Dining Out Guide

Eating Healthy at Panda Express

From SparkPeople’s Editors

Panda Express Chinese food sounds like a better choice than burgers: fresh vegetables, lean protein and sauces stir-fried and accompanied by rice. Unfortunately, Chinese food in strip malls and shopping centers is often batter-dipped and drowning in sugary, greasy sauces. Panda Express, a standard in many food courts, does have healthy options, if you know what to choose.

  • There are no gluten-free items available at this restaurant chain and some of the dishes contain allergens such as eggs, peanuts or shellfish.
  • Panda Express does not use MSG but much of the food is still high in sodium.
  • While there is no trans fat used at Panda Express, many of the sides and entrees are fried. Skip them and ask for leaner option.
  • While there are vegetable-based entrees, but they are cooked on the same equipment as meat entrees, so vegetarians might want to see if they can get food cooked to order.
  • Most of the entrees are rice and noodle dishes. Stick with one serving and take the rest to go. Chow Mein noodles and fried rice are higher fat choices, so stick with the steamed rice and ask if brown rice is an option.
  • Choose vegetable dishes to save calories and fat. Consider doubling up on vegetables and skipping the rice.
  • When selecting meat based dishes, Pineapple Chicken Breast, Broccoli Chicken and Beef, String Bean Chicken, Mongolian Beef, and Tangy Shrimp are your best choices.
  • Both the egg flower and hot and sour soups are low fat, low calorie options.
  • Sauces can slip calories into your overall meal without even realizing it. Mandarin sauce is the highest calorie option and pot sticker sauce is a lower calorie option.
  • A fortune cookie has only 32 calories and 2 g fat, so treat yourself to one at the end of your meal.
  • Panda Express provides nutrition information on its website.

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