This Orange Chicken has crispy chunks of tender chicken covered in a tangy orange sauce. It makes a delicious weeknight dinner that’s budget friendly and kid approved. So skip the takeout from Panda Express and try this orange chicken recipe!

This Orange Chicken has sticky and crispy fried chicken thighs coated in a citrus, sweet and savory orange chicken sauce. The chicken is marinated and then fried to golden perfection. This easy Chinese dish tastes just like Panda Express but is so much better!

Orange Chicken has sticky and crispy fried chicken thighs coated in a citrus, sweet and savory orange chicken sauce. The chicken is marinated and then fried to golden perfection. This easy Chinese dish tastes just like Panda Express but is so much better!

Panda Express orange chicken copycat

This orange chicken recipe uses simple ingredients like orange juice, soy sauce, rice vinegar, brown sugar, garlic, and chicken thighs. It tastes sweet and savory with tender and crispy chicken like General Tso’s Chicken and Sesame Chicken, but has a special citrus orange flavor.  A popular Chinese dinner that’s ready in 30 minutes. So skip the takeout and try this easy homemade orange chicken!

It can be tricky to get the perfect crispy texture for the chicken, but a few simple tips will ensure the most tender chicken with a crispy coating.

To save time, I combine battering and marinating into one step. Simply marinate the meat in a seasoned flour and egg mixture before frying the chicken in hot oil.  Then toss it in a delicious orange sauce and served on steamed rice, it’s definitely one of the best Asian dishes!

Chinese orange chicken sprinkle with sesame seeds and served on steamed rice in a black bowl.

What is orange chicken made out of?

I typically use boneless, skinless chicken thighs for this recipe as they’re moister and more flavorful. It’s important to cut your chicken into 1-inch cubes for quick cooking with a crispy coating. Chicken breasts also work but make sure to avoid overcooking as they dry out easily.

The marinade/batter only takes a few minutes to put together. Just combine flour, cornstarch, egg, oil, salt, and pepper. Add the chicken cubes to the mixture and marinate for 30-60 minutes in the fridge. (If you’re in a rush, marinate the chicken for 10 minutes while you prepare the sauce.)

The battered chicken is then fried in hot oil. Then toss them in the delicious orange sauce for the most amazing orange chicken!

Orange chicken sauce

The sauce is highly addictive! It’s sweet, savory and tangy. So simple with a few ingredients you already have in your pantry.

  • Orange (orange juice + orange zest): Fresh squeezed orange juice will always give the best flavor, but any decent quality orange juice will do.
  • Soy Sauce
  • Rice Vinegar (or White Vinegar)
  • Brown Sugar
  • Minced Garlic
  • Cornstarch
  • Water
  • Oil

Heat oil in a pan and add in the mixture, stir to combine. Mix the cornstarch and water in a bowl before adding to the pan to thicken the sauce. Stir until mixture is smooth and thick, about a few minutes. The sauce will turn into a glossy glaze.  Just like Panda Express! You can add red chili flakes if you prefer a slightly spicy flavor.

Note: It’s important to let the sauce come to a low boil. It will start to thicken quickly once it begins to boil.

Close-up of chopsticks holding a piece of orange chicken.

How to make orange chicken crispy

The oil should be 350˚F (177˚C) to start.  Add the battered chicken cubes in batches and deep fry them for 3-5 minutes until they turn golden brown.

After you add the chicken, the oil temperature will drop. Make sure to keep it above 300˚F (149˚C) during frying. It’s best to use a thermometer to monitor the temperature. If the oil is too cool, the chicken will absorb more oil and become very greasy. If the oil is too hot, the chicken can get overly browned before the inside is cooked thoroughly.

Fry the chicken in batches if needed to avoid crowding the pot/deep fryer. Remove and drain oil. Place them on a paper towel lined plate to soak up the excess oil. Cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.

Healthier variations:

Baked Orange Chicken: after marinating the chicken cubes, place them on a baking sheet and bake in a 400˚F (204˚C) oven for 20-25 minutes.

Stir-fried Orange Chicken: skip the battering and frying steps and simply stir-fry chicken cubes with 1 tablespoon of oil. Then proceed with the sauce as directed.

How to serve orange chicken

You can garnish your orange chicken with sesame seeds and sliced green onions. You can also sprinkle some red pepper flakes if you want it to be slightly spicy. I usually serve it with steamed rice and broccoli and my family absolutely loves this dish!

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4.45 from 38 votes

Orange Chicken Recipe

Orange Chicken is sticky and crispy chicken thighs coated in a citrus, sweet and savory orange chicken sauce. It’s ready in 30 minutes and you’ll never be tempted to order takeout again! To save time, you can marinate the chicken cubes in the batter, and then fry them to golden perfection. This easy Chinese dish tastes like the one from Panda Express restaurant but healthier!
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 15 mins
Total Time: 30 mins
Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients

Crispy Chicken

  • 2 large chicken thighs, boneless and skinless
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoons oil
  • 1 ¼ cups water
  • 3-4 cups vegetable oil , for frying depending on the size of your pan

Orange Sauce

  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • ¼ cups rice vinegar, or white vinegar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Instructions

Crispy Fried Chicken

  • Cut chicken into 1-inch cubes.
  • In a medium-large bowl, mix together cornstarch, flour, and salt & pepper.
  • Add the egg, oil, and water. Whisk until smooth.
  • Add the chicken cubes to the mixture and marinate for 30-60 minutes in the fridge. (If you are in a rush, you can marinate the chicken for 10 minutes while you prepare the sauce.)
  • In a medium-large saucepan or deep fryer, add 2 inches (5cm) of oil and heat to 350˚F (177˚C).
  • Add the marinated chicken cubes in batches and deep fry them for 3-5 minutes until golden brown.
  • Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and cover with foil to keep warm.

Orange Chicken Sauce

  • In a small bowl, mix together orange juice, soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, garlic, and orange zest.
  • Heat a skillet or wok over medium-high heat and add oil.
  • Add in the sauce mixture and stir to combine.
  • Mix the cornstarch and water in a separate bowl, and then add the mixture (slurry) to the pan to thicken the sauce. Stir until mixture is smooth and thick, about 3-4 minutes.
  • Add back the fried chicken and toss to coat completely.
  • Garnish with sesame seeds and green onions. Serve and enjoy!

Notes

  • Chicken thighs will give you tender and moister meat with more flavor. Make sure to cut them into 1-inch cubes for the best results.
  • Don’t over-crowd the pan when frying your chicken. Cook in batches if needed. Be sure that your oil is hot enough (350 F degrees) before you add the chicken so that you can get the crispy texture. The oil temperature will drop immediately when you add the chicken. Bring the temperature back during frying.
  • Taste-test your orange chicken sauce before you add cornstarch and water mixture. Adjust the sugar, soy sauce and vinegar amount according to your personal taste.
Nutrition Facts
Orange Chicken Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 595 Calories from Fat 225
% Daily Value*
Fat 25g38%
Saturated Fat 2g10%
Cholesterol 40mg13%
Sodium 879mg37%
Potassium 147mg4%
Carbohydrates 84g28%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 28g31%
Protein 6g12%
Vitamin A 90IU2%
Vitamin C 8.9mg11%
Calcium 39mg4%
Iron 2.8mg16%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Please read our nutrition disclaimer.

Author: TipBuzz
Course: dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: Asian, Chinese
Keyword: orange chicken, orange chicken recipe
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