Kung Pao Chicken Panda Express Recipe

Kung Pao Chicken Panda Express Recipe

What is Kung pao chicken panda express?

Even if you’ve never had of Kung pao chicken panda express before, you’ve probably heard of it, so precisely what is it? Get excited because it’s amazing! It’s a fried spicy dish prepared with chicken, chili peppers, peanuts and vegetables, in an exceptionally flavorful saucy mixture that can only be termed as pleasantly spicy, tangy, salty and sweet.

Even though there is American version of  Kung pao chicken panda express, this a dish that we’ve all come to know and love originated in the Sichuan province of China which then took off in fame in different regions, where each region added its flare. This dish is still relatively as common in Chinese cafeterias as much as it is on American menus and sooner or later you’ll know why.

This Kung pao chicken panda express recipe is a fundamental meal that has everything you expect to get in Chinese Kung pao chicken. The tender chicken, salty crispy peanuts and soft veggies all stir-fried in a sweet, salty, and spicy Kung pao sauce. You will get all of the tastes that one would expect to get in panda express kung pao chicken without the added sodium and is made with ingredients you’ve already got at home. It’s a delicious, healthy, easy and nutritious dinner you can prepare at home, just in your normal kitchen and save your time and money!

An Easy Stir Fry

It’s super easy to make this take-out dish in just some few simple steps. You will do a quick velveting i.e. marinating the chicken. In the customary Chinese cooking, this type of marinade is applied as a way of protecting the chicken’s moistness from the high heat. Then you stir-fry the veggies with chicken to make the sauce. Once you mix everything together it’s other worldly. And this one of the best and easiest ways to popularize your cooking to your entire family will love it.

This recipe is effortlessly adaptable to whatever your favorites are. It’s made even easier by taking a few tips as revealed below under tips and variations.

Serve it with chow Mein noodles or white rice and you’ve got a mouthwatering dinner that everyone will want more of!

Tips & Variations

  • While marinating your chicken, prepare the veggies and the sauce. A stir fry will make thing move a bit quicker, so having things ready to go early on makes it much easier to move through the recipe.
  • Roast your peanuts ahead of time, even before you start marinating the chicken. It will add a profounder nuttier flavor as well as a crunchier bite. Just a bonus!
  • Use a half a cup of pre-made Kung Pao or stir-fry sauce for a shortcut.
  • Used pre-chopped stir fry vegetables. If you have them ready, for ease you can add them.
  • You can replace the fresh garlic with ginger – 1 teaspoon of ground ginger is enough if that’s what you have or available.
  • Play around with the level of heat. The chili peppers are optional!
  • If you are allergic or someone in your family is allergic to nuts then you can omit them. Just make sure you do not use peanut oil.
  • In case you have leftovers of rotisserie chicken or chicken breast from the previous meal then just add them in at the end.

Serving Suggestions

A swift direction on how to cook rice on the stove will let you to have something ready by the time you’re stir-fry is done. Traditional Brown or white rice, chow Mein noodles will make it for the kids.

To enjoy it in Chinese style, use chopsticks and make it a fun as you celebrating Chinese cuisine. And don’t forget cream cheese and homemade egg rolls. They will add some value to the dish.

More Easy Asian Dinners:

  • Chicken and Vegetable Stir Fry
  • Sweet and Sour Chicken
  • General Tso’s Chicken
  • Instant Pot Orange Chicken
  • PF Chang’s Lettuce Wraps

How to make Kung pao chicken panda express at home (step-by-step)

You’ll love to know how easy it is to make this recipe. Consider making enough quantities that can take you through the whole week so as to reduce you dinner preparation time later in the week.

There are just a couple of simple steps to take preparing the dish. Before you even start, you should know that rice will need a little more time to cook so you need to get it started as you make the rest of the meal.

  1. Cut the chicken into bite-sized chunks.
  2. Coat the chicken with cornstarch
  3. Sear the chicken in a wok or skillet with oil, then cook it until it’s lightly golden brown.
  4. Move the chicken to the side of the pan, and add the veggies, peanuts and sauce.
  5. Finish cooking the chicken and vegetables.
  6. Stir in the scallions and then it is ready to serve over cooked rice.

Why use cornstarch on the chicken?

In this recipe, cornstarch serves two purposes. It will make the source thicker and prevents it from sticking to the meat and veggies. The end result will be a puddle of sauce on your plate.

Cornstarch will give a coating to protect you chicken. Cooking stir fry like Kung pao chicken panda express is done at high heat. The cornstarch will acts as a cushion to thwart overcooking. If chicken is overdone, it may get hard and can be problematic in chewing.

What type of chicken? Chicken thighs vs. chicken breast

Almost everyone prefers chicken thighs. Taking chicken breast is something debatable which actually is a good gesture for you. Why shouldn’t you use this in your recipe?

Chicken generally makes great source of proteins. It’s short in calories and fat but hold lots of useful minerals such as B vitamins and many more.

Chicken thighs do have more fats as compared to breasts but this is not the kind of fat that you need to avoid at all costs because Its monounsaturated fat which is helpful in keeping the  cholesterol level  balanced hence control the undesired increase in weight. That fat also gives the thighs their peculiarly richness in flavor. So don’t have to shy away from eating chicken thighs in this recipe.

Can you use frozen veggies?

Frozen veggies will not cause any harm to the desired result of this dish. Vegetables are frozen immediately after harvested often have a greater nutritional benefit just like fresh veggies. All the vitamins and minerals are still protected and not lost during transportation or while sitting in a warehouse.

Thawing process can be skipped just mix in the frozen veggies right into the pan.

Meal prepping this recipe

Kung pao chicken panda express can also form part of your weekly meal plan. Here are a few things I’d recommend you prep ahead of time especially if you have a busy schedule throughout the week.

  1. You can prepare the rice 2 days in advance before serving. Just cook it in a rice cooker and then keep it safely in a bowl in the fridge.
  2. Chopping of the chicken and veggies can also be done ahead of time so that all you need to do is throw it all in the pan with the sauce to cook.
  3. And speaking of sauce,
  4. You can also prepare the source ahead of time (up to five days in advance) as the ingredients are all pantry staples and can sit for a few days.

Whichever way you go, this recipe comes as a whole package in one flash and will come together even quicker with a little bit of prior preparation.

Storing and reheating

The left overs can be kept safely glass bowls preferable microwave bowls because it can later be used when reheating.

It’s advisable to allow some time for the rice, chicken and veggies to cool to the room temperature before they are set for cold storage for later use.

To reheat, simply set it in a microwave for about 2-3 minutes, sprinkling a slightly with water before reheating. This will help the chicken to regain its moisture and to eliminate the feel, smell and taste of leftover chicken. During reheating you will be stirring for 4-5 minutes or so on medium-high heat.

Can you freeze this recipe?

I will not encourage that you freeze this dish as a whole once you have cooked it simply because the veggies will not require the same heat intensity as chicken. However, there are elements of Kung pao chicken panda express that you can freeze and/or make ahead. If you want to reduce the preparation time you can start by making the required sauce ahead of time and store in the fridge for later use, then freeze the raw chicken and fresh veggies. You can also freeze cooked rice.

Other Stir Fry Recipes

If you find this Kung pao chicken panda express recipe to be tasty and delicious then you’re going to love the other stir fries I have on this website! All These recipes are super cool and easy to prepare even on a busy schedule. You will only need about 20-40 minutes to prepare a whole dish.

Here are some last minute rush dinner recipes that you can make at home and will fit your busy schedule.

  • Thai Basil Chicken
  • Beef Stir Fry
  • General Tso’s Chicken
  • Kung Pao Shrimp

Meal prep tools for this recipe

  • Glass bowls is need for preparation of this meal.
  • You will need a butcher box if you rear you chicken at home
  • You also need a meat thermometer. You will use this during cook time just to ensure that your chicken is properly cooked through.
  • You must have a Freezer and a microwave.

How to prepare Kung pao chicken panda express – Method 1

Kung pao chicken panda express is a dish prepared precisely with stir fry chicken, peanuts, veggies and a flavorful ingredients as listed below. It’s must be smeared in a delicious sweet and spicy sauce that enhances its flavor and that Makes it even better, quick, and budget-friendly for you to try it at home!

  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 35 mins
  • Servings: 6

Ingredients 

Chicken Marinade

  • 1 1/2 pounds of chicken breast meat chopped into about half inch pieces
  • 2 Tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch

Kung Pao Sauce

  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 to 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch

Stir Fry

  • 2 to 3 table spoons of oil (you can use vegetable oil, peanut or olive oils)
  • 1 table spoonful of  sesame oil (you can also substitute it with another oil of your choice)
  • 2 bell peppers that are sliced into medium size pieces
  • 1 small piece of zucchini cut into bite sizes
  • 1 medium size bunch of green onions , sliced thinly
  • 1 Tables spoonful of minced garlic or about 4 cloves
  • 1/2 Tablespoon minced ginger
  • 8 dried chili peppers , optional
  • red pepper flakes , to taste
  • 1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts

Instructions

  1. Take the chicken, soy sauce, and salt and corn starch and mix them together in a large bowl then Set aside.
  2. Prepare the vegetables by cleaning and cutting if necessary and then prep the Kung Pao Sauce.
  3. Put soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, water and cornstarch in a small bowl. Whisk until smooth and this will form the source.
  4. Next heat a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add 2 Tables spoonful of oil and allow to heat up for about 30 seconds. Then add the chicken in a single layer then Allow to cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
  5. Flip the other sides of the chicken then continue Cooking for another 1 to 2 minutes or until edges turn light browned and the center is cooked through (160°F).
  6. Then remove from the fire and empty the pan onto a large plate. Quickly run the hot pan under hot water (do not use cold water) and carefully wipe down with a paper towel.
  7. Next add another Table spoonful of oil onto the pan then add the bell peppers and zucchini to cook over medium high heat for 3 to 4 minutes, or until tender. Then remove or transfer vegetables onto the plate.
  8. Add 1 Table spoon of sesame oil to the pan (this is optional). Then add ginger, garlic, red pepper flakes (about 1/2 tea spoon but you can add some more if you feel like), green onions, peanuts and chili peppers (this is also optional). Cook the mixture for about 1 to 2 minutes or until you feel fragrant then pour in the Kung Pao Sauce.  Simmer until it thickens.
  9. Add the chicken and vegetables back to the sauce. Toss until combined. Taste and add more red pepper flakes and salt to taste if you desire. Serve while hot.

Shortcuts tips:

If you have a busy schedule and you want to save time, you can follow the shortcut tips

  • Use   about a half a cup of a pre-made Kung Pao or Stir Fry Sauce.
  • You could also use chopped stir fry vegetables that were made ahead of time.
  • If you don’t have fresh garlic you can use 1 tea spoon ground ginger. 
  • If you have leftovers or rotisserie chicken then you can skip step 1 and 3. Just add the leftovers or rotisserie chicken in at the end. 

For serving (optional): Rice or noodles

How to prepare Kung Pao Chicken – Method 2

This Kung pao chicken panda express is a delicious restaurant copycat! This is an easy stir-fry that has a spicy garlic and soy sauce mixed with chicken thighs and veggies.

Course: Main Course

Cuisine: Asian

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Servings: 4 servings
  • Calories: 515kcal

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • 1 tbsp. chili paste
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs, diced
  • 1/2 tsp. each salt & pepper
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp. peanut oil (or olive oil)
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 bunch of green onions that are chopped into  pieces of about 1-inch
  • 1/2 cup peanuts, chopped

Rice

  • 1 cup jasmine rice
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 tsp. butter
  • 1 pinch salt

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, mix up chili paste honey, soy sauce, and garlic then put aside. For the meantime, start to cook rice in a rice cooker.
  2. Toss chicken with pepper, salt and cornstarch in a large glass bowl.
  3. Heat oil over a medium-high heat then sauté chicken for about 4-5 minutes or until it turns light browned.
  4. Add in red pepper and zucchini, pounded peanuts and stir fry sauce then sauté for another 4-5 minutes until veggies soften.
  5. Stir in green onions, sautéing another 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat then serve chicken mixture over top of cooked rice. Enjoy!

Nutrition

Kung pao chicken panda express calories: 515kcal | Carbohydrates: 56g | Protein: 32g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 110mg | Sodium: 640mg | Potassium: 708mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 1148IU | Vitamin C: 49mg | Calcium: 57mg | Iron: 3mg

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