Chinese Orange Chicken

Get the best of Chinese orange chicken takeout at home! This recipe is loaded with sweet citrus flavors, sesame seeds, and scallions. It’s surprisingly easy to make. All you need is a large skillet. And don’t skip the orange zest in the sauce—it’s the most important piece!

A white scalloped bowl heaped with take out chinese orange chicken.
Nick Evans

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!

Overhead shot of chinese take out orange chicken recipe in a white bowl with fork and napkin to the right and a bowl of rice to the left.
Nick Evans

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.

Vertical close up photo of take out chinese orange chicken topped with sesame seeds and chopped scallions. A bowl of white rice is behind the orange chicken.
Nick Evans

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.

Side view of chinese take out orange chicken recipe in a scalloped white bowl with a partial view of a bowl of white rice to the left.
Nick Evans

More Chinese Recipes to Make at Home


Watch This Chinese Orange Chicken Recipe

Chinese Orange Chicken

Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Servings 4 servings


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:


  1. Make the orange sauce:

    Whisk together sauce ingredients in a medium bowl. Set aside.

    Whisk in a white bowl with ingredients for orange chicken sauce.
    Nick Evans
  2. 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.

    Whisked eggs and raw chopped chicken mixed together in a white bowl to make take out chinese orange chicken.
    Nick Evans
    Chopped chicken is being coated in flour to show how to make chinese orange chicken.
    Nick Evans
  3. 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.

    Side view of chopped chicken frying in a cast iron skillet.
    Nick Evans
    Fried chopped chicken pieces on a scalloped white plate with a white paper towel underneath the chicken.
    Nick Evans
  4. 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.

    A cast iron skillet with fried chopped chicken on top of simmering orange chicken sauce.
    Nick Evans
    Side view of chinese take out orange chicken recipe in a scalloped white bowl with a partial view of a bowl of white rice to the left.
    Nick Evans

    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.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
687 Calories
36g Fat
47g Carbs
46g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 687
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 36g 46%
Saturated Fat 6g 32%
Cholesterol 254mg 85%
Sodium 1464mg 64%
Total Carbohydrate 47g 17%
Dietary Fiber 1g 5%
Total Sugars 28g
Protein 46g
Vitamin C 12mg 60%
Calcium 48mg 4%
Iron 3mg 16%
Potassium 665mg 14%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.