Panda Express Is Giving Its Famous Orange Chicken a Makeover

The Chinese American chain is offering guests a vegan version of its signature dish later this month.

July 13, 2021

Photo by: Photo courtesy of Panda Express

Photo courtesy of Panda Express

Panda Express orange chicken — a.k.a. the highlight of any trip to the mall in the ’90s and the early aughts — is getting a vegan makeover.

The popular Chinese American food chain joined forces with Beyond Meat to create a completely plant-based version of the beloved dish called Beyond The Original Orange Chicken. Beginning July 26, Panda Express customers in New York City and Southern California will have a chance to try the meal for a limited time.

According to a press release shared with Food Network, Beyond The Original Orange Chicken was created to cater to customers’ “evolving preferences.” The dish is made with crispy pieces of plant-based Beyond Chicken that have been wok-tossed in Panda’s “signature sweet and tangy The Original Orange Chicken sauce.” The proprietary sauce also boasts a little heat and is “distinctly synonymous with Panda Express.”

This meat-free meal joins a growing list of plant-based dishes now available at Panda Express including Eggplant Tofu, Super Greens, Chow Mein, Vegetable Spring Rolls and steamed white and brown rice.

Photo by: Photo courtesy of Panda Express

Photo courtesy of Panda Express

“As the creator of The Original Orange Chicken, Panda has significant brand equity in this staple American Chinese comfort food. We know guests’ tastes and preferences have evolved and look to us for variety,” chef Jimmy Wang, Executive Director of Culinary Innovation at Panda Express, said in a statement. “Beyond The Original Orange Chicken is the next step in the brand’s journey to offer more diverse and plant-based options, while still delivering comfort and crave-ability in innovative ways.”

What’s more? With the launch of Beyond The Original Orange Chicken, Panda Express will become the first national Asian American restaurant concept to serve Beyond Meat.

Wang added: “Creating a fresh new take on a classic favorite is a great and accessible way to introduce plant-based proteins to our guests and perhaps even draw a new audience for Panda.”

In recent months (and even weeks) it has gotten much easier to find vegan fast-food options nationwide. Earlier this month Beyond Meat launched vegan chicken tenders at nearly 400 restaurants across the country, and Taco Bell recently began testing a vegan Chalupa shell. Little Caesars even got in on the plant-based fun earlier this week with the launch of its own plant-based pepperoni called Planteroni.

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