Most Popular Items to Order at Panda Express

When you’re in the mood for tasty and convenient Asian food, Panda Express is one of the best options out there. Panda Express is a fast-casual Chinese kitchen with a range of healthy and delicious menu items. 

panda express sign in front of the restaurant

You can expect high quality, fresh ingredients and a variety of entree options. When you’re deciding what to order at Panda Express, keep an eye out for the Panda tea bar, new menu items, and classic favorites such as their famous orange chicken. 

Panda Express started in 1983 in Glendale, California, and now has locations across the US and worldwide.

If you’re traveling and unsure about what to eat, it can be comforting to know that Panda Express is a staple at shopping malls and airport food courts.

The Innovation Kitchen continually focuses on experimenting with new dishes and flavors. The company is also committed to building unity and serving the community through philanthropic initiatives like Panda Cares. 

I love being able to sample a variety of dishes every time I visit a Panda Express. Their offerings are extensive, so be sure to read below for fifteen of the best Panda Express menu items

Beijing Beef

Panda Express uses thinly sliced beef sautéed with onions and red bell peppers in this customer favorite.

Beijing beef is fried and crispy for a delicious texture. Then, they toss the meat in a sweet-tangy sauce. 

Although this dish is 470 calories, which is reasonable for most diets, the sugar content is relatively high. So, make sure you’re balancing out the entree with some filling rice and nutritious veggies on the side.

The onion and bell peppers provide a nice crunch and fresh counterbalance to the sweet sauce. Many customers agree that this is one of their favorite Panda Express items.

Honey Walnut Shrimp

The Panda Express Honey Walnut Shrimp contains shrimp that are just the right size, full of flavor, and have a scrumptious sauce.

First, large shrimp are coated with tempura batter and cooked up in the wok. Then, the dish is finished with a honey sauce and topped with sweet and perfectly glazed walnuts.

As you can imagine, this entree combines delightful flavors and textures of salty, sweet, and crunchy. Chinese restaurants usually have mayo in their honey walnut shrimp recipes.

However, if you’re not a fan of that mayo and battered shrimp flavor combo, you’ll enjoy this lighter version from Panda Express. 

Cream Cheese Rangoon

Biting into a warm Cream Cheese Rangoon is slightly surprising and immensely satisfying.

If you’ve never tried a Rangoon before, you’re in for a treat. Shaped like a small purse or basket, Rangoons serve a unique combination of a crispy outer shell and smooth, creamy filling.

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Although Rangoons often have a crab filling, this version is meatless.

This popular appetizer includes deep-fried wonton wrappers filled with cream cheese.

Cream Cheese Rangoons come with a side of sweet and sour sauce for dipping, and this tangy sauce is an excellent complement to the mild wonton and cream cheese flavors.

Chicken Egg Roll

You can’t go wrong with the Panda Express Chicken Egg Roll.

It’s the perfect appetizer or side dish complement to your meal. The outer shell is a thick and crunchy crispy wonton paper.

The inside is full of finely shredded cabbage and carrots, pieces of chicken, and translucent glass noodles. 

Although your stomach can easily be full and satisfied on entrees alone, making room to enjoy an egg roll is worth it every time. A small order includes one eggroll, and a large order contains six pieces.

Broccoli Beef

When I think about ordering Chinese food, one of the first items to come to mind is beef and broccoli.

It’s a classic Chinese takeout dish! The Panda entree of Broccoli Beef exceeds expectations. Tender, juicy beef and crisp fresh broccoli are tossed in a yummy ginger soy sauce. 

Another bonus to the Broccoli Beef is the nutrition content. A standard serving size contains just 150 calories, 7 grams of fat, and 9 grams of protein.

The sauce gives a touch of saltiness and sweetness without overwhelming the dish. This one is perfect when you want a filling but a less heavy option.

Broccoli Beef is a “Wok Smart” option, which will talk more about in the next section.

String Bean Chicken Breast

Are you trying to eat healthier meals? Thankfully, Panda Express makes an effort to meet various dietary preferences.

You can check out their website for nutrition facts and allergen info. Another element to look out for on their menu is a small green wok with the expression “Wok Smart.” Wok Smart dishes 8 grams of protein and 300 calories or less. 

String Bean Chicken Breast is a Wok Smart dish, which means a big flavor and more protein with fewer calories.

The String Bean Chicken Breast entree contains generous chunks of chicken breast wok-tossed with string beans, onions, and a mild ginger soy sauce. 

Kung Pao Chicken

Another classic, Kung Pao Chicken, is a delicious blend of hearty vegetables and chicken bites with a spicy kick.

If you’re a little hesitant to try spicy dishes, this may still be up your alley.

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Although it’s one of the spicier offerings at Panda Express, you can push the chili peppers aside for delicious flavor that won’t overwhelm your tastebuds.

Kung Pao Chicken is also a Wok Smart entree. It’s a Sichuan-inspired chicken dish tossed with peanuts, vegetables, green onions and finished with red chili peppers.

Although vegetables can vary based on restaurant and season, the dish usually consists of zucchini chunks and bell peppers. 

Chow Mein

Although technically a side item and substitute for rice, you can order and enjoy Chow Mein by itself.

The wheat noodles are stir-fried with just enough sliced cabbage, celery, and onions to provide some flavor. 

Mix things up and sample your favorite entree over chow mein noodles if you’re accustomed to eating Chinese food over rice.

Chow mein is a thinner noodle than lo mein and traditionally refers to a fried noodle. Panda Express’s chow mein noodles have a soft texture, not crispy, but the veggies provide just a little crunch and variety. 

Orange Chicken

Do you know where Orange Chicken originated?

Credit goes to Panda Express’ executive chef Andy Kao who invented orange chicken in 1987. The company’s top-selling dish has been one of its claims to fame for over 30 years. 

Listed on the menu as “The Original Orange Chicken,” the dish starts with boneless chunks of chicken cut to the perfect size. Next, the chicken is battered and fried, then wok-tossed in a unique sweet and spicy orange sauce.

This dish is famous for a reason, so don’t leave the restaurant without a sample or perhaps an entire entree to-go.

Black Pepper Chicken

If you prefer some chicken that’s not breaded or fried, check out the Black Pepper Chicken, another healthy Wok Smart dish.

The marinated chicken is combined with large chunks of celery and onions and tossed in a bold black pepper sauce.

Black pepper sounds spicy, but the pepper is just seasoning in this dish and not an over-the-top spice factor. I would describe this dish as tangy more than spicy, and the celery and onions temper the pepper flavor.

A note on this dish: the sodium content is relatively high, so be sure to drink plenty of water during and after your meal.

Mushroom Chicken

Are you looking for another take on chicken?

Panda Express gives you variety, cooking up the chicken with different sauces and complements, and the Mushroom Chicken entree is yet another way to mix it up. 

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The menu describes this as a “delicate combination” of chicken, zucchini, and mushrooms, which accurately paints the flavors and textures.

The mushrooms are mild but good-sized, and the thinly sliced zucchini discs have lots of nutrition. A light ginger soy sauce covers the chicken, mushrooms, and zucchini.

Eggplant Tofu

For all our vegetarian friends out there, the Eggplant Tofu is a must-order.

Although it’s not available at every location if you’re lucky enough to stumble across it, don’t miss the opportunity to try this filling and flavorful vegetarian dish.

The eggplant is braised and tender but not mushy. You may have sampled tofu with a soft consistency, but the tofu in this dish is fried up in crispy cubes giving a delicious texture combo to complement the soft eggplant.

Crisp bell peppers also provide a nice crunch, and the entree gets tossed with a sweet and spicy sauce. It’s rare to find a dish that’s good for you and still this delicious.

Fried Rice

Rice is the essential side dish accompanying all Chinese food, but fried rice takes your meal up a notch, adding flavor and a few extra veggies.

Similar to chow mein, you can also opt to eat fried rice as your main dish.

Panda Express starts with steamed white rice. Then, the rice is stir-fried with peas, carrots, eggs, green onions, and soy sauce.

Although the veggies are not enough to “count” as a serving or contribute to the dish’s nutritional value, they do provide color and variety, especially compared to the plain steamed rice.

Grilled Teriyaki Chicken

For something fresh and different, check out the Grilled Teriyaki Chicken.

Teriyaki chicken is a Japanese dish. Panda Express definitely made a wise choice when expanding its menu to include this classic.  

Panda Express consists of grilled chicken thigh meat served with a side of teriyaki sauce. The chicken is then hand-sliced to order. It’s next-level fresh when you watch the employees slicing your portion right in front of you.

Because the Teriyaki Chicken consists of thigh meat, the chicken stays juicy and very tender. Grilled Teriyaki chicken is high in protein and yet another Wok Smart option.

Crispy Almond Chicken Breast

Crispy Almond Chicken Breast is a newer menu addition and becoming increasingly popular for a good reason.

The juicy chicken breast is all white meat from chicken raised without antibiotics. Customers appreciate this attention to personal health and better farming practices.

Panda Express coasts the chunks of chicken breast with signature puffed-rice breading. Then, the chicken is wok-tossed with toasted almonds, freshly chopped green onions, and a savory soy garlic sauce. You can’t find almonds in many other dishes on the menu.

Here, the almonds provide a satisfying crunch. This delicious dish is getting rave reviews, so be sure to try it soon. 

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Written by Brian Nagele

Brian attended West Virginia University, then started his career in the IT industry before following his passion for marketing and hospitality. He has over 20 years experience in the restaurant and bar industry.

As a former restaurant owner, he knows about running a food business and loves to eat and enjoy cocktails on a regular basis. He constantly travels to new cities tasting and reviewing the most popular spots.

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