Pandas subsist almost entirely on bamboo, eating from 26 to 84 pounds per day.

What is the 99% diet of panda? ›

A panda's diet is 99% vegetarian, which mostly includes bamboo roots, stems, shoots and leaves. However their digestive system is typical of a carnivore, so the remaining 1% of their diet can include eggs, small animals and carrion.

What does wok smart mean at Panda Express? ›

Big flavor meets more protein and fewer calories. Wok Smart dishes make up half of our menu. They have the same Chinese-inspired flavors you crave, but with at least 8g of protein and 300 calories or less—so you never have to choose between food with flavor and food that's better for you.

Is rice or chow mein healthier at Panda? ›

Chow Mein noodles and fried rice are higher fat choices, so stick with the steamed rice and ask if brown rice is an option. Choose vegetable dishes to save calories and fat.

What's the healthiest Chinese takeaway dish? ›

The 17 Healthiest Chinese Food Takeout Options, According to Registered Dietitians
  1. Shrimp and Vegetables With Black Bean Sauce. ...
  2. Beef and Broccoli. ...
  3. Mixed Vegetables. ...
  4. Extra Vegetables. ...
  5. Moo Shu Vegetables. ...
  6. Moo Shu Chicken. ...
  7. Steamed Anything. ...
  8. A Small Soup.
Jan 7, 2018

Why is it called orange chicken? ›

The most famous dish at Panda Express is the Orange Chicken. Inspired by flavors of the Hunan Province in China, Chef Andy Kho developed it in 1987, and it has been a consistent part of the menu ever since. Distinguished with its orange-flavored chili sauce, it has spawned several 'copycat' recipes.

What is most similar to orange chicken? ›

Yes, Sesame Chicken, General Tso, and Orange Chicken have similarities. They all have a touch of Chinese background and have similarities in their ingredients. Sesame Chicken, General Tso, and Orange Chicken use boneless chicken meat, soy sauce, and rice vinegar.

What is Panda Express most ordered food? ›

Orange Chicken

There's a reason why this dish is Panda's claim to fame. The restaurant's most popular entree is made with crispy boneless pieces of meat combined with the chain's secret sweet yet spicy orange sauce. Almost everyone who walks through Panda's doors orders orange chicken.

Which chicken from Panda Express is spicy? ›

SweetFire Chicken Breast

Crispy, white-meat chicken, red bell peppers, onions and pineapples in a bright and sweet chili sauce.

What is the spiciest entree at Panda? ›

Three years in the making, Sichuan Hot Chicken debuts nationwide July 17 at Panda Express. The five-inch long chicken strips, available for a limited time, are fried and tossed in a Sichuan peppercorn oil-based glaze.

What race is orange chicken? ›

Orange chicken or chen pi ji (traditional Chinese: 陈皮雞; simplified Chinese: 陈皮鸡; pinyin: chénpí jī; Jyutping: caang2 pei4 gai1) is an American Chinese dish.

Is Orange Chicken Chinese or Japanese? ›

Orange chicken is an American Chinese dish that's made by battering and deep-frying pieces of chicken before coating them in an orange-flavored sauce. Like many Chinese-American dishes, Orange Chicken does have distant roots in China; however, it is not an authentic Chinese dish.

What is the red sauce from Panda called? ›

Panda Express Sweet and Sour Sauce is the perfect classic Chinese takeout dipping sauce that is bright red in color, sweet and acidic. The perfect dipping sauce for egg rolls, wontons and crispy wonton strips.

Is orange chicken duck sauce? ›

Duck sauce (or orange sauce) is a condiment with a sweet and sour flavor and a translucent orange appearance similar to a thin jelly. Offered at American Chinese restaurants, it is used as a dip for deep-fried dishes such as wonton strips, spring rolls, egg rolls, duck, chicken, fish, or with rice or noodles.

Is orange chicken sweet and sour sauce? ›

Sweet and sour chicken is not the same as orange chicken. Vinegar is typically used in sweet and sour sauces, while orange chicken has an orange-based sauce. They are both made with fried chicken pieces coated in sweet and tangy sauces.

Why do I get a headache after eating Panda Express? ›

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) symptom complex refers to a group of symptoms some people experience after eating food containing MSG. These symptoms often include headache, skin flushing, and sweating.

Does Panda Express put MSG in food? ›

Contrary to Popular Belief, There's No MSG in Its Food

Panda Express' suppliers aren't permitted to add MSG to their ingredients, and no MSG is added to any of its food during preparation.

What are symptoms of MSG allergy? ›

MSG Sensitivity Symptoms
  • Bloating.
  • Gas.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Headaches.
  • Abdominal Pain.
  • Tingling Skin.

Is orange chicken junk food? ›

No, it is not. Traditional orange chicken is full of fats, carbohydrates, added sugars and a lot of salt, all things that are not good for your body, weight management, or overall health.

Why is orange chicken always soggy? ›

Whether Orange Chicken is baked or fried, it can get soggy if left to sit for too long once combined. To prevent soggy chicken, serve immediately or store the chicken and sauce separately, then combine when reheating.

What is orange chicken supposed to taste like? ›

Orange chicken is small, bite-sized pieces of chicken that have been breaded, fried, and coated in a tangy, orange sauce. The sauce has an intense sweet and salty orange flavor, with just a little bit of heat.

Can I eat orange chicken and lose weight? ›

Looking at each component, it's easy to see that orange chicken can easily be made to be a high calorie and high fat dish, making it less than ideal for dieting purposes.

Is Panda Express orange chicken nutrition? ›

Panda Express Orange Chicken (1 order) contains 42.9g total carbs, 41.9g net carbs, 17.5g fat, 13.5g protein, and 383 calories.

Is Panda Express orange chicken good for protein? ›

Rich in vitamins and minerals (15.7%/cal) - a good source of Selenium, Vitamin B6, Copper, Phosphorus, Zinc, Vitamin C and Potassium. Contains a moderate amount of risky components that may include saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium and sugars (0.03%/oz). Good source of proteins (19% of DV/100g).

Can I eat chicken to lose belly fat? ›

If you are a meat-eater, lean chicken breast is a great source of protein if you want to beat belly fat. But do not forget healthy, fatty fish such as salmon.

Is orange chicken a processed food? ›

This product is highly processed. If you'll take a look at its ingredient list, you'll discover new words to add to your vocabulary. Many of these ingredients are required to increase the shelf life of the product and improve the flavor that disappears when food is not fresh.

What type of meat is Panda Express orange chicken? ›

Wang says Panda Express uses dark chicken meat coated with a light batter. The sauce is a balancing act of sweet and sour: a little yin — with brown sugar and honey — and a little yang — Chinese black vinegar, soy sauce and more.

Is Panda Express orange chicken all white meat? ›

The chicken itself is made with dark meat that is lightly battered then fried. Before creating orange chicken as we know it, Panda Express restaurants in Hawaii served a similar dish with bone-in meat.

What is Panda Express orange chicken made of? ›

Ingredients: dark meat chicken, water, sugar, distilled vinegar, modified food starch, corn starch, potato starch, contains less than 2% of: wheat, orange extract, caramel color, salt, garlic, phosphoric acid, rice, sesame oil.

Is there a lot of MSG in Panda Express? ›

Contrary to Popular Belief, There's No MSG in Its Food

Panda Express' suppliers aren't permitted to add MSG to their ingredients, and no MSG is added to any of its food during preparation.

What is the difference between Panda Express orange chicken and sesame chicken? ›

Orange chicken and sesame chicken may both feature boneless chicken meat, but they are distinct dishes that differ in several key ways. While sesame chicken uses a base sauce of soy sauce and sesame oil to create a savory, nutty flavor, orange chicken incorporates soy sauce and orange zest for a sweet and tangy taste.

Why is brown rice healthy? ›

Brown rice is also rich in dietary fiber, which can help lower cholesterol, lower high blood pressure and support the good bacteria in your gut. Fiber also helps ward off constipation and promotes weight loss by helping you feel full longer.

Is Panda Express chow mein or fried rice healthier? ›

Rice & Noodles – Avoid

The Fried Rice has 570 calories (the extra calories are from fat) and 900mg sodium. The Chow Mein has fewer calories (400), but has way too much sodium (1,060mg!).


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