A take-out favorite—this crispy Chinese orange chicken is made with battered and fried chicken pieces coated with a delicious orange sauce made with fresh orange juice and zest.
Using chicken thighs makes this dish extra tender. The extra step of a quick marinade ensures maximum flavor even before the pieces are battered and fried. And then comes the sauce. Tangy and filled with the flavor of ginger, garlic that balances perfectly with orange juice and zest. You can add a pinch of spice with red pepper flakes as desired.
Tips for the Best Chinese Orange Chicken
- Chicken thighs have more flavor and are naturally more tender and give you a buffer for not overcooking the chicken. Chicken breasts are easier to cut into like-sized pieces, using marinade will help keep the white chicken moist and flavorful.
- Cut the chicken pieces into even bite-sized pieces about 3/4” so the chicken cooks evenly.
- A quick and easy marinade is a mixture of soy sauce, sesame oil, baking soda, garlic, and white pepper that will add flavor and tenderize the chicken in as little as 20 minutes.
- Use a Microplane to grate the ginger and remove the zest from the orange.
- Orange zest and fresh orange juice from one large orange form the base of the sauce.
- Using both honey and brown sugar in the sauce balances the tartness of the orange and vinegar and helps with the color and taste of the sauce.
- While the chicken is marinating, make the sauce and let it thicken and rest while you batter and fry the chicken.
- Have the rest of the meal ready before starting to cook the chicken so the orange chicken is served crispy and warm.
- Fry the battered chicken pieces in oil heated to 350°F. Use a deep fryer, wok, or cast iron pan filled about 1” deep with vegetable oil.
- Drain the deep-fried chicken on paper towels to keep the pieces crispy.
- Pour the thickened sauce over the crispy chicken pieces and serve immediately.
This recipe of crispy Chinese orange chicken is made with battered and fried chicken pieces coated with a yummy orange sauce.
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or chicken breasts, cut into even bite-sized pieces
- Vegetable oil for frying
For the marinade:
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
For the batter:
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 egg, beaten
For the Sauce:
- 2 tablespoons orange zest
- 1/3 cup orange juice, from 1 orange
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger
- 1 garlic clove, finely minced
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon corn starch mixed with 1 tablespoon water to make a slurry
- 1 teaspoon Sriracha, or a pinch of red pepper flakes, to taste
- 3 green onions, white and green parts thinly sliced on the bias
- sesame seeds
- red pepper flakes
- orange slices
- Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces.
- In a shallow bowl, make the marinade by combining the soy sauce, sesame oil, minced garlic, baking soda, and white pepper, stir well to combine.
- Add the chicken pieces and stir to coat all the pieces, set aside and let marinate for 20 minutes.
- In a small saucepan, over medium heat, combine the orange juice, chicken broth, soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey, minced ginger, garlic, brown sugar and stir to combine. Bring to a boil.
- Make a slurry by combining the corn starch and water well, add the slurry to the orange sauce and stir well, heat until thickened and coats the back of a spoon. This may take 2-3 minutes.
- Remove from heat and taste, add Sriracha or red pepper flakes to add spice. Stir in the orange zest and set orange sauce aside.
- In a deep fryer, wok or cast iron pan add vegetable oil to a depth or 1-2 inches. Heat to 350°F.
- In a shallow bowl, combine the batter ingredients and stir well.
- Drain the chicken pieces and add to the shallow bowl containing the batter. Stir to evenly coat each batter piece.
- Line a plate with a paper towel and set aside.
- Using tongs, carefully place 10-12 battered chicken pieces around the pan so the chicken pieces don’t touch. Fry for 2-3 minutes until the pieces turn golden, turn halfway through cooking to evenly brown. (You may want to shake off excess batter before placing each chicken piece into the oil.)
- Remove cooked chicken pieces to prepared plate lined with paper towels. Before adding a second batch of chicken, make sure the oil returns to 350°F.
- Continue until all the chicken is cooked.
- Gently toss the chicken with orange sauce and stir to coat all the pieces with the orange sauce.
- Garnish with green onions and sesame seeds.
- Serve warm with rice.
Make sure the oil temperature is 350°F— if the oil temperature is too low the chicken pieces can become greasy, too high and the batter will darken too quickly before the chicken has cooked.
To make this dish gluten-free, substitute the flour for gluten-free flour or rice flour, and the soy sauce with tamari sauce.
Keywords: takeout, orange sauce, copycat, gluten-free option