Why you’ll love this recipe:
This healthy orange chicken recipe is a lightened-up version of the classic Chinese takeout dish. Chicken thighs are cooked until crispy and covered in a seriously addicting tangy orange sauce.
This orange chicken recipe is made with orange juice and soy sauce as main ingredients. It is both sweet and salty, perfect for satisfying your takeout cravings!
- Healthier – You won’t miss the heavily breaded and deep-fried chicken or feel weighed down after eating. Plus, it’s made from scratch with ingredients you recognize.
- Flavorful – The citrusy sweet sauce is perfectly balanced with savory and tangy flavors.
- Texture – Sticky orange sauce covers juicy chicken for a satisfying texture that will leave you coming back for more.
When served over fluffy white rice, your family will never know you made this orange chicken at home!
Key Ingredient Notes:
- Chicken thighs – I recommend using boneless, skinless chicken thighs for the best taste and texture. Chicken thighs have a slightly higher fat content, making them juicier and more flavorful than chicken breast. However, chicken breasts or tenders also taste great, if that’s what you prefer.
- Egg white helps the cornstarch stick to the chicken.
- Cornstarch gives the chicken thighs an amazingly light and crispy texture after they’re shallow fried. It also helps thicken the orange sauce, turning it into a glaze.
- Fresh ginger adds warm and spicy flavor!
- Fresh garlic is a staple in Chinese food recipes, and it adds to the savory flavors of the dish.
- Scallions – Also known as green onions, scallions are milder in flavor than regular white onions and add a nice crunch. You can use both the green top and the white bottom!
- Chicken stock is a the base for the orange sauce and adds richness to the sauce.
- Orange juice and zest adds a tangy, citrusy taste. I prefer freshly squeezed orange juice. Use a microplane grater to finely zest the top layer of orange peel.
- Brown sugar adds a rich, warm sweetness to balance out the savoriness of the sauce.
- Soy sauce – Use reduced-sodium soy sauce to keep this recipe light and healthy. If you’re gluten-free, you can use tamari, a Japanese soy sauce made without wheat.
- Rice vinegar is delicate, mild, and slightly sweet. You can substitute the rice vinegar with mirin or white wine vinegar if needed.
How to make Orange Chicken:
- Mix the chicken, egg white, and cornstarch in a large bowl. This is what helps make the chicken crisp!
- Whisk the chicken stock, orange juice, orange zest, brown sugar, soy sauce, and rice vinegar in a medium bowl until smooth.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. You want to allow it plenty of time to get good and hot! Otherwise, your chicken will turn out soggy.
- Arrange the prepared chicken in an even layer in the skillet. And cook for about four minutes or until it’s golden brown. Then, carefully flip it over using a pair of kitchen tongs, and continue to cook for about two minutes.
- Stir the ginger and garlic into the skillet, and cook for an additional minute, stirring frequently. Be careful not to let it burn!
- Add in the prepared orange sauce, and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Reduce the heat, and allow the orange chicken to cook until the sauce thickens and reduces by almost half.
- While the chicken cooks, mix the cornstarch with 1 tablespoon of water and add it to the skillet. This helps thicken the sauce even more! Cook for another 3 minutes or so, stirring occasionally.
- Garnish the chicken with sliced scallions, and serve it warm over a bed of fluffy steamed rice. Yum!
This easy orange chicken recipe is ready in only 30 minutes! However, I have some extra tips if you want to get it on the table even faster.
- To cut down on prep time, chop your chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces in advance.
- Make the orange chicken sauce, and store it in the fridge for up to a day in advance.
- If you plan on serving the orange chicken over rice, use microwavable rice pouches instead of making the rice from scratch.
- Store leftovers in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 3-5 days.
- Reheat leftover orange chicken in a nonstick skillet on the stovetop over low heat. Or microwave the leftovers in 1-minute intervals, stirring in between, until warmed through.
- Freeze the chicken and orange sauce for up to 3 months. Just be sure to let it cool completely before transferring it to a freezer-safe ziplock bag or container!
Orange Chicken FAQs:
While both dishes are made with chicken and served over rice, they have very different flavor profiles. Most recipes for orange chicken are sweet, with salty, savory flavors. Meanwhile, General Tso is a spicy-hot dish made with dried red chilies.
Boneless, skinless chicken thighs are best, but boneless, skinless chicken breasts would also work. I highly recommend chicken thighs for the more tender and juicier dark meat.
Orange Chicken is the American version of China’s popular Mandarin chicken dish. It was first developed by the executive chef at Panda Express and later made famous by the chain of restaurants.
Easy Orange Chicken Recipe
- 1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs or breast cut into bite-size pieces Note 1
- 1 egg white
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 3 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger Note 2
- 2 garlic cloves grated
- ¼ cup chopped scallions about 5 scallions
- 1 cup chicken stock
- ¼ cup fresh orange juice
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch +1 tablespoon water
- In a large bowl, mix chicken, egg white and cornstarch until well combined.1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs or breast, 1 egg white, 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.3 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
- Add the prepared chicken and cook for about 4 minutes, or until the chicken is golden brown. Flip the chicken pieces using a pair of kitchen tongs and continue to cook on the other side for about 2 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. In a medium bowl, whisk together chicken stock, orange juice, zest, brown sugar, soy sauce and rice vinegar.1 cup chicken stock, ¼ cup fresh orange juice, 1 tablespoon orange zest, 3 tablespoons brown sugar, 2 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- Add ginger and garlic to the chicken and cook for a minute, string frequently.1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger, 2 garlic cloves
- Stir in the prepared sauce into the chicken and bring it to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to medium and cook for about 5 minutes. The sauce should be thickened and reduced by almost half.
- In a little bowl, mix cornstarch with 1 tablespoon of water and add it to the simmering chicken. This will thicken the sauce even more. Cook everything for another 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.1 tablespoon cornstarch
- Garnish with sliced scallions and serve over fluffy white rice and enjoy!¼ cup chopped scallions, Cooked white rice
– Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.
– Orange chicken can be frozen! Once cooled, transfer the chicken to a freezer-safe container, and keep it stored for up to 3 months.
– Allow frozen orange chicken to thaw in the fridge overnight, and reheat leftovers in a non-stick skillet on the stovetop over low heat or in the microwave in 1-minute intervals, stirring in between.
* Disclaimer: All nutrition information are estimates only. Read full nutrition disclosure.
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