- Is orange chicken Chinese?
- What’s the difference between orange chicken and General Tso’s?
- What is orange chicken sauce made of?
- How to Make Orange Chicken
- How to Make Baked Orange Chicken
- How to Freeze Orange Chicken
- How to Reheat Orange Chicken Leftovers
- Tips for Orange Chicken Recipe
- Better than takeout
- more chicken love
Orange Chicken | I recently realized that my blog is NINE years old! Nine years is crazy! It made me go poking around in my archives and I came across this gem. This orange chicken post has been up on the blog for eight years. I had almost forgotten all about this orange chicken recipe. At one time, it was one of my more popular recipes. So, I decided I needed to make it again and give the post a facelift.
When I look back at old posts, it’s like reading my diary from middle school. The posts are awkward and don’t even get me started on the photos. It’s embarrassing, but I thought it would be fun to share how much things have changed.
Reading: how to make breaded chicken stir fry
Dang! I had forgotten how good this recipe is! One evening, I decided to make it when suddenly hit with a craving for orange chicken. One phone call could have had those restaurant takeout cartons on my table in a jiffy. But I wondered to myself if I could make it better at home.
Turns out I was right! This recipe seriously delivered! Ha ha Chinese food… delivered… get it? I’m a dork. And it more than satisfied my craving for orange chicken.
Even though the post was awkward and the photos were kind of hideous, the recipe was still spot on. The sauce is sweet, tangy, there is no lack of orange flavor, and the red pepper flakes give it just a touch of heat. If you like your orange chicken extra spicy, you can always add more red pepper flakes.
Is orange chicken Chinese?
It’s a widely debated topic whether orange chicken is American or Chinese in origin. A chef from Panda Express claims to have created the dish, and it’s rarely served at restaurants in China.
But others point out that it’s merely a variation of General Tso’s chicken, and that both sticky, sweet recipes came from Chinese sweet and sour chicken.
What’s the difference between orange chicken and General Tso’s?
The chicken in both recipes is prepared the same way, first battered and then fried. The difference is in those delicious sauces. Both are sticky sauces that resemble a glaze and both are made with soy, rice vinegar, and a sweetener. But orange chicken is, of course, flavored with orange juice and zest, and General Tso’s is flavored with hoisin sauce.
What is orange chicken sauce made of?
Even though there are a lot of ingredients in the orange sauce, they come together quickly to create a sticky sauce that’s a little sweet, a little savory, a little spicy, and a LOT delicious! It’s made of:
- orange juice
- rice vinegar
- soy sauce
- sesame oil
- grated orange zest
- brown sugar
- ginger root
- green onion
- red pepper flakes
- cornstarch + water slurry
How to Make Orange Chicken
Read more: Chicken Stir Fry Recipe | Family Cuisine
First, make the orange sauce by combining the water, orange juice, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and sesame oil in a large saucepan. Let these come together over medium-high heat for a few minutes before adding the brown sugar, orange zest, garlic and ginger, and red pepper flakes. Stir the mixture until smooth and increase the temperature so it can boil and start to thicken.
To make the sauce velvety and delicious, make a slurry by stirring 3 tablespoons of cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of water in a separate bowl until they’re well-combined. Slowly add the slurry to the sauce until it reaches that glorious thickness that can coat the back of a spoon. Now let your sauce rest over low heat and get to work on the chicken.
In a large Dutch oven, heat vegetable oil until a thermometer reaches 355 degrees for optimal golden-brown crunchiness. As it heats up, get your dredging stations ready.
In one dish, you’ll combine cornstarch, salt, and pepper. In another, you’ll have whisked eggs, and the third one will be for panko bread crumbs. Dip the bite-sized chicken pieces first in the egg mixture, then the cornstarch, and then AGAIN in the eggs, and finally in the breadcrumbs.
Now it’s time to fry the chicken, working in batches so the oil temperature doesn’t lower too drastically. You’ll know they’re ready when they turn a lovely golden-brown color, about 4 minutes per batch. When one batch comes out, let it dry on a paper towel lined plate or baking sheet.
And there you have it! Toss that delicious warm sauce with the breaded chicken and garnish with sliced green onion. Serve with white rice or my better-than-takeout chicken fried rice.
How to Make Baked Orange Chicken
For a healthier alternative, you can forgo the deep fry technique and bake this chicken instead. After the breading process, simply preheat your oven to 375 °F and place the chicken on a foil-lined sheet pan fitted with a baking rack.
To avoid it drying out, spray the chicken generously with cooking spray and let it bake at 375 for 12 minutes. You can still achieve a super crispy texture by placing it under the broiler at the end for 2-4 minutes, watching carefully so the chicken doesn’t burn. Then flip the chicken and broil for about the same amount on the other side.
And voila! Crispy goodness that’s better for you. I need a large bowl of this pronto!
How to Freeze Orange Chicken
The good thing about this dish is that it freezes and reheats beautifully. So if you have leftovers—which I doubt you will, so let’s just say you’ve made extra—you can put them in the freezer and reheat the next time you get an orange chicken craving. Here’s how.
First, you cook the chicken according to the recipe directions. Once you’ve fried the chicken, set on a baking sheet to cool, but don’t add the sauce yet. They freeze best separately.
When it’s completely cool, transfer the baking sheet to the freezer for an hour or two until the pieces are frozen solid. Then you can store them in a freezer bag with the air squeezed out of it and they won’t stick together.
You can also freeze the sauce separately by following the instructions and pouring the cooled sauce into some ice cube trays.
When you’re ready to make the chicken, transfer the pieces to a sheet pan and bake at 400°F for 12-15 minutes. Meanwhile, pour the sauce cubes in a sauce pan and let them slowly heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t burn on the bottom.
Simply toss the heated chicken with the warm sauce and they’re ready to serve!
How to Reheat Orange Chicken Leftovers
From the refrigerator, leftovers can be reheated in the microwave for 3-4 minutes, but letting them gradually heat up on the stovetop achieves a much better result, in my opinion!
In a large, non-stick skillet, add 2 tablespoons of oil and heat on medium until the oil is simmering. Then add the leftover orange chicken and stir-fry until it’s heated through. To prevent it from drying out, you can add small amounts of water or freshly squeezed orange to the stir-fried chicken.
Tips for Orange Chicken Recipe
- This recipe has a long list of ingredients. To help everything go smoothly, gather and measure all of your ingredients ahead of time.
- Bread the chicken in small batches. Using one hand for wet and one hand for dry keeps things from getting too messy.
- This recipe calls for chicken breast, but chicken thighs can also be used.
- Before you start cooking, make sure you have everything ready, including a plate or sheet pan lined with paper towels.
- Don’t walk away from the chicken while it is deep frying. The moment you do is the moment it will probably burn.
- The oil’s temperature will immediately drop when you add the chicken. Give the oil time to come back to temperature between batches. If the oil is too cold, it will result in oily, soggy breading.
- I like to place the chicken in a fine mesh strainer after dredging in the cornstarch to help shake off any excess.
- For the sauce to thicken, it is important that it comes to a low boil. Once it starts to boil, it will quickly start to thicken.
My experience is that most orange chicken recipes have a pretty heavy coating on them, but I wanted something lighter and crispier. I thought I would dredge the chicken in cornstarch instead of flour to keep it light and also in Panko breadcrumbs to give it a little crunch.
It was the right call. The chicken came out lightly breaded and still held a bit of a crunch when tossed in the sauce. Delicious!
Better than takeout
Once you realize that meals you usually order in can taste amazing when you make them at home, don’t stop here. Appetizers are covered with these instant pot sticky gochujang chicken wings, bang bang shrimp, kimchi Korean pancakes, Asian pork skewers, and my pork belly buns. And you won’t believe how easy it is to achieve your favorite flavors at home with this Thai chicken salad or this slow cooker spicy pork ramen.
But this homemade orange chicken recipe beats all other orange chicken I’ve tried-and I’ve tried a lot. Chicken can sometimes get a bad rap for being boring, but I like to think of it more as versatile.
Chicken works well in any cuisine. If you’re in the mood for the Mediterranean, try this roasted paprika chicken with Israeli couscous and chickpea salad. Looking for a creamy Italian dish? Try my skillet mushroom chicken. And, if you’re looking for something from the Caribbean that is hearty and comforting, try my favorite fricase de pollo.
more chicken love
- pressure cooker honey sesame chicken
- thai chicken salad
- tandoori chicken naan flatbread
- light thai peanut noodles with chicken