This Crispy Honey Sesame Chicken is out of this world good! In this copycat Panda Express recipe, the coated chicken is fried until crispy and then tossed with a homemade sesame honey sauce that is both sweet and savory. Serve it with rice, noodles, or your favorite vegetables!
If you're looking for ways to change up your chicken recipes, try getting some inspiration from your favorite Chinese takeout!
Honey sesame chicken is one of those dishes that is both familiar and comforting but also has a touch of sweetness that sets it apart from other recipes.
You can find this dish at most local Chinese restaurants or at Panda Express. But why go out when you can make it right at home from scratch!
Chicken breast is dredged with flour and cornstarch, then fried up until it's nice and crispy. It's then tossed with a homemade honey sauce that has the classic flavors of sesame and soy sauce which is the perfect combination of sweet and salty.
Why Make This Recipe
You don't need to go out and spend lots of money on Chinese takeout. This Panda Express copycat dish is made with simple ingredients you can find at the grocery store.
Because it's made from scratch, you get to control the ingredients and make them without chemicals, MSG, or preservatives.
This honey sesame chicken dish can be served with a variety of different side dishes. Be sure to try it with copycat Panda Express Fried Rice.
The sweet and savory flavor of the honey sauce is great for adults and kids.
For the chicken
- Chicken Breast - You'll need boneless skinless chicken breast for this recipe that is cut into 1-inch cubes.
- Eggs - The chicken gets dunked into eggs to help the dry mixture stick to create a crispy crust.
- Flour and Cornstarch - The mix of these two dry ingredients is used to coat the outside of the chicken to add texture when fried in the pan with oil.
- Frying Oil - This is used to cook the chicken in its flour coating mixture.
For the honey sauce
- Honey - Gives the sauce its classic sweet flavor and thick syrupy texture.
- Soy Sauce - Adds a salty layer of umami flavor to the sauce and helps thin it out.
- Sesame Oil - Gives the chicken its concentrated sesame flavor.
- Rice Wine Vinegar - Adds a tangy acidity to the sauce that rounds out the flavors. Substitute with white vinegar or apple cider, if you don't have rice wine.
- Garlic Cloves - The bold flavor of garlic pairs well with the rest of the flavors in this dish.
- Cooking oil - use vegetable or canola oil for frying the chicken.
- Serving & Garnish - Serve over a bed of rice and top with sesame seeds and freshly chopped scallions. It's great with steamed broccoli, or Panda Express style with sauteed bell peppers and green beans.
Please see the recipe card below for quantities.
Wondering how to make this Honey Sesame Chicken recipe? It's easy! Just follow this step-by-step photo tutorial. Then, scroll down for the recipe card for the full ingredients list and recipe method.
Prepare the chicken: Trim the excess fat off of the chicken, then slice it into one-inch cubes that are all roughly the same size. Whisk the eggs in a shallow bowl, then mix the cornstarch and flour into a separate bowl.
Dredge the chicken: Add the chicken cubes to the egg mixture until fully coated. Shake off the excess, then add to the flour mixture until fully coated until all of the chicken is ready to pan-fry.
Fry the chicken: Pour 2 inches of frying oil into a deep frying pan and turn the heat to medium-high. Once the oil is shiny and hot, add the chicken in batches and cook for 4-5 minutes or until the coating is crispy and the chicken is cooked through. Transfer the cooked chicken to a paper towel-lined plate and cook in batches.
Prepare the honey sauce: Add all of the ingredients to a medium-sized saucepan and whisk until combined. Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce to a simmer for 2-3 minutes or until the sauce has thickened. Add the cooked chicken into the sauce and toss to coat.
Garnish and serve: Remove the sauced chicken from the pan and plate it over a bed of rice or noodles. Top with sesame seeds and chopped scallions.
When cutting the chicken, make sure they are all roughly the same size in one-inch pieces. This will ensure they cook evenly.
Do not overcrowd the pan when cooking the chicken as this could cause them to steam and not get crispy. Cook in batches if necessary.
The proper internal temperature of the chicken is 165F. Use a kitchen thermometer in the thickest part of the chicken to check for doneness.
If you want an extra crispy coating on the chicken, you can double dredge them. This means dipping them in the egg mixture again and then into the flour mixture a second time.
Make the honey sauce ahead of time and store it in a sealed container in the fridge for up to one week. Just reheat it before serving.
Chicken safety: Wash hands, surfaces, and utensils thoroughly after handling raw chicken. Before serving, ensure the chicken is piping hot and thoroughly cooked, juices run clear and no pink color remains.
If you don't enjoy the flavor of sesame, swap out the sesame oil for olive oil or avocado oil.
If you don't have rice wine vinegar on hand, simply substitute it with plain white vinegar.
For a lower-carb sesame chicken, you could serve it over a bed of riced cauliflower or zucchini noodles.
Add in some veggies. Sliced bell peppers, broccoli, and carrots would all taste great in this dish.
Give it a kick of spice with some crushed red pepper flakes or a pinch of cayenne powder.
Instead of chicken breast, use chicken thighs for a juicier piece of meat.
Switch up the protein altogether and use shrimp, tofu, or pork in this recipe.
- You could simply add some sauteed green beans and bell pepper to make it a Panda Express copycat.
- We love serving it over a bed of rice, noodles, or mashed potatoes.
- Add some steamed broccoli, wilted spinach, fried kale, Melted Leeks, or Roasted Beets.
Storage & Freezing
This honey sesame chicken is best enjoyed fresh but will keep in the fridge for up to four days. Store it in an airtight container until you're ready to eat it. When you're ready, just reheat it in the microwave, air fryer, or in a pan on the stove until it's warmed through.
To freeze, place the honey sesame chicken in a freezer-safe container and store it for up to three months. Let it thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.
Yes, this recipe for honey sesame chicken contains honey in the sauce. If you are looking for a honey-free version, you can omit the honey or substitute it with agave nectar or maple syrup.
Any type of neutral-flavored oil will work for frying chicken. Canola oil, peanut oil, and vegetable oil are all good options. Avoid using olive oil to fry as it has a lower smoke point and can cause the chicken to burn.
Honey sesame chicken is sweet, savory, slightly sticky, and a little bit spicy. The honey and sesame flavors are prevalent in the dish but are balanced out by the rice vinegar and soy sauce.
More dinner recipes
If you're looking for more dinner recipes that the whole family will love, be sure to try these!
- Crescent Roll Hot Dogs
- Irish Slow Cooker Beef Stew
- Velveeta Mac and Cheese
- Chicken and Leek Pasta
- Air Fryer Cornish Hen
- Chicken Paprikash
Honey Sesame Chicken
- Sautee Pan
For the sesame chicken
- 1 pound chicken breast boneless skinless
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- vegetable oil for frying
For the honey sauce
- ⅓ cup honey
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil (or olive oil)
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar (or white vinegar)
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon chopped scallions
- 4 cups rice cooked
- Cut the chicken into 1” cubes.
- Whisk the eggs lightly in a shallow bowl.
- Stir the flour and cornstarch together in a plate or bowl.
- Dip the chicken into the eggs, then into the flour to coat.
- Heat approximately 2 inches of oil in a deep frying pan, then add the chicken (cook it in batches so the pan isn’t overcrowded) and cook for 4-5 minutes or until golden and crispy, turning once.
- Transfer with tongs to a plate lined with paper towel, to drain.
- Meanwhile, make the honey sauce. Whisk the sauce ingredients in a pot over a medium heat. Bring to the boill, then reduce the heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
- Toss the sesame chicken in the sauce and serve over rice. Garnish with the sesame seeds and scallions.
The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary depending on several factors, so is not guaranteed to be accurate. Please see a registered dietician for special diet advice.