Ditch the Chinese takeout and make this copycat Panda Express Mushroom Chicken Recipe instead! It’s full of tender chicken, zucchini, and hearty mushrooms all while tossed in our signature sauce! It makes a great weekday dinner that the entire family will love in just 1 hour.
I will never get enough of copycat Panda Express recipes! When it comes to fast food, this place always makes the top of our list. Recently I made a copycat version of Kung Pao chicken, and honestly, you couldn’t tell the difference! Next on the list to create is orange chicken! Simple recipes like this one are also great for meal plans because the next day they heat up well and overall they are fairly healthy.
We typically serve our stir fries with steamed rice or brown rice. Here’s an Instant Pot jasmine rice recipe that I lean on when I prefer hands-off cooking! There’s always the option of serving it by itself or over noodles (chow mein), kind of like what we do with shrimp pad thai.
What do I Need for this Recipe?
- chicken breasts – we are using boneless skinless chicken breasts. You can also use boneless chicken thighs, the only thing is since this is dark meat the taste may be a little different than using white meat.
- soy sauce – if possible grab low-sodium soy sauce
- Shaoxing wine – this can be substituted with the Asian cooking Sherry and is equally delicious.
- light brown sugar – helps to add a caramelizing effect so the chicken gets a nice golden brown sear.
- baking soda and cornstarch – aid in thickening and tenderizing the chicken
- oil – canola oil or vegetable oil can be used. Some like olive oil or avocado oil. Whatever you use, since we are going to be cooking hot you want it to have a high smoke point.
- mushrooms – we sliced up white mushrooms, but shiitake mushrooms taste good too!
- zucchini – cut these thick enough so they still have a little crunch after being cooked.
- Sesame seeds for garnish
- sesame oil – adds so much flavor when it comes to cooking Chinese stir-fries. You can consider it a staple.
- light brown sugar – offsets the tartness of the other ingredients
- mirin or rice wine vinegar and soy sauce – this is the base of our sauce and is great for an all-purpose chicken stir fry marinade.
- ginger – we like mincing fresh ginger for the best flavor
- garlic – minced garlic cloves adds more flavor too, but garlic powder can be used in a pinch
- Oyster sauce – this sauce is salty and mildly sweet. Hoisin sauce could be used, but it is sweeter, a little thicker, and less salty. The amount of brown sugar may need to be reduced.
- cornstarch – we are going to mix this with water to make a cornstarch slurry which will help thicken the sauce.
Sesame seeds, green onions
Large skillet or wok – be sure that it’s nonstick or seasoned well.
Variations and Substitutions:
- More veggies – you can transform any Chinese stir fry and plump it up by adding more vegetables such as water chestnuts, broccoli, carrots, bamboo shoots, and snow peas.
- Swap the chicken – even though this is a copycat version of Panda Express, you can make it your own by using shrimp or steak. For a veggies stir fry, simply omit the meat.
- Low carb – while we using serve this dish with white rice, you can cut the carbs by using cauliflower rice.
- Kick up the heat – whisk in some chili paste or red pepper flakes in the sauce to make it spicy.
PREP: Cube the chicken into small pieces and pat it dry with a paper towel, then place it in a small bowl.
Step 1: Whisk together a tablespoon of each: soy, Shaoxing or sherry, brown sugar, cornstarch, and baking soda.
Step 2: Pour the sauce over the chicken and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Step 3: Whisk together all of the sauce ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.
Step 4 Chop the vegetables into ½ inch slices and gather the seasonings.
Step 5: Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the drained chicken and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until it’s no longer pink. Remove the cooked chicken from the pan.
Pro Tip: You may need to cook chicken in batches so the chicken can cook in a single layer with space between each piece.
Step 6: Pour the sesame oil into the skillet, along with the garlic and ginger. Saute until fragrant.
Step 7: On medium heat, add the veggies and cook for 1-2 more minutes. Pour the sauce into the skillet stirring while it cooks to thicken.
Step 8: Then add the chicken back to the pan, tossing it to coat in the sauce.
Step 9: Garnish with sesame seeds.
SERVE: Spoon into bowls to serve alongside rice or noodles.
- The best way to get a good sear on the chicken and veggies is by using high heat. If low heat is used or if the pan is overloaded it will steam/boil them, making a soggy mess.
- Giving the chicken time to marinate makes it tender and adds much more flavor. You can marinate it for up to 24 hours.
Did you know that in traditional Chinese cooking, rice is served with almost every meal?
Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 days or in the freezer for 3 months.
You could, but honestly, this is how we are able to get the tender chicken breasts. The combination of marinade ingredients are slightly acidic which aids in the tenderizing process.
Panda Express Mushroom Chicken Recipe
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into pieces (1 pound)
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine or substitute with cooking sherry
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
- 2 cups sliced white mushrooms
- 1 zucchini cut into half circles
- Sesame seeds for garnish
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon mirin or rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon finely minced fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
- ¼ cup light soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Oyster sauce
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- Pat chicken dry with a paper towel and place in a small bowl.
- Whisk together 1 tablespoon of soy sauce,1 tablespoon of Shaoxing wine (or sherry), a tablespoon of brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, and the baking soda.
- Pour over the chicken pieces and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (up to overnight) to marinate.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together all sauce ingredients and set aside.
- Chop the vegetables and gather the seasonings so that everything is prepared before you start cooking.
- Drain the marinade from the chicken and discard.
- Heat 1-2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add drained chicken and saute until browned on all sides and the meat is white and cooked through. Remove chicken from the pan and set aside. You may need to cook chicken in batches so the chicken can cook in a single layer with space between each piece.
- Add the sesame oil to the skillet, along with the ginger and garlic. Saute for 1-2 minutes until the garlic and ginger are fragrant.
- On medium high heat, add the mushrooms and zucchini to the skillet. Saute for 1-2 additional minutes.
- Add the sauce mixture to the skillet, stirring and cooking until the sauce thickens. Add the chicken back into the pan, tossing to coat with the sauce.
- Garnish with sesame seeds and serve.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Notes: Cooking on high heat is important to brown the chicken and sear the vegetables instead of steaming/boiling them into soggy food. Use a nonstick skillet or a well seasoned wok for best results. The brown sugar in the chicken marinade helps caramelize the exterior of the chicken.