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The Healthiest Panda Express Options (Full 2024 Menu Guide)

Panda Express offers some of the healthiest options for fast food. In this guide, we’re breaking down the entire menu to find the healthiest options to order for your diet.

Highlights

  • Grilled Teriyaki Chicken offers the highest protein among entrees with 300 calories, 13g fat, 8g carbs, and 36g protein.
  • Ordering at Panda Express allows you to order items a la carte, a bowl with 1 entree and 1 side, a plate with 2 entrees and 1 side, or a bigger plate with 3 entrees and 1 side.
  • If calories are a concern, be careful choosing anything battered and fried, such as the honey walnut shrimp. Ordering a non-fried option (firecracker shrimp in this case), can save hundreds of calories.

Today we’re going to break down the Panda Express menu to help you find the healthiest menu items to order. As far as fast food goes, Panda Express is a surprisingly good option overall.

I’d like to remind everyone that “healthy” is completely subjective, and what one person deems healthy another person might not. For example, a high-protein option might be the healthiest option for you, but somebody with a history of heart disease might look at how much sodium that item contains and decide it is unhealthy.

I’m going to break down the entire Panda Express menu here so you can find the healthiest options for you.

I like to keep these guides high-level, so we are looking at calories & macros for these purposes. If you are concerned with sodium, cholesterol, or other specific nutritional aspects, I advise you to head over to the Panda Express website to find the information you are after.

Table of Contents

    How Ordering at Panda Express Works

    If you’ve never eaten at Panda Express, you may not be familiar with the unique ordering methods.

    At most fast food restaurants (aside from places like Subway or Chipotle) you order items directly off the menu. Sure, you can ask for substitutions and order tweaks, but you more or less assemble a meal based on the menu items you want.

    At Panda Express, you have 4 main ordering options:

    1. Order A La Carte (individual entrees and sides)
    2. Order a Bowl (1 entree and 1 side)
    3. Order a Plate (2 entrees and 1 side)
    4. Order a Bigger Plate (3 entrees and 1 side)

    You’re essentially ordering one base, which they call side dishes, and then choosing your protein to pair with that side.

    At Panda Express you’re not choosing a protein and various veggies, but rather just single items to top your chow mein, steamed rice, fried rice, or broccoli.

    Note that you also have the option to order half sides, so you can order half & half chow mein and rice if you’re feeling adventurous.

    The Healthiest Menu Items at Panda Express

    I’ll provide the nutrition facts for the entire Panda Express menu in this handy infographic, but I also want to point you in the direction of some of the healthiest options you can order.

    Panda Express Menu Nutrition

    Since we all define “healthy” differently, I’ll give you some options based on your possible dietary goals.

    Note: I will not be touching on grams of fiber, mg of sodium, or grams of sugar. I am strictly looking at calories and macros (fat content, total carbs, and protein).

    Lowest Calorie Panda Express Menu Items

    If weight loss is your goal, then a healthy diet is going to consist of lower-calorie, higher-volume options.

    Luckily for you, Panda Express is a fast-food restaurant with lots of great options.

    Lowest Calorie Side

    Super Greens

    90 Calories, 3g Fat, 10g Carbs, 6g Protein

    The Super Greens at Panda Express is a medley of fresh broccoli, kale, and cabbage. With under 100 calories for the entire thing, it’s a great way to assemble a bowl or plate with fewer calories.

    Lowest Calorie Seafood Entree

    Firecracker Shrimp

    180 Calories, 7g Fat, 12g Carbs, 17g Protein

    The Firecracker Shrimp is a limited item, so it may soon be replaced with another shrimp option. Even if it does, it will likely still be the lowest-calorie seafood option, since the other option is the battered Honey Walnut Shrimp with 360 calories.

    Lowest Calorie Beef Entree

    Broccoli Beef

    150 Calories, 7g Fat, 13g Carbs, 9g Protein

    The Broccoli Beef is a really good choice for someone looking for a low-calorie option. If you assemble a plate with the broccoli beef (which is two servings) you’ll only have 300 total calories and 18g of protein!

    Lowest Calorie Chicken Entree

    Mushroom Chicken

    220 Calories, 14g Fat, 10g Carbs, 13g Protein

    Many chicken options rely heavily on sauce, leading to higher calories overall. The lowest-calorie Panda Express chicken option is the mushroom chicken, with 220 calories and 13 grams of protein. While that may not be the leanest source of protein, it’s the lowest-calorie option you’ll find here.

    Highest Protein Panda Express Menu Items

    If you’re like me, then your goal is to eat a high-protein diet. If you want to maximize your protein intake, here are some of the best choices.

    Highest Protein Side

    Chow Mein

    510 Calories, 20g Fat, 80g Carbs, 13g Protein

    With around 500 calories, the Chow Mein may not be the healthiest choice nor the most “macro-friendly,” but it has the most protein! If you want a slightly more balanced option, steamed white rice or a side of brown rice will contain fewer calories (around 380) and still 7 grams of protein, which is solid.

    Highest Protein Entree

    Grilled Teriyaki Chicken

    300 Calories, 13g Fat, 8g Carbs, 36g Protein

    The teriyaki chicken at Panda Express is arguably the most popular main dish they offer, and with 36 grams of protein, it’s easy to see why. When you combine juicy, lean chicken breast with delicious teriyaki sauce, what’s not to love?

    If you combine two of these entrees, you’ll have 72 grams of protein, which is unheard of for fast-food joints.

    Low-Carb & Keto-Friendly Panda Express Meals

    If you’re watching your total carbs, you’ll likely want to stick with ordering A La Carte items at Panda Express.

    While you can order a dish with a side of Super Greens for only 10 grams of carbs, let’s assume you want to keep the carbs as low as possible and stick with just entrees. Here are some of the best low-carb options for your keto diet (items with under 15 g carbs)

    1. Super Greens: 45 Calories & 5g Carbs (2g Net Carbs)
    2. Grilled Teriyaki Chicken: 300 Calories & 8g Carbs (8g Net Carbs)
    3. Firecracker Shrimp: 180 Calories & 12g Carbs (8g Net Carbs)
    4. Mushroom Chicken: 220 Calories & 10g Carbs (9g Net Carbs)
    5. Black Pepper Angus Steak: 180 Calories & 10g Carbs (9g Net Carbs)
    6. Broccoli Beef: 150 Calories & 13g Carbs (11g Net Carbs)
    7. Kung Pao Chicken: 290 Calories & 14g Carbs (12g Net Carbs)
    8. Black Pepper Chicken: 280 Calories & 15g Carbs (14g Net Carbs)

    Healthiest Meals at Panda Express

    We’ve broken down some specific options, but now it’s time to compile our ideal meal. Rather than looking at individual items, let’s look at different bowl, plate, and bigger plate options.

    We’re not going to exclusively look at low-calorie options, but rather build a quality, well-balanced meal.

    These are certainly not the only options, but here are a few ideas for the next time you’re looking to eat healthy at Panda Express.

    Healthy Bowl Idea

    Steamed White Rice with Teriyaki Chicken

    680 Calories, 13g Fat, 95g Carbs, 43g Protein

    If you want a macro-balanced meal and don’t mind some carbs, this is a great combination to get you a good amount of protein without going overboard on calories.

    If you prefer whole grains, you can also order steamed brown rice depending on your Panda Express location. While it will come with some extra calories (about 30) it’s also a great option.

    Healthy Plate Idea

    Half Chow Mein & Half Super Greens with Black Pepper Steak and Broccoli Beef

    630 Calories, 26g Fat, 68g Carbs, 38g Protein

    Did you know that you could order half sides at Panda Express? Whether you want to go with a half order of chow mein or a half order of brown rice, you can pair that with a half order of super greens to add some extra volume to any dish!

    Healthy Bigger Plate Idea

    Super Greens with 3 Firecracker Shrimp Entrees

    630 Calories, 24g Fat, 46g Carbs, 57g Protein

    If you want a super high-protein option at Panda Express without going overboard on calories, pair the Super Greens with 3 orders of a shrimp entree. While 630 calories may not be low calorie, it is not very high for a meal containing an impressive 57 grams of protein.

    Is Panda Express Healthy?

    While some options are better than others, it’s clear that Panda Express can be a very healthy fast food option! Given the fact that you can easily customize your meal to fit your specific dietary preferences, it makes it one of the best healthy options as far as fast food is concerned.

    Sure, not every single item is going to be traditionally “healthy.” Items like Orange Chicken, which is fried chicken in a thick sauce, or honey walnut shrimp, which is tempura-battered crispy shrimp, may not be the best bet for overall nutritional value.

    But if you choose wisely, you can assemble an amazing (and healthy) meal at Panda Express.

    How Does Panda Express Compare to Other Fast Food Options?

    I love putting these fast-food menu guides together, and I find it extremely interesting to see how each menu stacks up.

    I have a ton of menu breakdowns on my blog, but here are some to get you started:

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    About Matt Rosenman

    With over 15 years of experience in health and fitness, Matt Rosenman is the expert voice behind Cheatdaydesign.com. Matt’s philosophy is simple: no foods are off-limits, and a healthy lifestyle shouldn't be complicated or restrictive. As a former certified personal trainer with a bachelor’s degree in Health Behavioral Sciences, Matt brings well-rounded expertise to his blog. From revamping classic recipes with a nutritious twist to breaking down fast food menus, his goal is make healthy living less confusing for everyone. Featured in major publications and with a strong following on social media, Matt is committed to making “healthy” uncomplicated—no matter where you are in your health journey. Join Matt on his mission to simplify health without sacrificing flavor. Learn More