Sweet Fire Chicken (Panda Express Copycat)

Crisp onions and peppers with juicy chicken in a sweet sauce with a kick: Panda Express Copycat Sweet Fire Chicken is an easy way to impress! Baked “fried” chicken makes this version a little healthier without sacrificing any of the taste.

Sweet Fire Chicken (Panda Express Copycat)

Far and away the best option on the Panda Express menu is its Sweet Fire chicken. The combination of crunchy onions and peppers with tangy pineapple and juicy chicken is a winner. And that sauce! It’s sweet, its hot, and its just plain delicious!

And now you can make it at home. This recipe tastes just like the original, but with one secret twist. Panda Express fries its chicken bites before tossing them in the sauce. It’s delicious, but it’s calorific. If you’re in a hurry, you can mimic this by simply using frozen chicken nuggets. That’s a perfectly legitimate way to handle dinner!

However, if you want to turn this into a healthy meal, you can simply make your own chicken bite with a few extra steps. These homemade bites are baked rather than fried, which cuts the calories in this recipe nearly in half. There’s your twist!

What do I need for Sweet Fire Chicken?

Sweet Fire Chicken Ingredients

Chicken Breasts: If you are planning to make your own chicken bites, you’ll need 2 chicken breasts. As mentioned previously, if you are interested in speeding this process up, you can use frozen chicken nuggets to save time. This recipe can also be made with plant-based “chicken” nuggets to make this vegetarian and vegan!

Flour: I used all-purpose flour in this recipe. I can’t speak to any other types of flour here, but if you use something different, leave a comment and let us know how it went. I’m sure others would love to know how it went.

Eggs: You’ll need two eggs, beaten, in order to dreg the chicken bites.

Red Pepper: In order to get the most accurate flavor, you’ll want a red bell pepper. However, if you don’t mind the slight change in the flavor profile, any other bell pepper will work. Peppers become sweeter the closer they get to red, so green will be the least sweet, then yellow, then orange, with red being the sweetest. Keep that in mind as you make changes!

White Onion: I recommend a white onion for this, as it’s closest to the Panda Express recipe. However, in a pinch, a yellow onion will work. Red is not the best choice for this recipe.

Canned Pineapple: Use chunks, not crushed. You can also use fresh pineapple.

Thai Sweet Chili Sauce: You can find this in the average American grocery store in the Asian food section. I love the cheap-o Great Value version from Walmart. Panda Express sells their own version, but I think the Walmart one is just as good!

How do I make Sweet Fire Chicken?

Sweet Fire Chicken Instructions

If you are going to use pre-made chicken nuggets, you can skip the first three steps and just jump right in with chopping up the pineapple and veggies.

For the chicken nuggets:

Start covering a baking sheet with foil. Then, chop the chicken into bite-size bits

Next, you’ll dredge the chicken by covering it in flour, dipping it in the beaten egg, and then dragging it through the flour again. After you’ve dredged the chicken piece, you can place it on the baking sheet.

When all chicken pieces have been dredged, you can bake your chicken bites at 400° for 15 minutes.

For the stir-fry:

If you’re baking the chicken bites, you can keep things moving by chopping up your veggies and draining the pineapple while they bake.

Chop your onion and pepper into pieces. You want these to be slightly large.

In a pan, add a little oil, then stir-fry the onion and peppers until the onions become translucent. You don’t want to overdo this — you want those onions cooked but with a little crunch!

When the onions and peppers are ready, add the pineapple and stir-fry for a minute or two more.

When your chicken is done, you can add it to the stir-fry, then pour the chili sauce over the whole thing. Allow the stir-fry to cook in the sauce for another 2 or so minutes.

That’s it! Your sweet fire chicken is ready. You can serve it over some rice or noodles, or just eat it by itself.


Can I make this gluten free?

Yes! If you use gluten-free chicken nuggets, this recipe is gluten free. Thai Chili sauce is generally gluten-free and vegan, but you should definitely check the brand you use to be sure!

Can I make this vegan?

Yes! Subbing plant-based “chicken” nuggets make this completely vegan (and vegetarian as well!).

Can I sub ____ for ____?

See the heading “What do I need for Sweet Fire Chicken?” for a deep dive on possible substitutions and their effects on the recipe. If you don’t see the particular substitution you’re interested in, leave a comment or use our contact form and I’ll get back to you!

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Sweet Fire Chicken (Panda Express Copycat)

Sweet and hot chicken stir fried with spicy vegetables.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 4


  • 2 chicken breasts
  • ½ onion
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1 can pineapple chunks
  • ½ cup Thai sweet chili sauce
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil


  • Chop chicken into bite-sized chunks.
  • Dredge chicken in flour, then eggs, then flour and place onto lined baking pan.
  • Bake at 400° for 15-20 minutes.
  • While chicken is baking, chop onion and bell pepper.
  • Stir fry onion and pepper in olive oil until onions are translucent.
  • Add in pineapple and stirfry.
  • Once chicken is done, add to pineapple, onion, and bell pepper. Pour chili sauce over chicken.
  • Stir fry for 1-2 minutes. Serve over rice.


Adapted from Damn Delicious
Tried this recipe?Mention @homanathome or tag #homanathome
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  1. I use rice flour instead ok wheat flour give it light crust and reduces calories. I add Birds Eye chilli, just a teaspoon, I also added firm tofu.

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