Chinese Orange Chicken

Chinese Orange Chicken Recipe

Tender, chewy, crispy, citrusy, sweet, tangy and spicy all in one.  Chinese Orange Chicken, a dish of chopped, battered, and fried chicken pieces coated in a sweet orange-flavored, caramelized chili sauce, is a highly popular Chinese fast food dish of Hunan origin.  This version is a little truer to authentic origins in that it isn’t as goopey as some Chinese-American restaurant versions.  Deliciously tasty with an accompanying kick, you’ll soon become the go-to for Chinese take-out among your family and friends!

This Daring Gourmet version was developed by request for Danette McGee Farmer.  She specifically requested a version that is full of flavor.  Danette, I think you’ll be very happy with this recipe!

Does anyone else have a request?  Let me know!

Let’s get started on that luscious Chinese Orange Chicken!

Chop up the chicken in 1/2 inch pieces.

Orange Chicken prep 1

We’re now going to proceed with a Chinese stir-frying method known as “velveting” to achieve a nice coating for the chicken.  To velvet the chicken, combine the egg white, cornstarch, sherry, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a bowl.  Stir to combine.

Orange Chicken prep 2

Add the chicken to a sealable bag and pour the velveting marinade over it.  Swish to combine.  Refrigerate the chicken for at least 30 minutes.

Orange Chicken prep 3

Next let’s prepare the chicken.  Remove the chicken pieces from the bag, shaking off the excess liquid, and give them another in some cornstarch.  Heat some oil in high in a wok, deep fryer, or heavy skillet.  Carefully lower the chicken into the oil and fry on both sides until a crispy golden brown.

Orange Chicken prep 4

Set the chicken on paper towels to soak up the grease.

Orange Chicken prep 5

Break up the red chiles into pieces and discard the seeds.  Be very careful here to avoid touching the seeds (using gloves is recommended).  Once you touch the seeds with your fingers they can really burn – avoid all contact with your face and eyes.

Orange Chicken prep 6

Combine all remaining ingredients except for the ginger, garlic and green onions.

Orange Chicken prep 7

Heat about a teaspoon of oil on medium-high heat to a wok or large saucepan and saute the ginger and garlic for 30 seconds.  Add all remaining ingredients, except for the green onions.  Simmer the sauce for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Orange Chicken prep 8

Add the chicken and green onions and simmer for another 5 minutes to ensure the chicken is fully cooked and the coating has absorbed the flavor of the sauce.

Orange Chicken prep 9

Serve immediately (to retain the ideal texture) with steamed rice.  Garnish with fresh orange slices (optional).  Serves 4.

*  For a vegetarian/vegan version, see instructions below recipe.

Orange Chicken
Cook time
Total time
This Daring Gourmet version rivals your favorite Chinese take-out. Full of flavor with an accompanying kick.
Cuisine: Chinese
Serves: 4
  • 2 chicken breasts, cut into ½ inch pieces (vegetarian/vegan: see instructions below recipe box and picture)
  • 2 egg whites (vegetarian/vegan: omit and follow instructions below recipe box and picture)
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons sherry or rice vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon baking soda
  • For the sauce:
  • 1½ cup strong chicken broth (vegetarian/vegan: use vegetable broth)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 2½ tablespoons soy sauce
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ⅓ cup rice vinegar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 red chiles, broken up and seeds discarded (or ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes)
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • ½ teaspoon sesame oil
  • ¼ cup green onions, chopped
  • Fresh orange slices (optional)
  1. Combine the egg whites, cornstarch, salt, sherry, baking powder and baking soda in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Pour over chicken in a sealable plastic bag and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Remove the chicken pieces from the bag, shake off the excess liquid, and give them another roll in some cornstarch.
  2. Heat about a teaspoon of vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a large saucepan or wok. Saute the ginger and garlic for 30 seconds, then add all remaining ingredients, except for the green onions. Bring the sauce to a boil. Decrease the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside.
  3. Next prepare the chicken (or tofu if using). If you prefer a thicker coating, remove the chicken pieces from the baggie and roll them in some extra cornstarch. Heat some vegetable or peanut oil on high in a wok, deep fryer, or heavy skillet and carefully lower the chicken into the oil. Fry until crispy golden brown on all sides. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken pieces to paper towels to absorb the oil.
  4. Add the chicken pieces (or prepared tofu) and green onions to the sauce, stir to coat, and bring the sauce to a low simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Serve immediately with steamed rice and fresh orange slices (optional).


Chinese Orange Chicken


Vegetarian/Vegan substitution:

Crispy Battered Tofu Cubes

  • 1 lb extra firm tofu, cut into cubes
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup sparkling/seltzer water
  • oil, for frying
  1. In a shallow bowl, combine half of the flour (1/4 cup) with the cornstarch, onion and garlic powder, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.  Put the remaining 1/4 cup of flour in a separate bowl.
  2. Slowly pour the sparkling water into the flour-cornstarch mixture, stirring to thoroughly combine.
  3. Dip each tofu cube in the plain flour, coating all sides, then dip the cubes into the flour/sparkling water batter.
  4. Heat a generous amount of oil in a heavy saucepan or frying pan and once it’s hot enough that a drop of water sputters when it hits the oil, carefully drop the battered tofu cubes into the hot oil and fry until golden-brown, about 2-3 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the tofu cubes from the oil and place on paper towels to drain.  Use immediately or they will lose their crispness.


13 Responses

  1. Danette McKee Farmer

    wrote on

    This is the third recipe I have made from this wonderful blog! Once again a home run! I had been trying to make orange chicken for a couple of years now, and really did not know what I was doing wrong. VELVETING! As always, the ease of the recipes along with the photos to make sure “it looks right” make this a Go To, mouthwatering, new family favorite! So excited to see what is next!!

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Thank you for you kind and generous compliments! And thank you for submitting the request for this dish in the first place. I had fun making it and am so glad it turned out a success for you as well!

  2. Gilli

    wrote on

    Does the chicken get soggy when it cooking in the sauce please? I think this could be fun for my grandchildren

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Hi, Gilli! Because of the cornstarch coating which acts as kind of a barrier once the chicken is fried, the chicken itself will, and should, remain fairly dry. But once the chicken is immersed in the sauce and simmered, the coating itself will absorb some of the sauce. The key here is to serve the dish immediately while the texture is still ideal.

      I agree, this dish would be lots of fun to prepare with your grandkids! Depending on their age, just go easy on the red chiles or leave them out entirely. Once you get those chile seeds on your fingers they really burn!

  3. Austin

    wrote on

    This recipe is great. It took me quite a while to make but it was worth it. Next time, I will put more chilies though. It wasnt spicy at all even with leaving the seeds in. Its just a personal preference.

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Hi Austin, so glad you made and liked it! It’s one of those recipes where once you’ve made it and are familiar with the steps and process, the next time around it goes much quicker. Yeah, I often hesitate even specifying a heat amount, whether chilies or hot sauce, because tastes vary so much as do perceptions of “heat.” So by all means, pile in those chilies the next time! :)

  4. Ayako

    wrote on

    Hi Kimberly, I tried this recipe and truly enjoyed! The amount of sugar was slightly concerning, but the taste just came out fine! What didn’t turn out well was deep frying the meat…the batter didn’t stick like it’s supposed to. Any tips on that?

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Hi Ayako! I know, the sugar is a bit scary, which is why Chinese food never makes the “healthy cuisines of the world” list ;) As for the batter not sticking, be sure to refrigerate the battered chicken for at least 30 minutes, shake off the excess batter before dipping in the cornstarch and then make sure the oil is hot enough before you lower the chicken into it. If it’s not hot enough, the batter is going to come off and not adhere properly.

      • Ayako

        wrote on

        I see. Will be careful next time. Thank you!

  5. Stacey

    wrote on

    Should the recipe call for 12 chilies? It reads 2… But the picture shows heaps more… I failed to see the photos until after I cooked it and accidentally cut up the two chilies after deseeding and kept them in sauce. Mine turned out very sweet and very citric (but I accidentally put in 2tbs orang zest:) I didn’t notice instructions about serving straight away after stirring chic through sauce and left mine in way too long. I’m new to cooking and learning to read instructions more thuroughly and also to read reviews (lesson I also learnt today when making my accompanying crab Rangoons:)

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Hi Stacey! Yes, it’s 2 chilies (the picture is just to show what the chilies look like). Traditionally, Chinese Orange Chicken is sweet, not spicy, but that doesn’t mean you can’t leave the seeds in or add more chilies if you prefer it hot. Learning to cook takes time and practice and…mistakes! Lots of them! There isn’t a good cook alive who hasn’t messed up before! I’m just thrilled that you chose to tackle this recipe! Good luck in your cooking endeavors and I hope you’ll try some of the other recipes on here! – Kimberly

  6. Kb

    wrote on

    I don’t even know what to say this recipe was sooo good! Thanks for sharing! I am never paying for this meal anywhere ever again. This was perfect in every way and exactly what I was looking for!

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Woo-hoo!!! I’m so happy to hear that, Kb!! Thanks for making it and for such complimentary feedback! If you’re a Chinese food fan, I’d recommend the Kung Pao Chicken, Mongolian Beef, and the Shanghai Noodles. There are others (you can search by category on the drop-down box on the right-hand side of screen, scroll down), but these are some excellent ones to start with. Thanks again and I hope you’ll visit often!

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