Panda Express Firecracker Chicken (Copycat)

Catalina Castravet
By Catalina Castravet
5 from 8 reviews

Asian food recipes Chicken One Pan Panda Express Copycat Recipes Recipes

Cook time Cook time: 20 minutes

Panda Express Firecracker Chicken features crispy chunks of white breast meat and fresh bell peppers, all coated in a sweet and hot black bean sauce. An easy and addicting stir-fry!

I love coming up with copycat recipes of fast-food favorites! Why spend a fortune on unhealthy fast food when you can make them better and cheaper at home? Try your hand at making your own Chick-Fil-A Chicken Nuggets, Wendy’s Chili, and Chipotle Sofritas!

Panda Express Firecracker Chicken Recipe

This Panda Express Firecracker Chicken is a Chinese takeout staple that used to be incredibly popular at the chain. I said “used to be,” because it’s not on the menu anymore. However, my love for this dish is so irresistible, that I had to share it with my audience. 

So, if you were a fan of this dish like me (or just curious about how it tastes) this is your chance to enjoy it again, anytime you want. Every bite feels like a firecracker in your mouth –savory, spicy, sweet, and crispy all at once! Also, this chicken recipe is lighter than most, because it is not battered and deep-fried. 

The juicy meat soaks up all that amazing black bean sauce while retaining a nice crunch. Satisfy those takeout cravings with a dish easy enough for busy weeknights!

What is Firecracker Chicken?

It’s a Chinese-American dish popularized by restaurants like Panda Express. Typically, it contains browned meat, bell peppers, and a handful of Chinese condiments like hoisin, oyster sauce, and soy sauce. The addition of black beans gives it a unique flavor.

Compared to other Chinese dishes like Kung Pao and General Tso, it packs quite a bit of heat due to the chilies.

How to make Panda Express Firecracker Chicken?

  1. Prep the sauce. Start by whisking the rice wine, hoisin sauce, pepper flakes, oyster sauce, and other ingredients together.
  2. Pan-fry. Next, dredge the breast chunks in flour, eggs, then flour again. Pan-fry them in batches until golden and crispy outside. Set aside.
  3. Sauté. Heat the sesame oil, then sauté the onions, chilies, and bell peppers until tender. Follow with the ginger, minced garlic, and black beans. Continue stir-frying, then add the Thai sweet chili sauce and meat. Finally, pour the sauce, give everything a good stir to coat, and wait a couple of minutes until the sauce thickens.
  4. Serve. Plate it up with sesame seeds and green onions on top. Serve hot.

Recipe Variations and substitutions:

  • Make it with other meats: Not a fan of breasts? This recipe is equally fantastic with thinly-sliced pork, beef, and fresh shrimp.
  • Make it mild: Skip the whole dry chilies if you want it less hot. Feel free to adjust the heat based on your tolerance level. 
  • Add more veggies: Broccoli florets, cauliflower, carrots, and snow peas are great additions to this stir-fry.
  • Make it healthier: This meal is already quite healthy. However, you can make it even healthier, by leaving out the breading and simply brown the meat in a little oil.

Is Panda Express Sweet Fire Chicken Spicy?

It’s spicier than the usual Chinese takeout dishes. Aside from red pepper flakes, we also use 6 whole pieces of dry chili pepper in this recipe.

My family and I enjoy that level of heat because it adds a nice kick, but not so hot you can’t eat it anymore. But if you want it milder, go ahead and leave out the chilies. The sauce is still going to be amazing!

What to serve with Panda Express Firecracker Chicken?

Serve this stir-fry with a bowl of shrimp fried rice for take-out heaven!

Also, it is great with white rice, brown rice, or cauliflower rice if you’re watching your carbs.

If you want extra veggies with your meal, steamed broccoli is a healthy side. Soba noodles are another delicious option!

How to store leftovers?

Refrigerate: Before transferring to a tightly-sealed container, make sure it’s completely cool. Then, store in the fridge for up to 4 days. 

Freeze: If you want to keep it longer, freeze it using a freezer-safe container, and freeze it for up to 3 months.

To reheat: First, thaw it overnight. Then, microwave leftovers for a few minutes until hot.

More easy Panda Express recipes:

Recipe Tips and Notes:

  • For a spicier version, chop up the dry chilies before adding them to the stir-fry.
  • Also, boneless chicken thighs are a great alternative to breasts.
  • While browning the meat, refrain from moving it around too much so it develops a golden, crunchy crust.
  • Dissolve the cornstarch completely into the sauce before pouring it into the stir-fry. This will help get rid of flour-tasting lumps and will help the sauce thicken well.
  • To save some time, consider purchasing sliced vegetables to help you save time.
  • For a sweeter note, add some pineapple pieces at the end of the cooking process.
Panda Express firecracker chicken with rice

Panda Express Firecracker Chicken Copycat

Panda Express Firecracker Chicken features crispy chunks of white breast meat and fresh bell peppers, all coated in a sweet and hot black bean sauce.
5 from 8 votes
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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 719kcal
Author: Catalina Castravet


  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 red bell pepper (diced into 1" strips or chunks)
  • 1 yellow bell pepper (diced into 1" strips)
  • 1/2 cup Thai sweet chili sauce (or to taste)
  • 6 pieces whole dry chili peppers
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red chili pepper
  • 2 teaspoons black beans (washed)
  • 1/2 white onion (sliced into 1/2 inch wedges)
  • 3 green onions (thinly sliced)

For the Chicken:

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 pounds chicken breasts (boneless and skinless - cut into 1" chunks)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs (beaten)


  • 1 tablespoon rice wine
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup water


  • Place a large non-stick skillet or wok over medium-high heat and add the 1/2 cup of vegetable oil.
  • Pat dry the chicken pieces and lightly season with salt.
  • Wait for the oil to start shimmering.
  • Working one at a time, dredge the chicken pieces in flour, dip into beaten eggs, then dredge in flour again, pressing to coat.
  • Add chicken to the skillet, and cook until golden and crispy, about 2 minutes on each side. Make sure to work in batches and do NOT overcrowd the pan. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate once done. Repeat with the remaining chicken.
  • Discard the vegetable oil and wipe clean the skillet. Place it back over medium-high heat and add the sesame oil.
  • Once shimmering, add bell peppers, chili peppers, and onion, cook stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3-4 minutes.
  • Add ginger, garlic, and black beans. Stir to combine, cook for 30 seconds.
  • Stir in the fried chicken and Thai sweet chili sauce, for about 1-2 minutes.
  • Mix Sauce ingredients in a bowl and add to the pan.
  • Stir and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  • Serve immediately, garnished with green onions, sesame seeds.
  • Serve with rice.



Calories: 719kcal | Carbohydrates: 48g | Protein: 56g | Fat: 45g | Saturated Fat: 26g | Cholesterol: 227mg | Sodium: 1248mg | Potassium: 1134mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 19g | Vitamin A: 1366IU | Vitamin C: 98mg | Calcium: 75mg | Iron: 4mg
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We don't have Panda Express here and I have never tried Firecracker Chicken, but this dish looks so delicious! I love Chinese dishes!


Chef Dennis

This Firecracker Chicken is making me crave right now! It looks really delicious and perfect.


Melanie G

Thanks so much for sharing your recipe. Planning on making it today. Initially, under "prepping of the sauce", you mentioned Hoisin sauce. How much of it should be added? If you could let me know. Please and thank you


Angie Rose

This looks absolutely amazing. I have to admit, Panda Express is one of my favorites. I'm definitely going to give this recipe a try!



This sounds delicious. I love all the spices you used in this recipe. It's spicy and I like it :) I will save the recipe and give it a try. Thanks!


Marie Gizelle

Looks good! My husband and son loves chilli anything, I'm gonna make this when grocery days get easier (lockdown)....



Please clarify, it says 2 teaspoons black beans? that doesn't seem like very much. Also, in the directions it does not address the 1 tsp. crushed red chili pepper in the first part of the recipe (not the 1/4 tsp. mentioned for the sauce.) Thank you.


To keep the recipe closer to the original one, you add just a few black beans, I add usually 2 teaspoons or 2 tablespoons. Add the chili peppers with the garlic and ginger.


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