What Type Of Oil Does Panda Express Use In Its Dishes?

A road trip institution and a fast food staple, Panda Express is a foodie's one-stop shop for Asian food on the go. The chain offers patrons Asian staples like chow mein, kung pao chicken, potstickers, egg rolls, and more. Although the main ingredients are listed on the restaurant's display menu, the small details are left out, which can be a point of concern for customers who have food sensitivities or follow a restrictive diet. One of the ingredients left out of Panda's display menu is the oil used in its dishes.

Panda Express primarily cooks their dishes in soybean oil. Soybean oil has a mild flavor with no strong taste of its own, making it a versatile choice for cooking and baking as it doesn't overpower the spices, sauces, and aromatics used in a dish. The primary role of soybean oil in cooking is to provide moisture and help distribute flavors evenly. Because Asian food is so flavorful thanks to its sticky sauces, aromatic spices and herbs, and marinated proteins, soybean oil is a great choice for preserving the integrity of these intricate flavors.

Is soybean oil nutritious?

Recently there's been an uptick in concerns over "inflammatory seed oils" in the wellness community, which begs the question, is soybean oil safe to eat? Soybean oil is high in polyunsaturated fats, particularly omega-6 fatty acids. While omega-6 fats are essential for health, excessive consumption relative to omega-3 fatty acids (found in sources like fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts) may contribute to inflammation, which is linked to various health issues. However, as long as you're balancing soybean oil consumption with a nutritious amount of omega-3s, you shouldn't hit the panic button.

Interestingly, a study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology found that those who experience adverse reactions to soy proteins can safely consume refined soybean oil without an allergic response. So if tofu tends to upset your stomach, but you love Panda Express, you're in the clear.

Bear in mind that while soybean oil is safe to eat in a balanced diet, processed fast food in general is something that should be enjoyed in moderation. Many Panda Express food items are deep-fried and high in saturated fat, and while that's totally fine to enjoy from time to time, balance is the key to maintaining a nutritious lifestyle.

Panda Express dishes without soybean oil

Although it is safe to consume and helps make room for the bolder flavors in Panda Express meals, some foodies might want to keep soybean oil out of their diet anyway. If that's the case — no judgment here — everyone has the right to determine what they do and don't want to eat. So if you're craving Panda, but lead a lifestyle free of soybean oil, there are still a few items you can enjoy from the fast food chain.

For starters, Panda's plain steamed white rice is made simply with rice and water, no oils included. Careful though, their steamed brown rice does include soybean oil. For something more substantial and filling, the honey sesame chicken breast and orange chicken don't use soybean oil. Both entrees do, however, include sesame oil. As for appetizers, the cream cheese rangoons are entirely oil-free. There are no Panda Express desserts, including its fortune cookies, that are made without soybean oil. Panda Express menu items vary by location, so if you see a menu item that could contain soybean oil that's not listed here, consider conferring with the employees for further details.