What Is Gluten-Free at Panda Express? – Healthy Tips 2023

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what is gluten free at panda express

Panda Express is a very popular Chinese fast-food restaurant chain in the United States. Panda Express offers a variety of American Chinese dishes, including the ever-popular Orange Chicken, Grilled Teriyaki Chicken, Kung Pao Chicken, General Tso’s Chicken, Beijing Beef, and Firecracker Chicken Breast. 

If you’re a fan of Chinese food and have celiac disease, you may want to know if you can enjoy some of your favorite Chinese dishes at Panda Express. 

So, what is gluten-free at Panda Express? Panda Express clearly states on its website that it doesn’t offer any vegetarian or gluten-free options. However, Panda Express offers a few naturally gluten-free dishes that might be safe for people who avoid gluten. If you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, avoid eating at Panda Express. 

This Chinese restaurant offers several menu items that naturally don’t contain wheat or gluten, so it can be helpful to know what those items are and if it’s safe to eat them. Keep reading to learn what’s gluten-free on Panda Express’s menu. 

Does Panda Express have Something Gluten-Free?

Panda Express explicitly states on its website that it doesn’t offer vegetarian or gluten-free options. This Chinese fast-food restaurant doesn’t have a dedicated gluten-free menu. If you have celiac disease or gluten intolerance, you should steer clear of Panda Express.

However, certain items on the Panda Express menu are naturally gluten-free and might be a suitable choice if you’re following a gluten-free diet but don’t have celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity, or gluten allergy. 

Keep in mind that these naturally gluten-free ingredients are prepared in the shared kitchen with gluten-containing ingredients and may become cross-contaminated. This won’t be an issue if you’re just trying to limit gluten in your diet, but it can be a huge problem for people with celiac disease. 

Items on Panda Express Menu that are Gluten-Free

panda express gluten free items

Panda Express uses all major food allergens, and it isn’t the best place to eat if you have celiac disease. This restaurant has a few gluten-free dishes for people trying to avoid gluten.

Gluten-free items found on Panda Express’s menu are:

Steamed White Rice

White rice is naturally gluten-free and can be a suitable option if you want to avoid gluten. Rice is cooked without any added ingredients or gluten-containing sauces and can be eaten plain or as a side dish.

While steamed rice doesn’t have gluten, it is prepared in the shared kitchen using the same cooking equipment as when preparing gluten-containing foods. This increases the likelihood of cross-contamination, making white steamed rice an unsafe choice if you have celiac disease. 

Steamed Brown Rice

In addition to steamed white rice, Panda Express also prepares steamed brown rice. Unlike white rice, which is ready plain, brown rice is cooked with soybean oil. 

Soybean oil is naturally gluten-free, making steamed brown rice suitable for people trying to avoid gluten. Like white rice, brown rice is prepared in a shared kitchen using shared cooking utensils and equipment, which increases the risk of cross-contamination.

Avoid ordering steamed brown rice at Express Panda restaurants if you have celiac disease, gluten allergy, or non-celiac gluten sensitivity. 

Sauces

The Panda Express nutrition and allergen guide lists several sauces as gluten and wheat-free. The restaurant’s website states that sweet and sour sauce, chili sauce, hot mustard, plum sauce, and three top apple crisps are gluten-free. 

Beverages

Panda Express nutrition and allergen information guide lists all soft drinks sold at the restaurant as gluten-free. Keep in mind that most soft drinks are naturally gluten-free.

The dispensers for these drinks are usually away from the kitchen, in which gluten-containing foods are prepared, so there’s minimal risk of cross-contamination. 

Is Teriyaki Chicken from Panda Express Gluten-Free?

No, teriyaki chicken from Panda Express isn’t gluten-free. This dish is made with tender, grilled chicken breasts, glazed with sweet and tangy teriyaki sauce, and topped with sesame seeds. 

Teriyaki sauce used in this dish isn’t gluten-free because it’s made from garlic, ginger, mirin, brown sugar, and soy sauce, which contains wheat and gluten. Furthermore, Panda Express prepares all dishes using shared cooking equipment, increasing the risk of cross-contamination with gluten-containing ingredients.  

Is the Fried Rice at Panda Express Gluten-Free?

No, fried rice at Panda Express isn’t gluten-free. Panda Express uses many ingredients that FDA identifies as significant food allergens. These ingredients include eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, milk, fish, shellfish, soy, wheat, and sesame. 

Panda Express fried rice is made from cooked white rice, liquid eggs, peas, carrots, and soybean oil. This dish is seasoned using a proprietary sauce made from water, sugar, and soy sauce, which contains wheat, salt, and spices. 

Panda Express fried rice is prepared with soy sauce, which contains gluten, making this side dish unsafe for people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity. All Panda Express dishes are made in the shared kitchen using shared cooking equipment, which increases the risk of cross-contamination. 

Is Panda Express Black Pepper Chicken Gluten-Free?

No, Panda Express black pepper chicken isn’t gluten-free, according to the restaurant’s nutrition and allergen information guide. This black pepper chicken is a popular menu item made from dark meat chicken, water, celery, onions, and soybean oil, which contains wheat.

This dish also uses a proprietary sauce made with the following ingredients: water, sugar, soy sauce (which contains wheat and gluten), salt, and spices. 

Conclusion

Panda Express is a popular Chinese fast-food restaurant, but there are better places to eat if you have celiac disease. All Panda Express dishes, except steamed white and brown rice, and several sauces, contain gluten and are unsafe for people following a gluten-free diet.

Panda Express states clearly on its website that it doesn’t offer gluten-free or vegetarian dishes. If you must eat gluten-free for health reasons, steer clear of Panda Express and look for Chinese restaurants that offer a dedicated gluten-free menu. 

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