Home Comfort Food The Original Orange Chicken by Panda Express {Copycat Recipe}

The Original Orange Chicken by Panda Express {Copycat Recipe}

by Aimee Stock

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Last Updated on April 5, 2021 by Aimee Stock

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The Original Orange Chicken by Panda Express {Copycat Recipe} as told by Jimmy Wang from Panda Express. My take offers a few tweaks based on my personal experience making it.

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.

Hero Image for The Original Orange Chicken by Panda Express {Copycat Recipe}

Whisk together all of the ingredients for the batter, adding more water if needed. You want something similar to pancake batter.

Ingredients for batter

Place the cut up chicken pieces into the batter. We’re using chicken thighs here because they are nearly impossible to over cook and they provide more flavor. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate the chicken in the batter for at least an hour.

Chicken in the batter

Heat the oil and fry the pieces until cooked and golden. I started out with a shallow fry pan, but switched to a smaller but deeper pan to simulate more of a deep fry situation. Do a few pieces at a time so as not to drop the temperature of the oil.

Frying the chicken

Place the fried chicken pieces onto paper towels to drain away any excess oil.

Fried chicken pieces

This sauce comes together relatively quickly, so it’s best to have all of your ingredients ready to go.

Ingredients for the sauce

Whisk all ingredients and then add your cornstarch slurry to thicken the sauce.

Whisking sauce

Once it thickens to sort of a maple syrup consistency, add back the chicken to coat and reheat.

Tossing chicken in the sauce

Serve over white rice and drizzle with sesame oil. Garnish with green onions.

Bite shot for The Original Orange Chicken by Panda Express {Copycat Recipe}

Did you make my The Original Orange Chicken by Panda Express {Copycat Recipe}? Leave me a comment below and let me know what you thought. You can also tag me on Instagram @aimee_stock I always love seeing what you come up with!

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The Original Orange Chicken by Panda Express Recipe

The Original Orange Chicken by Panda Express Recipe
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Chinese
Servings: 4 servings


  • Wok or Skillet



  • 1 lb Chicken Thighs Boneless, skinless, trimmed of fat and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 3/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/8 tsp Pepper
  • 1/4 c Cornstarch
  • 3/4 c All Purpose Flour
  • 1 Egg
  • 3/4 c Water or more if too thick
  • 1 1/2 tsp Oil


  • Neutral Oil for frying


  • 2 tsp Oil
  • 1/4 tsp Chili Flakes optional
  • 2 tsp Garlic minced
  • 1/2 tsp Ginger minced
  • 1/4 c Sugar
  • 1/4 c Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 c Orange Juice
  • 1/4 c White Vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Soy Sauce reduced sodium is best
  • 2 tbsp Cornstarch + 2 tbsp Orange Juice


  • 1 tsp Sesame Oil
  • 2 Green Onions for garnish



  • Cut chicken into approximately 1" cubes. Set aside.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, combine salt, pepper, cornstarch and flour. Whisk to combine.
  • Add the egg, water, and oil until it reaches the consistency of pancake batter.
  • Add the chicken to the batter, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
  • Heat oil in a wok or heavy bottom pan to 350˚F. Gently add the chicken and cook for 5-6 minutes until lightly golden brown. Be sure to monitor, flipping as needed for even browning. Remove the chicken from the pan and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.


  • In a pan over medium-high heat, add the oil. Once the oil begins to shimmer, add the red pepper flakes (optional), grated ginger and garlic and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
  • Add the sugar and brown sugar, stirring to combine.
  • Add the orange juice and allow the white and brown sugars to dissolve, stirring occasionally.
  • Add in the vinegar and soy sauce, stirring to combine.
  • Add the cornstarch and water together and whisk to combine forming a slurry. Add to the pan and stir. Continue to cook the sauce until honey or maple syrup consistency is achieved.
  • Add in the fried chicken and stir until completely coated in the sauce until heated through.


  • Top with a drizzle of sesame oil.
  • Garnish with green onions and serve with white rice.

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