Panda Express’s plant-based orange chicken is so popular that it sold out in all California locations

Taste testing Panda Express' Beyond Meat Orange Chicken - Panda Express Beyond Meat Plant-based Orange Chicken
Panda Express’s Beyond Meat Orange Chicken sold out in all California locations. Thomas Pallini/Insider
  • Panda Express’s vegan orange chicken made with Beyond Meat sold out in all California locations.
  • It’s so popular that 1,300 pounds (590kg) were sold on the first day in New York and California.
  • Many fast-food chains have jumped on the vegan meat trend as consumer demand for fake meat rises.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

People loved Panda Express’s vegan version of the chain’s best-selling orange chicken so much that it sold out in all of its California locations, and 1,300 pounds (590kg) of the dish were sold on the first day that it launched, according to VegNews.

The plant-based orange chicken is made in partnership with Beyond Meat and was rolled out on July 26 in 13 locations in California and New York City. Panda Express told VegNews that the limited rollout was done to test whether the product could be sold nationally and that the chain is exploring releasing its product in more locations.

“We are thrilled with the positive guest response around Beyond The Original Orange Chicken and are humbled to share that our SoCal restaurants sold out in less than just two weeks,” a Panda Express spokesperson told VegNews. “The excitement from our guests is unparalleled, and it’s one of our most successful regional launches to date at Panda. Panda Express and Beyond Meat didn’t immediately respond to Business Insider’s requests for comment.

Thomas Pallini, who taste-tested the plant-based orange chicken for Insider, said he couldn’t tell the difference between the vegetarian version and the real thing.

Taste testing Panda Express' Beyond Meat Orange Chicken - Panda Express Beyond Meat Plant-based Orange Chicken
The rollout of the plant-based orange chicken is limited but may expand in the future. Thomas Pallini/Insider

“I took one bite and was instantly hooked. The plant-based nugget had the same taste and texture as its animal-based predecessor, and I couldn’t believe there was no real meat inside,” Pallini said.

Consumers’ growing concern with sustainability and healthier food, as well as increasingly realistic fake meat, has fueled the growing plant-based protein trend.

Dozens of other fast-food restaurants have unveiled vegetarian versions of longstanding meat-based menu items, such as Starbucks’ breakfast sandwich made with Impossible Meat and Dunkin’ Donuts’ Beyond Sausage breakfast sandwich.