22 Quick and Easy Recipes in 30 Minutes (or less) + 5 Chef Secrets To Make You A Better Cook!

Orange Chicken

Tested & Perfected Recipes

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure policy.

Crispy, golden chicken drenched in a sweet and tangy sauce—orange chicken is a Chinese American classic that’s surprisingly simple to master at home.

orange chicken in bowl with rice and chopsticks

Orange chicken, a staple from Chinese American restaurants—and a favorite of my kids, especially the version from the fast-food chain Panda Express—features crispy, golden chicken drenched in a sweet and tangy sauce. Despite “orange” leading its name, the citrus flavor in the dish is subtle. The sauce is made from soy sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, and just a hint of orange juice, along with ginger, scallions, and garlic for added depth. Feel free to add a bit of orange zest to boost the orange flavor, but remember, a little goes a long way; too much can overpower the dish.

This recipe, similar to General Tso’s chicken in its preparation, might seem daunting, but it’s surprisingly doable at home. Give it a try—I promise, you’ll not only wow your family but also impress yourself with how delicious it is.

“3 teenage boys and two batches later not one piece was left! I paired the orange chicken with your fried rice recipe. It was the perfect combo.”

Karly

What You’ll Need To Make Orange Chicken

orange chicken ingredients
  • Egg: Added to marinade to act as a binder for the chicken coating.
  • soy sauce: Used to flavor the marinade and the sauce.
  • Light brown sugar: Adds sweetness to the marinade and sauce.
  • Boneless, skinless chicken thighs, tenderloins, or breasts: The main protein of the dish, cut into 1-inch pieces. I have made this dish with all three options and recommend thighs for the best flavor. If you prefer white meat, tenderloins are the next best option.
  • Distilled white vinegar: Provides acidity to the sauce.
  • Orange juice: Adds a subtle citrus flavor to the sauce.
  • Chicken broth: Adds savory depth to the sauce.
  • Cornstarch: Thickens the sauce and helps creates a crispy coating for the chicken.
  • Asian sesame oil: Adds a rich, nutty flavor to the sauce.
  • Crushed red pepper flakes: Adds heat to the sauce.
  • All-purpose flour and baking soda: Help form the crispy coating for the chicken.
  • Vegetable oil: Used for shallow-frying the chicken.
  • Ginger, garlic, and scallions: These aromatics form the flavor base of the dish.
  • Jump to the printable recipe for precise measurements

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1: Marinate the Chicken

In a large bowl, beat the egg, soy sauce and sugar.

beating the egg, soy sauce and sugar in large bowl.

Add the chicken to the bowl and toss until evenly coated. Let marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.

chicken added to the egg, soy sauce and sugar in the bowl.

Step 2: Make the sauce

In a small bowl, mix the soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, orange juice, chicken broth, cornstarch, sesame oil, and crushed red pepper flakes. Set aside.

sauce for orange chicken

Step 3: Coat The Chicken

In a medium bowl, whisk the cornstarch, flour, and baking soda.

cornstarch, flour, and baking soda mixed together in bowl.

Sprinkle over the chicken/marinade mixture and toss until each piece of meat separates and has a dry, clumpy coating.

coating marinated chicken with cornstarch and flour mixture in bowl.

Step 4: Shallow-Fry the Chicken

In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, heat about ¼ inch of oil to 350°F. Working in three batches so as not to crowd the pan, shallow-fry a third of the coated chicken until golden brown and crispy, 4 to 5 minutes, turning once midway through cooking and adjusting the heat as needed.

shallow frying the chicken in a skillet

Transfer the chicken to a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat with the remaining chicken.

draining golden chicken pieces on paper towel-lined plate

Step 5: Finish the dish

Carefully drain the oil from the pan and wipe clean with a paper towel. Add about 1 tablespoon of oil. Over medium heat, add the ginger, garlic, and scallion whites. Cook, stirring constantly, for about 30 seconds until fragrant; do not brown.

ginger, garlic, and light green scallions in skillet.

Add the sauce.

sauce added to aromatics in skillet.

Bring it to a boil, and let it cook until thickened and glossy, 2 to 3 minutes.

thickened orange chicken sauce in skillet.

Add the crispy chicken, tossing until the sauce fully coats it, 1 to 2 minutes. Sprinkle with the dark green scallions.

cooked orange chicken with scallion garnish in skillet

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make orange chicken ahead of time and reheat it?

No, I don’t recommend making orange chicken ahead of time, as the chicken will lose its crispiness. For the best texture and flavor, serve orange chicken right after cooking.

Can I use bottled orange juice for orange chicken?

While I recommend fresh orange juice for its flavor and natural sweetness, you can use bottled orange juice since the recipe requires such a small amount. For the best results, choose a high-quality brand without added sugars or flavors to maintain a taste that’s as close as possible to fresh orange juice.

What is the best way to give orange chicken a stronger orange flavor?

This orange chicken recipe balances sweet, savory, and tangy flavors with a subtle citrus note, similar to the way the dish is prepared in most Chinese restaurants. If you prefer a stronger orange flavor, you can add orange zest to the sauce (be sure to zest your orange before juicing it). However, I strongly advise adding it gradually at the end, starting with just a pinch, so that it doesn’t overpower the dish—a little orange zest goes a very long way.

How can I make orange chicken gluten-free?

To make orange chicken gluten-free, you can replace the all-purpose flour with a 1:1 gluten-free all-purpose flour blend. Additionally, ensure that all other ingredients, such as soy sauce and chicken broth, are gluten-free versions.

orange chicken in bowl with rice and chopsticks

You May Also Like

Orange Chicken

Crispy, golden chicken drenched in a sweet and tangy sauce—orange chicken is a Chinese American classic that’s surprisingly simple to master at home.

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 40 Minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour

Ingredients

For the Marinade

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon light brown sugar
  • 1½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or chicken breasts or tenderloins), cut into 1-inch pieces

For the Sauce

  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup distilled white vinegar
  • ¼ cup orange juice, from 1 orange
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1½ teaspoons Asian sesame oil
  • ¾ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

For Coating the Chicken

  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
  • Heaping ¼ teaspoon baking soda

For Cooking and Serving

  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger, from a 2-inch knob
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts separated
  • Rice, for serving

Instructions

  1. Marinate the chicken: In a large bowl, beat the egg, soy sauce and sugar. Add the chicken to the bowl and toss until evenly coated. Let marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  2. Make the sauce: In a small bowl, mix the soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, orange juice, broth, cornstarch, sesame oil, and pepper flakes together. Set aside.
  3. Coat the chicken: In a medium bowl, whisk the cornstarch, flour, and baking soda. Sprinkle over the chicken/marinade mixture and toss until each piece of meat separates and has a dry, clumpy coating.
  4. Fry the chicken: Line a plate with a few layers of paper towels and set next to the stove. In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, heat about ¼ inch of oil to 350°F. You'll know it's ready when you drop a piece of chicken in, and it sizzles vigorously. Working in three batches so as not to crowd the pan, shallow-fry a third of the coated chicken until golden brown and crispy, 4 to 5 minutes, turning once midway through cooking and adjusting the heat as needed. Transfer the chicken to the paper towel-lined plate. Repeat with the remaining chicken.
  5. Finish the dish: Carefully drain the oil from the pan and wipe clean with a paper towel. Add about 1 tablespoon of oil. Over medium heat, add the ginger, garlic, and scallion whites. Cook, stirring constantly, for about 30 seconds until fragrant; do not brown. Add the sauce, bring it to a boil, and let it cook until thickened and glossy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the crispy chicken, tossing until the sauce fully coats it, 1 to 2 minutes. Sprinkle with the dark green scallions and serve over rice.
  6. Note: Nutritional information was calculated using chicken thighs and assuming approximately 2 tablespoons of the oil is absorbed into the chicken when frying. Rice is not included.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (4 servings)
  • Calories: 597
  • Fat: 18 g
  • Saturated fat: 3 g
  • Carbohydrates: 66 g
  • Sugar: 21 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Protein: 40 g
  • Sodium: 1450 mg
  • Cholesterol: 208 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

See more recipes:

Comments

  • My 6 year old loves Panda Express and always wants Chow Mein noodles and Orange Chicken. I made both tonight and both were loved, but this Orange Chicken was the star. She even asked for seconds and cleaned her plate.

    • — Erika on April 14, 2024
    • Reply
  • This is SOOO amazing! Will go in rotation for sure. I would add the teaspoon of orange zest as she suggests as per our tastes. Sprinkled with sesame seeds and scallions. Kept chicken on ‘hold warm’ in oven between batches. Used peanut oil for frying. Used tenderloins. Yes, takes a bit longer than time stated. This is definitely a time to practice ‘mise en place’. Served over Basmati. 10 stars!!

    • — Deanna on April 12, 2024
    • Reply
  • Made it tonight – delicious. A bit time-consuming Next time I’ll start earlier and use real orange. I used orange juice. Look forward to making it again

    • — Ginnie on April 10, 2024
    • Reply
  • Excellent recipe Jen. Restaurant quality. Made no modifications and it came out perfect. Thank you for sharing your cooking talent with me!!!

    • — Mare on March 30, 2024
    • Reply
  • Can this be made a day ahead?

    • — Eileen Warriner on March 19, 2024
    • Reply
    • I don’t recommend it – sorry!

      • — Jenn on March 19, 2024
      • Reply
  • Absolutely delicious! I’ve never tried a recipe like this before and it came out beautifully. Unfortunately, I can’t post a picture. I made cauliflower fried rice instead of regular rice. The only issue I have is that I have no one to share it with. I guess that just means more for me. I have plenty of leftovers which I in no way object to! I’m going to try the char shui chicken recipe. I have a feeling I will really love it. Hey Jenn what about a recipe for five spice Chinese ribs made in the oven?

    • — Sherry on March 13, 2024
    • Reply
    • So glad you enjoyed it (and now get to enjoy the leftovers)! While I don’t have a rib recipe quite like you’ve described, these ribs have an Asian bent if you want to check them out.

      • — Jenn on March 13, 2024
      • Reply
  • This was fantastic. My husband loved it. I halved the recipe (but not the sauce) and was glad for that. There are a few prep steps, none hard, so best to do as much ahead of time as possible. I don’t if it’s me, but I have a really hard time cutting up chicken thighs! Is there a trick I’m not aware of, lol? I think I try too hard to get all the fat out from the crevices. Drives me nuts. So even using less chicken, it took me a good 20 minutes or more to cut up the thighs. Next time I think I will try chicken tenders. And also add orange zest! I wanted more orange flavor. But overall, another dish that makes me look like a chef to my husband! Thanks, Jenn.

    • — Julia on March 9, 2024
    • Reply
    • Hi Julie, I often use kitchen shears to cut chicken thighs. Glad you enjoyed!

      • — Jenn on March 9, 2024
      • Reply
  • The recipe is spot on – it’s just like the orange chicken from Panda Express! My husband kept saying how good it was. It is labor intensive, and did result in a late dinner since we attempted this on a weeknight, but we would make it again when we have more time to prep.

    • — Val on March 8, 2024
    • Reply
  • I made this for to clear out my freezer from a few chicken thighs. The nice thing about this recipe is that it can be made in steps which you set aside and when meal prep time comes, just put together. I always cut recipes in half because we are a family of two. Works for the chicken portion and marinade. DO NOT HALF THE SAUCE. Is there more sauce my husband asks. A, no. Next time there will be. Just delicious people. Chicken is crispy, the sauce sticky and coats the chicken but doesn’t soften the crunch. Perfect.

    • — Judith Schell on March 8, 2024
    • Reply
  • Jen, Thank you so much! This is the first time I’ve commented and I’ve made several of your recipes (all of which we’ve enjoyed). This is a fantastic dish. My family thinks I’m a great cook and it’s really just following your recipes exactly! 🙂

    • — Sarah on March 7, 2024
    • Reply
  • This was a great recipe. Thanks so much for sharing-

    • — suzy on March 6, 2024
    • Reply
  • Great little dish! Very easy to make! I added a little broccoli and red peppers to the sauce and it came out perfect. Plenty of sauce. Over rice.

    • — David on March 3, 2024
    • Reply
  • I’m frying the chicken now. If I go no further than this step, which may happen, the fried chicken is delicious!! Family keeps coming by to “just taste one” and my pile is getting smaller. That’s OK. We’ll just drink the sauce.

    • — Joanna on March 2, 2024
    • Reply
  • I just visited my grandkids, and my granddaughter begged me to make this as Orange Chicken is her fave. It was a huge hit! I rarely fry, as I find it daunting, but this alleviated my fears. They made me leave the recipe with them so they could make it regularly. I sure wish I could add a photo, as not only was it delicious, it was such a beautiful presentation!

    • — Michele on March 2, 2024
    • Reply
  • Awesome recipe. Light, crispy chicken in a luscious sauce. Delicious!

    • — Dianna on March 1, 2024
    • Reply
  • Prepared orange chicken 2 nights ago and eating leftovers for lunch. I doubled the recipe and put it atop orzo pasta.
    Excellent flavors but you need to read and study the recipe before attempting.

    • — Tracy on February 29, 2024
    • Reply
  • The Orange chicken is now Another favorite! I served it with steamed broccoli & Jasmine rice( next time Cilantro rice) The sauce is extraordinary! Thank you, Jenn. I have your cookbooks & enjoy all your prep advice for the recipes. You have made me a better cook AND baker!
    Elena

    • — Elena Schwartz on February 29, 2024
    • Reply
  • This was delicious and I’ll certainly be making it again! The only thing I did differently from the recipe was to use Just Bare Lightly Breaded Chicken Bites from Costco, which I always have in my freezer. Of course, I didn’t get to experience what was probably a delicious marinade, but it did save me time, as I was also making Jen’s delicious Pad Thai at the same time for a family Asian take-out night!

    • — Barbara on February 29, 2024
    • Reply
  • A multistep recipe well worth the effort. We combined with the cilantro lime rice for a delicious dinner. Thank you for the easy to follow recipes!

    • — Kristina on February 29, 2024
    • Reply
  • Absolutely a winner. My family Loved it. The chicken was so tender and the sauce was delicious. The recipe was easy to follow. Truly an excellent dish.

    • — GT on February 28, 2024
    • Reply
  • This was so good! Kinda ruined me for Chinese takeout. I did add a tiny bit of orange zest, and some Ponzu. Everyone loved it.

    • — Natalie on February 28, 2024
    • Reply
  • I made this last night and this is officially one of my favorite Once Upon a Chef recipes! And that’s saying something. Much better than takeout!

    • — Alice on February 27, 2024
    • Reply
  • I made your orange chicken last night and it was such a hit. I cook a lot and my boys said it was definitely one of their favorite things i have ever made!! Thank you for all your great recipes!!

    • — Mira on February 27, 2024
    • Reply
  • Made this tonight and it was phenomenal!!! It tasted even better than the one we get from our favorite Chinese restaurant. So so delicious!!! My husband couldn’t stop raving about it. Thank you!!

    • — Nancy A on February 27, 2024
    • Reply
  • Thank you for this recipe. It is easy, flavorful and filling. I added steamed French green beans to the bowl with rice and chicken. The sauce makes it all come together. My husband loved the meal, said it was better than Panda Express.

    • — Terry on February 26, 2024
    • Reply
  • A huge hit! So delicious and flavourful, the kids loved it too. I used boneless chicken breast, and marinated a bit longer but the whole dish worked out perfectly.

    • — Amazing Orange Chicken on February 26, 2024
    • Reply
  • Hands down the best Orange Chicken both myself and husband have ever had. The breading is so light it’s the right amount of crispy without all the breading. Make a double batch to ensure you have leftovers.

    • — Linda M on February 26, 2024
    • Reply
  • I love that this recipe shallow fries the chicken instead of deep frying. I have been looking for a recipe for orange chicken without deep frying for a long time & especially since restaurant prices have increased due to the higher cost of food. Delicious recipe! Thsnks!

    • — Wendy Gallo on February 26, 2024
    • Reply
    • I made this tonight and, other than reducing the sesame oil, followed the recipe precisely. It turned out great with one exception—we couldn’t taste the orange at all. I might make it again but I think I’d replace the chicken broth with orange juice. I’ve always had great luck with Jenn’s recipes so this leaves me a little confused 🙁

      • — Deb on February 26, 2024
      • Reply
      • Hi Deb, The orange flavor is intentionally very subtle (that’s how it is in most restaurants). If you’d like a stronger orange flavor, the best way is to add a bit of orange zest at the very end. I’d start with just a 1/4 teaspoon and add more to taste — a little goes a long way and too much orange flavor will quickly overpower the dish. In testing the recipe, I found that adding more orange flavor tended to overwhelm the other ingredients, and my family definitely preferred it more subtle.

        • — Jenn on February 27, 2024
        • Reply
        • Great recipe, added orange zest and doubled the sauce.
          Will be on the rotation.

          • — Brenda on February 29, 2024
          • Reply
      • Delish! My family loved it. We licked the plate clean!

        • — Jenni Masters on March 23, 2024
        • Reply
  • This was amazing! Tastes just like Chinese takeout but SO much better.

    • — Julie on February 25, 2024
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn, Just tried the orange chicken absolutely fabulous five star you did it again. Thanks, Greg

    • — Greg an Sherry Heiden on February 25, 2024
    • Reply
  • 3 teenage boys and two batches later not one piece was left! I paired the orange chicken with your fried rice recipe. It was the perfect combo. Thank you for sharing another delicious recipe.

    • — Karly Anderson on February 25, 2024
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn, could I fry this in a wok instead of a shallow pan?

    • — Sally on February 25, 2024
    • Reply
    • Yes definitely 🙂

      • — Jenn on February 25, 2024
      • Reply
  • Hi, I am assuming nutritional info does not include rice? Thanks!

    • — Dani on February 25, 2024
    • Reply
    • Correct!

      • — Jenn on February 25, 2024
      • Reply
  • Looks amazing! If I wanted to make it GF, could I use rice flour or do you think a 1:1 flour would be better? Thanks 😊

    • — Christine on February 25, 2024
    • Reply
    • Hi Christine, I’d go with a 1:1 GF flour.

      • — Jenn on February 25, 2024
      • Reply
      • Thanks! Made for dinner tonight and it was delicious 😋

        • — Christine on February 26, 2024
        • Reply
  • Do you think it would work to cook the chicken in the air fryer, keeping everything else the same?
    Thank you.

    • — Bea on February 25, 2024
    • Reply
    • Hi Bea, Unfortunately I don’t think you can cook the chicken in the air fryer – it really needs to be shallow fried to get the texture. Sorry!

      • — Jenn on February 25, 2024
      • Reply
    • I think you could use the air fryer but you would need to spray the chicken pieces well. I make buttermilk chicken tenders and breaded chicken breasts , and crispy tofu in the air fryer and they come out great.

      • — Cheryl on February 25, 2024
      • Reply
  • Looks great! For this and some of your other American Chinese restaurant inspired recipes- can I substitute pork without making any big adjustments? So I don’t have to go to the grocery store today ….. 🙂

    • — Danielle on February 25, 2024
    • Reply
    • Yep!

      • — Jenn on February 25, 2024
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,

    Your recipe looks so good! I plan on trying this recipe this week. If you serve this for your family with rice, what vegetables would you make with it? Or would there be any good veggies to add to this recipe?

    • — Ellen on February 25, 2024
    • Reply
    • Hi Ellen, I would keep it simple with steamed broccoli. You’ll have plenty of sauce, so you can either add the cooked veggies to the skillet after stirring in the chicken or serve separately. Please LMK how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on February 25, 2024
      • Reply
      • This was sooooo good! My husband and I have been trying for some time now to reach this texture of sauce and this flavour. This is the first receipe that really did it for us, thank you so much!
        We just love your receipes❤️

        • — Yaara on April 8, 2024
        • Reply
    • Hi Jenn,
      Love your blog and regularly use your recipes. Wondering if you could eliminate the flour in the chicken coating and just use more cornstarch to make the recipe gluten free?

      • — Kelly on February 25, 2024
      • Reply
      • Hi Kelly, I would replace the flour with a 1:1 gluten-free flour blend.

        • — Jenn on February 25, 2024
        • Reply

Add a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.