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This takeout inspired 30-minute orange chicken recipe has crispy chicken in a bright and flavorful savory-sweet sticky sauce! It’s easier to make than other versions out there.
Why you’ll love it
When I nailed down the technique of making crispy, irresistibly delicious bites of chicken for Asian-inspired meals, it was a game changer. It’s awesome in my Honey Chicken recipe and equally tasty here in my take on orange chicken!
If you’ve never tried it before, orange chicken sauce is (you guessed it) orange forward, making it delightfully citrusy. It’s complemented by soy sauce, zesty ginger, and garlic. It’s a Chinese-American favorite, and my version is healthier and faster than takeout. Cheaper, too!
What you’ll need
- Chicken – we’re using boneless skinless chicken breasts
- Cornstarch – it’s the magic ingredient to crisp up the exterior of the chicken, and it’s also used to thicken up the sauce
- Olive oil – for sautéing
- Orange juice – to get that signature flavor. I used one with no pulp.
- Soy sauce – this balances everything out and infuses savory flavor
- Lemon juice – a touch of acidity for brightness
- Brown sugar – a hint of sweetness
- Orange zest – for even more citrus goodness
- Ginger – for additional zip
- Garlic – a classic aromatic
- Red pepper flakes – they’re optional but recommended! There’s not enough to make it spicy. It adds a gentle warmth and dimension.
- Prep everything ahead of time since this recipe goes fast once you get started.
- When zesting your orange, ensure that you don’t do it too vigorously. You don’t want to get down to the pith (the white part) since it can be quite bitter.
- Fry the chicken in two batches for best results. A crowded pan won’t produce the browning and crispiness you’re looking for!
How to make orange chicken
This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
Prep your ingredients. In a medium bowl, season the chicken bites with salt & pepper and toss with cornstarch until coated. Whisk together the sauce ingredients in another bowl. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a skillet.
Once the pan is hot, cook half the chicken for 4 minutes, then flip and cook for a few more minutes until lightly browned all over and cooked through. Transfer to a plate, add in more oil to the skillet, and cook the second batch.
Turn off the heat, and pour in the sauce to the skillet. It’ll bubble and thicken quickly. Scrape up any browned bits from the bottom. Return the chicken to the pan, and toss with the sauce.
Tools for this recipe
Check out Natasha’s favorite kitchen essentials, gadgets, and cookware!
- I keep fresh ginger in my freezer to maximize its shelf life, plus it grates much more easily! I use my Microplane zester for it.
- A splatter guard will help minimize clean-up, so I highly recommend it.
- My 10.25″ Le Creuset skillet is a great size for making this orange chicken recipe.
- It’s easy to flip the chicken pieces using a pair of kitchen tongs.
Substitutions and variations
- Since this has been tested extensively for technique and taste, I’d recommend cooking it as written the first time and make any changes after trying it once.
- This recipe should also work with boneless skinless chicken thighs if you prefer.
- You can definitely use freshly squeezed orange juice if desired.
What to serve with orange chicken
- For a filling and satisfying meal, serve over steamed rice or noodles. I like jasmine rice, and you can use your favorite noodles e.g. lo mein, Udon, or rice noodles.
- Feel free to garnish with sesame seeds along with the chopped fresh scallions.
Leftovers and storage
- Store leftover homemade orange chicken for 3-4 days in the fridge in an airtight container.
- Reheat in a saucepan over a low heat until warmed through.
- Freezing will definitely affect the crispiness of the chicken, but if you don’t mind that, freeze it for up to 3 months.
I hope you enjoy this easy orange chicken recipe! Leave a star rating and review in the comments below if you made it and/or ask any questions. You can also find me on Instagram.
Easy Orange Chicken
- 2 large chicken breasts
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 3 tablespoons olive oil divided
- Chopped scallions optional, for serving
- 3/4 cup orange juice see note
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/4 cup (packed) brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- Zest from 1 orange see note
- 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes optional
- With this recipe, it's important to prep everything ahead of time as the cooking part goes fast. Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces and place it in a medium bowl. Season with some salt & pepper and sprinkle the cornstarch over it. Toss until coated.
- Add the sauce ingredients to another bowl and whisk together.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat for a few minutes.
- Once the pan is HOT, add half of the chicken to the skillet and ensure each piece isn't crowded so it browns better. Cook for 4 minutes and then flip and cook another 3-4 minutes or so using cooking tongs. Chicken should be browned and cooked through (165F). For the second batch, add another tablespoon or so of olive oil to the pan. Transfer the chicken to a plate once it's done.
- Turn the burner off, and pour the sauce into the skillet. The pan should still be screaming hot, so the sauce will thicken in about a minute. As the sauce bubbles, stir/scrape it to loosen any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken back in and toss to coat. Serve immediately.
- For the orange juice, I use a Simply Orange brand variety with no pulp. You can use freshly squeezed orange juice if you prefer.
- For the orange zest, I would not go over 1 tablespoon unless you want it very orangey. 1/2-3/4 tablespoon or so will be fine (one medium orange). Oranges vary in size, so you don’t need to be too precise.
- I love to serve this recipe with rice, but that’s totally optional! I typically measure out 1 cup of uncooked rice to serve 4, but feel free to make as much rice as you normally do. Start the rice before the chicken so that it’s ready at the same time.
- Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
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