Anyone who loves Panda Express would know how addicting honey sesame chicken would be. It is the perfect balance of sweetness, a bit of saltiness, crunch, and the rich umami taste of Asian cooking.
If you want to make your own version of the honey sesame chicken, this post will tell you everything to know about how to make one including an easy copycat recipe that you can whip up anytime.
What is Panda Express Honey Sesame Chicken?
Honey sesame chicken is one of the most popular savory main course meals of Panda Express. It is made of thin, crispy chicken strips tossed in a stir-fry of red bell peppers, and string beans. It is made more flavorful and satisfying by their signature honey sauce and garnished with sesame seeds.
Ingredients & substitute
The original recipe of Panda Express honey sesame chicken would be the following:
For the chicken:
- Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- Salt and pepper
- Vegetable oil
For the sauce:
- Sweet chili sauce
- Rice vinegar
- Soy sauce
For the finish:
- String beans
- Yellow bell pepper
- Sesame oil
- White sesame seeds
You can always substitute soy sauce with liquid aminos or Kikkoman. In place of cornstarch, you can use arrowroot. For the flour, you can switch to almond or oat flour. Shaoxing rice wine vinegar is also a good take.
Panda Express Honey Sesame Chicken calories & nutrition
As per Panda Express website, honey sesame chicken contains 420 calories (200kcal from fat). It also contains 22g of fat, 4g of saturated fat and 45g of cholesterol. Sodium is 480mg, carbs is 40g, sugar is 19g and protein is 16g.
Tools used in the recipe
- Wok or non-stick pan
- Mixing bowls
- Slotted spatula
How to make Panda Express Honey Sesame Chicken
The first thing to do in making this dish is to coat the chicken with light batter and then fry it until it is brown and crispy. After that, the ingredients for the sauce is whisked in and is left to boil in the pan until it thickens.
After that, the vegetables are stir-fried. And then everything is tossed in the wok for a few minutes to coat the chicken and veggies. It is served with sesame seeds as garnish.
More Panda Express copycat recipes
- Panda Express Teriyaki Chicken
- Panda Express kung pao chicken
- Panda Express super greens
- Panda Express broccoli beef
- Panda Express black pepper chicken
- Panda Express Mushroom Chicken
- Panda Express cream cheese Rangoon
- Panda Express string bean chicken breast
- Panda Express eggplant tofu
- Panda Express Beijing beef
- Panda Express orange chicken
- Panda Express fried rice
- Panda Express chow mein
- Panda Express Honey Sesame Chicken (you’re here)
- Panda Express honey walnut shrimp
- Panda Express sweet and sour sauce
Variations on Panda Express Honey Sesame Chicken
To upscale this dish, here are some variations that you can add to Panda Express honey sesame chicken:
- Other meats: you can try ground meat, or strips of beef or pork
- Vegan and gluten-free: you can switch to tofu and use gluten-free ingredients such as liquid aminos and arrowroot
- Flavor and texture: you make it spicier by adding chilies or chili oil. For texture and crunch, you can add crushed peanuts, almonds, or cashew
- Cooking method: you can try air fryer for the chicken. You can also skip frying the chicken and just mix it after stir-frying the veggies.
How to store Panda Express Honey Sesame Chicken
Make sure that you consume the honey sesame chicken two hours after it is bought. For leftovers, the dish should be cooled first and then transferred into an airtight container. It can last in the fridge for three days.
Can you freeze Panda Express Honey Sesame Chicken?
Yes. Just make sure that the chicken is cooled down in room temp first. Seal it in an airtight container. It can last in the freezer for three months.
What does Panda Express Honey Sesame Chicken taste like?
Honey sesame chicken is sweet, have a nutty taste, tangy, and rich with the Asian umami flavor. It is made crunchier by the veggies incorporated in it.
What to serve with Panda Express Honey Sesame Chicken?
If you are thinking of a power pair for Panda Express honey sesame chicken, here are the following sides that you should pair it with:
- Brown rice or coconut white rice
- Ham fried rice/egg fried rice/shrimp fried rice
- Steamed broccoli or bok choy
- Roasted vegetables (asparagus, carrots, potatoes)
- Chow mein noodles
- Egg rolls
- Super greens
- Eggplant tofu
Is Panda Express Honey Sesame Chicken healthy?
Well, compared to orange chicken, honey sesame chicken is healthier because it uses chicken breasts. But it still has a lot of carbs, cholesterol, and calories, and very high in sodium. But then again, you can make it healthier by switching to air frying or using healthier substitute ingredients.
Is Panda Express Honey Sesame Chicken keto friendly?
No. It is way above the 22g carb count for keto-friendly dishes. But you can switch the carb-filled veggies with mushrooms or tofu to make it a keto dish.
Is Panda Express Honey Sesame Chicken gluten-free?
Also no. The batter used for the chicken is made of glutenous ingredients. So switch them into gluten-free versions such as liquid aminos, arrowroot, gluten-free flour or just brown the chicken naturally and ditch the batter.
Is Panda Express Honey Sesame Chicken dairy-free?
For one, it is not listed in the roster of non-dairy Panda Express meals but at the same time, it is not listed in the list of dishes with dairy content either. So just take in moderation and with caution if you have dairy allergies.
Orange chicken vs sesame chicken
The biggest difference between orange chicken and sesame chicken is that orange chicken is way sweeter, tangier, and have a lighter color compared to sesame chicken. On the other hand, sesame chicken has a nuttier crunch and savorier.
Additional recipe tips
- For a puffier chicken, you may add baking soda to the dry batter
- For a crispier chicken, double fry it
- Blanching the string beans is also a good call
- You can also garnish it with red pepper flakes
The honey sesame chicken of Panda Express is everything that you need for a comforting, savory dish. It has a well-balanced flavor, sweet, and tangy.
It is not the healthiest dish, but a lot of modifications could be made to suit your preference and diet requirements.
Overall, it deserves all the praises it has been getting and knowing that it can be made healthier is a major plus to this dish.
For the chicken
- 1lb chicken breast (skinless and boneless)
- 1 egg
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ cup flour
- A pinch of black pepper
- 1tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 cup canola/vegetable oil
For the sauce
- ¼ cup sweet chili sauce
- ¼ cup honey
- ¼ cup water
- A pinch of salt
- 2tbsps white vinegar
- 2tbsps lemon juice
- 2tsps soy sauce
- 2tsps cornstarch
For the stir-fry and garnish
- 1lb string beans
- 1 medium size yellow bell pepper
- 2tsps sesame oil
- 1tsp sesame seeds
- Make the coating for the chicken by whisking in salt, pepper, egg, and oil. Mix the cornstarch and flour on a separate mixing bowl.
- Heat the wok and pour a cup of oil in it. Dip and dredge the chicken and then fry it until brown and crisp (relatively 4mins on each side). Remove the chicken using a slotted spatula and drain in a cooling rack.
- Now make the honey sesame sauce. In a mixing bowl, combine water, honey, sweet chili sauce, lemon juice, white vinegar, salt, cornstarch, and soy sauce. Boil it in saucepan until it thickens.
- Stir-fry the bell peppers and string beans on the same wok where you fried the chicken for 30secs. Now, add the chicken, the honey sesame sauce, and the sesame oil. Toss everything and stir for a few seconds.
- Turn off the stove, plate and garnish the dish with sesame seeds.
- Serve warm
Nutrition InformationServing Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 292Total Fat 7gSaturated Fat 3gCholesterol 84mgSodium 513mgCarbohydrates 38gFiber 3gSugar 19gProtein 20g