Panda Express Honey Sesame Chicken Recipe

The Ultimate Guide to Making Panda Express Honey Sesame Chicken at Home

Panda Express Honey Sesame Chicken has become a staple in the world of fast-casual dining, offering a perfect blend of sweet and tangy flavors that dance on the palate. This dish, known for its crispy chicken coated in a rich honey sesame sauce, is not just a meal but an experience. For those looking to recreate this culinary delight at home, this guide will walk you through every step of the process, ensuring your version is as memorable as the original.

Why This Recipe is a Must-Try

Why This Recipe is a Must-Try

  • Savory, sweet, and tangy flavors create a balanced and irresistible dish.
  • A one-pan meal that’s not only delicious but also healthy and convenient.
  • It’s a gluten-free and paleo-friendly option, making it accessible to a wide range of dietary preferences.

Experience the joy of cooking with a personal touch, drawing inspiration from traditional Chinese-American takeout. This recipe not only promises a delightful taste but also a healthier alternative to your favorite restaurant versions. For those seeking a refreshing side dish to complement their meal, consider the Chinese Smashed Cucumber Salad, a perfect blend of crispiness and flavor.

Ingredients and Their Magic: Crafting the Perfect Honey Sesame Chicken

Creating the ultimate Panda Express Honey Sesame Chicken at home hinges on selecting premium ingredients and making smart substitutions to meet your dietary preferences. This section delves into the components that make this dish a standout and offers tips for personalizing it to suit your taste and health requirements.

The Essential Components

  • Chicken Breasts: The foundation of this beloved dish, chicken breasts offer a lean yet succulent base, ensuring each bite is both tender and flavorful. They serve as the canvas for the rich and aromatic sauce that characterizes this recipe.
  • Honey Sesame Sauce: The heart of the dish, this sauce is a harmonious blend of sweet chili sauce, honey, vinegar, and sesame seeds. It envelops the chicken in a glossy, delectable glaze that balances sweetness with a tangy edge, making the dish irresistibly appealing.
  • Vegetables: Crunchy green beans and vibrant bell peppers not only introduce a spectrum of colors to your plate but also add a refreshing crunch that contrasts beautifully with the tender chicken. These vegetables enrich the dish with nutrients, making it a wholesome choice.

Welcoming Substitutions

Embracing flexibility, this recipe allows for substitutions to accommodate dietary needs without compromising on taste:

  • Coconut Aminos: A splendid gluten-free alternative to traditional soy sauce, coconut aminos bring a similar umami depth with less sodium, enhancing the dish’s flavor while catering to gluten sensitivities.

For those aiming to diversify their meal with a burst of green, consider serving this dish alongside a simple yet flavorful 3-Ingredient Bok Choy Stir Fry or the nutrient-packed Panda Express Super Greens. These additions not only augment the meal’s nutritional profile but also introduce an array of textures and flavors, making your dining experience more enjoyable and balanced.

By paying attention to the quality of ingredients and being open to substitutions, you can create a Honey Sesame Chicken dish that is not only delicious but also tailored to your dietary preferences. This approach ensures that your homemade version of Panda Express’s classic is not just a meal, but a celebration of good taste and health.

Step-by-Step Cooking Instructions for Honey Sesame Chicken

Step-by-Step Cooking Instructions for Honey Sesame Chicken

Creating a delicious Panda Express-style Honey Sesame Chicken at home is easier than you think. Follow these detailed instructions to bring this beloved dish to your table with a perfect balance of flavors and textures.

Prepare the Ingredients

  • Cube the Chicken Breasts: Start by cutting the chicken breasts into bite-sized cubes. This ensures they cook evenly and absorb the marinade for maximum flavor.
  • Season: Mix the chicken cubes with the seasonings in a bowl, ensuring each piece is well-coated. This step is crucial for building the dish’s foundational flavors.
  • Prep the Veggies: Slice the green beans and bell peppers into bite-sized pieces. Keeping the vegetables around the same size ensures a uniform cooking experience.
  • Sauce Mixture: In a separate bowl, combine the sweet chili sauce, honey, vinegar, and a dash of sesame seeds. This mixture will create the signature honey sesame glaze that makes this dish so irresistible.

Cook the Chicken

  • Pan-Frying: For a traditional approach, heat a pan with a bit of oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the chicken pieces, allowing them to brown evenly on all sides. The goal is to achieve a golden-brown crust that’s full of flavor.
  • Air-Frying: For a healthier option, place the seasoned chicken pieces in the air fryer basket. Make sure they’re not overcrowded to ensure even cooking. Air fry at 380°F for about 8-10 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and has a nice golden color.


  • Sauté the Vegetables: In the same pan used for frying the chicken (or a new one if you prefer), sauté the vegetables until they’re just tender but still crisp. This adds another layer of texture to the dish.
  • Mix: Add the cooked chicken back into the pan with the vegetables. Pour the honey sesame sauce over the top, stirring well to ensure every piece of chicken and vegetable is beautifully coated in the glaze.
  • Serve: Once everything is heated through and coated in sauce, transfer the dish to a serving platter. Sprinkle with additional sesame seeds for garnish, if desired.

Variations to Spice Up Your Dish

Variations to Spice Up Your Dish

  • Protein Swap: Feel free to use beef strips or tofu instead of chicken for a different take on this classic. Adjust cooking times accordingly.
  • Add Crunch: Introduce an extra texture by tossing in a handful of nuts like almonds or peanuts, or crispy vegetables such as carrots or snap peas.
  • Heat It Up: For those who enjoy a bit of spice, a few dashes of chili sauce or a sprinkle of red pepper flakes can add a delightful kick to the dish.

By following these steps, you can recreate a popular takeout favorite in your own kitchen, complete with the flexibility to adjust the recipe to your taste preferences. Whether you’re aiming for a traditional rendition or a personalized twist, this Honey Sesame Chicken is sure to impress.

FAQs for the Perfect Honey Sesame Chicken

Creating a delicious Honey Sesame Chicken dish that rivals your favorite takeout is an achievement, but what about the practical aspects of making it ahead, storing, reheating, and adjusting it for different dietary needs? Here are some frequently asked questions that will help you enjoy this dish to its fullest, every time.

Storage and Reheating

  • How should I store leftover Honey Sesame Chicken?
    To preserve the freshness and flavor, store any leftovers in airtight containers. This prevents the chicken from drying out and maintains the sauce’s consistency.
  • Can I refrigerate or freeze this dish?
    Absolutely. In the refrigerator, it will last for 3-4 days. For longer storage, freezing is an option; it can be kept for up to 2 months when properly sealed.
  • What’s the best way to reheat it?
    For best results, reheat in the microwave, covered, to keep the moisture in. If you prefer a crispier texture, a quick toss in a pan over medium heat can revive the dish’s original glory.

Make-Ahead Tips

  • Can I prepare Honey Sesame Chicken in advance?
    Yes, you can prep the chicken and vegetables ahead of time. Cutting and seasoning the chicken, as well as chopping the veggies, can save you time. However, to ensure the chicken stays crispy, add the starch just before you’re ready to cook.
  • Is there a way to make the sauce ahead?
    The honey sesame sauce can also be prepared in advance and stored in the refrigerator. Simply give it a good stir or a quick warm-up before combining it with the chicken and vegetables.

Dietary Adjustments

  • How can I make this recipe gluten-free?
    Use coconut aminos instead of soy sauce and ensure that your sweet chili sauce and other ingredients are gluten-free. For thickening, tapioca starch or a gluten-free all-purpose flour blend works well.
  • Are there vegan or vegetarian options?
    Yes, for a vegetarian or vegan version, substitute the chicken with tofu or a plant-based chicken alternative. Ensure the protein is well-pressed and dry before seasoning and cooking to achieve a similar texture to the original.
  • Can I make this dish less sweet or less salty?
    Absolutely. Adjust the amount of honey and soy sauce (or coconut aminos) to suit your taste. Start with less and add more as needed after tasting.

With these tips and adjustments, you can tailor the Honey Sesame Chicken recipe to fit your schedule, dietary preferences, and taste, ensuring that this dish can be a versatile addition to your cooking repertoire.

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Panda Express Honey Sesame Chicken Recipe

Panda Express Honey Sesame Chicken Recipe

  • Author: Sophia
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x


Enjoy the classic flavor of Panda Express at home with this Honey Sesame Chicken recipe. It’s a delightful mix of crispy chicken coated in a sweet and tangy sauce, garnished with sesame seeds for that authentic touch. Perfect for a weeknight dinner or when you’re craving Chinese takeout but want a healthier option.


  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
  • 1 tbsp coconut aminos (or soy sauce)
  • ¼ tsp coarse sea salt
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • 4 tbsp tapioca or potato starch
  • 1 whole yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 8 oz. French petite green beans, trimmed
  • For the sauce:
    • ⅓ cup sweet chili sauce
    • 2 tbsp honey
    • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
    • 2 tsp coconut aminos
    • ¼ tsp coarse sea salt
    • 1 tsp tapioca starch
  • Avocado oil for frying
  • Toasted white sesame seeds for garnish

Unlock the door to culinary bliss. Start cooking now!

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  1. Prepare the chicken by mixing it with coconut aminos, salt, baking soda, garlic powder, and starch. Let it marinate for 15 minutes.
  2. In a pan or air fryer, cook the chicken until golden brown and set aside.
  3. Sauté the bell pepper and green beans, then add the chicken back into the pan.
  4. Mix the sauce ingredients and pour over the chicken and veggies. Cook until the sauce thickens.
  5. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds before serving.


  • For a gluten-free version, ensure all sauces are gluten-free.
  • Adjust the sweetness by varying the amount of honey.
  • Can be served with rice or noodles for a complete meal.
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Main Course
  • Method: Pan Fry/Air Fry
  • Cuisine: Chinese-American


  • Serving Size: per serving
  • Calories: 335 kcal
  • Sugar: 10g
  • Sodium: 671mg
  • Fat: 17g
  • Saturated Fat: 2g
  • Carbohydrates: 21g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Protein: 25g


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