This is THE perfect homemade orange chicken recipe…so much better than takeout! You’ll love the delicious fried chicken bites paired with a fresh orange sauce that has just a tinge of heat.
Why you’ll love it: Homemade orange chicken is super flavorful and much better than take-out. Baked or fried, it’s a win!
How long it takes: 40 minutes
Equipment you’ll need: large skillet, tongs, paper towels, bowls
Generously breaded bites of chicken in a tangy, sweet and spicy orange sauce … does that sound like your favorite take out? Yes, it’s orange chicken!
Orange chicken is so popular on Chinese American restaurant menus and you can hardly miss the reason why. Tender juicy chicken, crisp on the outside, juicy on the inside, generously bathed in a bright and delicious sauce. Who wouldn’t love it?
And (drumroll, please) you can make your own! You knew I was going to say that, didn’t you?
You’ll have the satisfaction of knowing your orange chicken was made to your standards, with high quality healthy ingredients and just the way you like it best. It’s so delicious, I’m sure you’re going to love it!
P.S. If you love orange chicken, be sure to try orange glazed salmon, too!
About this Recipe
Making orange chicken isn’t difficult but it does take a bit of time. Many good things take a little effort, right? However, if you’re looking for something quicker, check out our list of 30 minute dinner recipes or try this easy bourbon chicken, Instant Pot honey sriracha chicken, or crockpot teriyaki chicken.
I’ll run you through the recipe here, tell you what you’ll need to make it, and give you lots of extra tips. If you’re feeling pretty confident, skip right on down to the recipe card!
You’ll find the printable recipe card with full instructions, measurements, and nutrition information at the end of the post.
What you’ll need
- Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts: The chicken is cut into bite-size pieces. Use boneless skinless chicken thighs if you prefer dark meat.
- Breading: You’ll utilize a two step breading process with beaten eggs and seasoned flour/cornstarch mixture. Cornstarch helps make the chicken crispy.
- Orange Juice: Freshly squeezed juice is the best but refrigerated juice will work, too.
- Cornstarch: The sauce is thickened with a bit of cornstarch.
- White Vinegar, White Granulated Sugar, and Honey: This combo provides the tangy/sweet contrast which is essential to a good orange sauce.
- Soy Sauce: Use a low sodium soy sauce if you can. Soy sauce gives umami to the sauce.
- Ginger, Garlic, Red Pepper Flakes: Lots of flavor here! Like it zesty? Add as much garlic and red pepper flakes as you like.
How to make it
It’s so helpful to have everything prepped and ready to go before you get started. Get the rice steaming. Have you tried making rice in your Instant Pot? It’s super easy! Plan your sides. Are you going to serve a vegetable? Get it started or prepped. Read through the recipe and set out what you’ll need. Are you ready? Here we go…
Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces and get the sauce stirred up.
You’ll also mix a little of the orange juice with cornstarch. You’ll be using that to thicken the sauce later. Now we’re cookin’!
Okay, the chicken needs to be breaded but first you’re going to want to get the oil heating. Find a large heavy sauté pan and turn the heat to medium high. The oil should be around 350°F. Some folks prefer to use a Dutch oven to keep the spatters down.
Next, beat a couple of eggs with a fork in a shallow bowl. Line a plate with paper towels and set that next to the eggs. Combine the flour and cornstarch, and season with salt and pepper.
Okay, now put the chicken into the eggs and using a slotted spoon, remove it, and put the pieces on the plate you prepared (I bet you were wondering about that plate!). You want to get rid of the excess egg on the chicken.
Next, dredge the chicken in the flour mixture. It’s ready for the pan!
Quickly and carefully put all the chicken in the oil, allowing it to fry undisturbed for 5 minutes. It should get a nice golden crispy exterior on the bottom. Using tongs, quickly flip the chicken over and cook the other side. Pour all the chicken and the oil onto another plate lined with lots of paper towels to absorb the grease.
Put the sauce ingredients into the pan, cooking and stirring, until it thickens and is no longer cloudy looking.
Add the chicken back to the pan and coat with the sauce. That’s it! Your chicken is ready to enjoy!
Serve orange chicken with steamed rice, jasmine tea, and a fortune cookie.
Neither dish is a traditional Chinese recipe; they are American creations. Both General Tso’s chicken and orange chicken begin with crispy breaded chicken that is deep fried. The difference is in the sauce. General Tso’s chicken has a spicy red sauce and orange chicken has a sweeter tangy sauce, with an orange juice base.
By the way, General Tso’s chicken is the most popular take out dish in America according to NBC news and GrubHub. Orange chicken is #8 on the list. There’s a bit of trivia for you!
The purpose of the cornstarch in the breading is to make the chicken crispy. Cornstarch helps break down the flour’s protein.
In addition, make sure the frying oil is hot and don’t overcrowd the pan with a lot of chicken all at once. Let the chicken fry undisturbed until brown and crispy on the bottom before flipping it.
There are lots of different recipes but the basic ingredient is orange juice, enhanced by sweetness (sugar, honey), tanginess (vinegar), and saltiness (soy sauce. Seasonings such as garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes add flavor and depth to the sauce which is thickened with cornstarch.
Make It Your Own
How to make a double batch
Want lots of orange chicken? Double the recipe! I recommend that you only put 2 cut-up breasts of chicken in the beaten egg and flour mixture at a time. Also, use a large enough skillet so that the chicken is not too crowded. You may need to cook it in batches. It may not be necessary to double the oil. Just make sure you have enough to generously cover the bottom of the skillet.
How to make Baked Orange Chicken
Rather not mess up your stove? Make orange chicken in your oven. Spread the breaded chicken on a large, greased baking sheet. Bake at 375°F for 10 minutes, or until done. Then broil (watch very carefully) for another 2-3 minutes to brown the chicken. Prepare the the sauce in a skillet and add the baked chicken to coat in sauce.
If you know you’re going to be pinched for time, fry the chicken up ahead of time. Cool it completely, cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. When you are ready to cook, prepare the sauce in a skillet and add the chicken, simmering until the chicken is heated through.
Warning: It will not be as crispy. If you want to crisp it up a bit, heat the chicken on a wire rack in the oven or in an air fryer briefly.
Storage & Reheating Tips
Orange chicken will keep for up to 5 days in the fridge. It is best reheated in a skillet on the stove or in the air fryer. The texture will not be as nice if it is microwaved. It may be frozen for up to 6 months. If you freeze it with the sauce added to the chicken, the best way to reheat it is in the oven.
Turn leftover orange chicken into easy lettuce wraps! Use sturdy lettuce leaves like Bibb, romaine, butter, or iceberg. Lightly stir-fry a package of coleslaw mix with a teaspoon or so of oil (toasted sesame oil adds a lot of flavor). Add water chestnuts, thinly sliced celery, soy sauce, sriracha or anything else you like.
Mix in the leftover chicken and sauce, stirring until heated through. Pile the mixture on the lettuce leaves and top with chopped peanuts, crispy wonton strips, or toasted sesame seeds. So yummy!
- 1 cup orange juice (divided)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 cloves garlic, minced (or ¼ teaspoon garlic powder)
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
- Optional garnish: chopped green onions, toasted sesame seeds
- Cut chicken into bite-size (½ -inch) pieces.
- Prepare sauce. Measure out 1 cup of orange juice. Remove 2 tablespoons of orange juice to a small bowl and mix it with 1 tablespoon cornstarch. Set this aside. In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining orange juice, white sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, honey, ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes.
- Pour the oil into a heavy skillet and over medium high heat, heat oil to approximately 350°F.
- While oil is heating, in a medium-size shallow bowl, mix together flour, cornstarch, salt, and pepper. Set aside. Lightly beat the eggs in another shallow dish. Line a plate with paper towels and set that next to the eggs.
- Stir the chicken pieces into the beaten eggs, then use a slotted spoon to remove them and place them on the prepared plate to allow excess egg to drain off. Next, put chicken pieces into the bowl with the flour mixture. Stir to coat well.
- Carefully put the coated chicken into the hot oil. Cook the first side undisturbed for about 5 minutes, then using tongs, quickly turn each piece over and cook the other side. Cook chicken until golden and done, with no pink in the center (165°F). Pour all the contents of the skillet, including the oil, onto a plate lined with several paper towels.
- Using the same skillet, make the sauce. Pour the orange juice mixture into the skillet. Gradually stir in the orange juice/cornstarch mixture. Over medium heat, bring to a boil, scraping to remove crispy bits, and cook for about 5 – 10 minutes or until desired consistency. Remove from heat and add the chicken to the pan. Stir well to coat.
- Garnish with chopped green onions and toasted sesame seeds if desired. Serve with steamed rice, broccoli or green beans.
- Nutrition information is calculated with all the oil; however much of the oil is discarded after frying the chicken.
- Substitute boneless skinless chicken thighs if desired.
- Brown sugar may be substituted for white sugar, if desired.
- Oven directions: Spread the prepared chicken on a large, greased baking sheet. Bake at 375°F for 10 minutes, or until done. Then broil (watch very carefully) for another 2-3 minutes to brown the chicken. Prepare the the sauce in a skillet and add the baked chicken to coat in sauce.
- To double the recipe: I recommend that you only put 2 cut-up breasts of chicken in the beaten egg and flour mixture at a time. Also, use a large enough skillet so that the chicken is not too crowded. You may need to cook it in batches. It may not be necessary to double the oil. Just make sure you have enough to generously cover the bottom of the skillet.
- Storage Instructions: Orange chicken will keep for up to 5 days in the fridge. It is best reheated in a skillet on the stove or in the air fryer. The texture will not be as nice if it is microwaved. It may be frozen for up to 6 months. If you freeze it with the sauce added to the chicken, the best way to reheat it is in the oven.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.