Panda Express joins the plant-based meat party with newfangled Orange Chicken

The new partnership with Beyond Meat debuts in test markets later this month.

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Exterior of Panda Express Chinese Kitchen restaurant
Photo: JIM WATSON/AFP (Getty Images)

As more and more fast-food burger joints trudge forth into the plant-based meat scene, consumers may ask: what about the chicken, dawg? Given the recent launch of Beyond’s chicken tenders, it seems that palatable meatless chicken is the next frontier in veg-friendly fast food. And now, on the tail of the tenders announcement, Beyond is cooking up a massive chicken partnership: a plant-based version of Panda Express’ signature Orange Chicken.

Food & Wine reports that the new meatless entree is dubbed “Beyond the Original Orange Chicken,” described by Beyond Meat as being “unlike any plant-based chicken dish you’ve had before.” The formula is also “a brand-new plant-based chicken innovation co-developed with and found exclusively at Panda Express.” In other words, this is no Beyond tender rip-off. This is something new. Something wild. Something never seen before. Something... poultry-adjacent.

Per Food & Wine, the new dish debuts on July 26. Unfortunately, it’ll only be available at select locations in New York City and Southern California for a limited time while supplies last. In anticipation of the release, Panda Express has set up a digital countdown page at PandaExpress.com/btooc. The page will include participating locations at a later date.

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Yes, the wait is a bummer. Fortunately, Panda Express already offers a solid option for plant-based guests: tofu. “We know guests’ tastes and preferences have evolved and look to us for variety,” Panda Express’ executive director of culinary innovation Jimmy Wang wrote in the announcement, cited by Food & Wine. “Beyond the Original Orange Chicken is the next step in the brand’s journey to offer more diverse and plant-based options. 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 drawing a new audience for Panda.”