Better-Than-Panda Homemade Orange Chicken

Real Food Homemade Orange Chicken (Better Than Panda): You know how sometimes a brand name becomes synonymous with the product it makes? Think Kleenex or Xerox. We love Panda Express, and it automatically means “Orange Chicken” when we hear it. The conversation has become shorthand: “Wanna Panda?” is all that needs to be said.

Recently, I wanted some Orange Chicken but didn’t want to: load the kids in the car in the rain, drive to Panda, unload kids, wait in line (juggling Little Peanut saying, “Down!” the whole time), load kids in car, load food in car, return home.

Can ya blame me?

Besides, why pay for something you can make? Let’s do this.

Homemade Orange Chicken

Inspired by Martin Yan’s Orange Beef

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons butter or coconut oil (buy coconut oil here)
1/2 cup orange juice
zest of 1 orange
3 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons minced ginger
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional

Cube the chicken into bite-sized pieces. I prefer to do this while the chicken is partially thawed, since that makes it easier to cut.

Heat the butter/oil in a large pan until shimmering. Add half of the chicken (it’s OK if they’re still partly frozen when you put them in) and cook until nicely browned.

Don’t put all the chicken in at once because the pan will get crowded, it won’t stay hot enough, and you won’t end up with the tasty browned bits of chicken deliciousness.

Real Food Homemade Orange Chicken (Better Than Panda):

Take the first half out and set it on a towel while you cook up the second half. I put the chicken on a towel instead of a plate because the towel will absorb any condensation, preventing sogginess.

While the chicken is cooking, prep the sauce. Mix the orange juice, orange zest, oyster sauce, honey, ginger, and red pepper flakes, if using, in a measuring cup. The honey will probably stay in a big lump in the measuring cup, but it’ll melt in the pan.

Take out the second batch of chicken and blot the excess oil out of the pan with a paper towel. Leave the crunchy browned bits in.

Real Food Homemade Orange Chicken (Better Than Panda):

Pour the sauce into the pan, making sure the honey comes along for the ride, and scrape up all those yummy browned bits.

Real Food Homemade Orange Chicken (Better Than Panda):

You’ll know the sauce is the right thickness when your spatula leaves a little blank trail behind it.

Real Food Homemade Orange Chicken (Better Than Panda):

Toss in your chicken and heat it through. Serve with loaded fried rice!

Real Food Homemade Orange Chicken (Better Than Panda):

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  1. says

    As for certain words and meanings, when my older sister said “Do You Want to go to Africa,” it meant a trip to 7-11 and a delicious, old fashioned, cola slurpee. This was back in the day when there was only one drink called a slurpee, and the slurpee machine at your local 7-11 had but two choices: Cherry or Coke.

  2. says

    Just love your Orange Chicken, we will really enjoy it! Hope you have a fantastic week and thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

  3. says

    Just so you know – I pinned this twice! I have to try this. I tried another orange chicken recipe which turned out to be a lot of work. This looks so much easier.

    Thanks for sharing your yummy recipe at Fabulously Frugal Thursday!

      • Sierra says

        I would NOT substitute fish sauce. It has an extremely strong flavor that is completely different from Oyster Sauce. A very small amount goes a long way and 3TBS of it in this dish would ruin it. Hoisin will work!

  4. says

    Oh wow, that looks so delicious! We love Panda Express too, so I’m especially happy to find this recipe. I pinned it and can’t wait to try it!

    I’d like to invite you to share this post and up to two others at our From the Farm Blog Hop, which is live right now. Your style of blog posts would fit right in with the wonderful posts that are shared!

    From the Farm Blog Hop

    Hope to see you there!
    ~Kristi@Let This Mind Be in You

  5. says

    OH WOW!

    I would love for you to share and link up at my weekly TGIF Link Party if you haven’t already this week. Your favorite posts, most popular, recent or new! The party is open every Thursday night and closes Wednesday’s at midnight. Followed by (Not SO) Wordless Wednesday! I would be honored if you join us! Have a wonderful week!

    Hugs, Cathy

  6. says

    I’ve been wanting to make a homemade version of Orange Chicken and your recipe sure makes it looks easy. Thanks for sharing it. Blessings, D@TheShadyPorch

  7. says

    This looks really good! I love recipes from restaurants that I can make at home! I would love to have you stop by and link it up to our party!

    Britney @ The Princess & Her Cowboys {dot} com

  8. says

    I found you through I Made It! Monday…and I’m making this tonight! Thank you for sharing, I can’t wait to try it! :) –Fran

  9. says

    Great share. Not only did you save the trip but you probably made it a lot healthier too. I am pinning this one for dinner one night. I am not sure about Oyster Sauce. Is it in with the other Asian ingredients usually? Thanks for sharing at What’d You Do This Weekend.

  10. says

    Yes! I’ve been waiting for this recipe! THANK YOU! & thanks for linking with us this weekend at One Sharendipity Place. Have a great weekend !

    Sue @

  11. says

    I am so going to have to make this for my husband. He will ONLY eat Orange Chicken at Panda, but it always makes me worry about the contents of it, health-wise. Thanks for the recipe!
    Michelle @ Ya Gotta Have a Hobby

  12. says

    Mmm… This looks and sounds soo good, that I’m sure we’ll be trying it before the week is out!! Thank you so much for linking up with us at One Sharendipity Place!!

    Sue @

  13. says

    Ohhhh this looks so yummy!!!

    Thanks so much for sharing this at our “Best Of The Weekend party”! I have pinned this to our party board and another big board too. We hope to see you again when the party kicks off Friday eve at 8PM EST.
    Have a great week!

  14. says

    Looks so good! Thanks so much for sharing at the party!! Do drop by again for another or anytime you like. Have a great weekend. Theresa @DearCreatives

  15. says

    Just pinned and shared on Facebook as one of this weeks Freedom Fridays Features!!! Thanks so much for sharing at Freedom Fridays!!!


    PS Also shared on google+

  16. says

    Found you through SITS. I was sure that Orange Chicken was made with a ton of sugar. Good to know that the ingredients are what you have here. Not only will I cook it at home (because my family loves it) but, I will let them have it at Panda. Thanks for the recipe.

    • Elisa says

      I am sure that the Panda version is full of sugar and all manner of low-quality ingredients – but this homemade version is definitely healthier.

  17. allie says

    I live in Eastern Europe…and my little store doesn’t carry oyster or hoisin or fish sauce. (If it does, it is written in Russian or Georgian, and I cannot read either! :) Can substitute something for those sauces? Thank you!

  18. Cindy says

    Love your recipes. Would you consider adding a print option for those of us still addicted to having a piece of paper in our hands to read and follow while we cook? :)

  19. Xanthina says

    I made this last night with grapefruit juice… it was so good! As my 7 year old said “I want to eat this forever!”

  20. says

    Can you leave the oyster sauce out, can you replace it with something else? The ingredients in that include MSG, sugar, modified corn starch and wheat flour.. unless I’m looking at the wrong brands.

  21. N2Fitness says

    I’m kind of late to the party here, but I made this with my 7 year old tonight and she said it’s AWESOME. 😉 Thanks for a great recipe!

  22. Daphne says

    Pam, this sauce is so good! I used it on some greens sauteed with onions and garlic today (with a little Sriracha, of course), and it was perfect.

  23. London says

    This isn’t very helpful, it doesn’t say how long the sauce should be on or at the very least what temp to prepare it at. Mine won’t thinken and I followed the recipe as closely as it allowed

  24. Bartini Bollinger says

    This looks so good but has anyone tried this with lemon juice for lemon chicken? I don’t always have orange juice in the house but lemon juice is usually available because I use it in my baking and jam-making.

  25. Beth Anne says

    Just made this for dinner tonight. My husband says it taste good but my sauce didn’t get think. Any thoughts?

  26. Lisa Taylor says

    I made this tonight! It had a VERY strong orange flavor. Other wise it was delicious and very easy to make.

  27. Eizabeth says

    Made this tonight. Very tasty…but, my sauce didn’t thicken. Should I use cornstarch or arrowroot next time? :-)

  28. Littlewolf says

    I just tried this recipe and it was wonderful. I used imported soy sauce instead of oyster sauce, added much more zest, and some chopped shitaki mushrooms to the mix. Over steamed rice with a side of dumpling boiled in shitaki broth. It was a big hit in my household!

  29. says

    My kids love orange chicken from panda express. I am definitely trying this one this week. You can also try coating the chicken first with flour and cornstarch before frying them.

  30. says

    Made this tonight. Used lemon and lemon zest with 1/2 OJ. Toss the chicken with cornstarch first. Extra ginger and thicken with cornstarch and juiced. Added bok choy and peapods. Delicious!!!!!

  31. Jenn says

    Great recipe! Tried it last night and my family loved it! I also sautéed some veggies with some of the extra orange sauce that I made. Very good!

  32. says

    Made this tonight and it came out great.. My g/f is vegan, so I actually made two batches in two pans, one with real chicken, one with a “chick’n” substitute. Both came out great. If you whisk all the sauce ingredients together in the measuring cup, you’ll have no problem with the honey sticking anywhere. Also, by happy coincidence, the honey in my cabinet is Tangelo Orange flavored, which I think probably added to the wonderful taste.

  33. Andrea says

    Okay I have been wanting to try this for a while and I have a huge hankering for chinese tonight. I finally found some gluten free hoisin sauce that I will substitute, and I also found this oyster sauce substitute recipe: “Gluten Free Oyster Sauce”
    3 tablespoons gluten-free soy sauce
    1 tablespoon rice vinegar
    1 tablespoon light brown sugar
    1 tablespoon cornstarch (just mix)

    I may just have to make this recipe twice to see which works best!

  34. Rachael says

    I made this tonight and it was amazing, especially considering how easy it was. I added siracha as well as onion, carrot, and red pepper. Everyone loved it! Way better then takeout!

  35. says

    I agree with Cindy. Would love to see a printable recipe option. There are plenty of great WordPress plug-ins that allow you to print. I use Recipe Card but Zip List is also very popular.

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