How To Order Low Carb At Panda Express In 2021

It’s no secret that eating a low carb diet can help you lose weight and keep it off—but it doesn’t mean you can’t have a fast food favorite from Panda Express.

It’s easy to order low carb at Panda Express these days, thanks to their dedicated low carb menu, but it’s not so easy to decipher it all! Take the “Low Carb Vegetable Spring Roll” for example. Upon first glance, this looks fairly low carb and full of veggies. What’s the catch? The sauce, which comes alongside the dish, contains starch. So, while you technically consume less carbs, you’re really just eating less of the low carb vegetable menu.

This article comes to you from a writer who has been struggling with a low-carb diet for years. From time to time, I have tried different low-carb food options at Panda Express, and this is what I have found.

Today’s guest article comes from Ryan Luedecke, whose site Mr. SkinnyPants offers practical low-carb lifestyle advice. Ryan is now on a quest to eat low carb keto at all of America’s top 30 fast food restaurants. His most recent visit was to Panda Express. You’ll discover how to order low carb keto at Panda Express for less than $10 in this article. You may also download the Panda Express low carb menu that Ryan used to plan his orders for this article, which includes 21 items. It’s a fantastic resource for anybody who wants to discover which keto meals are the best. Howdy! Ryan, this is Ryan. This is the 23rd and last visit on my low-carb fast food challenge. I assess the following factors for each fast food chain:

  1. Low-carb meals are readily available (less than 20 net carbs).
  2. Low-carb dinners provide satiation.
  3. Low-carb dinners are expensive.
  4. Low-carb meals have a distinct flavor.
  5. It was a good ordering experience.

In a hurry? Get my Panda Express Low Carb Menu one-pager if you want to see full macros and nutritional stats for the 9 lowest carb entrees at Panda Express (<16 net carbs each).

Panda Express describes themselves as a fast casual Chinese restaurant. Sounds about right. Since I’m consistently disappointed by buffet-style Chinese food and don’t eat rice, I haven’t been to Panda Express in over 10 years. Still, I’m excited to go back as this is the first Chinese restaurant I’ve visited on the fast food challenge thus far.My ingoing expectations are that they’ll have too much breading on the stir fried meats, heavily sugared sauces, and entrees fluffed w/ sneaky high carb veggies like carrots, baby corn, & water chestnut. I predict that I’ll need to hunt and peck around some high carb ingredients to stay within the bounds of my typical keto macros.Let’s see if they can surprise me.

Overall Scores

Panda Express is a low-carb challenge since they provide many choices that seem to be keto-friendly yet include hidden carbohydrates, necessitating moderation. You can’t custom order since everything is pre-made and presented ala carte in a buffet line, and I despise moderation. They offer a variety of order sizes (plate, bowl, and small/medium/large ala carte), which makes adhering to your macros even more difficult. You can put together a full dinner with fewer than 20 grams of carbohydrates, but it won’t look like the Chinese feasts you were used to as a mainstream eater.

  • Unfortunately, it is not low carb friendly.
  • Yes, there are low-carb meals on the menu. Grilled Teriyaki Chicken and Asian Grilled Chicken have 8 net carbohydrates and 300 calories, respectively. They also offer seven more typical Chinese dishes that are fairly low carb, with net carbohydrates ranging from 10-15 and calories ranging from 200-300.
  • Low-carb entrée satiety is average. Because they provide various sizes of plates, bowls, and entrée containers, this is difficult to evaluate. In general, though, you can get a complete meal for around $10.
  • Low-carb meals have an above-average flavor. Although most of the taste comes from sugar, the majority of the meals I had were delicious. Several of the meals were underwhelming.
  • Average price / value of low-carb meals. Because of the various sizes of the meals, it’s difficult to evaluate.
  • Exceptional ordering experience. The waiters at Panda Express were courteous both times I walked in and tried their best to address my queries. They also assisted me in structuring my orders so that I could get the most bang for my buck. Their concierge-style buffet line is unbeatable in terms of quickness.

Panda is another restaurant who presents well-meaning “healthy” options on their menu (called Smart Wok) but mistakenly thinks that “healthy” only means low calorie. They aren’t hip to the dangers of sugars & carbs…yet. Which means that of the 25+ different foods you’ll see in their buffet, only 5-7 will be low carb enough to be considered.Let’s not dwell on those things we can’t eat, but instead celebrate the few things we can.

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What I had requested

Despite spending three hours researching the menu and arriving with a strategy, I was somewhat overwhelmed by the variety of entrees, sizes, and combos available at Panda Express. It’s well worth your time to conduct some preliminary order preparation before you go.

#1 (Medium Entree – 2 servings) Grilled Teriyaki Chicken

Chicken nuggets with a Panda Express twist. That’s how I ate them, at least. They were little enough to eat with your hands and clean enough to eat with your hands.

panda-express-grilled-chicken-teri-ala-carte

  • The cost is $7.20 for two servings.
  • Per serving, there are 300 calories and 8 net carbohydrates.
  • Above Average in terms of flavor.
  • Notes — It’s all about the chicken, buddy. Not nearly as delicious as the greatest grilled chicken I’ve eaten so far on the challenge (Popeye’s comes in first, followed by KFC). But it’s close. Clean enough to eat right out of the box in your vehicle. Unfortunately, the teriyaki marinade provides a lot of the taste, which accounts for the high carb content.

With 300 calories and 8 net carbs per serving, this Grilled Chicken Teriyaki entrée is the most keto-friendly option on the menu, which makes me sad (as my 2-year-old son says for anything that disappoints him).

(Medium Entree – 2 Servings) #2 String Bean Chicken Breast

panda-express-string-bean-chicken

Green beans are referred to as string beans. Chicken, green beans, and onions are sautéed in a light ginger soy sauce for the main course.

  • The cost is $7.20 for two servings.
  • Per serving, there are 190 calories and 9 net carbohydrates.
  • Taste – It’s better than average.
  • Notes — From a presentation perspective, there are too many green beans. Because of the carbohydrates, it must be consumed in moderation. Do not drink the sauce that has accumulated at the bottom of the takeaway container (too many carbs). Flavorful and delectable chicken. This is something I’d order again. The taste profile is somewhat sweet, but mainly savory. This is an excellent match for the 1200 Is Enough audience since it is low in calories.
#3 Chicken with Mushrooms (Small Entree – 1 Serving)

In a ginger soy sauce, mix chicken, mushrooms, and zucchini.

panda-express-mushroom-chicken

  • For one dish, the cost is $3.20.
  • 220 calories and 10 grams of net carbohydrates
  • Taste is mediocre.
  • Notes – The chicken has a good delicious mild taste. The texture of the chicken and zucchini was excellent. I can’t eat mushrooms because of an allergy, but they appeared to have excellent tensile strength when poked with a fork, for what it’s worth.
#4 Beef with Broccoli in a Bowl (1 Serving)

You may order your meals in a bowl, a takeaway container, or a styrofoam container from Panda. It’s perplexing. This is the first time I’ve ordered an entrée in a bowl. Beef, broccoli, and ginger soy sauce were included.

panda-express-beef-and-broccoli

  • The cost is $6.00
  • 150 calories and 11 grams of net carbohydrates.
  • Taste is mediocre.
  • Notes – Stay away from them! Sucker’s game (high price, not a ton of food). It’s not satiating since it’s too low in calories. The bowl looks good, but it’s a bit underfilled. Broccoli was crisp, not as delicate as I like, but crisp is always preferable than mushy. The dish is a bit underwhelming. It went nicely with a spicy mustard sauce.
#5 Chicken Kung Pao (Small Entree – 1 Serving)

This is a traditional Chinese dish. This is something I recall my parents ordering when I was a child. Chicken, peanuts, zucchinis, onions, red bell peppers, chili peppers, and a medium-spicy Szechwan sauce are included in Panda’s rendition.

panda-express-kung-pao-chicken

  • For one dish, the cost is $3.20.
  • 290 calories and 12 net carbohydrates in this recipe.
  • Above Average in terms of flavor.
  • Notes – Excellent. The heat is excellent. On my scale, it’s a medium hot. The taste is excellent. Chicken that is tender and flavorful. To save a few carbs, eat around the big zucchini pieces. It’s a lovely file. There were many bites. So, although not very calorie-dense, it is satiating in terms of time-to-consumption. To conserve carbohydrates, I left approximately a third of the vegetables out.
#6 (Small Entree – 1 Serving) Black Pepper Chicken

This is one of those dishes that I wouldn’t have ordered normally because the name & look didn’t appeal to me. But I’m glad I did order the Black Pepper Chicken, because it’s good. Marinated chicken, celery and onions in a bold black pepper sauce

panda-express-black-pepper-chicken

  • The cost is $3.20.
  • 290 calories and 14 grams of net carbohydrates.
  • Above Average in terms of flavor.
  • Notes – We’re starting to enter into the “can’t eat if keto” area. For just 290 calories, you get a lot of carbohydrates. Has a lingering medium-hot black pepper spice flavor. The taste is excellent. It was enjoyable to read. I finished it all and then glanced up, thinking, “Wow, that went quickly; I want my carbohydrates back.”
(Medium Entree – 2 Servings) #7 Shanghai Angus Steak with String Beans

This is a meal that I would typically choose. Unfortunately, it contains far too many carbohydrates to be considered a low-carb fast food staple. You nibble on this and then criticize the business for putting too many carbohydrates in it. “Dear Panda Express, please try preparing this meal with less carbs,” I write. – ryan – ryan – ryan – ry

panda-express-shanghai-steak

  • The cost is $9.60 for two servings.
  • Per serving, there are 320 calories and 16 net carbohydrates.
  • Taste is mediocre.
  • Notes – They’re much too costly. The steak chunks are very large. It seems to be high-end and luxurious, and it is unquestionably the most appealing. There isn’t enough heat here. It has a delicious taste with a hint of heat. The steak might need a little extra flash frying for crispiness, but it’s still tasty. Because I’m allergic to mushrooms, my wife ate the whole meal and enjoyed it.
#8 Teriyaki Grilled Chicken Bowl with Mixed Veggies

I was perplexed and purchased this, despite the fact that it was rather redundant with some of the other items I’d bought. The mixed vegetables side is described on the Panda Express website as “a healthy mixture of broccoli, zucchini, carrots, string beans, and cabbage,” but the scoop I received was mainly broccoli. They serve their Grilled Chicken Teriyaki on top of the mixed vegetables.

panda-express-grilled-chicken-teriyaki-and-mixed-veggies

  • The cost is $6.00
  • 335 calories and 13 grams of net carbohydrates
  • Taste is mediocre.
  • Notes – The flavor is quite dull and dry. Because the mixed vegetables are mainly broccoli (with a little cabbage, carrots, and zucchini thrown in for good measure), their carb estimations are exaggerated, which is a good thing. Veggies are too crunchy and flavorless. This was supposed to be soaked with sauce, but it isn’t. More spice / taste is required.

At Panda Express, here’s how to be stuffed for less than $10.

One of the difficulties with eating low carb at Panda Express is that their lowest carb meals are also low calorie, making it difficult to feel full. Order a two-entree plate like this to fill up for less than $10:

  • 2 scoops Teriyaki Grilled Chicken – 16 net carbohydrates, 600 calories
  • 2 net carbohydrates and 18 calories per 1/2 scoop of Mixed Veggies
  • 0 net carbohydrates and 20 calories in 2 packets of Hot Mustard Sauce
  • 1 packet soy sauce – 5 calories and 0 net carbohydrates

I returned to Panda Express for a third time to place my own order:

panda express plate

It looks appealing and tastes great for 643 calories and 18 net carbohydrates at $6.00*. If 18 net carbohydrates is too much for your daily limit, skip the mixed vegetables, buy a single order of Grilled Chicken Teriyaki, and wait until your next meal when you can eat something more keto-friendly. *I believe the clerk undercharged me. It was supposed to be $7.20.

What else are you able to order?

Although I covered nearly every low-carb Panda Express order imaginable, there were a few low-carb / keto choices that were not available at my location:

  • Grilled Asian Chicken
  • Ginger Steamed Fish
  • Asparagus and Shanghai Angus Steak

If you want to see the complete macros for these meals, check out my Panda Express Low Carb Menu one-pager. It’s also a fantastic place to go if you want to see the whole Panda Express keto menu.

My own low-carb plan is based on the Panda Express nutrition menu, which is considerably longer and more complex.

What to stay away from

I’ll point you that you can’t eat any of the Panda Express rices or chow mein noodles if you’re new to low carb diet. The whole appetizer menu is also off-limits. All of the rangoons, egg rolls, spring rolls, crispy shrimp, and pot stickers are excessively rich in carbohydrates. There are no fortune cookies, though, with just 5 net carbohydrates. I’ve included several less apparent entrees and sides to stay away from below. They seem to be low carb, but they aren’t. Avoid these tempting entrees:

  • 38 net carbohydrates Honey Sesame Chicken Breast
  • 46 net carbohydrates in SweetFire Chicken Breast
  • Sweet & Sour Chicken Breast – 39 net carbs
  • 45 net carbohydrates in Beijing Beef
  • Crispy Shrimp has a net carb count of 25.
  • Shrimp with Honey Walnuts – 33 net carbohydrates
  • Shrimp Golden Treasure – 33 net carbohydrates

Sauces to stay away from:

  • 16 net carbohydrates in Teriyaki Sauce
  • Sweet & Sour Sauce – 21 net carbs

Soups to stay away from:

  • 13 net carbohydrates in Hot and Sour Soup

More Keto-Friendly Fast Food

We’ve now developed recommendations for over a dozen of America’s most popular fast food places, each of which lists all of the excellent keto choices available. While ordering keto-friendly fast food may seem daunting at first, it becomes second nature once you get the hang of it. Take a look at the following resources:

Summary

If you’re traveling around town or looking for a low-carb fast food alternative, Panda Express isn’t the place to go unless you’re in desperate need of some grilled teriyaki chicken. Unfortunately, their meals and underlying nutritional thinking system continue to appeal to mainstream consumers who either don’t care about carbohydrates or believe low-calorie/low-fat foods are good. The few fairly low carb dishes on their menu are OK, but not exceptional. You must also consume them in moderation to avoid blowing up your macros. Definitely not a good choice for someone who keeps a close eye on their daily carb consumption. While I regret to inform you that Panda Express is not a low-carb haven, I hope this post has given you some ideas on how to order low-carb if you do decide to visit. Cheers, Mr. SkinnyPants is Ryan’s nickname.

learn how to order keto at panda express

As the low carb movement has grown in popularity, most of us have experienced the frustration of trying to order low carb at restaurants. Not only can it be difficult to find low carb food at restaurants, but often the options are limited. If you’re trying to avoid high carbs, but you still want to have some semblance of a diet, you’ve come to the right place. I’m here to help you out and tell you how to order low carb at Panda Express.. Read more about panda express keto reddit and let us know what you think.

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