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Skip the takeout for this Easy Orange Chicken recipe! It’s a simple 20-minute dinner made with crispy and juicy pieces of chicken that glisten as they’re coated in a vibrant orange sauce.
When it comes to Chinese-American cuisine, few dishes rival orange chicken. Who could ever turn down a plate of juicy chicken glazed in a vibrant orange sauce?
Fortunately, with this easy orange chicken recipe, you can recreate this classic takeout dish from the comfort of your kitchen! Every bite promises the same citrusy, savory flavor as your favorite Chinese takeout, all while being made with budget-friendly, no-fuss ingredients.
- This chicken isn’t battered like classic orange chicken recipes. Instead, it’s lightly seasoned and pan-fried before being doused in the luxurious sauce.
- The secret is in the sauce! A shortlist of staple ingredients creates a comforting orange sauce with the same sweet and tangy flavor you’d expect from take-out.
- It’s a stress-free recipe made in one skillet in 20 minutes or less.
Chicken breast - I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts for this recipe, but skinless chicken thighs work just as well. In fact, I use thighs to make my Instant Pot orange chicken. Thigh meat just takes a bit longer to cook through.
Orange sauce - To make orange chicken sauce from scratch, you’ll need freshly squeezed orange juice, orange zest, soy sauce, brown sugar, rice vinegar, chili garlic paste, minced garlic, and cornstarch. Scroll to the Tips and FAQs for special dietary modifications.
Green onion - Don’t skip garnishing the dish with green onions! They act as an oniony, crisp, and refreshing finishing touch to the homemade orange chicken.
Step 1: Cook the chicken. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, season the chicken with salt and pepper, then place it in the skillet. Sear until it’s cooked through.
Step 2: Make the orange sauce. Whisk the sauce ingredients together in a bowl.
Step 3: Coat in sauce. Reduce the heat and pour the sauce into the skillet with the chicken. Bring it to a simmer and cook until the sauce has thickened and the chicken is glistening.
Step 4: Serve. Serve scoops of the Chinese orange chicken over cooked rice, garnish with chopped green onions, and enjoy!
Tips and FAQs
- Cut the chicken into even bite-sized chunks. Evenly-sized pieces will finish cooking at the same time compared to uneven pieces.
- Want extra flavor? Marinate the chicken first! Soak the breasts in a mix of soy sauce, fresh orange juice, garlic, and a pinch of sugar for 30 minutes for pan-searing.
- I like garnishing the orange chicken with green onions but you can use chopped cilantro or toasted sesame seeds instead.
Use fresh juice and zest. Juicing and zesting the orange yourself makes a big difference in the finished dish's flavor profile.
- Make it spicier - Chili garlic paste adds a subtle kick, but if you like your orange chicken extra spicy, add red pepper flakes, sriracha, sliced red chilies, or Szechuan peppercorns to taste.
- Make it vegetarian - To make a meatless version, swap the chicken for baked tofu, grilled tempeh, or chickpeas, like in this General Tso’s Chickpeas recipe.
- Gluten free - Make the sauce with gluten free soy sauce or tamari instead of soy sauce.
- Whole30 - Use coconut aminos instead of soy sauce, arrowroot starch instead of cornstarch, and make sure your chili garlic paste is Whole30 compliant. Serve with cauliflower rice or spiralized zucchini noodles.
Can you cook the chicken in the air fryer?
Yes! To make air fried orange chicken, place the seasoned chicken pieces in a 380°F air fryer and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until the chicken is crispy and cooked through. Transfer the chicken to a saucepan, pour in the sauce, and heat until the sauce is thickened and the meat is evenly coated.
Can you make the orange chicken ahead of time?
The orange chicken is best when it’s served right away. However, you can save time by making the orange sauce and storing it in the fridge for 1 to 2 days ahead of making this recipe. Another great way to save time is by using the leftover cooked chicken breasts or thighs already in your fridge. This recipe works well with store-bought rotisserie chicken, too!
What do you serve with orange chicken?
Refrigerator: Let the leftovers cool, then store them in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.
Freezer: Once cooled to room temperature, place the leftovers in a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating.
Reheating: Reheat the leftover chicken in the oven at 350°F for 10 to 15 minutes or in a skillet with a bit of oil over medium heat until heated through.
More one-skillet chicken dinners
If you made this recipe, be sure to leave a comment and star rating below. Thanks!
Easy Orange Chicken
For the chicken:
- Start by heating oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then add it to the skillet and cook it for 8-10 minutes until it’s cooked through.
- While the chicken is cooking, whisk all of the sauce ingredients together in a bowl.
- Once the chicken is done, reduce the heat to medium, then pour the sauce into the skillet and bring it to a simmer. Simmer the sauce for 3-5 minutes until it’s thickened and it easily coats the chicken.
- Serve over rice, garnish with chopped green onions and enjoy!