Copycat Panda Express Broccoli Beef

A healthier, lower sugar version of the Panda Express Broccoli Beef dish using lean ground beef- Perfect for those following a paleo or gluten free lifestyle! 

 

Copycat Panda Express Broccoli Beef using ground meat instead- Cost effective, healthy and paleo friendly too!

I’m prefacing this by saying an Asian style gravy and ground beef paired together may be the most un-photogenic foods ever. So switched things around again- Instead of posting a Copycat recipe on a Friday as promised– I’m posting this Monday instead!

When people think Asian take out, I don’t think many would choose Panda Express as their ‘go to’. In fact, most suburbs would have a local Asian take out shop which would have the standard fare- Think fried rice, orange chicken or my sister’s favourite- sweet and sour chicken (which the ones they serve here in Australia probably don’t have any chicken in it).

One perk Panda Express has over your standard take out place is that they provide nutritional information- One which just shows how much sugar is in each meal. While their calorie counts are generally quite low, their sugar content was another story. Ironically, it’s their Broccoli Beef which is on the lower end of the sugar rainbow (3 grams per serving), they have some other favourites like their Beijing Beef which clocks in at 25 grams….per serving! Also having eaten there- The serving sizes aren’t that generous! 

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I ate at Panda Express twice and both were in limited situations- The first time, I was craving Chinese food and was in the middle of Union Square in San Francisco. I asked a guy at Starbucks where you could get quality Chinese food and he said nothing beats Panda Express. I went to the one located in some underground Mall and the line was huge so I assumed it must be good. I got the Broccoli Beef and the Beijing Beef with noodles and tucked into it. It was delicious but definitely was a fast food style meal. The sugar was also VERY evident in both dishes and I actually started craving more sweets after it- A typical reaction after I eat overly sweet foods.

The second time, I was on a layover in Orlando and was once again craving Chinese food. Surprise Surprise, there was a Panda Express there and I half heartedly went to queue up and got the Broccoli Beef and Beijing Beef again. 

Okay, it wasn’t half hearted, it was pretty delicious. I admit it. I enjoyed it in all it’s high sugar glory. 

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When I decided to start recreating my favourite foods, I knew these two had to be recreated, albeit with a healthier spin on them. I also wanted them both to be simple. Very simple. This recipe uses ground beef instead of beef strips as they absorbed the ‘gravy’ much better and had a quicker cooking time. The sauce combination is on point and the perfect amount of sweet to salt! One up on Red Panda is that this is also is paleo, gluten free and grain free– Also suitable for diabetics! 

So next time you have an Asian take out craving, whip this up. It’s easy, breezy beautiful- Covergirl.

I mean, it’s delicious. 

Copycat Panda Express Broccoli Beef
Serves 4
A healthier, lower sugar version of the Panda Express Broccoli Beef dish- Perfect for those following a paleo or gluten free lifestyle!
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Ingredients
  1. 500 grams ground beef (I used 90% lean/4 star)
  2. 1 large head of broccoli, chopped into florets
  3. 2 large carrots, chopped
  4. 1/2 large onion, chopped
  5. 1 clove garlic, minced
  6. 1 T minced ginger
  7. 1/4 cup liquid aminos (can sub for gluten free soy sauce if not paleo)
  8. 1 T vinegar
  9. 1 T honey
  10. 1 T natvia natural sweetener (can sub for another granulated sweetener)
  11. 2 tsp coconut flour (can sub for 1 tablespoon of cornstarch if not paleo)
  12. 1 T black pepper
  13. 1 T red pepper flakes (optional)
  14. Sea salt to taste
  15. Rice or noodles to serve
Instructions
  1. In a microwave safe bowl, add an inch of water and add the chopped broccoli and carrots and heat for 2 minutes, until very lightly cooked. Set aside.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, combine the liquid aminos, vinegar, honey, Natvia natural sweetener, pepper, red pepper flakes and sea salt until combine. Add the coconut flour and mix very well- mixture should slightly thicken. Set aside.
  3. Heat a deep frying pan or wok on medium heat generously covered with coconut oil. Once hot, add the ground beef and allow to brown slightly. Once browned, add the broccoli, carrots and the sauce and mix very well until fully incorporated. Stir occasionally until meat is fully browned and sauce mixture has reduced completely (approximately 5-6 minutes). Remove from the heat and serve immediately over rice or noodles.
Notes
  1. I ate this over several days and similar to a curry or stew, it tasted better the longer it sat.
  2. This freezes really well and can be frozen for up to 4 weeks in portions.
  3. Please adjust salt to self preference- I like things quite salty so was generous with it.
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60 thoughts on “Copycat Panda Express Broccoli Beef

  1. Mmmm this beef dish looks yummy- and so much more appealing than the one at Panda Express. I’m all for the sweet & savoury combo but having 20g+ of sugar in an otherwise savoury meal is just absurd! I’m so with you about craving more sugar after eating sugar. I remember when I did Whole 30, I completely lost the craving for my otherwise daily dose of chocolate…and suddenly fruit started tasting “too” sweet! As for my favourite Asian take-out, obvi sushi gets my vote!

  2. I totally see your sister eating Sweet an Sour without chicken. LOL.
    This looks so good, Arman. I am always a little disgusted by our Chinese Take outs, cause normally, everything is just drenched in that slimy Sweet and Sour Stuff.
    I didn’t have ground beef in forever, must change!

  3. Yum! I haven’t had Asian take-out in forever, but there’s a great place near my work that I’ll go every now and then and order their beef and broccoli.
    I definitely find myself craving more sugar after having sugar. I don’t eat sweets all the time, so I do notice that the second I have one cookie I suddenly want another!

  4. I love chinese food but I hate all the sugar! Eating sugar definitely leads to more cravings though. I’ve noticed that things are way too sweet most of the time and crave fruit for sweetness! I would love to learn how to make authentic chinese food. Not just the sugary Americanized version!

  5. Nothing beats Thai takeout! I love pad thai and tom yum soup!!! I can’t do chinese takeout though. Gives me the worst stomachache ever! Which, sometimes, the stomachache is worth it!

  6. I haven’t actually eaten this dish at Panda Express but have cetainly been tempted by it. I love broccoli and beef and have never had it with ground beef, only shaved roasted beef. I am gonna try this! Thanks.

  7. Haha, I love that you have the gluten-free label on there! Really helps me out :p
    But this is amazing and looks exactly like the meals that my grandma would make me as a kid… albeit healthier. Will try this one day when I’m craving something from my childhood

  8. Since I’m by myself for Christmas, I’m thinking about grabbing some Chinese takeout on my way home from work – but now I don’t have an excuse not to make it at home. We’ll see though. I do love broccoli beef! I think I’ve only eaten at Panda Express once that I can remember.

  9. Ohh the classic broccoli beef. The overdose of salt and sugar all at once. Thank you for this healthier recipe!!
    The Halal Guys food cart in NYC is by far my favorite take away food. If you haven’t tried their food yet (it has to be the one on 53rd and 6th), you haven’t experienced the city. More reason for you to come back to America!!!

  10. Love the ingredients and totally trying this. Asian style paleo friendly recipes are kind of a block for me for some reason! I have also prefaced a few of my recipes with how un-photogenic a food is. I think you made this look awesome, but I totally hear you! My chipotle chicken salad looks inedible in photos 🙂

  11. For some reason, whenever I see ground beef, I only ever think tacos. Weird, right? But this looks delicious.

    I can’t say I’m a Panda Express fan, but I do love mongolian chicken from a local takeout place.

  12. Yummmm, Arman!! Did I mention I eat beef now? Like… a lot. And I am also avoiding sugar these days after being a former sugar addict (especially a fruit addict), so I will literally make this is week, tag you in a photo and boom!! Can’t wait to try. Miss ya. PS Panda Express kinda sucks soooo I have faith this is way better.

  13. Man id feel like a covergirl eating this! Love the healthy take on it. I think Ive been to Panda Express once but either way I know your version kicks way more ass. I was reading thru the ingredient list and awesome. All stuff that will make me feel like a rockstar. saving this one for sure.

  14. Back in my carnivorous days, I used to order take out chinese and it was always Beef with Broccoli. Of course, I never actually ate the beef, just the the broccoli, but I liked the flavor or maybe it was just all the salt.

  15. Hey great work Arman. I had never tried Broccoli Beef from Panda. But after reading your blog and seeing the snap of the majestic food, I tried. Oh Boy! It was great. And now I am going to really try it out just like how you had done. Thanks man…I am simply going bazinga over this…Never thought beef would go this well with broccoli.

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