Orange chicken is a Chinese restaurant classic that's surprisingly easy to cook at home. I love this recipe! With a couple of simple steps you get extremely tender chicken with a crispy coating and an irresistible sticky sweet, sour, intensely orange glaze.
There are so many reasons to cook Chinese orange chicken from scratch.
- Firstly, It's exciting to cook something that's as good (or better) than your favorite Chinese restaurant dish.
- There's the additional perk that homemade Chinese orange chicken is lighter and healthier than takeout because it's not deep fried.
- Also, for those of you who are not eating wheat, you'll be happy to know that this Chinese orange chicken recipe is is made with a light cornstarch batter and no flour, so it's naturally gluten-free.
This Chinese orange chicken recipe was given to me by my friend and Chinese food expert Maggie Zhu. You'll find loads of amazing Chinese recipes on Her food blog Omnivore's Cookbook.
Maggie's e-Cookbook - The Chinese Stir Fry Sauce Cookbook - zooms in on the art of the Chinese Stir Fry. There are 9 essential sauces, from sweet and sour to Kung Pao, and 41 easy recipes to help you cook real-deal Chinese food that tastes better than takeout. The recipes are short and fast - 16 recipes require less than 20 minutes to put together. 21 recipes call for 6 ingredients or less. All the sauces can be pre-made, frozen, and used later.
Maggie was kind enough to allow me to pick a recipe from her book to share on Panning The Globe. I fell in love with her Chinese Orange Chicken recipe. It's quick and easy and totally delicious.
HOW TO MAKE CHINESE ORANGE CHICKEN
Orange chicken gets its orange flavors from orange juice and rehydrated aged tangerine peal (found in Asian markets) or orange zest. Once the peels are chopped (or the oranges zested) orange sauce takes 5 minutes to put together.
- Make The Orange Sauce: Combine orange zest (or tangerine peel) with the orange juice, rice vinegar, soy sauce, wine or sherry, sugar, cornstarch and salt. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Pour the orange sauce ingredients into the pan and cook, stirring, until the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, 30 seconds to a minute. Transfer sauce to a bowl and let it cool. When cool, the sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 1 week or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
- Marinate the chicken: Cut boneless chicken thighs into bit sized pieces and marinate them for ten minutes in a mixture of oil and salt. Then toss the chicken with a whisked egg and cornstarch to create the batter.
- Sauté the chicken: Heat vegetable oil in a large wok or skillet and sauté coated chicken pieces for five minutes, until just cooked through.
- Add the orange sauce, heat for a minute or so and dinner is ready.
Serve Chinese orange chicken over white or brown rice or quinoa. Add a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds or scallions or strips of orange zest to garnish. Steamed broccoli is a perfect accompaniment.
By the way, since the orange sauce freezes really well you might want to cook up a big batch and freeze it in portions. Then anytime you’re craving orange chicken or orange shrimp, dinner is just 20 minutes away.
I used to think of a stir-fry as something that didn't require a recipe. I’ve made plenty of Chinese style stir-fries over the years, starting back in my college days, just a wok full of meat and veggies with an improvised sauce comprised mainly of bottled soy or hoisin sauce - a haphazard approach with unreliable results.
Decades later it feels good to have a growing collection of delicious tried and true Chinese stir-fry recipes on Panning The Globe. Some of my favorites are Chinese Beef and Broccoli, Moo Shu Pork, 7 Flavor Precious Chicken, and Chinese Fun Noodles with Beef.
And it's great to have Maggie's book as a resource for loads of great Chinese stir fry recipes.
Here's the recipe for Chinese Orange Chicken. If you try this recipe I hope you'll come back to leave a star rating and comment. I'd love to know what you think!Print
Chinese Orange Chicken
- Total Time: 35 mins
- Yield: 3 1x
Tender chunks of lightly-battered chicken in sweet, sour, orange glaze. A homemade Chinese classic that's tastier and healthier than take-out [not deep fried] [naturally gluten-free]
Adapted from The Chinese Stir Fry Sauce Cookbook
- For The Orange Sauce:
- Zest of 4 oranges (about 2 tablespoons) or ½ cup dried tangerine peel (found in Asian markets) soaked in a small bowl of hot water for 20 minutes, drained, and minced.
- 1 cup orange juice
- ¾ cup unseasoned rice vinegar
- ¼ cup light soy sauce (use Tamari for gluten-free)
- ¼ cup Shaoxing wine (or substitute dry sherry)
- ½ cup white sugar
- 2 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon peanut oil [see notes]
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons minced ginger root
- For The Marinade:
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts (or thighs) cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon peanut oil [see notes]
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg, beaten
- ½ cup cornstarch
- For The Stir Fry:
- ⅓ cup peanut oil [see notes]
- 1 cup Orange Sauce (from above)
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds for garnish, optional
- ¼ cup chopped scallions for garnish, optional
- Slivers of orange zest for garnish, optional
- Make The Orange Sauce: In a large bowl combine orange zest (or minced tangerine peel) with the orange juice, rice vinegar, soy sauce, wine or sherry, sugar, cornstarch and salt. Mix until the cornstarch is fully dissolved.
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Give the sauce ingredients a stir and pour into the pan. Once it comes to a simmer, cook, stirring, until the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, 30 seconds to a minute. Transfer sauce to a bowl quickly to stop the cooking process. Set sauce aside to cool. When cool, the sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 1 week or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
- Marinate The Chicken: In a large bowl combine chicken pieces with the 1 tablespoon oil and ½ teaspoon salt. Mix well and let the chicken marinate for 10-15 minutes.
- Pour the beaten egg into the bowl with the chicken and mix well. Add cornstarch and toss to form an uneven coating with little bits of dry cornstarch left unincorporated.
- Stir Fry The Chicken: Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet or wok over medium-high heat until hot. Add all the chicken to the pan, spreading it out into a single layer. Use tongs to separate the pieces of chicken if they're sticking together.
- Cook the chicken undisturbed for 2-3 minutes, or until the bottom turns golden. Flip to brown the other side and cook for another 2-3 minutes, until golden and cooked through. Transfer chicken to a plate. Remove the pan from the stove and let it cool for 2-3 minutes. Wipe out the extra oil from the pan using a couple of layers of paper towel attached to a pair of tongs. Return the pan to the stove over medium-high heat. Return chicken to the pan and pour in the sauce. Stir for 30 seconds or until chicken is coated with sauce and heated through. Add garnishes if you like. Serve hot.
What oil to use in place of Peanut Oil: Peanut oil is delicious in this dish and it has a high smoke point which is ideal for stir frying. If you can't find peanut oil or you have an allergy, other oils that work well in this dish are avocado oil, sunflower oil or grape seed oil.
- Prep Time: 25 mins
- Cook Time: 10 mins
- Category: Main Dish
- Method: stir fry
- Cuisine: Chinese
Keywords: Chinese orange chicken, Chinese chicken stir fry with orange sauce
This recipe was great! It really is easy and tastes as good if not better than take out, nice bright flavor!
I'm so glad you enjoyed this dish Erin!
WAYYYY Better than takeout. Thank you so much for this recipe
Pretty much, Lisa. The cauliflower isn't as moist as chicken, though, and the egg isn't enough to stretch and have the cornstarch stick. So I added a splash of rice wine, which created a slurry that coated the florettes.
Although I did divide the cauliflower into florettes,, it occurs to me that steaks would work too. In that case, I'd intentionally make a slurry and dip the steaks into it. Sort of like a cauliflower tempura. Then proceed as with the chicken.
Found some incredible cauliflower at the farmer's market. Pondering what to do with it I had a brainstorm, d adapted this recipe to the cauliflower.
Came out incredible. So, if anyone's looking for a great side dish, this is one to try.
Such a great idea Brook! So you just used the same recipe but substituted cauliflower for chicken?
Another winner, Lisa. Made this tonight, along with fried rice and Chinese veggies, and it was fantastic!
One thing I want to try is to sub tangerine juice for the OJ. Had it that way in a tiny, out of the way restaurant in Frostburg, MD, and have been wanting to recreate it ever since.
You rock, girl---even if you're starting to talk like a Limey. :>)
Hey Brook! Great to hear from you. I'm so glad you fancy the orange chicken - that's brilliant!:>) I think tangerine juice would be a lovely substitute - tangerines have a sweeter, less sour/acidic flavor than oranges - I bet they would make a tasty sauce. I'd love to know how it turns out if you do experiment.
Your chicken looks fantastic. Nothing is better than home-cooked chicken.. Pinned!
Lisa this was great. Made it for Fred’s Birthday. Yummy!
Hi Mary-Elise! I'm so glad you enjoyed this one. Send happy birthday wishes to Fred from us.