Vegan Guide to Panda Express: The Best Menu Options, Alternatives, and Swaps

The Chinese-American chain heads down a new path filled with plant-based options.

panda express vegan

Food images courtesy of Panda Express. Illustration by Catherine Song.

Panda Express epitomizes everything customers like about Chinese-American food with its “something for everyone” menu. However, “everyone” did not include vegans until a few years ago, when individual vegans and vegan-focused organizations teamed up to put the Panda under pressure to find new avenues of vegan options. Management responded, and it appears Panda Express is now on a plant-based path.

Eggplant Tofu was its first entirely vegan entrée, and other vegan-friendly options at Panda Express followed, including the Super Greens mixed vegetables and Chow Mein. The chain’s partnership with Beyond Meat followed; they launched a plant-based version of their popular orange chicken in select locations.

Here, we detail all things vegan at Panda Express, including our favorite menu items.

Treehugger Tip

While the plant-based items contain no animal products or byproducts, all items at Panda Express are cooked and prepped in the same shared facilities and equipment in store. Ask the management at your local store if it is possible to keep the preparation of plant-based selections separate from non-vegan foods.

Our Top Picks

These three favorite menu items are substantial and pack plenty of flavor.

Beyond the Original Orange Chicken

Think of it as the original only better. Beyond Meat delivers the crunch, the juiciness, and the texture with no trace of animal-based content.

Eggplant Tofu

Lightly browned tofu and eggplant constitute the heart of this satisfying dish while red bell peppers add light, crunchy contrast, and a sweet and spicy sauce offers a touch of heat. 

Vegetable Spring Rolls

Nobody can go wrong with this timeless mix of cabbage, celery, carrots, green onions and Chinese noodles wrapped in a crispy wonton wrapper.

Vegan Main Courses

Hopefully, the success of these recently added mains will lead to the introduction of more delicious plant-based selections.

  • Beyond the Original Orange Chicken
  • Eggplant Tofu

Vegan Sides and Appetizers

Though not necessarily a meal in themselves, these sides nicely complement the mains or can be upgraded when combined with one another. We recommend simply mixing the Super Greens with the rice or noodle dishes, then swirling in a sauce or two.

  • Chow Mein
  • Chow Fun
  • Steamed Brown Rice
  • Steamed White Rice
  • Super Greens
  • Vegetable Spring Rolls

Treehugger Tip

Try a plant-based combo, including the Beyond the Original Orange Chicken and Eggplant Tofu, with a choice of plain or brown rice or chow mein (or a little of each) and a vegetable spring roll. You can also swap the spring roll for Super Greens and add a mix of sauces.

Vegan Sauces & Condiments

Think of these tasty vegan sauces as paints to add additional color and flair to the basic dishes and sides.

  • Teriyaki
  • Sweet & Sour Sauce
  • Chili Sauce
  • Soy Sauce
  • Potsticker Sauce
  • Hot Mustard
  • Plum Sauce

Vegan Drinks

Wash the spice and heat in your meal down with one of the many cool classics avaiable.

  • Cherry Coca-Cola
  • Coca-Cola
  • Coca-Cola Zero Sugar
  • Diet Coke
  • Dr. Pepper
  • Barq’s Root Beer
  • Fanta Fruit Punch
  • Fanta Orange
  • Fanta Strawberry
  • Fuze Lemon Black Tea
  • Fuze Raspberry Tea
  • Glaceau Vitaminwater Squeezed Zero
  • Gold Peak Premium Unsweetened Tea
  • Hi-C Flashin Fruit Punch
  • Minute Maid Lemonade
  • Minute Maid Light Lemonade
  • POWERade Mountain Blast
  • Seagram’s Ginger Ale
  • Sprite
  • Sprite Zero
  • Black Tea
  • Lemon Green Tea
  • Passion Fruit Mango Black Tea
  • Sweet Tea

Vegan Desserts

There isn't much in the name of vegan sweets at Panda Express, but you do have the reliable fortune cookie to enjoy.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • Is fried rice at Panda Express vegan?

    No, the fried rice is not vegan because it contains eggs.

  • Are the spring rolls at Panda Express vegan?

    Yes, the spring rolls are vegan. As far as allergens go, they only contain wheat and soy—no animal products.