Tender, crispy chicken smothered in a deliciously fresh, sweet and tangy orange sauce, This Chinese Orange Chicken recipe rivals your favorite takeout!
This Chinese Orange Chicken is tender, chewy, crispy, citrusy, sweet, tangy and spicy all in one!
What is Orange Chicken?
Orange Chicken is a super popular Chinese fast food dish of Hunan origin that features chopped, battered, and fried chicken pieces coated in a sweet orange-flavored, caramelized chili sauce. The version that most people are familiar with in the U.S. is the version attributed to Panda Express that is more of a variation of General Tso’s Chicken.
This Orange Chicken recipe is a little truer to authentic origins in that it isn’t as goopy as many Chinese-American restaurant versions. So while this isn’t a direct Panda Express copycat recipe, if you like the version at Panda Express you’re going to be over the moon with this version!
Deliciously tasty with an accompanying kick, this is sure to become your go-to whenever you’re craving Chinese Orange Chicken!
Chinese Orange Chicken Recipe
Let’s get started!
Chop up the chicken in 1/2 inch pieces. 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.
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.
Remove the chicken pieces from the bag, shaking off the excess liquid, and give them another roll in some cornstarch (this will make the coating thicker). 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. Set the chicken on paper towels to soak up the some of the grease.
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. Combine all the sauce ingredients.
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 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
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.
Serve immediately (to retain the ideal texture) with steamed rice. Garnish with fresh orange slices (optional).
Can I Make Vegetarian Orange Chicken?
Yes! For our vegetarian and vegan readers, you can make Tofu Orange Chicken! Here is how to prepare the tofu and then proceed with the rest of the recipe as written.
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
- 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.
- Slowly pour the sparkling water into the flour-cornstarch mixture, stirring to thoroughly combine.
- Dip each tofu cube in the plain flour, coating all sides, then dip the cubes into the flour/sparkling water batter.
- 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.
Asian food lovers, don’t forget to check out this recipe for the Best Homemade Teriyaki Sauce!
For more great Chinese dishes be sure to try our:
- Orange Beef
- Sesame Chicken
- Beef and Broccoli
- Hot and Sour Soup
- General Tso’s Chicken
- Kung Pao Chicken
- Mongolian Beef
- Sweet and Sour Chicken
- Wonton Soup
- Shanghai Noodles
- Mongolian Chicken
- Honey Sesame Chicken
- Shanghai Burgers
- Chicken Chow Mein
- Chicken Teriyaki Noodles
- Szechuan Chicken and Cashew Noodles
BEST Orange Chicken
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (or equivalent in boneless thigh meat) ,cut into 1/2 inch pieces (vegetarian/vegan: see instructions above this recipe box)
- 2 egg whites (vegetarian/vegan: omit and follow instructions above this recipe box)
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons sherry or rice vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger ,minced and reserved for later
- 1 teaspoon garlic ,minced and reserved for later
- For the sauce:
- 1 1/2 cup strong chicken broth (vegetarian/vegan: use vegetable broth)
- 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/3 cup rice vinegar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- low sugar/diabetic substitute
- 2 red chiles ,broken up and seeds discarded (or 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes) - we recommend using gloves
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1/4 cup green onions ,chopped
- Fresh orange slices ,optional
- To make the sauce, stir together all ingredients, except for the garlic, ginger, green onions and orange slices. Set aside.
- 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 (this will create a thicker coating).
- Heat a tablespoon of oil (I use avocado, you can also use canola) over high heat 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.
- Reduce the heat to medium-high and add another teaspoon or so of oil as needed to the saucepan or wok. Saute the ginger and garlic for 30 seconds, then add the sauce. Bring the sauce to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- 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).
First published Feb 7, 2013
[email protected] says
This recipe sounds awesome but as a diabetic I’m concerned about the corn starch. Can you suggest a substitute? Thank you, Kevin
Kimberly Killebrew says
Hi Kevin, the cornstarch creates a crispy batter around the chicken pieces. You can simply omit it, the chicken just won’t have that crispy texture but the flavor of the sauce will still be same. You would omit the cornstarch, egg whites, baking powder and baking soda and just add the salt and sherry to the sauce. You would obviously skip the step of mixing the batter ingredients and putting the chicken pieces in the ziplock bag. Instead you would just fry up the chicken in the pan without the batter.
Paul Fisher says
A great tasty meal, sauce was of a nice consistency sweet to taste, a little too sweet for one of us, so I may reduce sugar content a little next time. The batter for the chicken was superb and I will use this method/ recipe when preparing battered chicken for other meals. Another Great meal. Thank you.
Kimberly @ The Daring Gourmet says
Thanks so much, Paul, I’m happy you enjoyed it!