This copycat Panda Express Kung Pao Chicken features juicy chicken, zucchini, peppers, peanuts, and chilies, all stir-fried in a deliciously spicy, sweet, and savory kung pao sauce!
Prepare to be amazed by the incredible flavors of our homemade Panda Express Kung Pao Chicken recipe. It offers an irresistible and fresh take on the beloved takeout favorite.
🥢 Kung Pao Chicken Panda Express
If you're craving Panda Express Kung Pao Chicken, you've come to the right place. Our easy-to-make copycat recipe will be on your dinner table in under 20 minutes, quicker than waiting for takeout. This dish features tender chicken breast, marinated for juicy and moist goodness and pan-seared. The star of the show is a delicious kung pao sauce with a delightful blend of spiciness, sweetness, sourness, and savory flavors. Everything gets tossed together with crispy chopped vegetables and served alongside freshly steamed rice.
What does Kung Pao Chicken Taste Like at Panda Express?
The dish typically has tender pieces of chicken that are stir-fried with a medley of vegetables such as bell peppers and zucchini. The chicken is coated in a flavorful sauce that strikes a balance between sweet, savory, and spicy notes. The sauce combines ingredients like soy sauce, vinegar, and spices to create a rich and tangy taste. The inclusion of peanuts adds a delightful crunch and nuttiness to the dish.
What Ingredients do I Need for Kung Pao Chicken?
KUNG PAO CHICKEN
- Chicken Breast: Use boneless and skinless chicken breast, sliced into thin pieces.
- Zucchini: Choose a medium-sized zucchini and cut it into bite-sized chunks.
- Red Bell Pepper: The vibrant red color and sweet taste of the bell pepper complement the other ingredients perfectly.
- Dried Chili Peppers: These chilis add heat and spice to the dish. Adjust the quantity according to your taste. Be cautious when handling them, as they can be quite spicy.
- Roasted Peanuts: Look for unsalted and roasted peanuts to add a crunchy texture and nutty flavor to the dish. You can also use pre-packaged roasted peanuts or roast them at home.
- Green Onions: They provide a mild onion flavor and a pop of freshness. Chop them into small pieces to sprinkle over the finished dish.
- Vegetable Oil: The best oil for stir-frying is one with a high smoke point, which means it can withstand high heat without burning or producing smoke. Here are some oils commonly used for stir-frying: Peanut Oil, Canola, Vegetable and Grapeseed Oil.
- Soy Sauce: Opt for low sodium soy sauce to control the saltiness of the marinade. It adds a savory and umami flavor to the chicken.
- Cornstarch: It is used as a thickening agent in the marinade. It helps to create a coating on the chicken, making it juicy and tender when cooked.
- Brown Sugar: Brown sugar adds a touch of sweetness to balance out the flavors in the marinade.
STIR FRY SAUCE
- Chicken Stock or Water: Chicken stock adds depth of flavor to the sauce, but if unavailable, use water as a substitute.
- Chinkiang (Black) Vinegar or Balsamic Vinegar: Chinkiang vinegar is a traditional Chinese vinegar with a rich, smoky flavor. If unavailable, balsamic vinegar can be used as a substitute, which adds a slightly sweeter and tangier taste. You can also use rice vinegar. The flavor profile may be slightly different, but it will still contribute to the overall deliciousness of the sauce.
- Dark Soy Sauce: It has a more intense flavor and darker color compared to regular soy sauce. If unavailable, you can use regular soy sauce, but the color and taste may be slightly different.
- Oyster Sauce: Adds a savory and slightly sweet taste to the sauce. If you have dietary restrictions or allergies, you can substitute with vegetarian oyster sauce or hoisin sauce.
- Brown Sugar: Adds a subtle sweetness that balances out the flavors in the sauce. Adjust the amount according to your taste.
- Cornstarch: Acts as a thickening agent to give the sauce a desired consistency. It also helps to create a glossy and coating texture.
- Sesame Oil ( optional): Adds a distinct nutty aroma and flavor to the sauce. Use it sparingly, as a little goes a long way.
- Garlic and Ginger: Minced garlic and grated ginger enhance the overall taste profile of the dish.
- White Pepper Powder: Adds a subtle heat and mild spiciness to the sauce. Adjust the amount according to your taste.
How to Make Kung Pao Chicken Panda Express
In a medium bowl, combine the marinade ingredients and add the thinly sliced chicken breast. Ensure the chicken is well-coated with the marinade. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the chicken to marinate for a minimum of 30 minutes, or overnight. If you prefer, you can also let the chicken sit in the marinade while you prepare the other ingredients.
Combine all the ingredients for the kung pao sauce in a medium bowl and set aside.
Next, heat oil in a wok or pan over medium high heat until it becomes hot. Add the chicken pieces. It's important not to overcrowd the wok or pan. Cook undisturbed until it turns golden brown, which usually takes about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Flip the chicken over and repeat the cooking process on the other side. Once the chicken is fully cooked, transfer it to a plate.
Sir Fry The Vegetables
Add the zucchini, red bell pepper, dried red chilies, and peanuts to the pan and sauté them for 2-3 minutes, or until they reach your desired level of tenderness. Reduce the heat to medium and return the cooked chicken to the pan.
Pour the sauce, ensuring to give it a stir beforehand as the cornstarch may settle at the bottom. Sauté everything together for 1-2 minutes, allowing the sauce to thicken. Finally, garnish the dish with green onions.
Explore a wide range of incredible Panda Express copycat recipes on our Panda Express recipes index page! Discover mouthwatering versions of your beloved chicken, beef, and shrimp entrees, along with delectable options like fried rice and various vegetable sides.
What to Serve with Homemade Kung Pao Chicken
- Steamed Rice: Serve with a side of steamed white rice or brown rice. The fluffy and neutral rice helps balance the flavors of the dish.
- Fried Rice: If you prefer a more flavorful rice option, accompany the Kung Pao Chicken with fried rice. The combination of seasoned rice, vegetables, and protein adds depth to the meal.
- Noodles: Try serving the Kung Pao Chicken alongside noodles such as lo mein, chow mein, or rice noodles. The noodles provide a hearty base and can be tossed with vegetables and sauce.
- Stir-Fried Vegetables: Complement the Kung Pao Chicken with a medley of stir-fried vegetables like broccoli, bell peppers, carrots, snap peas, or bok choy. The vibrant colors and crisp textures add freshness to the meal.
- Steamed Vegetables: For a healthier option, steam a mix of vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, and green beans.
- Chinese Dumplings: Add some variety by serving Chinese dumplings, such as potstickers or steamed dumplings. They make for a delightful addition to the meal.
How to Store leftovers
Let it cool, transfer it to an airtight container, and refrigerate. Consume it within 3 to 4 days.
- Stovetop: Place the desired amount of Kung Pao Chicken in a pan or skillet over medium heat. Stir occasionally until heated through.
- Microwave: Transfer the Kung Pao Chicken to a microwave-safe dish and cover it with a microwave-safe lid or microwave-safe plastic wrap. Heat on high in intervals of 30 seconds, stirring in between, until it reaches the desired temperature.
Kung Pao Chicken Variations
- Vegetable Kung Pao: If you prefer a vegetarian or vegan option, you can substitute the chicken with tofu or add a mix of your favorite vegetables such as broccoli, mushrooms, and snow peas. The cooking method remains the same, but adjust the cooking time as needed.
- Cashew Kung Pao: For a twist on the classic recipe, replace the peanuts with cashews. The cashews add a buttery and creamy flavor to the dish.
- Shrimp Kung Pao: Swap the chicken with shrimp to create a delightful seafood version of Kung Pao. Adjust the cooking time accordingly, as shrimp cook faster than chicken.
- Spicy Kung Pao: If you enjoy a fiery kick, increase the amount of dried red chilies or add some crushed red pepper flakes to the sauce.
- Citrus Kung Pao: Add a citrusy twist by incorporating the zest and juice of an orange or a squeeze of lime to the sauce. The tangy citrus flavor will complement the savory and spicy elements of the dish.
Kung Pao Chicken and General Tso's Chicken are two popular Chinese-American dishes with distinct differences. Kung Pao Chicken is known for its balance of sweet, sour, salty, savory, and spicy flavors, featuring chicken, peanuts, and vegetables in a spicy sauce. General Tso's Chicken, on the other hand, has a sweet and tangy taste, with crispy chicken coated in a thick, slightly sweet sauce. While Kung Pao Chicken is spicier and incorporates dried red chilies, General Tso's Chicken focuses more on the sweet and tangy elements. The ingredient combinations and regional origins further contribute to their unique profiles.
More Copycat Recipes That Taste Like the Real Thing
Panda Express Mushroom Chicken Copycat-Tender chicken, flavorful mushrooms, and a savory sauce come together for a quick and tasty meal.
Popeyes Cajun Fries-These crispy and seasoned fries pack a spicy punch that will satisfy your cravings. Perfect as a side dish or a snack!
Copycat Popeyes Biscuits Recipe-These fluffy and buttery biscuits will melt in your mouth. Perfectly pair them with your favorite meal or enjoy them on their own.
Wingstop Ranch-Made with a blend of herbs and spices, this tangy and delicious ranch sauce is the ultimate companion for wings, veggies, and more.
Panda Express Honey Walnut Shrimp Recipe-Crispy shrimp coated in a sweet and creamy sauce, topped with caramelized walnuts.
Olive Garden Alfredo Sauce-This creamy and flavorful sauce is perfect for coating pasta dishes, creating a restaurant-quality experience at home.
Texas Roadhouse Ranch Recipe-Experience the tangy goodness of Texas Roadhouse Ranch with this homemade recipe!
Panda Express Broccoli Beef-Tender beef strips, crisp broccoli florets, and a savory sauce come together for a quick and delicious meal.
Chow Mein Panda Express-A mouthwatering blend of stir-fried noodles, fresh vegetables, and savory sauce. A must-try Chinese dish!
If you make this recipe be sure to leave a comment or give this recipe a rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐! I will be happy to hear from you!Print
All rights reserved. CHEF JAR. All images and content are copyright protected. PLEASE do not use my images without my permission. If you want to share this recipe, PLEASE provide a link back to this post.