Panda-Style Orange Chicken

I was overjoyed when a Panda Express restaurant was built near my home. There were two main reasons for my delight: their names were chow mein and orange chicken. This version of orange chicken has helped me resist the siren’s call of the panda more than a few times. Maybe they’ll save a few bucks for your family as well. Although this recipe is simple, frying the chicken in batches will take a bit of time. To use your time better, you may want to double this recipe and tuck half of the cooked chicken in the freezer to be heated up again the next time the urge for take-out hits.

Panda Style Orange Chicken

Serves 6
Prep Time: 40 minutes

2 pounds skinless boneless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into bite-size cubes
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Vegetable oil for frying
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon peeled and minced or grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
Dash of red pepper flakes
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon sesame oil

Orange Chicken Sauce:
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup orange juice concentrate
1/4 cup water
Grated zest from 1 orange

1. Place the cubed chicken in a large bowl. Stir in the egg, salt, black pepper, and 1 tablespoon oil. Mix well. Stir 1/2 cup of the cornstarch and the flour together in a large shallow bowl. Add the chicken pieces, a handful or two at a time, and stir to coat evenly. Tap off any excess.
2. Pour about 1 inch of oil in a wok or deep, heavy skillet and heat to 375 F. If you don’t have a thermometer, heat the oil until it starts to ripple in the pan. Add the chicken pieces, a small handful at time, and fry until golden and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the chicken from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Set aside. When cooking the next batch, you will probably need to turn the heat down to keep the chicken from cooking too fast and possibly add a bit more oil.
3. Once all the chicken is cooked, reserve a couple tablespoons of the oil remaining in the wok in a separate bowl. Clean the wok. Combine the sauce ingredients in a large measuring cup and whisk until the sugar dissolves.
4. Heat the wok for 15 seconds over high heat. Add the reserved oil back into the pan. Add the ginger, garlic, red pepper, and green onions and stir-fry for a couple minutes. Add the sauce and bring to boil. Add the cooked chicken, stirring until well mixed. Combine the remaining 1 tablespoon cornstarch and mix until smooth. Stir into the chicken and heat until the sauce is thickened. Stir in the sesame oil. Serve with rice or chow mein.

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  1. Boy this sounds yummy! I’ll be trying this one, thanks!

  2. Oh man, I could jump through the computer right now and hug you for posting this. Seriously, just last night we were searching for a homemade version of Panda Express’ orange chicken. It’s soooooo yummy!! Mmmm … Panda bowls with orange chicken and chow mein. Love it!

  3. Oh, this is one of my favorites! I just told my daughter a couple of weeks ago that I wish I knew how to make it!

  4. Perfect–I’ve been craving orange chicken!

  5. Love it! Thanks!!

  6. it sounds good and, even better, easier enough for this beachlife housewife to prepare without assistance from her 11 year old chef!

    what kind of rice do your kids like? we all prefer Jasmine rice best. I was raised on Uncle Ben’s; they can’t stand it. For Asian cooking we love Jasmine. Not truly a ‘sticky’ rice but it’s awfully yummy. I LOVE Basmati rice too. And rice pilaf. And while rice, beans and rice, yellow rice…darn it, Mary, I’m hungry now.

  7. Bless you! Thank you! Now I can stop petitioning Panda Express to come to my town.

  8. Oh I knew I clicked onto your blog for a good reason! I am a huge fan of orange chicken – and amazingly enough so is my DH. I’ll make this lovely sounding recipe this weekend –woo hoo. We don’t like to go out to eat – expensive even just for two people and by the time an evening meal is to be eaten – we are TIRED. Thank you again – BTW I made your Dump Cake recipe (LOVE no mixes used in the making of that lusciousness) and it was delish.

  9. Thank you, thank you! Our closest Panda Express is more than 30 minutes away, which makes satisfying a craving less convenient. This will definitely be on my shopping list items for next month. My son adores this chicken, and with his regular repertoire of menus equaling about five items . . . making orange chicken at home would be a great addition to his puny meal interests. Thanks again, Mary.

  10. Oh my gosh that sounds yummy and I’m starving right now!!

  11. That is funny my sister and I were just talking about this this morning 🙂 She was craving and I was wondering if there was a way to make it at home…….THANKS for saving me the time to look online for it!!!!!!

  12. Mmmm. I don’t think I’ve ever had Orange Chicken but I’m willing to try it. What’s the status on your cookbook? When can we expect it to hit store shelves?

  13. Hey Nancy, My cookbook will be on store shelves in September, and rumor has it that it will even be available at Wal-Mart. In fact, I just did an interview for the September issue of the Wal-Mart magazine. Pretty wild, huh?

  14. Not a comment related to the post, but had to let you know I just got your book yesterday afternoon and finished it before I went to bed. As a mom of 4, 2 who were adopted, so much of what you had to say really resonated with me. Some great parenting tips too. A highly recommended read!

  15. Oh – just so you know, you are available in Canada too – I ordered online from, a Canadian site!

  16. This looks great- I am always on the lookout for good, consistant take-out type chinese recipes. I’ll give this one a try soon. Thanks!

  17. So excited about the cookbook coming out in September. And for anyone who is interested, I tried this recipe and it is DELICIOUS!!!!! Thanks Mary.

  18. Chow mien is my favorite Panda fast food! I stir fry a lot at home but they don’t taste like the ones you get in the restaurant. My Mom said it’s because the chef uses a much, much bigger wok and the flame also plays a huge part in stir frying. This recipe sounds good; I may try it this week as I am in a row with Chinese cooking. I just posted my favorite Chinese (chicken) salad in my Blog. If you try it would you please let me know how you like it? Thanks Mary!

  19. I’ve never heard of Panda, but this is the first recipe in the book I’ve tried – and I’ve made it twice in short succession. It’s super yummy. I never would have thought to use corn starch as anything other than a thickener. That’s a great revelation to me.

  20. I’ve made this recipe several times and I dare say, it is better than Panda! I would recommend making double batches of both the chicken and sauce and freezing them for later. Just the other day dh and I had a taste for the orange and only enough energy to hit the drive thru. If I had had some tucked away in the freezer I would have saved quite a few $, lol!

  21. We made this today, but with the Panda sauce from Costco. ;o) Yum! I used your recipe for the chicken and it was perfect!

  22. After trying this panda chicken- i was hooked. This book is divine. I am a desginer so i kinda was thown off by the not modern design approach in graphics but I am so glad i tried it. I am 43 and I can actually make poilane style bread so I am an avid chef, and by far this is the best simpliest recipe that is serious eats. this book should cost a hell of alot more. Never ever judge a book by the cover or design- I have learned this lesson well. Oh I forgot to mention I added chopped red bells-and I would rate this reciepe a 3-star Michelin ranking . you rocked it girl.

  23. I just received your book today! Bought it on Amazon and very excited since I had a chance to scan through it a bit. I am totally impressed, this is exactly what I have wanted, and with instructions every which way you go,that is a DREAM! Rice-a-Roni, home-made? Yes! I have stayed away from these items for so many years as they have so many artificial ingredients. You do not have to have lots of kids to use this book. Thank you! Can’t wait to get started with making out my 2-week list, which, in our home, with just the two of us, is more like a month list. It really is *that* easy. Things you likely already have, to make the things you want, but never knew you could make at home with the things you have already ;- ) Brilliant …

  24. Gwendolyn says:

    I finally made this dish tonight. It took me longer than I’d hoped, but maybe with some practice I can be speedy and efficient! The glowing reviews were amazing, as my kids complain about EVERY food. They loved it, and had seconds and thirds.:) Thank you, Mary!!!!

  25. I made this with the recipe from the book (slightly different) SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO good!

  26. OH! and I actually loved your book so much, I ordered 3 for friends for Mother’s Day! I will probably be raffling one off on my website!

  27. ur book is cool. thanks for sharing this!

  28. I made this Monday night and my family LOVED it! Thanks for yet another great recipe.

  29. A hit with my family even though my husband orange flavor was a bit orangey for his taste. I will reduce the amount of orange used next time. (I used fresh squeeze OJ.) Also the Korean Vegetables from you book are delicious, even reheated.

  30. Thank you for this recipe…My family and I live in a remote part of Utah…about 150 miles from a Panda. This meal comes out so perfect every time! Thank you again!

  31. I am so going to have to try this. 🙂


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