Panda Express Menu Revealed: Mind-Blowing Dishes You Must Try Now!

Panda Express Menu: Panda Express is one of America’s most beloved quick-service Chinese restaurants. Since opening its first location in 1983, Panda Express has served tasty entrees like orange chicken, Beijing beef, and honey walnut shrimp. Today, with over 2,300 locations across the United States and internationally, Panda Express offers Chinese American classics perfected over nearly 40 years.

But with such an extensive menu featuring noodle and rice bowls, chicken entrees, side dishes, and more, figuring out what to order can be overwhelming, especially if you’re unfamiliar with Chinese cuisine. That’s where this complete guide comes in! Below, you’ll find tips on navigating the various sections of their menu, descriptions of some of Panda Express’ most popular dishes, recommendations for vegetarian and gluten-free options, advice on substitutions and customizations, and pro tips for getting the most out of your meal.

Deciphering the Menu

For first-timers, the extensive options at Panda Express may seem intimidating. But their menu is thoughtfully categorized into sections that make choosing dishes simple. These include:

  • Signature Entrees: The core Panda Express dishes like orange chicken, honey walnut shrimp, etc.
  • Noodle & Rice Bowls: The main dish is noodles and rice preparations.
  • Chicken Entrees: Additional chicken plates beyond their signature orange chicken.
  • Side Dishes: Small, shareable plates to complement mains.
  • Kid’s Meals: Downsized dishes and sides for children.
  • Family Meals: Bulk-sized main dish combinations with sides to serve groups.
  • Beverages: Selection of fountain drinks.
  • Dessert: Usually churros or crispy almond cookies.
  • Seasonal: Special dishes available for short periods.

Within most of these groupings, you’ll find classics done exceptionally well using high-quality ingredients. Continue reading for the top dishes to order from some of Panda Express’ most popular categories.

Signature Entrees

The signature entrees section of the Panda Express menu collects their most iconic and beloved dishes developed over the years. You really can’t go wrong with most options in this category, but be sure to try these classics

Orange Chicken

Panda Express‘s most famous dish, orange chicken, reinvented the Chinese American takeout staple. Tender chicken is battered and fried, then tossed in Panda’s sweet, citrusy orange sauce, striking the perfect balance between savory and sweet. It’s easily one of the most crave-worthy menu items. For added flavor and crunch, order it with steamed rice.

Honey Walnut Shrimp

Juicy, crisp-coated shrimp bathed in a sweet honey glaze and crowned with crunchy candied walnuts make this dish an all-time crowd pleaser. A nice change of pace from heavier chicken and beef dishes, its subtle sweetness pairs nicely with sides like chow mein or steamed veggies.

Beijing Beef

Thinly sliced beef gets a touch of smoky char before getting sautéed with onions and Panda’s brown garlic sauce consisting of soy, garlic, ginger, and other Asian spices. Beijing beef has been a menu staple for over 30 years thanks to its simple, savory flavor. Pair it with a side of fluffy steamed or crispy fried rice for the perfect meal.

Kung Pao Chicken

Tender diced chicken meets Panda’s spicy Kung Pao sauce, amped with chiles, garlic, ginger, and roasted peanuts. These nutty, savory-spicy flavors pair nicely with a side of either chow mein or mixed veggies. Kung Pao Chicken strikes a perfect balance, offering a delightful kick that complements rather than overwhelms the other flavors.

String Bean Chicken Breast

This dish is a lighter option with sliced chicken breast and string beans tossed in a ginger soy glaze. Diners looking to avoid heavy sauces and fatty meats will enjoy the simple preparation, allowing the freshness of the chicken and crisp string beans to shine. It’s a great gluten-free entree as well.

Noodle & Rice Bowls

In addition to their signature chicken, shrimp, and beef plates, Panda Express has an extensive selection of noodles and rice bowls combining proteins, veggies, and sauces over your choice of base. Highly recommended picks include

Mushroom Chicken

Sliced chicken breast combined with earthy mushrooms and crisp bamboo shoots in a brown garlic sauce served over rice or crispy noodles. It’s an excellent option for trying something beyond orange chicken.

Black Pepper Chicken

This dish features chicken pieces that are fried until crispy. The chicken is then wok-tossed with bell peppers, onions, and Panda’s black pepper sauce, which lends subtle heat. Order it over noodles for added texture and flavor contrast.

Broccoli Beef

As the name suggests, this preparation involves tender beef slices sautéed with broccoli florets in Panda’s brown garlic sauce. The mixture is then served atop your choice of rice or noodles. Thanks to the vegetables, it’s a solid one-dish meal.

Chow Mein or Mixed Veggies

While most protein entrees at Panda Express pair nicely with steamed white rice, switching it up with pan-fried noodles or mixed veggies makes for a more complete and nutritious meal. And since all menu items get cooked to order in smaller batches, the vegetables stay crisp and fresh.

Side Dishes

It’s easy to fill up on one of Panda’s plentiful noodle bowls or signature chicken plates. But pay attention to their side dishes, perfect for trying various flavors or rounding out a meal. Recommended options include

Crab Rangoon

Crispy on the outside and packed with creamy cheese and crab on the inside, these fried dumplings are an irresistible appetizer to kick off a Panda feast. Perfect for sharing as you dive into the main courses.

Chicken Egg Rolls

Panda’s egg rolls stand out for their perfect crispiness and savory chicken, cabbage, and carrot filling. Enjoy a couple of rolls on their own, or pair them with entrees.

Steamed Rice

Fluffy steamed white rice is the starchy base, pairing nicely with saucier dishes like orange chicken and kung pao. Chow down on a bowl of rice after the rest of your food for a soothing finish.

Super Greens

Made of healthy broccoli, kale, and cabbage, the super greens provide nutrients and fiber lacking in heavy chicken and shrimp plates. They also cut richness and cleanse palates between bites of more decadent fare.

Vegetarian Entrees

With such an emphasis on chicken, beef, and shrimp-based dishes, vegetarians can understandably feel overlooked when experiencing Panda Express. However, their menu features some solid meatless mains and customization options. Good veggie dishes to order include

Eggplant Tofu

This savory dish sees crispy fried tofu and Chinese eggplant wok tossed in a spicy, sweet garlic sauce. Chili peppers lend pleasant heat, balancing the sweetness. The sauce and texture contrast make it one of Panda’s best meat-free plates. Upgrade your order with super greens or chow mein on the side.

Mixed Veggies

As mentioned above under sides, Panda’s mixed veggies with broccoli, cabbage, and more maintain their crispness thanks to quick cooking in smaller batches. Order the large side tray as a main vegetarian dish or pair it with eggplant tofu for the perfect veggie meal.


Some dishes not explicitly billed as vegetarian can get modified to suit meatless preferences. Since Panda Express cooks everything to order in smaller quantities, catering to custom requests is more accessible than most fast food places.

When ordering a signature plate, noodle bowl, or rice dish, ask for it to be prepared without the meat protein. For example, requesting chow mein without chicken or kung pao sauce without chicken transforms these dishes into veggie meals. Just be aware cook times may get extended slightly when custom orders back up the kitchen.

Gluten-Free Options

Diners avoiding gluten for health also enjoy options at Panda thanks to the prevalence of rice and vegetable based dishes cooked individually. Just confirm with staff that rice still needs to be cross-contaminated. Best gluten free picks include:

  • String Bean Chicken Breast
  • Orange Chicken
  • Mixed Veggies
  • Super Greens
  • Steamed Rice
  • Eggplant Tofu

As with the vegetarian options, most rice, noodle and veggie sides can come gluten free by omitting dishes with soy sauce and asking for no crispy noodles. And when ordering noodle bowls, ask for steamed rice instead. This allows for enjoying iconic sauces like kung pao or black pepper devoid of meat and wheat.

Again, ensure gluten free requests get directly communicated. Panda Express cooks prepare dishes in shared cooking oil and work. So staff must carefully avoid cross contamination of ingredients when accommodating allergy requests.


After selecting your entree, noodle bowl, or customized vegetarian or gluten free meal, finish your Panda Express order with a refreshing beverage. They offer classic soda fountain drinks along with teas. Top beverage picks include:

Diet Coke, Coke Zero Or Sprite
Balance Panda’s heavier, saltier dishes with a crisp Diet Coke, Coke Zero, or Sprite, which have no extra calories or sugar and are better than their regular soda options. Fizzy ginger ale also cleanses greasy plates.

Iced Tea

Refresh with an icy cold black or sweet tea, perfect complementing Asian cuisine.


For the health conscious, Panda provides chilled water cups at their drink station free of charge. Staying hydrated cuts cravings, aids digestion, and prevents post meal energy crashes.

What To Avoid Ordering

With so many excellent dishes and customizable offerings, every menu item served at Panda Express should be avoided if it excites your palate. However, less popular plates criticized for subpar flavor and textures include:

Honey Sesame Chicken Breast

This sweet entree is dry, lacking the craveable sauce to chicken ratio of orange chicken. If set on ordering, ask for extra sauce.

Black Pepper Angus Steak

This pricier menu item features tender Angus beef wok-seared and draped in black pepper sauce. However, the market price steeply exceeds the portion size and flavors. To spend your funds wisely, pass on it and try Beijing beef instead.

Kid’s Meal Chicken Nuggets

Parents ordering Panda’s kid meal tend to prefer the orange chicken bites over the lackluster chicken nuggets lacking any crispy exterior coating.

Seasonal Dishes

While unique limited time offerings seem enticing given their temporary availability, they are fleeting for a reason. Seasonal plates rarely measure up to Panda’s core menu. Feel confident focusing on the classics outlined above instead when ordering.

Tips & Tricks For Ordering at Panda Express

Hopefully, this guide has illuminated what to order and avoid at Panda Express based on the menu category, dish descriptions, and recommendations provided. Keep the following extra pointers in mind to get the most satisfaction out of your Panda meal:

Pair Entrees With Multiple Sides

Rather than just ordering a massive plate loaded with one primary entree like orange chicken, select two lighter dishes like string bean chicken breast and Beijing beef. Then complement them with sides like steamed rice AND mixed veggies or eggplant tofu.

Take Home Extra Side Dishes

Those inexpensive side plates, like super greens or egg rolls, make perfect leftovers or pre-dinner snacks later in the week. So don’t be shy about ordering additional sides to take home.

Split Family Meals Across Two Visits

Their family meal trays provide lots of food, but one meal’s worth rarely provides the perfect freshness and heat. Divide up a family meal across two or three visits instead.

Use Online Ordering To Save Time

Place an online order for quick grab-and-go pickup or delivery. This helps avoid getting stuck behind custom orders in the restaurant.

Sign Up For Email Deals

Panda’s email club provides stellar special offers including buy one get one free entrees, free deliveries, and discounted family meals. So join for exclusive subscriber promotions.

Time Visits To Ensure Peak Freshness

Due to lulls and rushes, ingredients may sit longer before getting cooked at earlier and later periods. When turnover is higher, visit closer to 1 pm or 6 pm for optimum freshness.

The Takeaway On Ordering at Panda Express

Hopefully, this guide has armed hungry diners with everything needed to order smart and satisfy cravings during a visit to Panda Express. Their signature Szechuan favorites, like orange chicken, always warrant inclusion in a meal. But also branch out across mains and sides to discover new taste sensations while utilizing customization options. Regardless of trying kung pao chicken, mushroom chicken, or eggplant tofu, you’re bound for one savory and affordable food adventure at this Chinese fast casual chain.

Also Read: Burger-kings-menu-in-2024, Sonic-happy-hour-2024, Applebees-secret-happy-hour-turning-head-2024, Group-friendly-restaurants

Author Profile

Adam Smith
I'm an engineer by profession, which gives me a strong analytical and technical foundation. In my free time, I immerse myself in blogging and writing, where I can express my thoughts and share my experiences. This blend of engineering and creativity is not just my career, but a reflection of who I am.

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