Panda Express Orange Chicken is the perfect combination of wok-fried chicken thighs coated in a sweet and tangy orange sauce! The whole family loves this better-than-takeout version of the popular original orange chicken that I can make at home any time I want!
Panda Express Orange Chicken Copycat
The original orange chicken featured at Panda Express has been a long-time favorite for me, as well as pretty much everyone else! No wonder there are so many copycat versions available online!
My recipe shared here combines the best of the 'original' orange chicken recipe with the fact that homemade foods can be made with fresher ingredients. Truly a 'better than' the restaurant original!
Tangy, tasty homemade orange chicken is amazing when served hot and fresh right out of your wok!
For The Chicken Fry Ingredients
- 1 pound Chicken Thighs (boneless, skinless cubed into chunks)
- 1 large Egg
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- 1 pinch Pepper
- 1 tablespoon Oil (peanut or vegetable - divided into two ½ tablespoon portions - plus oil needed for frying)
- ¼ cup Corn Starch (plus ½ tablespoon for 2nd portion)
- ⅛ cup All-Purpose Flour
Panda Express Orange Sauce Ingredients
- 1 tablespoon Ginger (fresh, minced)
- 1 teaspoon Garlic (minced)
- ¼ teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
- ⅛ cup Water (plus 1 ½ tablespoon for 2nd portion)
- ½ teaspoon Sesame Oil
- ¼ cup Sugar
- ¼ cup Light Brown Sugar (packed)
- ¼ cup Orange Juice
- ¼ cup Distilled White Vinegar
- 2 tablespoon Soy Sauce
- 1 large Orange (zested)
- 2 Green Onions (optional garnish - green portion only, chopped)
*Be sure to see the free printable recipe card below for ingredients, exact amounts & instructions with tips!*
🔪 How To Make Panda Express Orange Chicken
After cleaning your chicken thighs and removing the excess fatty pieces, make a dredging station for the chicken. Coat the chicken and fry it up, then make the orange sauce.
Once the orange sauce thickens, you're ready to combine everything and enjoy this fabulous dinner!
Make the Dredging Station
- Start your dredging station. Whisk together the egg, one portion of the oil (peanut oil or vegetable oil), salt, and pepper in a medium-size mixing bowl.
- Combine dry ingredients. In another medium-size mixing bowl, combine the second portion of cornstarch and flour.
- Dredge the chicken. Dip the chicken into the egg mixture followed by coating them in the flour and cornstarch mixture.
- Fry until golden. Transfer coated pieces of chicken into your heated frying oil and cook in batches, as needed, until done.
Fry the Chicken Pieces
- I used my electric fryer to cook the chicken pieces. Then drained them on a wire cooling rack over a baking sheet. *This prevents the fried chicken from 'steaming' and continuing to cook while you finish your batches.
- However, you can also heat your cooking oil to 350ºF (175ºC) and cook the chicken in a deep frying pan, skillet, Dutch oven, or a wok.
- Depending on your method of cooking the chicken (the fryer may cook a bit faster), it should be about 3 - 5 minutes cook time on the chicken pieces until they are golden and crispy.
Make the Orange Sauce
- To make the Panda Express orange sauce. First combine the soy sauce, water, sesame seed oil, sugar, light brown sugar, orange juice, distilled white vinegar, and freshly grated orange zest.
- Fry ginger and garlic. Heat your wok or large skillet to medium-high heat and add the second portion of oil, ginger, and garlic and cook for a few seconds before adding the red pepper flakes and the cut green onions.
- Add orange sauce. Cook for about 20-30 seconds before adding the combined orange sauce, then add the sauce and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Make your cornstarch slurry. Start by dissolving the first ¼ cup portion of cornstarch in the first ⅛ cup portion of water. Stir them together until the cornstarch is fully dissolved while the sauce heats.
- Cook until thickened. Once a rolling boil is reached, add the cornstarch slurry mixture (give it a quick stir before adding). Then, cook until the sauce starts to thicken which will only take a few seconds.
Assemble the Panda Express Original Orange Chicken
- Toss with chicken. Turn off the heat and add fried chicken pieces into the skillet, stirring in the chicken to coat thoroughly with the sauce.
- Zest it up. Add fresh orange zest, stir again, and serve immediately.
This delicious Panda Express orange chicken is wonderful when served over some simple steamed Jasmine rice. Make sure you try my cream cheese wontons for snacking while you cook up dinner! Enjoy!
If you're looking for more fabulous Panda Express copycat recipes, check out my new Panda Express recipes page! All of your favorite Panda entrees, chow mein, fried rice, and vegetable sides here on the blog!
🐼 More Panda Express Chicken Recipes
- All My Panda Express Recipes
- Panda Express SweetFire Chicken Breast
- Panda Express Mushroom Chicken
- Panda Express String Bean Chicken Breast
- Panda Express Kung Pao Chicken
Panda Express Orange Chicken
- 1 lb chicken thighs (boneless, skinless cubed into chunks)
- 1 large egg
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 pinch pepper
- 1 tablespoon oil (peanut or vegetable - divided into two ½ tablespoon portions - plus oil needed for frying)
- ¼ cup corn starch (plus ½ tablespoon for 2nd portion)
- ⅛ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon ginger (fresh, minced)
- 1 teaspoon garlic (minced)
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ⅛ cup water (plus 1 ½ tablespoon for 2nd portion)
- ½ teaspoon sesame oil
- ¼ cup sugar
- ¼ cup light brown sugar
- ¼ cup orange juice
- ¼ cup distilled white vinegar
- 2 tablespoon soy sauce
- zest from one large orange
- 2 green onions (optional garnish - green portion only, chopped)
- To dissolve the cornstarch, mix with the 1st portion of water and stir to dissolve. Set aside.¼ cup corn starch, ⅛ cup water
- Make your dredging station for coating the cut chicken pieces: in a medium bowl, whisk to combine egg and 1st portion of oil with salt & pepper. In another medium bowl, combine 2nd portion of cornstarch with flour and mix well.1 lb chicken thighs, 1 large egg, ½ teaspoon salt, 1 pinch pepper, ¼ cup corn starch, ⅛ cup all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon oil
- Heat your fryer, frying pan or wok to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Dredge your chicken pieces by first dipping them in the egg mixture and then moving to the flour and cornstarch mixture and coating them by rolling them through the dry mixture. Transfer to heated oil and cook for 3-4 minutes or until golden and crispy. Remove from oil and place on a wire cooling rack setting in a baking sheet to allow the chicken pieces to drain excess oil.
- To make the orange sauce combine soy sauce, the second portion of water, sesame oil, sugar, brown sugar, orange juice, white vinegar, and the orange zest.¼ cup sugar, ¼ cup light brown sugar, ¼ cup orange juice, ¼ cup distilled white vinegar, 2 tablespoon soy sauce, zest from one large orange, ½ teaspoon sesame oil
- Preheat a large skillet to medium high heat and add oil, ginger and garlic. Cook for a few seconds before adding red pepper flakes and cut green onions. Cook for about 20-30 seconds then add the orange sauce. Bring to a rolling boil and add the cornstarch mixture (stir before adding). Continue to stir as it will only take a few seconds to start thickening.1 tablespoon oil, 1 tablespoon ginger, 1 teaspoon garlic, ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Turn off heat and add the fried chicken pieces, stirring them in to coat thoroughly with the sauce.2 green onions
Equipment You May Need
Angela is an at home chef that developed a passion for all things cooking and baking at a young age in her Grandma's kitchen. After many years in the food service industry, she now enjoys sharing all of her family favorite recipes and creating tasty dinner and amazing dessert recipes here at Bake It With Love!
When you say orange juice, do you mean juice from the zested orange...or orange juice from a jug?
Tina Walters says
I have tried a few others and this orange chicken actually tasted better than Panda's!!! Wow! Good Job I'm going to check out your other recipes 🙂
Rowena Davis says
You have a recipe for orange chicken but there is no orange juice but water in the recipe only the peel. Please explain the logic. Thank you.
Angela @ BakeItWithLove.com says
There are other recipes that are popular (because of the ease of the sauce - it's just orange marmalade and bbq sauce combined) but this is the recipe as it was meant to be shared. The orange flavor is wonderful, and it truly does rival it's fast food counterpart. Enjoy!