If I’m ordering Chinese takeout, you better believe there will be at least one order of orange chicken in the bag! I love that lightly fried chicken, coated with a sweet citrus sauce—and it’s actually one of the easier Chinese-American takeout dishes to make at home!
If you are an orange chicken fan, then today’s recipe is a must try.
What Is Orange Chicken?
Orange chicken is one of many iterations of Chinese takeout dishes that involve fried chicken pieces tossed with sauce. In this case, the sauce is a mix of soy sauce, water, and orange juice, plus some cornstarch thickener to make the sauce just thick enough to coat the chicken.
The key to giving the sauce a great orange flavor isn’t just the orange juice, though; it’s the orange zest, so don’t skip that ingredient!
The Best Chicken to Use for Orange Chicken
There is no specific chicken cut that works better than any other. Personally, I like boneless skinless chicken thighs because they’re inexpensive and stay a bit juicier than chicken breasts. But you can use chicken breasts if that’s what you prefer.
HOT TIP! You can also use chicken wings for this recipe! Just deep fry them for about 12 minutes or bake them for 45 minutes until they’re cooked through, before tossing them in the sauce.
What to Serve With Orange Chicken
I keep it simple for serving for this dish. Plain white rice is best garnished with big pinches of fresh scallion and sesame seeds. For a low-carb alternative, serve the orange chicken on a bed of baby arugula or cauliflower rice with chopped cucumber and grated carrot.
Suggestions and Substitutions
To make a vegetarian version of this orange chicken, I recommend using tofu. Make sure to press the tofu to remove as much liquid as possible, then toss the tofu with the egg and cornstarch mixture just like you would the chicken.
Make-Ahead Tips for Orange Chicken
You can make and fry the chicken well in advance if you wanted to. Then just cook the garlic, shallot, and sauce and toss in the cooked fried chicken. Continue to toss the orange chicken until the chicken is warmed through, and it’s ready to go!
How to Store and Freeze Orange Chicken
This orange chicken stores great in the fridge for five days. Reheat in a small skillet over low heat, adding a splash of water to loosen the sauce a bit.
You can freeze orange chicken for up to three months. If you do, thaw it before reheating in the skillet so the chicken pieces separate easily.
More Chinese Recipes to Make at Home
- Easy Chicken Lo Mein
- Chinese Chicken and Mushroom Stir Fry
- Sweet and Sour Chicken
- Chicken Fried Rice
- Sous Vide Sesame Chicken
Chinese Orange Chicken
- For the orange sauce:
- Zest from 1 orange
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/3 cup rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1/2 cup sugar
- For the chicken:
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups vegetable oil, for frying
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 large shallot, chopped
- To garnish and serve:
- Sliced scallions, garnish
- Sesame seeds, garnish
- Cooked white rice, to serve
Make the orange sauce:
Whisk together sauce ingredients in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Prep the chicken:
Cut chicken into about 1-inch cubes. Whisk eggs with salt and black pepper in a bowl and add chicken. Stir together.
In a separate bowl, whisk together flour and cornstarch. Remove chicken from eggs with a slotted spoon or tongs, letting excess egg drain off, then transfer to cornstarch mixture and coat well.
Fry the chicken:
Add oil to a large 10- to 12-inch skillet. Heat over medium-high heat until it reaches 350 ̊F. If you don’t have a thermometer, you can also test the temperature by sprinkling in some flour and it should fizzle immediately.
Once oil is hot, fry the chicken in two batches. The oil might not completely cover the chicken—that’s okay. Cook for 3-4 minutes. Flip the chicken pieces and cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 3 to 4 more minutes. Total cook time is about 6-8 minutes.
Remove fried chicken cubes and transfer to a plate lined with paper towels, so the chicken can drain. Repeat until all the chicken is cooked.
Simmer the chicken in the sauce:
Once chicken is done, pour out hot oil and wipe pan clean. Add a fresh tablespoon of oil along with chopped garlic and shallot. Cook for a minute and then add the sauce. Simmer the sauce until it starts to thicken.
Once the sauce is lightly bubbling, add fried chicken and toss together to coat. The sauce should continue to thicken and stick to the chicken. Let simmer for a minute or two more. Serve orange chicken over cooked white rice, garnished with sesame seeds and fresh scallions.
LEFTOVERS! The orange chicken keeps well in the fridge for 5 days. Reheat in a skillet with a splash of water over low heat. Freeze the orange chicken for up to 3 months, but be sure to thaw it before reheating so the chicken doesn’t clump together.