Easy Orange Chicken Recipe — We all know takeout food isn’t the healthiest, but it just tastes SO GOOD. So what’s to do when the craving strikes and you need your Chinese food fix?
That’s when this easy orange chicken recipe comes to the rescue. It’s made with fresh ingredients (no additives!) and is the perfect way to tame that craving.
This recipe is easy to double and freeze for an even quicker meal next time you NEED some orange chicken. It’s a definite crowd pleaser.
Fresh garlic and ginger make the sauce incredibly flavorful, and the crispy fried chicken is delicious.
What Is Orange Chicken
Orange chicken consists of stir fried chopped, battered and fried chicken cuts. This popular dish is coated in a sweet caramelized orange chili sauce.
Though it’s Chinese-inspired, orange chicken actually originated in the United States. So you’ll find it on the menu of more North American Chinese restaurants than in China. Orange chicken is variation of General Tso’s chicken.
Ingredients in Orange Chicken
- Boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts
- Ground pepper
- Neutral flavored oil (like canola oil, vegetable oil, etc.)
- Orange zest
- Soy sauce
- Rice vinegar
- Orange juice
- Red chili flakes
- Green onions
You’re going to need boneless skinless chicken for this recipe. But whether you use thighs or breasts is up to you. I prefer thighs, which are dark meat. Chicken thighs have a higher fat content and generally more tender and flavorful when cooked.
However, if you prefer white meat, chicken breasts will taste great too! Just be careful not to overcook it, and dry it out.
How to Make Orange Chicken
1 — Cut the meat into 1 ½” chunks. Then, toss them in the beaten eggs. Chill the meat in a covered bowl in the fridge for at least 20 minutes. However, you can do this step the day before you plan to cook the chicken too.
2 — While the meat is soaking, prep the flour and cornstarch mixture for coating the chicken. Also, put about 2” of oil in the bottom of a deep skillet.
You need to have room in the pan for the chicken as well. So make sure that the sides of the skillet are high enough that you won’t have hot oil splashing you while you cook.
3 — When you are ready to fry the chicken, heat the oil in the pan on medium-high heat until it’s very hot. Dredge several handfuls of chicken in the flour mixture to coat every side of each piece.
4 — Then, carefully place them in the hot oil. I like to use metal tongs when working with the hot oil. If it doesn’t immediately start sizzling, the oil isn’t hot enough, and you need to let it heat up more.
5 — Cook the pieces of chicken for about 2 minutes. Next, flip them over and allow the other side to cook. The breading should be a light golden brown, and you can cut into a piece to make sure that they are cooked through.
6 — Remove the cooked chicken to drain on a paper towel lined plate. They will soak up any excess oil, and keep the breading from becoming soggy and from repeat the cooking with any remaining chicken pieces.
7 — Once your chicken is cooked, make the sauce. In a medium saucepan, briefly cook the garlic, ginger, pepper flakes, and orange zest over medium heat in a bit of the orange juice. This draws out their flavors and makes your sauce pack a delicious, aromatic punch!
8 — Whisk the rest of the ingredients together, and add them to the pan. Cook the sauce, stirring continually, until it thickens and loses its cloudy appearance. This means that the cornstarch has cooked out and won’t leave a filmy taste.
9 — Toss the chicken in the sauce until it’s completely coated. You want to make sure that all of your chicken has that lovely orange sauce all over it. If you like your orange chicken extra saucy, go ahead and double the sauce.
Notes On Cooking With Hot Oil
When it’s hot enough to cook food, oil can easily cause burns. Use caution when working with it! Protect your hands, face, and clothes from splatters as much as possible. Furthermore, always use long handled metal utensils as plastic can melt.
How to Reheat and Store Orange Chicken
If you are planning to make your orange chicken ahead of time, I recommend storing the chicken and sauce in the refrigerator. And then, heating them separately in air-tight containers.
To reheat, lay the chicken out on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until it’s heated through and the breading is crispy.
Reheat the sauce in a saucepan. After that, toss the chicken in it before serving.
Did you know that you can cook your chicken ahead of time and freeze it? In fact, I almost always make a double batch and freeze half of it for a super easy, quick dinner.
After frying and cooling it, simply place it in a freezer storage bag, and it’ll keep for up to two months.
I don’t recommend freezing the cooked sauce, as the ice crystals that will form break down the cornstarch and ruin the consistency. However, you can mix it all ahead of time and freeze it, then simply thaw and whisk the mixture up before cooking.
To heat orange chicken that has been frozen, just allow it to thaw and cook the same way you would after refrigeration.
For other easy dinner ideas, check out a few favorites from our archives below —
- One Pan Rosemary Baked Lemon Chicken Recipe
- Easy Turkey Chili Recipe (with directions on how to make it on the stovetop, Instant Pot or slow cooker)
- Hawaiian Huli Huli Chicken Kebabs Recipe
- Whole30 Avocado Chicken Wraps Recipe
- Roasted Garlic White Bean Alfredo Recipe
- Instant Pot Easy White Bean & Vegetable Soup Recipe
- Date Night Cacio E Pepe Pasta Recipe
Easy Orange Chicken Recipe
Easy Orange Chicken Recipe
- Wok or heavy skillet
- Small sauce pan
- Large mixing bowl
- 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground pepper
- neutral flavored oil like canola, vegetable, etc.
- 1 orange zest about 1 ½ tbsp.
- 2 cloves garlic freshly minced
- 1 tsp ginger grated
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 3/4 cup orange juice
- 1/2 tsp red chili flakes
- green onions sliced
- Cut the chicken into 1 ½-2” pieces. Then, soak the chicken in the eggs for at least 20 minutes, or up to 24 hours.
- Mix together the flour, cornstarch, and salt.
- Heat 1-2” of oil in the bottom of a heavy skillet.
- Toss the chicken pieces in the flour mixture so that all of the sides of each piece are coated.
- When the oil is very hot, carefully drop the pieces of chicken into the oil. You can test the oil's heat by shaking a bit of flour into it. If it sizzles instantly, it’s hot enough.
- Cook for two minutes, or until the breading is golden brown and crispy.
- Turn the pieces with metal tongs and cook on the other side for another two minutes.
- When the chicken is finished cooking, remove it from the pan and place it onto a tray lined with paper towels to catch any excess oil.
- Put a few tablespoons of orange juice in the bottom of a small saucepan and heat it medium heat.
- Cook the garlic, ginger, and orange zest until it becomes aromatic. Then, add the rest of the ingredients and cook until the sauce thickens, whisking constantly to prevent the cornstarch from clumping.
- Toss the chicken pieces in sauce and top with green onions. Serve immediately over rice.
Don’t forget to share your orange chicken dinner with us on Instagram using the hashtag #sugarandclothloves. We always love seeing all of your creations! And if you’re looking for more quick and delicious recipes you can find them all right here with a few desserts to go along with them!