Panda Express Orange Chicken Recipe is my little sticky sweet and sour secret!
This addictive "healthier" fakeout copycat meal is another must try for any serious food lover out there.
Spicy, sweet n sour sauce over crispy fried juicy chicken.
I show you today how to make this popular and famous Asian-American dish at home with my how to clip further below!
What is Panda Express Orange Chicken?
Orange Chicken is maybe the most popular Asian-American fast food dish, created by the Panda Express food chain.
Boneless Chicken pieces are deep-fried crispy and tossed in a spicy sweet and sour orange-based sticky sauce.
This is what panda express orange chicken is all about!
the Orange chicken is then enjoyed with plain rice, fried rice or even chow mein noodles.
While Panda Express orange chicken might be seen as junk food to some, I find it to be truly addictive and the homemade version is a great healthier option!
This panda express orange chicken is a copycat homemade DIY version so the ingredients might vary from the real panda express chicken.
You can choose to adjust your orange chicken flavors by using variations of ingredients such as regular sugar or palm sugar instead of brown sugar.
Yet, I don't suggest to tinker too much with the ingredient amounts (mentioned in the recipe card further below) as these are perfectly balanced that way.
Tip: Add a sprinkle of Chinese five spice to the orange chicken sauce for a little flavor kick of a different kind!
One Orange will serve you with the required orange skin and pulpy orange juice.
Use an organic/untreated orange which was not sprayed with pesticides as you will be cooking the scraped orange skin.
You don't need to get packet orange juice except if you plan on skipping the orange skin but to achieve the orange chicken flavor you will need the orange skin to make a real copycat panda express orange chicken.
For the Ginger and Garlic, you can use convenient Ginger and Garlic paste because it mixes really good with the other sauce ingredients.
Or chop your ginger and garlic super fine!
Adjust the Chili Flakes amount to make it more or less spicy hot!
Water and Cornflour are mixed together to create a cornmeal slur.
This slur is used to thicken the sauce and will give your orange chicken the gorgeous sticky shine.
You may skip the cornflour water if you don't like it but you will have to reduce/cook down the sauce all the more because the sauce needs to be sticky and thick on the crispy fried chicken.
You can use both or skip these two ingredients, however, I never skip them because they both add another incredible flavor dimension to the Panda express orange chicken sauce!
Brown Sugar sweetens and turns your orange chicken sticky!
You may use regular granulated sugar or even palm sugar.
Each would change the flavor of the orange chicken sauce, so this is something to experiment with.
The Soy Sauce is another essential in this sauce besides the Sesame Oil.
If you don't have sesame oil, use any other regular oil.
Sesame oil gives it the sought-after Asian touch.
For the Spring Onions keep the green stalks and the bulbs separate because the green stalks are mild in flavor and make great garnishing material.
By the way, if you enjoy a good orange chicken, then you are going to love this Honey Chili Chicken Recipe from kitchensanctuary.com.
The prepping is similar and the chicken is deep fried as well.
Just the sauce in which the chicken is tossed in is a lemongrass honey chili soy-based sauce.
How to make Panda Express Orange Chicken Copycat Recipe?
The Panda express orange chicken is separated into two preparation and cooking parts.
One is the crispy chicken and the second the orange sauce.
As with any Asian deep/stir-fry meal, make sure to keep all your fresh and pantry ingredients ready on the side because Asian cooking requires you to focus on the cooking process.
It usually involves high heat cooking for a short time, so having your ingredients on hand is a huge advantage!
Coat chicken with scrambled egg and flour.
Deep-fry chicken pieces golden and keep aside.
Mix together sauce ingredients.
Heat pan with oil and stir cook green onion bulb slices, ginger + garlic, chili flakes, orange zest.
Add sauce, water, and slurry to thicken and combine
Toss cooked chicken in the sauce and serve hot.
The perfect temperature for oil to slide your meat in is 325-350 Fahrenheit/160-175 Celsius.
Dear Reader, can you remember when you had your first orange chicken?
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Panda Express Orange Chicken Recipe [Copycat]
For the crispy Chicken:
For the orange chicken sauce:
- 1 Tablespoon Oil
- 2 Green Onions aka Spring Onions
- 1 Tablespoon Ginger + Garlic *see Notes
- 1 Teaspoon Red Chili Pepper Flakes
- Juice of one Orange
- Orange Zest of one Orange
- 2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
- 1 ½ Tablespoon Brown Sugar
- 1 Tablespoon Rice Vinegar optional
- 1 Tablespoon Chinese Cooking Wine aka Shaohsing, optional
- ½ cup Water
- 1 ½ Tablespoon Cornflour mixed in 1-2 Tablespoons warm water this is the cornflour slur
- drizzle Sesame Oil to garnish
- First, keep all the ingredients ready. That means scrape your orange skin and keep in a bowl. Juice the same orange and keep the juice at the side (with pulp it's great!).
- Slice your spring onion bulbs, keep aside. Cut your spring onion stalks and keep aside in another container as well.
- Next, you will prepare the chicken by cutting the boneless chicken into bite-sized pieces. Then keep two bowls or shallow plates ready. Break the egg into one bowl and scramble it. Into the other bowl add the cornflour, all-purpose flour and season with salt and pepper if you want, mix well.
- Now drag each chicken piece through the egg first and then through the flour mixture so that the chicken is coated and covered on all sides with the flour mixture. Place the chicken into a plate until we fry it and do the same again with all chicken pieces.
- Keep a bowl or some large container ready and place a paper kitchen towel into it. This will be the container in which we add the fried oily cooked chicken. The paper will absorb the excess oil after frying.
- To deep fry use a wok because the wok can heat up the oil evenly. Pour enough cooking oil into the wok and heat up. Wait for the oil to get hot. Use a thermometer to check once the oil reaches 325-350 Fahrenheit/160-175 Celsius.
- Slide your chicken carefully from the side into the hot oil so that the oil doesn't splash up. Don't overcrowd the wok/pan as this will complicate the deep frying. An overcrowded pan reduced the heat of the oil and the chicken won't fry golden but get soggy. Keep about 6 chicken pieces at a time in the pan to deep fry. Cook on all sides golden and take out each chicken piece and place on the paper towel into the container. Repeat this until you have cooked all the chicken.
- For the orange chicken sauce. Mix in a bowl the following sauce ingredients together: orange juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, red wine vinegar and Chinese red cooking wine. It's ok if the sugar doesn't dissolve, it will dissolve in the pan.
- In another small bowl mix the warm water with the cornflour to create a cornflour slur which we will need to thicken the sauce.
- Now grab another pan or the same wok (but cleaned) from earlier and add your oil. Stir fry your sliced spring onion bulbs for a minute on high heat, then add the ginger and garlic and stir fry further for a moment before adding in the red chili flakes and orange zest
- Then reduce the heat and pour in your mixed sauce from the bowl and stir cook for a little until all ingredients are mixed. Let the sauce simmer down for 2-3 minutes or until it has thickened a bit. Next, pour in the cornflour-water mixture slur and mix the whole sauce again and allow the sauce to thicken. The sauce consistency at the end should be sticky and thick.
- Toss your crispy fried chicken pieces through the sauce so that the chicken is properly covered. Garnish with chopped green spring onion and a drizzle of sesame oil and serve hot over rice or with chow mein noodles.
- Use boneless chicken breast to make it easier or if you want more flavor use boneless chicken legs.
- You can skip the rice wine or rice vinegar but both do add a lot of amazing flavors to the dish.
- Use only an organic/untreated orange for the scraped zest because of pesticides. use the juice from the same orange with the pulp for maximum flavor!
- Use a thermometer to determine when the oil is hot enough. Don't add the chicken to the oil to fry when the oil is not hot enough or when the oil is smoking. Please read in the post how to deep fry, to gather some tips.
You may skip adding the cornflour slur (cornflour+water) to the sauce at the end but cook down your sauce to a sticky consistency instead.