When you’re at the mall, few things are as enticing as the spicy-sweet aroma of Panda Express. The chain restaurant, which is celebrating its 35th anniversary in 2018, is known for quick, casual and delicious Chinese food. One dish, in particular, is most sought after: Panda Express Orange Chicken.
How do you make Orange Chicken at home?
Here at Taste of Home, we know a thing or two about copycat recipes. (You can check out our best-ever copycats here.) Our renditions are oftentimes just as good—if not better!—than the restaurant counterparts. That’s why when Panda Express reached out with their original Orange Chicken recipe, we knew we had to share the goodness with our readers.
This copycat recipe for Panda Express Orange Chicken makes it easy to re-create your favorite dish at home. Plus, the recipe is surprisingly simple! You don’t need any tools or special ingredients—just a trip to your grocery store’s Asian aisle to find soy sauce, rice vinegar and sesame oil.
The Real Panda Express Orange Chicken Recipe
What You Need:
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 3 Tbsp. soy sauce, divided
- 2 Tbsp. white wine (or rice wine)
- 2 tsp. minced ginger
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- ¼ cup plus 1 Tbsp. cornstarch, divided
- Canola oil, for frying
- 1 Tbsp. honey
- 2/3 cup orange juice
- 1 Tbsp. orange marmalade
- 1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
- ¼ tsp. crushed red chili flakes
- ¼ tsp. sesame oil
Step 1: Marinate Chicken
Start by cutting the chicken into small, bite-size pieces—about 1 to 1-1/2 inches long. Then, whisk together two tablespoons of soy sauce, wine, ginger and garlic in a large bowl. Add the chicken and stir until the pieces are well coated. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 25 minutes.
Step 2: Toss to Coat
Once time is up, use a large slotted spoon to move the chicken cubes out of the marinade and into a new bowl. Discard the marinade mixture. Then, sprinkle 1/4 cup of cornstarch over the chicken. Toss lightly to coat.
Step 3: Brown Chicken
Next, heat up the oil to fry the chicken pieces in a large pot—between 1/4- and 1/3-inch of oil will be enough. Then, working in batches, add a single layer of marinated chicken pieces to the hot oil. Fry, turning occasionally until the chicken is well-browned and cooked through. Each batch should take about four minutes, total. When cooked through, move the chicken pieces out of the fryer and onto a paper towel-lined plate so the excess oil can drain away.
Editor’s Tip: At this point, the chicken will be delicious on its own. Sample a piece or two, but resist the urge to eat them all. The end result is much better. Trust us.
Step 4: Make Sauce
Place a small saucepan over medium heat and add the remaining soy sauce, honey, orange juice, marmalade, rice vinegar, chili flakes and sesame oil. Stir to combine. Then, in a small bowl, mix together the remaining cornstarch and two tablespoons water. This mixture is called a slurry. Bring the orange sauce to a low boil, and add the slurry—one spoonful at a time—while whisking. Keep adding the slurry until the sauce is thickened.
Step 5: Toss Together
Combine the chicken pieces and the sauce in a large bowl. Serve with cooked rice and broccoli. Enjoy!