Air Fryer Panda Express Sweet Fire Chicken Copycat —Who doesn’t love a copycat recipe? We all have our favorite restaurant dishes that we just can’t get enough of, and now you can make them at home! This Air Fryer Panda Express Sweet Fire Chicken Copycat is so easy to make and the perfect dish for those busy weeknights. Give it a try tonight!
This is one of my favorite dishes I have done in the air fryer. It is also one of my favorite restaurant meals. At Panda Express, I give you my take on Air Fryer Panda Express Sweet Fire Chicken Copycat Recipe today.
Air Fryer Sweet Fire Chicken is filled with crispy chicken, sliced pineapple, diced onions, and sweet bell peppers and will taste exactly like your favorite takeout dish, made in minutes, with the help of the Air Fryer.
What Is Panda Express Sweet Fire Chicken
Panda Express Sweet Fire Chicken is a popular menu item at the fast-food Chinese restaurant chain Panda Express. It is a sweet and spicy dish made with battered and fried chicken, bell peppers, onions, and pineapple, tossed in a tangy sauce made with garlic, ginger, honey, and chili paste.
The dish is typically served over steamed rice and garnished with sesame seeds and green onions.
Ingredients Needed For Air Fryer Panda Express Sweet Fire Chicken Copycat Recipe
If you love the sweet and spicy flavor of Panda Express Sweet Fire Chicken, you’ll be excited to learn that it is surprisingly easy (and fun!) to replicate in your kitchen using an air fryer. This copycat recipe will have you tasting those same familiar flavors without ever having to leave your home! With just a few simple ingredients and a bit of time, you’ll soon be enjoying this delicious dish with family or friends. Let’s get started!
Remember the step-by-step directions below in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the page and the nutritional information.
- Chicken: Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast, or boneless, skinless chicken thighs or tenderloins.
- Diced Bell Peppers
- Diced Onions
- Pineapples: Fresh cubed or canned cubed pineapple
- Cornstarch: This will help thicken up the sauce.
- All-Purpose Flour
- Sweet Chili Sauce
- Egg: Use a large, room-temperature egg
- Seasonings and Spices: Minced Garlic, Crushed Red Pepper Flakes, Toasted Sesame Seeds
How To Cook Air Fryer Panda Express Sweet Fire Chicken Copycat Recipe
If you’re like me and can’t get enough of panda express, learn how to make the Sweet Fire Chicken right at home with an air fryer! My favorite dish from Panda Express has always been Sweet Fire Chicken – it’s sweet, spicy, and oh-so addictive! But who wants to wait in line for carryout every time you have a craving?
Thankfully, this copycat recipe is so easy to make with an air fryer. You won’t believe how similar it tastes compared to ordering takeout. I will walk you through exactly how to recreate your beloved Sweet Fire Chicken as close as possible without leaving your home. Ready? Let’s go!
Start by setting up your three breading stations. In one bowl, add your flour. Add your egg (beating it) in another bowl, and then, in the last bowl, add your cornstarch.
Bread your chicken with flour, egg wash, and then cornstarch. As you coat them, place them into the greased air fryer basket.
Spray the chicken with cooking spray, and then air fry for 7-10 minutes at 370 degrees F, air fryer setting, flipping halfway and spraying with cooking spray after you flip.
While the chicken is cooking, in a large skillet, add olive oil, and then add your peppers, onions, and garlic, saute for about 3 minutes, constantly mixing. Then add in the sweet chili sauce and red pepper flakes. Saute until heated through, mix well.
Toss in the chicken, tossing to coat, toss in the pineapples, and mix well.
Pro Tips For The Best Copycat Panda Express Sweet Fire Chicken Recipe
Here are some pro tips for making the best copycat Panda Express Sweet Fire Chicken recipe in your own kitchen:
- Use boneless, skinless chicken thighs: Chicken thighs have more flavor and tenderness than chicken breasts, making them the perfect choice for this dish. Trim any excess fat and cut them into bite-sized pieces for even cooking.
- Let the chicken marinate: Before breading and frying the chicken, let it marinate in a mixture of soy sauce, rice vinegar, and egg for at least 30 minutes. This will infuse the chicken with flavor and keep it moist and tender.
- Use cornstarch and flour for breading: The combination of cornstarch and flour will give the chicken a crispy, golden-brown coating.
- Fry in small batches: Fry the chicken in small batches to ensure that it cooks evenly and stays crispy. Overcrowding the air fryer basket or pan can result in soggy chicken.
- Make the sauce ahead of time: The sauce can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. This will save you time when you’re ready to cook the chicken.
- Add fresh ingredients at the end: Add the pineapple, bell peppers, and onions to the sauce at the end of the cooking process to preserve their texture and crunch.
- Serve with steamed rice: Serve the Sweet Fire Chicken over steamed rice and garnish with sesame seeds and green onions for a true Panda Express experience.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Use Frozen Chicken?
Yes, if you only have frozen chicken breasts on hand, this is a great recipe to use them up with. The hard part would be breading the chicken. You will not get the same crunch as the breaded nuggets.
My best advice would be to thaw them in cold water or microwave. And then follow the recipe.
Can I Use Chicken Thighs?
Yes, this would be an excellent recipe for meaty chicken thighs. Chicken thighs in the air fryer do amazingly well. They crisp nicely and have a meaty texture while still being tender in the air fryer.
How To Store
Easy, let the dish cool to room temperature. And then, place the leftover chicken into an airtight container. Place the container into the refrigerator. The leftover Air Fryer Panda Express Sweet Fire Chicken will last about 2 to 3 days.
Can I make this dish gluten-free?
Yes, you can make this dish gluten-free by using gluten-free soy sauce and a gluten-free flour blend for breading.
Can I make this dish spicy?
Yes, you can adjust the level of spiciness by adding more or less chili paste to the sauce. You can also add red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper for extra heat.
Can I use fresh pineapple instead of canned pineapple?
Yes, you can use fresh pineapple instead of canned pineapple. Cut the fresh pineapple into bite-sized pieces and add it to the sauce towards the end of the cooking process.
Can I bake the chicken instead of air frying it?
Yes, you can bake the chicken in the oven at 375°F for 20-25 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the breading is crispy. However, it may not be as crispy as when it’s fried in the air fryer or deep-fried.
Reheating Panda Express In The Air Fryer
The best way to reheat this meal would be to place it in a microwave-safe dish. Place the dish into the microwave, microwave at 50% power for 3 to 4 minutes, and stir halfway.
If you do not own a microwave or wish to reheat in the air fryer, place the leftover chicken (without the sauce) and reheat for 3 to 5 minutes at 330 degrees F, air fryer setting.
What To Serve With Panda Express Sweet Chili Chicken
I love making homemade Chinese Feast at my house. Some of my favorite dishes are:
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Air Fryer Panda Express Sweet Fire Chicken Copycat Recipe
- 1 pound chicken breast
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1 large red bell pepper, diced
- 1 large orange bell pepper, diced
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 cup pineapple, cubed
- 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
- 1 cup sweet chili sauce
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Serve With: Sliced scallions, sesame seeds
- Start by setting up your three breading stations. In one bowl, add your cornstarch. In another bowl, add your egg (beating it), and then in the last bowl, add your flour.
- Bread your chicken with flour, egg wash, and then cornstarch. As you coat them place them into the greased air fryer basket.
- Spray the chicken with cooking spray, and then air fry for 7-10 minutes at 370 degrees F, air fryer setting, flipping halfway and spraying with cooking spray after you flip.
- While the chicken is cooking, in a large skillet, add olive oil, and then add your peppers, onions, and garlic, saute for about 3 minutes, constantly mixing. Then add in the sweet chili sauce and red pepper flakes. Saute until heated through, mix well.
- Toss in the chicken, tossing to coat, toss in the pineapples, and mix well.
- Plate, serve, and enjoy!
- Air Fryer
- Cooking Spray