Copycat Panda Express Zucchini & Mushroom Chicken Recipe

Get ready to step into your kitchen and whip up a flavorful copycat of Panda Express's Zucchini and Mushroom Chicken. This delightfully light, yet satisfying dish is packed full of crisp zucchini, hearty mushrooms, and tender chicken, all coated in a tangy and slightly sweet sauce. Its simplicity is deceptive, delivering a balanced mix of flavors that’s sure to please the most discerning palate.

Copycat Panda Express Zucchini & Mushroom Chicken Recipe

This recipe calls for common ingredients you might already have in your pantry. However, rice wine vinegar and sesame oil may not be readily available in every household. These are essential to achieve the signature Asian flavor. When you head to the supermarket, you can typically find these in the international or Asian aisle. Additionally, consider sourcing high-quality chicken breasts for the best results.

Ingredients for Panda Express Zucchini and Mushroom Chicken Copycat Recipe

Chicken breasts: The star of the dish, providing protein and substance.

Cornstarch: Used to coat the chicken for a slight crispness.

Canola oil: Used for sautéing, it has a neutral flavor that won’t overpower the dish.

Sesame oil: Imparts a rich, nutty flavor to the dish.

White mushrooms: Add a hearty, earthy flavor and texture.

Zucchini: Gives the dish a crunch and helps balance the richness of other ingredients.

Soy sauce: Adds a salty, umami flavor.

Rice wine vinegar: Provides a tangy kick.

Sugar: Balances out the saltiness of the soy sauce.

Garlic cloves: Adds a robust, aromatic flavor.

Ginger: Brings a spicy, slightly sweet flavor.

Sesame seeds: Used for garnish, adding a subtle crunch and visual appeal.

One reader, Alfie Hadley says:

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This copycat Panda Express zucchini and mushroom chicken recipe is a game-changer! The flavors are spot-on, and it's surprisingly easy to make. The combination of tender chicken, savory mushrooms, and crisp zucchini is a winner. I highly recommend trying this recipe for a delicious and satisfying meal.

Alfie Hadley

Cooking Techniques for Copycat Panda Express Zucchini and Mushroom Chicken

How to brown the chicken: Toss the chicken with cornstarch and cook in a heated pan with canola and sesame oil until browned on both sides.

How to cook the vegetables: Add the mushrooms and zucchini to the pan and cook until they start to brown, then add the garlic and ginger and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes for the vegetables to soften slightly.

How to finish the dish: Add the chicken back into the pan, stir to coat, then add the soy sauce, sugar, and rice wine vinegar. Stir to coat and serve with brown rice.

How To Make Copycat Panda Express Zucchini & Mushroom Chicken

Satisfy your cravings for Chinese takeouts with homemade version mushroom chicken. It’s made with sauteed veggies in thick soy ginger garlic sauce.

Preparation: 15 minutes
Cooking: 15 minutes
Total: 30 minutes

Serves:

Ingredients

  • 1lbchicken breasts,boneless skinless, cut into thin bite-sized slices
  • 3tbspcornstarch
  • 1tbspcanola oil
  • 1tbspsesame oil
  • 8ozwhite mushrooms,sliced
  • mediumzucchini,cut in half lengthwise, then in ½-inch slices
  • ¼cupsoy sauce
  • 1tbsprice wine vinegar
  • 2tspsugar
  • 3garlic cloves,minced
  • tspginger,minced or ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • sesame seeds,for garnish

Instructions

  1. Toss the chicken with cornstarch.

  2. Heat the canola and sesame oil in the pan.

  3. Add chicken and cook on medium-high for about 2 to 3 minutes on each side until browned on both sides.

  4. Remove chicken from the pan, and turn the heat up to high.

  5. Add in the mushrooms and zucchini and cook until they start to brown.

  6. Add the garlic and ginger and cook or stir for 30 seconds.

  7. Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes for vegetables to soften a little.

  8. Add the chicken back in and stir to coat.

  9. Add in the soy sauce, sugar, and rice wine vinegar and stir to coat.

  10. Serve with brown rice.

Nutrition

  • Calories: 325.47kcal
  • Fat: 17.93g
  • Saturated Fat: 3.86g
  • Trans Fat: 0.13g
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 7.92g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 4.83g
  • Carbohydrates: 13.46g
  • Fiber: 1.56g
  • Sugar: 5.16g
  • Protein: 27.76g
  • Cholesterol: 72.57mg
  • Sodium: 956.78mg
  • Calcium: 35.83mg
  • Potassium: 705.45mg
  • Iron: 1.70mg
  • Vitamin A: 34.57µg
  • Vitamin C: 15.11mg

Helpful Technique for Perfecting Zucchini and Mushroom Chicken

When cooking the chicken, ensure that it is thoroughly browned on both sides. This not only adds a layer of flavor due to the Maillard reaction, but also ensures that the chicken is cooked through, making it safe to eat. Additionally, when adding the garlic and ginger, be careful not to burn them as they can become bitter. It's best to add them to the pan and stir quickly, just until you can smell their aroma. Lastly, when adding the soy sauce, sugar, and rice wine vinegar, make sure to stir well to evenly distribute the flavors and coat the chicken and vegetables.

Time-Saving Tips for Preparing This Recipe

Prep ahead: Chop and marinate the chicken and vegetables the night before to save time on the day of cooking.

One pan wonder: Use a large skillet or wok to cook everything in one pan, reducing the number of dishes to clean up.

Quick cook: Cut the chicken and vegetables into uniform pieces to ensure they cook at the same rate, saving time in the cooking process.

High heat: Cooking at a higher temperature will help brown the chicken and vegetables quickly, saving time without sacrificing flavor.

Multi-task: While the chicken is cooking, prepare the sauce and rice to maximize efficiency in the kitchen.

Efficient slicing: Use a mandoline slicer to quickly and uniformly slice the zucchini, saving time on prep work.

Substitute Ingredients For Copycat Panda Express Zucchini & Mushroom Chicken Recipe

  • chicken breasts – Substitute with tofu: Tofu is a great plant-based alternative to chicken and will absorb the flavors of the dish well, providing a similar texture and protein content.

  • cornstarch – Substitute with arrowroot powder: Arrowroot powder can be used as a thickening agent in place of cornstarch, and it has similar binding properties.

  • canola oil – Substitute with vegetable oil: Vegetable oil can be used as a substitute for canola oil, as it has a neutral flavor and a similar smoke point.

  • sesame oil – Substitute with peanut oil: Peanut oil has a nutty flavor similar to sesame oil and can be used as a substitute in this recipe.

  • white mushrooms – Substitute with cremini mushrooms: Cremini mushrooms have a similar earthy flavor and texture to white mushrooms, making them a suitable substitute.

  • zucchini – Substitute with yellow squash: Yellow squash can be used as a substitute for zucchini, as it has a similar texture and mild flavor.

  • soy sauce – Substitute with tamari: Tamari is a gluten-free alternative to soy sauce and has a similar savory flavor, making it a suitable substitute.

  • rice wine vinegar – Substitute with apple cider vinegar: Apple cider vinegar can be used as a substitute for rice wine vinegar, providing a slightly fruity and tangy flavor to the dish.

  • sugar – Substitute with honey: Honey can be used as a natural sweetener in place of sugar, adding a touch of sweetness to the dish.

  • garlic cloves – Substitute with garlic powder: Garlic powder can be used as a substitute for fresh garlic cloves, providing a similar flavor without the need for chopping or mincing.

  • ginger – Substitute with ground ginger: Ground ginger can be used as a substitute for fresh ginger, providing a convenient alternative with a similar flavor profile.

  • sesame seeds – Substitute with chopped peanuts: Chopped peanuts can be used as a substitute for sesame seeds, adding a crunchy texture and nutty flavor to the dish.

Presenting Your Copycat Panda Express Dish

  1. Elevate the plating: As a culinary genius, I would meticulously arrange the zucchini and mushroom chicken on the plate, ensuring that each component is showcased beautifully. The chicken would be placed on top of the vegetables, and the dish would be garnished with a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds for an added touch of elegance.

  2. Incorporate color contrast: I would carefully select vibrant, fresh zucchini and mushrooms to create a visually stunning dish. The green zucchini and earthy brown mushrooms would provide a striking color contrast, enhancing the overall presentation of the dish.

  3. Utilize negative space: I would strategically use negative space on the plate to allow the dish to stand out. By leaving some areas of the plate bare, the focus would be solely on the exquisite arrangement of the zucchini and mushroom chicken.

  4. Emphasize symmetry and balance: I would pay close attention to the placement of each element on the plate, ensuring that the dish is presented with symmetry and balance. This meticulous approach would create a visually appealing presentation that reflects precision and artistry.

  5. Incorporate a touch of elegance: To add a touch of sophistication, I would drizzle a small amount of reduced soy sauce around the edge of the plate, creating an artistic and refined presentation that would impress even the most discerning culinary professionals.

Essential Kitchen Tools for Making Zucchini and Mushroom Chicken

  • Cutting board: A flat surface used for cutting, slicing, and chopping ingredients.

  • Chef's knife: A versatile, all-purpose knife used for a variety of kitchen tasks such as chopping, slicing, and dicing.

  • Measuring cups and spoons: Used to accurately measure ingredients for recipes.

  • Large skillet or wok: Used for cooking the chicken, mushrooms, and zucchini.

  • Tongs: Used for flipping and stirring ingredients while cooking.

  • Garlic press: Used to easily crush and mince garlic.

  • Grater or zester: Used to grate ginger for the recipe.

  • Small mixing bowl: Used for mixing the soy sauce, sugar, and rice wine vinegar.

  • Spatula: Used for stirring and flipping ingredients in the skillet or wok.

  • Rice cooker or pot: Used for cooking the brown rice.

Storing and Freezing Your Copycat Panda Express Zucchini and Mushroom Chicken

  • To store leftover zucchini and mushroom chicken, allow it to cool completely to room temperature before transferring it to an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 3-4 days.

  • When reheating, ensure that the chicken is heated through to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) to maintain food safety.

  • For longer storage, you can freeze the zucchini and mushroom chicken:

    • Allow the dish to cool completely before portioning it into freezer-safe containers or resealable bags.
    • Remove as much air as possible from the bags to prevent freezer burn.
    • Label the containers or bags with the date and contents for easy identification.
    • Freeze for up to 2-3 months for optimal quality.
  • To reheat frozen zucchini and mushroom chicken:

    • Thaw the desired portion in the refrigerator overnight.
    • Transfer the thawed dish to a microwave-safe container and heat in the microwave, stirring occasionally, until heated through (165°F/74°C).
    • Alternatively, reheat the thawed dish in a skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until warmed through.
  • Note: The texture of the zucchini may change slightly after freezing and thawing, becoming softer than when freshly cooked. The flavor, however, should remain delicious.

How to Reheat Zucchini and Mushroom Chicken Leftovers

  • To reheat leftover copycat panda express zucchini and mushroom chicken recipe, start by placing the desired portion in a microwave-safe dish. Cover the dish with a damp paper towel to prevent the chicken from drying out during the reheating process.
  • Microwave the leftovers on high power for 1-2 minutes, depending on the quantity. Stir the dish halfway through to ensure even heating. If the chicken and vegetables are not heated through after 2 minutes, continue microwaving in 30-second intervals until the desired temperature is reached.
  • Alternatively, you can reheat the leftovers in a skillet on the stovetop. Add a small amount of oil or water to the pan to prevent sticking and to help steam the vegetables. Heat the skillet over medium heat and add the leftovers.
  • Stir the chicken and vegetables frequently while reheating in the skillet to ensure even heating and to prevent burning. If the dish appears dry, add a splash of water or chicken broth to help reconstitute the sauce.
  • Once the leftovers are heated through and the sauce is bubbling, remove the skillet from the heat. Taste the dish and adjust the seasoning if needed, adding a touch of soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, or sugar to balance the flavors.
  • Serve the reheated copycat panda express zucchini and mushroom chicken recipe over freshly cooked brown rice for a quick and satisfying meal. Garnish with a sprinkle of sesame seeds for added texture and visual appeal.

Interesting Trivia About Zucchini and Mushroom Chicken

Panda Express's zucchini and mushroom chicken recipe is a delicious and healthy option. This dish combines tender chicken with fresh zucchini and white mushrooms, creating a flavorful and satisfying meal. The combination of soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, garlic, and ginger adds a delightful Asian-inspired taste to the dish. This recipe is a great way to enjoy a restaurant favorite at home, and it's perfect for those looking for a quick and easy meal option. With the right ingredients and a few simple steps, you can recreate this popular Panda Express dish in your own kitchen. Enjoy!

Is Making Copycat Panda Express Zucchini and Mushroom Chicken at Home Cost-Effective?

This zucchini and mushroom chicken recipe is quite cost-effective for a household. The ingredients, such as chicken breasts, mushrooms, and zucchini, are relatively affordable and widely available. The use of simple pantry staples like soy sauce and rice wine vinegar adds flavor without breaking the bank. With an approximate cost of $15, this dish can easily feed a family of four, making it a budget-friendly option. Overall, I would rate this recipe an 8 for its affordability and delicious outcome.

Is This Zucchini and Mushroom Chicken Recipe Healthy?

This copycat Panda Express zucchini and mushroom chicken recipe is a relatively healthy option, especially when compared to many other fast-food dishes. The recipe incorporates lean protein from the chicken, along with nutritious vegetables like zucchini and mushrooms. The use of sesame oil and seeds adds a dose of healthy fats, while the garlic and ginger provide both flavor and potential health benefits.

However, there are a few aspects of the recipe that could be improved to make it even healthier:

  • Reduce the amount of sugar to lower the overall calorie count and decrease the dish's glycemic impact
  • Use low-sodium soy sauce to minimize the salt content
  • Increase the proportion of vegetables to chicken for added fiber and nutrients
  • Opt for whole grain brown rice instead of white rice to boost the fiber content and provide more complex carbohydrates

To make this dish even more nutritious, consider the following suggestions:

  • Add more diverse vegetables, such as bell peppers, carrots, or broccoli, to increase the variety of vitamins and minerals
  • Use a leaner cut of chicken, such as chicken breast, and trim any visible fat to reduce the overall fat content
  • Experiment with alternative cooking methods, like grilling or baking the chicken, to minimize the amount of added oil
  • Incorporate additional herbs and spices, like red pepper flakes or cilantro, to enhance the flavor without relying on salt or sugar
  • Serve the dish with a side salad or steamed vegetables to boost the overall nutrient density of the meal

Editor's Opinion on This Copycat Panda Express Recipe

This recipe is a delightful blend of savory flavors and textures. The combination of tender chicken, earthy mushrooms, and crisp zucchini creates a harmonious dish. The use of soy sauce, garlic, and ginger adds depth and complexity to the overall taste. The addition of sesame oil and seeds provides a nutty aroma and a delightful crunch. The balance of flavors and the simplicity of the cooking process make this dish a winner. It's a perfect choice for a quick and satisfying meal.

Why trust this Copycat Panda Express Zucchini & Mushroom Chicken Recipe:

This copycat Panda Express zucchini and mushroom chicken recipe offers a delightful blend of flavors and textures, reminiscent of the popular restaurant dish. With tender chicken coated in a savory sauce, complemented by earthy mushrooms and crisp zucchini, this recipe promises a satisfying dining experience. The inclusion of traditional Asian ingredients such as soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and aromatic ginger ensures an authentic taste. Trust in the familiarity and appeal of this Panda Express inspired dish to bring the essence of the beloved restaurant into your own kitchen.

Share your thoughts on the Copycat Panda Express Zucchini & Mushroom Chicken Recipe in the Recipe Sharing forum section. Join the discussion and let us know if you've tried making this dish at home!
FAQ:
What can I use as a substitute for rice wine vinegar?
You can substitute rice wine vinegar with apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar in this recipe. The flavor may vary slightly, but it will still work well.
Can I use chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts?
Yes, you can use chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts. Just be sure to adjust the cooking time as thighs may take a little longer to cook through.
How can I make this dish spicier?
To make this dish spicier, you can add red pepper flakes or a dash of hot sauce to the stir-fry. Adjust the amount to your desired level of heat.
Can I make this dish ahead of time?
Yes, you can prepare the ingredients ahead of time, but it’s best to cook the dish just before serving to maintain the freshness and texture of the vegetables and chicken.
Can I use other vegetables in this recipe?
Absolutely! You can customize the recipe by adding bell peppers, broccoli, snap peas, or any other vegetables you prefer. Just be mindful of the cooking times for each vegetable.

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