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Nov 15, 2017

Orange Chicken {copycat Panda Express}

This Orange Chicken recipe is different from any other I've tried, and it's really delicious.

Orange Chicken {copycat Panda Express}

I've been on a quest to find an orange chicken recipe that tops the one from the chain with the little panda. I'm a little obsessed with orange chicken because, if you ask my oldest grandson what is all time favorite food is, he will tell you that it is orange chicken, and I have been on a quest to find the recipe that beats his favorite take-out version.

The first orange chicken I tried was the recipe from the Chinese Take-Out Cookbook from Diana Kuan. P.S. The General Tso's Chicken in the book is out of this world.

I liked the orange chicken in the book, and so did my grandson, but he did not rave about it.

Orange Chicken {copycat Panda Express}

Fast forward to five years later. I was listening to a local radio food show, and Jet Tila was a guest. He was promoting his book, 101 Asian Dishes You Need to Cook Before You Die. I immediately ordered it, and received an autographed. copy!

When I found the recipe for this chicken in his book, I had to give it a try.

In the book, the author introduces the Orange-Flavored Chicken recipe with, "OK, you can judge me all you want, but you know you love orange chicken!"

Orange Chicken {copycat Panda Express}

When I knew my grandson was coming to our house after school, I made a batch of this orange chicken, and instructed Mr. Kitchen to heat some up for him as an after school snack.

Later, when I walked in the door after work, my grandson immediately declared, "Grandma, the orange chicken is amazing! I loved it!" Happy dance time!

This orange chicken is crispy, tangy, and sweet, and there is plenty of sauce. And he loved it!!

  1. This recipe calls for tempura flour. I made my own by combining two cups of all purpose flour, and two tablespoons each of white rice flour and cornstarch. 
  2. One of the key ingredients in this recipe is oyster sauce, which I think is key to this dish's deliciousness. If you can, find the Lee Kum Kee brand, with the picture of a mother and child in a small boat on the label. I find it in Chinese and Viet grocery stores. 
  3. If you want to skip frying your own chicken nuggets, feel free to use frozen chicken nuggets from the store. Just don't get the kind that is breaded.
  4. By the way, the book is loaded with so many recipes I want to try, including Korean spicy grilled chicken, chicken pho, Thai green curry with chicken and sweet potato, and won ton soup. 

This month, the Fantastical Food Fight theme is Copycat Fast Food recipes. Did you know that tomorrow is National Fast Food Day? This was a great excuse for me to make my grandson's absolute favorite fast food.

After this recipe, be sure to check out the rest of the copycat fast food recipes.

Yield: 6 servings

Orange Chicken {Copycat}


  • 1/2 cup oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 3 ounces orange juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 ounces white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground paprika
  • 1/2 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch whisked with 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 drop red food coloring (optional)
  • 1 1/2 quarts plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 2/3 cup cold water
  • 2 cups tempura flour, divided in half (see Note above recipe)
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 4 scallions, cut into 2 inch pieces


  1. In a 1 or 2 quart saucepan, add all of the sauce ingredients and cook over medium heat. As it begins to simmer, whisk and cook for about five minutes, until it thickens. Set aside. 
  2. In a wok, deep fryer, or 4 quart saucepan, bring 1 1/2 quarts of oil to 375 degrees F. Mix 1 cup of the tempura flour with the cold water into a batter. Dredge the chicken pieces in the dry flour, and then lightly roll them in the tempura batter. Deep fry the chicken in two batches until golden brown, about 7 to 8 minutes. Drain on paper towels. 
  3. Heat a wok or large skillet on high and add 2 tablespoons of oil. When the oil is shimmering, add the chicken, onion, and scallions and cook for 30 seconds.  Add the sauce and stir to coat all of the chicken and onions. Simmer for about 2 minutes while gently tossing the ingredients in the pan. Serve with rice. 

Orange Chicken {copycat Panda Express}

Would you like to comment?

  1. This is my daughter's favorite to-go meal. She would absolutely love this if I made it- it looks so good!

  2. I am drooling at that chicken! I am allergic to oyster sauce, so feeling sad I won't be able to try making this in my kitchen... :(

    1. Oh no! Try the other orange chicken on my blog. It doesn’t have the sauce.

  3. I have never been to Panda Express but we do love orange chicken and this recipe sounds good....I have never used oyster sauce in mine so I definitely need to try this version.

  4. Yum, that looks so freaking good!!! Thanks for joining in this month, as always :)

  5. Is there something that can replace tempura flour? Thanks!

    1. Yes there is. See the notes above the recipe about making your own with wheat flour, rice flour, and cornstarch.


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