What is Beijing Beef at Panda Express? An In-Depth Look at This Sweet and Savory Dish

Panda Express’ Beijing Beef is a beloved menu item with a crispy, savory beef in a sweet and tangy sauce. Its flavor profile combines savory umami beef with the sweetness of bell peppers and onions drenched in a glistening, sticky sauce. This classic Chinese-American dish has a distinctive taste that has made it a favorite among Panda Express fans.

A Crispy, Saucy Take on a Chinese Classic

Beijing Beef is Panda Express’ version of a traditional Chinese dish. In China, this stir-fry is known as “Crispy Shredded Beef” and is commonly made with ingredients like:

  • Thinly sliced beef
  • Onions
  • Bell peppers
  • A sauce with soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, and spices

Panda Express puts their own spin on it by using a sweeter, thicker sauce and crispy fried beef. The American-style Chinese sauce gives it a bolder, stickier flavor.

Tender Beef and Crisp Veggies

  • The beef is the star ingredient. Thin slices of tender beef are lightly fried for a crispy texture. The beef soaks up the flavorful sauce and offers hearty, savory bites.

  • Onions and bell peppers provide crunch and natural sweetness. Their crisp texture contrasts nicely with the soft, sauce-coated beef.

  • Slivers of green onions add freshness on top. Their bright flavor balances the rich, sticky sauce.

A Sweet and Tangy Sauce Ties It All Together

The sauce is what really makes Panda Express’ Beijing Beef stand out:

  • It has a glossy texture that clings to each piece.

  • Sweetness comes from sugar and hoisin sauce. This accentuates the beefy flavor.

  • Tangy tartness comes from ketchup and vinegar. This brightens up the sauce.

  • Savory umami flavor comes from soy sauce and seasonings. This gives the sauce depth.

  • A touch of spicy heat comes from red chili peppers. This contrasts the sweetness.

The sauce permeates the crispy beef and vegetables, coating them in finger-licking, glistening flavor. It strikes the perfect balance between savory, sweet, tangy, and spicy.

Appeal of Beijing Beef at Panda Express

There are several reasons Beijing Beef is a sought-after menu choice:

  • Familiar flavors – The sweet and tangy flavor profile is recognizable and appealing to American palates.

  • Crispy texture – The light breading on the beef provides a satisfying crunch.

  • Sticky sauce – The rich sauce makes every bite flavorful.

  • Customizable – Guests can amp up the heat by adding chili flakes.

  • Simple ingredients – At its core, it’s just beef, onions, and bell peppers.

The combination of crispy, salty beef with sweet bell peppers and onions drenched in a glistening sauce hits all the right notes. It’s an irresistible balance of flavors and textures.

How to Order Beijing Beef at Panda Express

Beijing Beef can be ordered as an entrée with your choice of side dishes and an optional drink. Here are some ways to customize your Beijing Beef meal:

  • Sizes – Order a regular or large entrée portion.

  • Sides – Choose steamed or fried rice, chow mein, or mixed veggies.

  • Add extras – Request extra sauce, chili flakes, or veggies.

  • Combo meals – Pair it with an appetizer like potstickers.

  • Special instructions – Ask for light sauce or extra crispy beef.

Panda Express chefs make each plate fresh to order. Feel free to customize to your preferences.

How to Make Beijing Beef at Home

Beijing Beef is easy to recreate at home with this recipe:


  • Thinly sliced flank steak
  • Cornstarch
  • Egg whites
  • Onion and red bell pepper
  • Oil for frying
  • Soy sauce, hoisin sauce, ketchup, vinegar, chili flakes, and sugar for the sauce


  1. Toss beef slices in cornstarch and egg whites.
  2. Deep fry beef until crispy.
  3. Sauté onions and peppers.
  4. Make the sauce by whisking together the ingredients.
  5. Toss beef and veggies in sauce.

Frying the beef gives it a crispy coating to mimic Panda’s version. The quick homemade sauce is sweet, tangy, and savory.

The Origins of Crispy Beef in Chinese Cuisine

Crispy beef stir fries have been around for centuries in China. The technique of velveting meat in cornstarch for extra tenderness and frying for crispiness can be traced back to the Ming Dynasty. Regional variations exist across China featuring different sauces and spice levels.

The version most similar to Panda’s Beijing Beef is thought to have originated in the Sichuan province. In Sichuan, thinly sliced beef is wok-fried, then coated in a sticky sweet and spicy sauce, which Panda mimics. The “Beijing” name was likely adopted since Beijing is more internationally recognizable.

Why “Beijing Beef” Isn’t Really Authentic

While delicious, Panda Express’ Beijing Beef differs from traditional Chinese preparations:

  • The sauce is sweeter and thicker, catering to American tastes.

  • Frying in oil is less common than wok-frying.

  • Bell peppers are an American addition.

  • Beef is not as widely used in Beijing.

  • Chinese dishes emphasize savory over sweet.

So while not completely authentic, Panda Express adapts the flavors of crispy Chinese beef to appeal to the American palate. Their signature Beijing Beef has become a beloved menu item that long-time fans continue to enjoy.

Beijing Beef is a Panda Express Favorite

With its crispy fried beef, tangy sweet sauce, and veggie crunch, Beijing Beef is a standout dish. Customers love the combination of textures and flavors. The sauce coats each bite, making it irresistible. This reimagined Chinese classic has become a Panda Express specialty thanks to its crave-worthy taste. Whether dining in or taking out, Beijing Beef is a go-to order for loyal Panda fans.

Making Panda Express Beijing Beef At Home | But Better


What is in the Beijing beef at Panda Express?

Panda Express Beijing Beef is an awesome copycat of the original with crispy strips of marinated beef, bell peppers and sliced onions, tossed in the wok with a tangy sweet and spicy sauce. Panda Express Beijing Beef is the beef answer to the insanely popular Panda Express Orange Chicken everyone craves so much.

Is Beijing beef like General Tso?

What does Panda Express Beijing Beef taste like? I would say it is reminiscent of General Tso’s Chicken, with the crunchy coating and a sweet, sticky sauce. However, note that the Beijing Beef sauce has a bit of heat and can be quite spicy for some.

What does Beijing beef taste like?

What does Beijing beef taste like? It is quite similar to Orange Chicken, only it’s spicier and less sweet. Also, it’s like a sweet and sour dish but starring crispy beef.

Is Beijing beef similar to Mongolian beef?

Beijing beef is lightly coated in egg and cornstarch for a crispier texture, while Mongolian beef is tender when cooked. Mongolian beef is typically milder in flavor, but in some recipes you’ll find dried chili peppers which add to the heat level.

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