Tuesday, April 16, 2013

SweetFire Chicken (Panda Express Copycat)

Near our home in Texas was a Panda Express. About 2 miles away, I would guess.

{though I'm really, really bad at guesstimating so take that as a grain of salt}

I'm uber picky about meat when dining out but I found the quality of the SweetFire Chicken to always be good quality. AND it was delicious - sweet, with a kick of heat. We dined there fairly often.

Panda Express does exist here in the great city of Charlotte but I don't eat there much (read: ONCE since we moved here last June). Why, you ask? For one, location. I don't find myself near one all that often. The bigger reason? Charlotte locations don't carry the amazing flavored tea that they have at every single Texas location.

{and by every single Texas location I really mean the 4 I've been to}

Since I'm not getting much Panda Express these days, I needed a SweetFire Chicken fix. This recipe is spot on! Crispy bites of chicken breast are tossed with a sweet chile sauce that, when served with rice or chow mein, creates the perfect Panda Express-inspired meal at home!

Psst - just asked Jason how far we lived from Panda Express and he said 2 miles! Whoop!

SweetFire Chicken {Panda Express Copycat}
2 boneless/skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
3/4 cup flour
2 eggs
1 cup cornstarch
3 tablespoons cornstarch
4 tablespoons cold water
1-2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup water
6 tablespoons white vinegar
1 can (20 oz) pineapple tidbits, drained
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 onion, cut into 1 inch pieces
Canola or vegetable oil
Green onions, thinly sliced

Set up for breading: place flour in a large Ziplock bag, put beaten eggs in a shallow dish, and put the 1 cup cornstarch in a second shallow dish. Salt and pepper the chicken then place them in the Ziplock, seal, and shake to coat. Using tongs, pull a chicken piece from the bag, dredge in egg, then coat in the cornstarch. Set aside. Repeat until all the chicken is coated.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. When hot, fry the chicken in batches being careful to not overcrowd. Set aside on a paper towel lined plate as they finish.

To make the sauce, stir together the cold water and 3 tablespoons cornstarch in a small bowl. Set aside. Combine the red pepper flakes, garlic, sugar, 1 cup water, vinegar, and some salt in a small saucepan. Heat until boiling then whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Whisk until the sauce is thickened, then reduce to low.

In the skillet you used for the chicken, heat a bit more oil and add the red bell pepper and onion. Cook until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Add the pineapple and cook another minute.

Add the chicken back into the skillet along with the sauce and heat through.

Garnish with green onions.

Source: Feeding My Giant 


  1. I love, love, love, Panda Express and I am about 10 miles from one so I eat there only occasionally. Thanks so much for the recipe...Pinning this.


    1. Thanks for the pin! I hope you give it a try, soon, and let me know what you thought!

  2. Yay, love this at Panda! Can't wait to make it myself!

    1. I actually thought it was better, since I had full control of the quality of chicken :) Let me know what you think!

  3. Looks so yummy! Though I have never tried before I know I would like it.

    1. It's SOOOO GOOD!! You have to try it!

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  4. just made It Delicious. I agree better than Panda Express. Also try it without dredging the chicken equally yummie and safe a few calories.

    1. Glad you liked it - and great tip on saving some calories!

  5. Going to try this! We are on a tight budget (so tight we can't really eat out at all even Panda Express), and I have been craving this dish! :) Thanks for the great recipe.

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