REVIEW: Panda Express Hot Orange Chicken

Did you know Panda Express’ Orange Chicken is spicy?

Take a look at the restaurant’s website; you’ll find a graphic with one pepper next to the Orange Chicken. I’ve always known the pepper image was there, but much like every slip of paper I’ve pulled out from a Panda Express fortune cookie, it’s meaningless. Besides the warmth of them being heated in a giant wok on a gas burner with a hypnotizing flame that calls out my name, I’ve never considered the popular entree as “spicy.” If you’re like me and roll your eyes about its “spiciness,” the fast food chain now offers Hot Orange Chicken and it has a graphic with TWO PEPPERS!!

Panda describes the spicy dish as “Crispy chicken bites wok-tossed in our signature orange sauce with more HEAT.” According to the chain, the original Orange Chicken recipe has one teaspoon of crushed chilies, but what brings the HEAT in this new dish is six scoops of those crushed chilies and a ladle full of dried chilies. Those dried ones are also in Panda’s Kung Pao Chicken, which also has a one-pepper graphic but is significantly spicier than regular Orange Chicken.

The small a la carte order I purchased had only two dried chili pepper pieces. I guess the luck of the ladle wasn’t with me. When I tried it without the dried peppers, it had a “spiciness” that was the same as the original Orange Chicken. So maybe mine was made with less than six teaspoons of crushed chilies? However, when I ate one of the dried chilies with the meat, the heat got kicked up a notch or two, so I guess the two pepper graphic accurately represented the dish’s spiciness. Also, the dried peppers changed the entree’s flavor a little, making it slightly less sweet than the original recipe.

Panda Express’ Hot Orange Chicken is not an improvement or as great as the original, and it’s not as hot as that alluring flame that heats the woks and calls for me to touch it. It can get spicy, but it depends on the luck of the ladle. If it pulls a lot of dried chilies, expect a burn with most bites. But if it ends up being like my order, expect some disappointment if you’re a heathead.

Purchased Price: $5.40
Size: Small container
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (6.92 oz) 590 calories, 7 grams of saturated fat, 53 grams of carbohydrates, and 26 grams of protein.

4 thoughts to “REVIEW: Panda Express Hot Orange Chicken”

  1. Unfortunately everyone has a different tolerance for spice. I can never get the orange chicken because it’s too spicy for me. (Mouth burns, nose runs.)

    I don’t like spicy things at all, which is sad because I like the flavor of the orange chicken otherwise.

  2. Mine had quite a bit of crushed chilli pepper, about 4 or 5 whole ones, but I only had one bite (with a whole chilli) that I would consider spicy. The breading seemed extra thick, which gave it a almost a stale quality.
    Overall, a major disappointment

    I also had the Kung Pao chicken as my second entree, the peppers in that have a smokiness to them which was missing from the orange chicken

  3. My panda must be on one mine had at least one pepper per piece of chicken and it was spicy. I loved it. I did order it right at open though so it was fresh.

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