This Chinese Orange Chicken features irresistibly crispy fried chicken smothered in a vibrant, tangy orange sauce. It’s a delightful dance of sweet and sour flavors that elevates your dining experience, making every bite a true pleasure.
Easy Orange Chicken
I’m so excited to share with you this delightful Chinese inspired Orange Chicken recipe. It’s a real treat with its perfectly crispy chicken and a gorgeously sweet and tangy orange sauce. Simple enough for a quick weeknight dinner, yet impressive for those special gatherings, this dish is a surefire way to bring smiles around your table.
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Chicken Breasts: You can substitute with chicken thighs for a juicier texture.
- Salt and Pepper: Season to taste.
- Cornstarch: To coat the chicken to give it that crispy texture. Arrowroot powder can be a good alternative.
- Eggs: Acts as a binder for the cornstarch coating on the chicken.
- Vegetable Oil: For frying, ensuring a crispy exterior. You can substitute with canola or peanut oil.
For Orange Sauce
- Orange Juice: Key ingredient for the sauce for that fresh, citrusy flavor. In a pinch, lemon juice mixed with a bit of sugar will also work.
- Sugar: To balance out the the acidity of the orange juice.
- White Vinegar: Adds a tangy flavor to the sauce. You can substitute with apple cider vinegar.
- Soy Sauce: Brings a savory umami flavor to the sauce. For a gluten-free option, use tamari.
- Orange Zest: To enhance the orange flavor in the sauce. You can sub with lemon zest.
- Garlic: Adds depth and aroma to the sauce. I prefer fresh garlic but if you don’t have any, you can use garlic powder.
- Ginger: Provides a warm, spicy note to the sauce. If you don’t have any, ground ginger will work.
- Cornstarch and Water Mixture: Thickens the sauce to the right consistency.
How To Make Orange Chicken
This Chinese inspired Orange Chicken is much simpler to make than you’d think, so let me show you how.
Prep The Chicken
First things first, grab your chicken and give it a good seasoning with some salt and pepper. Next, coat those chicken pieces first in cornstarch and then dip them into beaten eggs. This is going to give us that amazing crispy coating we’re after.
Fry The Chicken
Get your oil hot in a deep skillet or a wok – we’re looking for that perfect sizzle. Fry the chicken in batches; you don’t want to crowd them. We’re aiming for a golden-brown crunch. Once they’re looking gorgeous and crispy, let them rest on some paper towels.
Make The Sauce
Mix together orange juice, sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, orange zest, garlic, and ginger in a saucepan and bring it to a simmer. This combo is what brings that mouthwatering sweet and tangy taste. Once it’s bubbling, stir in your cornstarch and water mixture. Keep stirring until it thickens up into that sticky, delicious glaze.
Bring It All Together
Finally, toss your crispy chicken in that beautiful sauce you just made. Make sure every piece is well coated with that zesty, flavorful goodness. And there you have it, my friend – your Chinese Orange Chicken is ready to wow everyone!
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, you can prepare the chicken and sauce in advance. Just fry the chicken and let it cool completely before storing it in the fridge. The sauce can be refrigerated separately. When you’re ready to eat, reheat the chicken in the oven to keep it crispy, and warm the sauce on the stove before tossing them together.
The key to crispy chicken is ensuring your oil is hot enough before frying – around 350°F (175°C). Also, don’t overcrowd the pan as this can lower the oil’s temperature. Frying in batches is the way to go. And remember, coating the chicken well with cornstarch and egg is crucial for that perfect crunch.
Easily! If you prefer a sweeter sauce, add a bit more sugar. For less sweetness, reduce the sugar amount. To adjust the spiciness, play with the amount of ginger or add a pinch of red pepper flakes if you like it hotter.
Yes, for a healthier version, you can bake the chicken instead of frying. Coat the chicken as instructed and bake it at 400°F (200°C) until it’s crispy and cooked through. The sauce remains the same, and you can toss the baked chicken in it before serving.
- Perfect Frying Temperature: Use a thermometer to ensure your oil is at the ideal temperature of 350°F (175°C). This ensures the chicken fries evenly and gets that perfect golden color without absorbing too much oil.
- Avoid Soggy Chicken: To keep the chicken crispy, fry it until it’s just done and don’t let it sit in the sauce for too long. Toss it in the sauce right before serving to maintain that delightful crunch.
- Fresh Orange Zest: Don’t skip the orange zest in the sauce; it adds a fresh and vibrant flavor. The zest contains oils that give a more intense citrus taste compared to just juice.
- Sauce Consistency: If your sauce isn’t thickening as much as you’d like, you can add a little more cornstarch-water mixture. Remember to mix it in slowly and keep stirring to avoid lumps.
- Balanced Flavor: Taste your sauce as you cook and adjust the seasonings to your preference. Adding a bit more sugar can mellow out too much acidity, and a dash more soy sauce can enhance the umami flavor.
Once cooked, let the chicken and sauce cool down completely. Then, you can store them separately in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. This way, you can reheat the chicken in the oven to maintain its crispiness, and warm the sauce on the stove before combining them again.
To freeze, place the cooled chicken in a freezer-safe container or bag, and it’ll be good for up to 2 months. I recommend freezing the sauce separately to preserve its texture and flavor. When you’re ready to enjoy it again, thaw it overnight in the refrigerator and then reheat, following the same steps as you would for refrigerated leftovers.
Discover More Delicious Asian Recipes
- General Tso’s Chicken
- Instant Pot Orange Chicken
- Asian Style Slaw
- Garlic Soy Chicken
- Thai Drunken Noodles
- Char Siu Pork (Chinese BBQ Pork)
Craving More? Follow Along:
- 1 pound chicken breasts boneless and skinless, cut into 1-inch pieces
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup cornstarch
- 2 large eggs beaten
- vegetable oil for frying
For The Orange Sauce
- 1 cup orange juice
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce low sodium
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon ginger minced
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water
- Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Dip in cornstarch, then into the beaten eggs.
- Heat oil in a deep skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Fry the chicken in batches until golden brown and cooked through. Drain on paper towels.
- In a saucepan, combine orange juice, sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, orange zest, garlic, and ginger. Bring to a simmer. Add the cornstarch and water mixture, stirring continuously until the sauce thickens.
- Toss the fried chicken in the sauce until evenly coated.
- Serve hot over rice, garnished with additional orange zest or green onions if desired.
Tips & Notes:
- Chicken Preparation: For extra tenderness, you can marinate the chicken in a mixture of soy sauce and a touch of sesame oil before coating it in cornstarch and egg.
- Sauce Thickness: If you prefer a thicker sauce, gradually add more cornstarch mixed with water until you reach the desired consistency.
- Spice Level Adjustment: Feel free to add a pinch of red pepper flakes to the sauce if you like a bit of heat.
- Serving Suggestion: This dish pairs beautifully with steamed rice or noodles and a side of steamed vegetables for a complete meal.
- Leftovers: Store leftover chicken and sauce separately to keep the chicken crispy. Reheat in the oven or on the stove for best results.