Panda Express Firecracker Chicken (Copycat)

Catalina Castravet
By Catalina Castravet
5 from 8 reviews

Asian food recipes Chicken One Pan 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.
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5 from 8 reviews

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.

Author: Catalina Castravet Serves: 4 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 20 minutes Total time: 30 mins


For the Chicken:



Nutrition information

Carbohydrates: 48 Protein: 56 Fat: 45 Saturated Fat: 26 Cholesterol: 227 Sodium: 1248 Potassium: 1134 Fiber: 4 Sugar: 19 Vitamin A: 1366 Vitamin C: 98 Calcium: 75 Iron: 4 Calories: 719
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Amber Myers

This would make a tasty dinner. I am excited to give it a try and make it one evening.



This recipe looks so yummy. I can’t wait to to make this.



It's been so long since I've had Panda Express. I can't wait to make this one at home!


Brandy Ellen WRites

This chicken looks absolutely delicious! I'll be adding it to my list of creative ways to whip up chicken for the fam.



I haven't eaten at a Panda Express, but this sounds like a delicious dish. I love trying copycat dishes and enjoying recipes at home.



It looks so good! I am surprised they took it off the menu. People will be so happy to see that you've recreated the recipe.


Gervin Khan

Wow, this looks really delicious and seeing this makes my mouthwatering!



This recipe sounds like it would certainly pack a punch. Just my sort of dish!!!


GiGi Eats

I definitely want a CRACK of FIRE in my mouth!! Sign me up! :)



I'm not familiar with Panda Express but I love my chicken and a firecracker chicken is perfect for dinner parties. I will keep this recipe for a dinner party.


Nikki Wayne

I can imagine how spicy this is. I'm always done for spicy chicken. Thanks for the recipe.



This is such a great chicken dinner! Super flavorful and tastes just like panda express.


Jenn @ EngineerMommy

Oh this is one of my favorite recipes at Panda Express. I gotta try this copycat recipe.



We love chicken but I have not tired preparing this. Going to save your recipe for later. Looks good!


Rena McDaniel

OMG! I've died and gone to heaven! This is my favorite meal at Panda Express! Pinning!



This looks so amazing. I love all kinds of food from Panda Express. I love that you can make this. I'm going to have to try it.



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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