Here’s an easy and flavourful Orange Chicken Recipe for the Chinese American classic dish that everyone knows and loves. It features moist, yet tender crispy fried chicken pieces coated in a sweet and savoury tangerine-coloured sauce.
If you are a citrus lover, try typing ‘citrus’ in the search bar. You’ll find amazing citrus flavoured recipes as Kumquat Marmalade (with Bergamot) and Homemade Orangeade. Type something specific like ‘lemon’ to find such savoury recipes as Pork Piccata with Lemon and Capers to sweet Lemon Meringue Pie. It’s a citrus grove treasure trove!
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An Orange Chicken Recipe
Here’s another one for the citrus lovers. This chicken is bursting with bright citrus flavour from the juice and freshly grated orange zest. We use the whole fruit to allow multiple layers of flavour to develop, resulting in the most flavourful final dish.
Speaking of final dishes, this easy orange chicken recipe is ready in only 20 minutes total cooking time. It’s delicious over plain steamed white rice but even more amazing served over a side of fragrant Ginger Rice. The ginger rice also takes 20 minutes, so it’s perfectly timed to accompany the orange chicken for a completely delicious dinner experience.
A Healthier Copycat Orange Chicken Recipe
Some of you may be fans of Panda Express Orange Chicken… and I am too! I love the flavour and texture of the crispy wok-tossed chicken; however I did not love all the ‘extra’ unpronounceable fast food ingredients I was eating.
That’s why I developed this copycat Chinese orange chicken recipe. The crispy fried chicken is skinless chicken breast pieces coated in a simple cornstarch, flour, and egg mixture just before frying. There are no added preservatives or flavour enhancers.
Furthermore, the orange chicken sauce is a delightful combination of fresh or store bought orange juice, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and sesame oil. It contains all the flavour of take away orange chicken without the dodgy ingredients.
Orange Chicken Recipe Ingredients
Making orange chicken requires very little time and effort. All the ingredients are common pantry or refrigerator items that are easily purchased at any grocery store.
- Vegetable Oil
- Orange Juice
- Brown Sugar
- Rice Wine Vinegar
- Soy Sauce
- Sesame Oil
- optional garnishes – fresh orange zest, black or white sesame seeds, red chili flakes, green onions.
Any boneless skinless chicken pieces will work in this easy recipe. Choose from skinless chicken thighs or breasts, according to your preferences. Note that chicken thighs have more flavour and are less likely to dry out while diced chicken breast can be more uniform in size.
The cornstarch plays two roles in this recipe. Firstly, it coats the chicken and allows it to fry up nice and crispy golden brown. Secondly, the cornstarch slurry (water plus cornstarch) helps thicken the orange sauce, helping it to coat each piece of chicken.
Be sure to use fresh ginger root and garlic cloves in this recipe as they will provide the best flavour. Either freshly squeezed orange juice or orange juice from concentrate will work in this recipe.
If you are watching your salt intake, feel free to substitute low sodium soy sauce for the regular soy sauce and omit seasoning with salt. You can season your food at the table if you find it necessary.
Sadly, not all bottles of sesame oil are created equally. For deeper flavour, choose one that is 100% sesame oil, not a blend of oils. Furthermore, when buying toasted sesame oil (and I recommend it!) as a rule, the darker the oil the more flavour it will have.
Which Oil is Best for Frying?
There are many different varieties of vegetable oil suitable for frying. Since the ideal temperature for deep frying is 360 F – 375 F, it’s important to choose a neutral tasting oil with a high smoke point.
What is a smoke point? This is the temperature at which heated oil begins to burn, creating a bitter flavour in your food. Smoke point ranges from 325 F and 525 F, depending on what kind of vegetable oil is being used. For deep frying, it is best to choose an oil that has a smoke point of at least 400 F.
The most used vegetable oils with a 400 F (or slightly higher) smoke point include: Canola, Safflower, Cottonseed, or Sunflower oil. Peanut oil is quite affordable but contains a very common allergen, and Avocado oil is very healthy but incredibly expensive.
Corn oil is commonly used for deep frying because it is inexpensive. Sadly, corn oil also contains zero nutritional benefits.
How to Make this Orange Chicken Recipe
Prepare the Chicken
To begin, place 3 inches of oil in a high sided pan and heat to 360 F over medium heat. Cover a plate with paper towel or have a metal rack over a baking sheet nearby.
Place the diced chicken breasts in a large bowl. Combine the eggs, cornstarch, flour, and salt together in a small bowl or large measuring cup, then pour the mixture over the chicken. Stir to ensure the chicken is evenly coated.
To fry the chicken, carefully lower a portion of the chicken into the hot oil. Do not overcrowd the pan (the amount depends on the size of your pan). Fry the chicken until it reaches a golden-brown colour.
Remove the chicken from the oil using a slotted metal spoon and place it on the paper towel lined plate or wire rack. Use a meat thermometer to ensure the chicken has reached an internal temperature of 165 F. Fry for longer if it hasn’t reached that temperature.
Continue frying chicken in batches until it is all fried.
Make the Orange Sauce
While the chicken is frying, combine one cup orange juice with the brown sugar, rice vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and sesame oil together in a small saucepan. Simmer the orange mixture for three minutes.
Next, in a small glass, mix the second amount of cornstarch with water and whisk the slurry directly into the hot orange sauce. Allow the orange sauce to cook and thicken slightly.
Add the fried chicken to the sauce and toss to coat with the orange sauce. Serve over Ginger Rice. garnished with fresh orange zest, chopped green onions, red pepper flakes, and sesame seeds.
If you make this Easy Orange Chicken Recipe recipe, please be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Pinterest for my latest recipes. Also, if you do make this recipe, please tag me on Instagram, I’d love to see what you guys are making! Thank you so much for reading my blog.
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into one inch pieces
- 3 eggs
- 1/3 cup cornstarch
- 2 Tablespoons flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- frying oil
FOR THE SAUCE
- 1 cup orange juice
- 2 Tablespoons brown sugar; packed
- 2 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 Tablespoons water
- 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
- OPTIONAL GARNISH - zest of one orange, sliced green onions, white or black sesame seeds
- Heat 3 inches of oil in a high sided pan to 360 F. Cover a plate with paper towel or have a metal rack over a baking sheet nearby.
- Place the diced chicken breasts in a large bowl.
- Combine the eggs, cornstarch, flour, and salt together then pour the mixture over the chicken. Stir to ensure the chicken is evenly coated.
- Carefully lower a portion of the chicken into the hot oil. Do not overcrowd the pan (the amount depends on the size of your pan).
- Fry the chicken until it reaches a golden brown colour*. Use a slotted metal spoon to remove the chicken to the paper towel lined plate or wire rack. Use a meat thermometer to ensure the chicken has reached an internal temperature of 165 F. Fry for longer if it hasn't reached that temperature.
- Continue frying chicken in batches until it is all fried.
- In another pan, simmer the orange juice together with the brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and sesame oil for three minutes. Mix the cornstarch into the water, then whisk it into the hot sauce. Allow the orange sauce to cook and thicken slightly.
- Add the fried chicken to the sauce and toss to coat with the orange sauce. Serve over rice** garnished with orange zest, chopped green onions, and sesame seeds.
*To get an extra crispy crust on the chicken, you can double fry it. For the first fry, heat the oil to 350° and fry some of the chicken (don’t overcrowd) for 2 minutes, then remove. Continue until all the chicken has been fried. Heat the oil to 375°, then begin frying the chicken in batches until a nice golden brown. Remove and place on a paper towel lined plate.
**This dish is delicious served with ginger rice.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 405Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 242mgSodium: 849mgCarbohydrates: 28gFiber: 0gSugar: 11gProtein: 44g
Nutritional calculation was provided by Nutritionix and is an estimation only. For special diets or medical issues please use your preferred calculator.