Panda Express Sweet Fire Chicken Copycat is a delicious medley of sweet, tangy. and spicy that tastes just like the original, if not better. It's so easy to make and cheaper than eating out!
One of the things I find so much fun about food blogging as a living is the challenge of recreating restaurant favorites at home. Although often involving a series of trial and error, it's very rewarding to come up with a homemade version that's pretty close to, if not better, than the original.
If I may, ahem, say so myself, I've had a number of successes with copycatting recipes. Below are a few of my favorites if you'd like to check them out.
- Salt and Pepper Pork Chops-tender meat, crisp coating, full flavor, these fried pork chops are just like what you'd get from a Chinese restaurant!
- Baked Cheese Shrimp-these shrimps are what I beeline for every time I go to the all-you-can-eat Japanese restaurant, Hokkaido, in Long Beach and I am glad I no longer have to make the trip to enjoy their cheesy, gooey awesomeness.
- Fried Chicken a la Max's Restaurant-although it takes a bit of work, this delicious-to-the-bone fried chicken gives the iconic Filipino restaurant a run for its money.
- Ginataang Gulay-the Magic Wok restaurant which inspired this recipe is just a hole-in-a-wall type of place in Cerritos but, in my humble opinion, serves the best Filipino food that side of California so I was pretty stoked that I was able to re-create one of the most popular dishes on their menu at home.
- Panda Express Firecracker Chicken Copycat-this popular Chinese restaurant chain was one of our favorite take-out places before G and I decided to be more sensible with our cents and refrain from eating out. I am glad I can now enjoy the big, bold flavors of their firecracker chicken for less.
- Green Bean Chicken and Black Pepper Chicken-ever wonder why the meat in Chinese stir-fries always comes out super moist and tender? The secret is out and it's velveting!
And now, the latest on the list, Panda Express sweet fire chicken copycat!
How do I even begin to describe this delectable dish? First, there's the sauce. It has the delicious flavors of your classic sweet and sour, but with a kick of heat from the addition of sweet chili sauce. Sweet, tangy, slightly spicy. and soo good, you can eat it with a spoon!
- pineapple juice-for fruity and tangy tastes
- sweet chili sauce-adds sweetness and spice
- cornstarch-thickens the consistency
And then there's the tender-crisp bell peppers and onions, juicy pineapples, and crunchy chicken morsels. Smothered in the sweet fire sauce, they're pure heaven piled high on steamed rice!
Battered chicken for stir-fry
- The cornstarch and egg white batter does two things. It gives the chicken a crispy yet light coating as well as keeps it moist and tender through the velveting process.
- The recipe calls for chicken breast, but boneless dark Cut the chicken in uniform, bite-size pieces to ensure even and fast cooking.
- For best results, use enough and the right kind of oil for deep-frying such as safflower, peanut, grapeseed, or canola oil.
- Maintain the optimal temperature of 350 F to 375 F when deep-frying. Do not overcrowd the pan and cook in batches as needed to allow enough space to move the chicken freely and to keep the oil temperature from plummeting.
How to serve
- Serve with fried rice and chow mein noodles for a full Chinese takeout experience!
- To store leftovers, allow to cool completely and transfer to an airtight container. Keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
- Reheat in the microwave at 2 to 3-min intervals until completely heated through, stirring well between intervals.
- For make-ahead meals, store the sauce and the meat and veggies in separate containers. When ready to serve, combine everything together in a wide pan and cook to an internal temperature of 165 F.
Panda Express Sweet Fire Chicken Copycat
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into ¼-inch thick and 1-inch length
- 1 egg white
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- ½ small onion, peeled and cubed
- 1 small red bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 cup pineapple chunks (packed in juice)
- ½ cup pineapple juice
- ⅔ cup sweet chili sauce
- ½ teaspoon cornstarch
- salt to taste
- In a bowl, combine egg white and cornstarch, and whisk until well-blended and frothy. Add chicken and let stand for about 8 to 10 minutes.
- In a bowl, combine pineapple juice, sweet chili sauce, and cornstarch. Stir until well-blended. Set aside.
- In a skillet over medium heat, heat about 2-inches deep of oil to about 350 F. Add chicken pieces and stir gently to separate. Deep-fry for about 3 to 5 minutes or until golden brown and crisp. With a slotted spoon, remove chicken and drain on paper towels. Keep warm.
- Remove excess oil from the pan except for about 1 tablespoon. Increase heat to medium-high heat.
- Add onions and bell peppers and cook, stirring frequently, for about 2 to 3 minutes or until tender yet crisp.
- Add pineapples and cook for about 1 to 2 minutes or until heated through. With a slotted spoon, remove from pan and keep warm.
- Stir the sweet chili sauce mixture to redistribute and add to the pan. Allow to boil for about 1 to 2 minutes until bubbly and thickened. Season with salt to taste.
- Add chicken, bell peppers, onions, and pineapples back into the pan. Gently toss to fully coat with sauce.
- Transfer onto a serving platter and garnish with sesame seeds, if desired. Serve hot.