One of my family's personal favorites is Chinese orange chicken. So I set out to make my own version from scratch, and the result was this delicious recipe that can be made in only 30 minutes!!!
I love a prepared frozen meal as much as the next mom, but what I love even more is when I can prepare and portion them myself. It is more cost effective, and I get control over the quality of ingredients that go into the dish. Plus, this way I can make little tweaks to make each recipe absolutely perfect for my family. This orange chicken recipe is delicious, easy, and can be eaten fresh or frozen!
Why You'll Love This Orange Chicken Recipe
- Crowd Pleaser – Who doesn’t love orange chicken? Whether you’re catering to kids or adults, your guests will love this sweet, tangy dish.
- Immune Booster – This dish is packed with vitamin c, antioxidants, and protein, so it’s a dinner you can feel good about serving!
Ingredients To Make the Best Orange Chicken
- Orange Juice – Of course we need orange juice to make our orange chicken sauce.
- Orange Zest – Orange zest is optional, but will give the dish an extra boost of citrus flavor.
• Apple Cider Vinegar – Vinegar will add a much needed tanginess to the sauce. You can use white vinegar instead, if desired. Apple cider vinegar contains more nutritional value, and has a more delicate flavor, so it would be my first choice.
- Soy Sauce – Soy sauce is an important component of our sauce, and provides the saltiness needed in the dish.
- Brown Sugar – We will add brown sugar to sweeten the dish. I like brown sugar for its darker flavor with notes of molasses. You can use maple syrup in a pinch. If you use maple syrup, you will only need ¼ cup.
- Garlic Powder – A little garlic is essential to the flavor profile.
- Grated Ginger – Ginger is anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and so delicious! You can’t make this dish without it. You could sub out dried ginger if needed, though I recommend going for the fresh kind if you can.
- Corn Starch – We will need corn starch to thicken our sauce, as well as to coat our chicken before cooking!
- Chicken Broth – High in vitamins and protein, chicken broth helps make up the sauce for our orange chicken.
- Green Onions – We will need ¼ cup of green onions to go into our orange chicken sauce, but I also recommend chopping up some extra for garnish at the end. The flavors of freshly chopped green onion complement this dish so well!
- Chicken Thighs – Your chicken should be served in bite-sized pieces, so opt for boneless, skinless chicken thighs, and cube them prior to cooking. Chicken breasts are an option but tend to be drier.
- Egg Whites – The chicken will get lightly dredged before cooking. The egg whites will help it get nice and crispy.
- Flour – Flour is for dredging the chicken. If you need a gluten free option, try using rice flour.
- Baking Soda – You will mix a little baking soda into the flour and cornstarch mixture. Baking soda helps to add a little extra crispiness to the batter.
- Cooking Oil – The oil is for frying your chicken. You can choose your favorite high-smoke oil. Vegetable, avocado, or canola are all great options.
Step by Step Instructions
First, let's make your orange sauce. You will start by heating your pot over medium-high heat. Then add in your orange juice and zest, vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, and grated ginger. Allow your mixture to heat for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, until your sugar has completely dissolved.
In a separate bowl, whisk your chicken broth and your cornstarch. You want to get them completely combined before moving forward, as cornstarch can be a little finicky when mixed with liquid and heat. This step is important for thickening your sauce to the desired consistency. Once you have mixed your broth and 1tbsp cornstarch, add the contents of your bowl to the pot of sauce on your stovetop. Mix in your green onions as well.
Stir and then bring pot to boil. Allow your sauce to boil for 60-90 seconds. Then, reduce the heat and allow your sauce to simmer for 2-3 minutes. Set the sauce aside to cool. Keep in mind that the sauce will continue to thicken as it sits.
Now, it is time to prepare your chicken. Place your egg whites in a large bowl and add your cubed chicken, making sure all pieces are evenly coated.
In a separate bowl, mix your flour, 1cup cornstarch, and baking soda. Dip each piece of chicken in the mixture until all pieces are coated.
Next, cook your chicken. Place your oil in a pan and heat on high. A deep fry is fine, but shallow fry works fine too. Once oil is hot enough, add your chicken in the pan and cook for 5-6 minutes, or until golden brown. Turn your chicken periodically to make sure that each side is cooked evenly.
As your chicken finishes cooking, remove it from the heat and set aside on a paper towel lined plate to absorb any excess oil. You can also use a cooling rack like below.
Once all of your chicken has cooked, add it into your pot of sauce and coat.
Serve chicken warm with rice. Garnish with sesame seeds, green onions, or red pepper flakes if desired.
- Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-5 days, or in the freezer for up to 4 months. Reheat in the air fryer, oven, or microwave.
- Since this recipe utilizes egg whites, don’t throw away your yolks! Freeze them and save for later, or use them to make a custard for dessert.
- To determine whether your oil is hot enough to begin cooking, flick a small drop of water into your pan. If it sizzles, you are ready to cook! If it floats and does not make a sound, give it another minute to heat.
This orange chicken sauce is a combination of orange juice and zest, soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, green onions and chicken broth. I've added some cornstarch to help thicken the sauce for the signature consistency.
Why is orange chicken bad for you?
Sometimes take out orange chicken gets a bad rap for its high sugar and sodium contents. In addition, it is a fried dish. By making it at home, we are able to control some of these factors. Choose low sodium soy sauce if you prefer. You can adjust your sweetener both in type and amount. Using healthier cooking oils are also an option; for example, avocado oil will be a healthier choice than vegetable. With these things in mind, this homemade orange chicken is definitely not an unhealthy dinner choice!
General Tso and orange chicken are pretty similar, both in technique and content, however they are different dishes. General Tso sauce is made of chili and hoisin, while orange chicken is made of orange and ginger.
Serve your orange chicken with rice, broccoli or other steamed veggies, and egg rolls or spring rolls. Another really delicious way to enjoy your orange chicken is to add your leftovers into a salad. Mix greens, crushed peanuts, mandarin segments, sunflower seeds, carrots and cucumbers and drizzle with a little vinaigrette for a healthy, energy-packed lunch!
Looking for more delicious chicken dishes? Try these:
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Orange Chicken Recipe
- ¾ cup Orange Juice
- 2 tsp Orange Zest optional
- ¼ cup Apple Cider Vinegar may sub white vinegar
- ¼ cup Soy Sauce
- ⅓ cup Brown Sugar
- ½ tsp Garlic Powder
- 2 tsp Fresh Grated Ginger may sub ½ tsp dried ground ginger
- 1 cup Corn Starch + 1 tbs separated
- ¾ cup Chicken Broth
- ¼ cup Green Onions sliced
- 2 lbs Chicken Thighs boneless & Skinless, small cubed
- 3 Egg Whites
- 2 tbs All Purpose Flour
- ½ tsp Baking Soda
- 1 ½ cup Cooking Oil may use vegetable, avocado, canola, etc.
- Optional Garnish- Green Onions Sesame Seeds, Red Pepper Flakes
- In a sauce pot, over medium-high heat, combine the orange juice, zest, vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic and ginger. Stir occasionally for 2 minutes or until brown sugar is dissolved.
- Whisk together the 1 tbs corn starch and chicken broth, then add to the sauce pot, along with the green onions. Bring to a boil for 60- 90 seconds then reduce heat and simmer for an additional 2-3 minutes. Set the sauce aside to cool. The sauce should be thickening but still runny, it will thicken as it cools.
- In a large bowl, cover the chicken with the egg whites, making sure they are evenly distributed.
- In a separate bowl mix the flour, 1 cup cornstarch and baking soda.
- Dip the egg coated chicken pieces into the cornstarch mixture, repeating until all the chicken is coated.
- After warming the oil in the pan, on high heat, cook the chicken for 5- 6 minutes depending on thickness of chunks, turning them occasionally to ensure even browning. Set aside to drain off the oil when done.
- While hot, toss the chicken in your orange sauce, garnish if desired and serve with rice.
May be frozen for up to 4 months and reheated by air fryer, oven or microwave.