Orange Chicken

5 from 35 votes
43 Comments

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This Orange Chicken recipe tastes just like the popular Panda Express dish, but made with simple ingredients right at home. Tender chicken in tangy sauce beats restaurant takeout any day!

Piece of Orange Chicken with chopsticks.
Featured with this recipe
  1. Ingredients in Orange Chicken
  2. Putting It All Together (It’s So Easy!)
  3. Lighten It Up
  4. Air Fryer Panda Express Orange Chicken
  5. Gluten Free Panda Express Orange Chicken
  6. Frequently Asked Questions about Orange Chicken
  7. What to Serve with Orange Chicken
  8. How to Make Orange Chicken
  9. Orange Chicken Recipe Recipe

Orange Chicken takes center stage whenever we decide to have a Chinese food night. This may not be the exact Panda Express Orange Chicken recipe, but our copycat recipe comes pretty close! We rarely get Chinese takeout anymore because it’s so much easier and cheaper to make it at home, and it tastes so good.

The tangy orange sauce is made with pantry staples you already have on hand, and the vibrant orange flavor complements tender chicken chunks perfectly. Whip up a batch of easy orange chicken sauce for your next Chinese feast and turn take-out into take-in!

Bowl of Orange Chicken garnished with sliced green onions.


Ingredients in Orange Chicken

Don’t be scared off by the long list of ingredients; I promise you have most of these on hand already! Just a little of this and a little of that adds up to one incredibly easy orange chicken recipe. Here’s what you need:

CHICKEN INGREDIENTS

  • Chicken – about two pounds of boneless skinless chicken breast or thighs cut into bite sized pieces.
  • Cornstarch – You’ll use corn starch to get that crispy outer coating on the chicken.
  • Salt and pepper – about a half teaspoon salt and a quarter teaspoon pepper or to taste.
  • Eggs – just one or possibly two, slightly beaten, to dip your chicken in.
  • Oil – for frying. Generally we like to use vegetable oil because it has a nice, mild flavor that doesn’t overpower the dish.
Ingredients to make Orange Chicken including cut chicken thighs, oil, egg, salt, pepper and corn starch.

ORANGE SAUCE INGREDIENTS

  • Water
  • Orange juice – squeeze fresh juice from an orange, about two tablespoons. If you have orange juice in your fridge you can use this too.
  • Lemon juice – again, use a fresh lemon, if you have one. You can also use bottled lemon juice.
  • Rice vinegar – you can find this on Amazon or at most grocery stores in the Asian foods aisle.
  • Soy sauce – feel free to use a low-sodium soy sauce.
  • Orange zest – use a grater to zest about a tablespoon of fragrant orange zest. It really makes all the difference!
  • Brown sugar – about one cup, packed.
  • Ginger root – if you buy some ginger root at the store, keep it in an airtight container in the freezer and it’ll last a long time.
  • Garlic – mince one teaspoon, or one big clove.
  • Green onion – chop and use both the white and green ends.
  • Red pepper flakes – a little of these red chili flakes go a long way, so use just a pinch if you want a mild dish.
  • Cornstarch and water – you’ll make a cornstarch slurry to thicken the sauce.
Ingrendients to make Orange Chicken sauce including oranges, lemon for juice, onions, red pepper, brown sugar, corn starch, ginger, garlic, rice vinegar, soy sauce and green onions.

Putting It All Together (It’s So Easy!)

  1. First, dredge the chicken
  2. Next, fry the chicken in batches and place on paper towels to absorb excess oil
  3. Then, make the sauce and pour it over the cooked chicken.
  4. Lastly, gently stir to coat the chicken in sauce.

Lighten It Up

Because this recipe is fried, it may not be considered the healthiest Panda Express copycat recipe (see our other copycat options below). If you are looking for a healthier alternative, instead of frying, heat a little oil in a large skillet and cook chicken on each side for 5-7 minutes or until cooked through and THEN add the sauce. You can also just fry until the chicken is cooked on the outside and then place the chicken on a baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until cooked through (165 degrees F). You will still get a little bit of a crispy texture and still have all the flavor! Try reducing the sugar amounts or even use a sugar substitute (may affect sweetness and flavor).

Orange Chicken in a bowl next to a bowl of rice, green onions and chop sticks.

Air Fryer Panda Express Orange Chicken

To fry your chicken in the air fryer, you just need to make sure you are coating your chicken with cooking spray before it cooks. All air fryers are different so check the correct temperatures and times for chicken pieces. We cook ours at 350 for about 10-12 minutes on each side, spraying any parts of the chicken with dry flour with cooking spray while turning. Just make sure the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F before serving. 

Gluten Free Panda Express Orange Chicken

Because we use a cornstarch coating for this recipe instead of flour, it is REALLY close to being gluten free. However, as you can see in the recipe below, we use soy sauce in the orange sauce, which contains gluten. The good news is, GF soy sauce is easy to find. Just replace regular soy sauce with a gluten-free brand and you should be good to go. As always, check labels on everything to make sure you’re working with gluten free ingredients.

Chopsticks grabbing a piece of Orange Chicken.

Frequently Asked Questions about Orange Chicken

Is Orange Chicken the same as General Tso?

Orange Chicken is a variation of General Tso’s Chicken (which IS an authentic Chinese dish). Orange Chicken is definitely “Americanized” and much sweeter, made with brown sugar and soy sauce. If you are able to find an Orange Chicken in China, it will probably be “Orange PEEL Chicken” which is a similar dish that is flavored with orange rinds, creating a much tangier flavor.

Why do they call it Orange Chicken?

Originally, Orange Chicken wasn’t breaded and the sauce was made with leftover orange and lemon peels. So it was citrusy, but kind of bitter, not sweet like it has become today.

Is Orange Chicken usually white meat?

Generally, orange chicken is made with dark meat, which is juicier and more flavorful than white meat. But you can use whichever you prefer when you make it at home.

How do I store and reheat orange chicken?

Store leftover orange chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Please do not reheat in the microwave! The chicken will no longer be crisp. Stir-fry leftovers in a wok or skillet with a little bit of canola oil or sesame oil over medium-high heat. You can also reheat orange chicken in an air fryer for great results!

What to Serve with Orange Chicken

We pull out all the stops when putting together a Chinese feast. Sure, you can make things simple by serving this dish alongside some steamed broccoli or stir-fry vegetables and steamed white or brown rice, but if you’re wanting to wow friends and family with a scrumptious Asian-inspired spread, try a few of these delightful recipes:

How to Make Orange Chicken

Chopsticks grabbing a piece of Orange Chicken.

Orange Chicken Recipe

5 from 35 votes
This Orange Chicken recipe tastes just like the popular Panda Express dish, but made with simple ingredients right at home! Tender chicken in tangy sauce beats restaurant take-out any day!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine Chinese
Servings 6

Video

Ingredients

Chicken:

Orange Sauce:

Instructions

  • Cut chicken into 1 1/2” bite-size pieces. Combine cornstarch salt, and pepper.
    Ziplock bag with corn starch mix, beaten egg and cut up chicken for Orange Chicken.
  • Dip chicken in beaten eggs and shake in cornstarch mixture to coat.
    Battered chicken pieces for Orange Chicken in a dish.
  • Deep fry chicken in batches at 375 degrees in a deep fryer (or use a wok) until completely cooked.
    Fryer, battered chicken and a pan with paper towels to make Orange Chicken.
  • Remove chicken pieces from pan or fryer and allow to drain on paper towels.
    Fried chicken on a paper towel for Orange Chicken.
  • Meanwhile, in a large saucepan combine 1 cup water, lemon juice, orange juice, rice vinegar, and soy sauce. Whisk ingredients together over medium heat for a few minutes. Stir in brown sugar, orange zest, ginger garlic, and onion. Bring to a boil.
    Pan of Orange Chicken sauce base.
  • Combine 3 tablespoons of cornstarch with ¼ cup of water and mix thoroughly. Slowly stir cornstarch mixture into sauce until it thickens.
    Spoon holding up thickened sauce for Orange Chicken.
  • Place fried chicken in a large bowl and pour sauce over the top.
    Sauce pouring onto fried chicken for Orange Chicken.
  • Fold the sauce into the chicken or toss gently to coat. If desired add red pepper flakes and garnish with green onions.
    Stirring a bowl of saucy Orange Chicken.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 580kcalCarbohydrates: 62gProtein: 32gFat: 22gSaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 175mgSodium: 1036mgPotassium: 479mgFiber: 1gSugar: 37gVitamin A: 787IUVitamin C: 9mgCalcium: 56mgIron: 2mg

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About the author

Erica Walker

Erica lives in Boise, Idaho with her husband, Jared, an attorney, and her three beautiful girls. Beyond the world of recipes, she loves adventuring with everything from kayaking, to cruising, to snowboarding and taking the family along for the thrill ride.

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This is so good, I had a hard time not eating it all before serving it to my husband. So much better than take away.

  2. 5 stars
    This tasted just like Panda Express! My family thought I got take out haha. Thanks for a great dub for the real thing.

  3. 5 stars
    Glad I can make this delicious orange chicken at home and no need for me to rush to the mall to get my Asian food fix! YUM!

  4. 5 stars
    My family loves Chinese food and all things chicken! This copycat orange chicken recipe is a real winner!

  5. How do you think this would be with half the sugar? We’ve cut out most sugar and wondering if 1/2 cup would still taste ok?

  6. 5 stars
    Used an orange off my tree, didn’t have fresh ginger so used ground and didn’t have green onions so threw in some dehydrated. I fried the chicken in my big skillet all together, just kept turning until done, drained the oil and poured the sauce on and stirred. I don’t like it hot or spicey so didn’t add the pepper flakes. So yummy and better than Panda ???? Will make again!

    1. Yum! That all sounds delicious. Fresh oranges from your own tree? Yes please! That sounds amazing!

  7. 5 stars
    I made this and I have to say I was VERY impressed. Never new I could make something like this in my own kitchen and it taste as if I ordered it in a 5* restaurant. Everyone thought I’d ordered out. Thank you. It will BE made often.

  8. I am not sure how I happened to come upon this website/blog? But I am excited to try the orange chicken. I have looked at some of these question/answers and glad to see that you are a part of them. That is something I always hope to see! I will look at your whole blog tomorrow (when then the sun is new for me 🙂 ) and enjoy it all then, I am sure. Thank you very much! From an old lady and her husband. Linda B

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