RecipesChicken RecipesPanda Express Kung Pao Chicken Copycat

Panda Express Kung Pao Chicken Copycat

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Kung pao chicken is another Asian-inspired dish from Panda Express. It is a hearty, well-balanced meal, with sweet, salty, and flavorful taste.

With the fusion of lean protein from the chicken, the veggies, the well-loved kung pao sauce, topped on warm rice will get you through any day. If you are in for everything Panda Express kung pao chicken, we will run it down for you in this post so read on. 

Ingredients and substitute

If you are thinking of making your own Panda Express kung pao chicken, here are the ingredients that you must prepare: 

Skinless chicken breast or thighs

  • Vegetables for the stir-fry (Stir-fry vegetable options: carrots, onions, broccoli, water chestnuts, cabbage, mushroom, baby corn, bamboo shoots)
  • Peanuts
  • Olive/sesame oil

For the marinade: 

  • Low sodium soy sauce
  • Cornstarch 
  • Brown sugar

For the kung pao sauce: 

  • Soy sauce
  • Vinegar
  • Garlic, ginger, chilies
  • Sugar

Kung pao sauce substitute: 

  • Shaoxing rice wine
  • Chili paste
  • Dried chili peppers
  • Hoisin sauce

Protein substitute:

  • Beef 
  • Pork
  • Shrimp
  • Fish
  • Tofu (vegan substitute)

Panda Express kung pao chicken calories and nutrition

For every serving, Panda Express kung pao chicken contains 290 calories and an additional 190 calories from the chicken fat. It also has sodium, cholesterol, and protein content. The veggies offer fiber and the kung pao sauce has a bit of sugar. Overall, it is still a healthy choice 

What kind of pepper is in Panda Express kung pao chicken?

Panda Express uses the traditional ingredients in making their kung pao chicken. As such, they make use of dried Szechuan peppers and the Szechuan chili oil called Lao Gan Ma. This gives the kung pao chicken its mild to strong spice. 

Tools used in the recipe

The tools you will use for the recipe would be the following: 

Panda Express kung pao chicken sauce

The kung pao sauce is not the same as teriyaki sauce although both are soy sauce based sauces. Kung pao chicken sauce is not complicated to make.

As a matter of fact, you can easily make one on your own. The ingredients that make the signature kung pao sauce would be the following: 

  • Soy sauce
  • Vinegar
  • Chili, garlic, and ginger
  • Sugar

Panda Express kung pao chicken breast

There have been debates whether Panda Express kung pao chicken is made with chicken breast or chicken thighs. As far as Panda Express is concerned, they use juicy, pan-seared skinless chicken breast. It is a healthy, rich in flavor food choice for anyone. 

How to make Panda Express kung pao chicken

In making the best version of your Panda Express kung pao chicken, you have to master some tips. One, the trick is on marinating the chicken breasts. It has to be flavorful, tender, and also moist. As soon as you are done searing your marinated chicken, work on the stir-fry veggies along with the chilies and peanuts. 

After the stir-fry, cook the kung pao sauce. When it has thickened, just pour it over the chicken and veggies, top with some sesame seeds if you want to, and then you are good to go. 

  1. Marinade the chicken breasts on a mixture of ginger, garlic, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and red pepper flakes. Submerge the chicken in the mixture for at least 10mins. 
  2. While waiting, heat the skillet on medium heat. When the marinade time is done, pour olive and sesame oil on the skillet. 
  3. Take the chicken off the marinade and sear it on the skillet for 5mins each side. Do not throw the marinade. 
  4. As the chicken is seared. Add honey to the marinade and stir. 
  5. Turn the heat on low and then add the bell pepper, zucchini, scallions, peanuts, and the marinade. 
  6. Cover and cook for 5mins. 
  7. Serve with rice.

How to store Panda Express kung pao chicken

Like any leftover food, you have to store your leftover kung pao chicken in an airtight container. It can last in the fridge for four days. You can reheat and put again in the fridge in that time frame. But also, smell it first before consuming. If it smells odd, do not eat it as it may have been contaminated. 

What does Panda Express Kung Pao Chicken taste like?

As far as taste is concerned, Panda Express kung pao chicken offers a flavorful balance of sweet, salty, spicy, and savory. The spicy punch to it comes from the dried chili peppers that go straight to the dish. The addition of zucchini along with the traditional ingredient, peanuts, add crunch and mildness to the whole dish. 

What to serve with Panda Express Kung Pao chicken?

If you want to go all in and serve sides to go along your Panda Express kung pao chicken, you could choose from the following: 

  • Stir-fry rice cakes with xo sauce
  • Lo mein
  • Egg rolls
  • Broccoli and spinach stir-fry
  • Sesame noodles
  • Fried tofu
  • Savory pancakes
  • Kung pao brussels sprouts
  • Fortune cookies

More Panda Express copycat recipes

Is Panda Express kung pao chicken healthy?

Because it is made with chicken breasts, Panda Express is claimed to be one of the healthiest food choices in their menu along with grilled teriyaki chicken because they are a good source of lean protein. It also comes with stir-fry vegetables from which we can get dietary fiber as well as vitamins and minerals. 

You can also cut back some calories and sugar if you opt for a Panda Express kung pao chicken without sauce. 

Is Panda Express kung pao chicken keto-friendly?

Because of the rice that comes with kung pao chicken, it cannot be considered keto-friendly. But you can always modify your order by ditching the rice and replacing it with super greens. This way, you can still enforce dirty keto. 

Is Panda Express kung pao chicken gluten-free?

Unfortunately, kung pao chicken from Panda Express is not gluten-free. The soy is a by-product of soya and wheat and since it is an essential ingredient for both the marinade and the kung pao sauce, it is not gluten-free.

Panda Express Kung Pao Chicken Copycat Recipe {7 Steps}

Panda Express Kung Pao Chicken Copycat Recipe {7 Steps}

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Kung pao chicken is another Asian-inspired dish from Panda Express. It is a hearty, well-balanced meal, with sweet, salty, and flavorful taste

Ingredients

  • 1lb chicken thighs/breast
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 1tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 cups sliced zucchini
  • 1 red bell pepper (de-stemmed and deseeded)
  • ½ cup scallions
  • ½ cup peanuts

Kung pao sauce

  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 2tbsp minced ginger
  • 1tbsp minced garlic
  • 2tbsp rice vinegar
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1tbsp honey

Instructions

  1. Marinade the chicken breasts on a mixture of ginger, garlic, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and red pepper flakes. Submerge the chicken in the mixture for at least 10mins. 
  2. While waiting, heat the skillet on medium heat. When the marinade time is done, pour olive and sesame oil on the skillet. 
  3. Take the chicken off the marinade and sear it on the skillet for 5mins each side. Do not throw the marinade. 
  4. As the chicken is seared. Add honey to the marinade and stir. 
  5. Turn the heat on low and then add the bell pepper, zucchini, scallions, peanuts, and the marinade. 
  6. Cover and cook for 5mins. 
  7. Serve with rice.

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Nutrition Information
Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 290Total Fat 19gCholesterol 55mgSodium 970mgCarbohydrates 14gFiber 2gSugar 6gProtein 16g

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Conclusion

Kung pao chicken is a solid, well-balanced meal that you can order anytime from Panda Express. While it is not gluten-free, it is a good choice for dirty keto.

It is also healthy thanks to the lean protein that we get from the chicken and the fiber, vitamins, and minerals from the veggies. Indeed, it is understandable why it is one of the most celebrated dishes from Panda Express. 

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