This Orange Chicken recipe is a lighter version of the traditional take-out favorite. Tender chicken pieces are pan seared then smothered in the most delicious sweet and sticky orange sauce. I know this will become your favorite orange chicken recipe!
Orange Chicken is one of the most popular dishes at any Chinese-American restaurant and for sure every kid’s favorite takeout meal.
Although I love the deliciousness of battered crispy deep fried chicken pieces tossed in a magical sweet sauce, I wanted to come up with an orange chicken recipe that had less calories and didn’t involve a pot of hot oil for deep frying. A mouthwatering skinny orange chicken recipe that is easy to make during busy weekdays.
Is General Tso Chicken The Same As Orange Chicken?
No. General Tso and Orange Chicken are not the same but are very similar. In Chinese restaurants, both recipes consist of battered deep fried chicken pieces. The sauces however are a bit different. General Tso sauce is sweet with a chili base. Orange Chicken is also sweet but the sauce is made with orange juice.
Ingredients To Make This Orange Chicken Recipe
For the Chicken:
- Chicken – I used boneless and skinless chicken breast cut into bite sized pieces. Chicken thighs can also be used.
- Soy Sauce – For gluten free diets, use tamari. The soy sauce adds flavor and helps the cornstarch stick to the chicken.
- Corn Starch – Cornstarch gives the chicken a thin layer that gets crispy when pan seared.
- Oil – Use any mild oil of your preference. Vegetable oil, canola oil and avocado oil all work.
For the Orange Sauce:
- Orange Juice and Orange Zest – freshly squeezed is a must.
- Mirin – If you don’t have mirin, you can use white wine vinegar.
- Soy Sauce – you can use low sodium if you prefer, or tamari if following a gluten free life style.
- Brown Sugar
- Ginger – I use fresh ginger.
- Garlic – I use fresh garlic.
- Cornstarch – used as a thickener. You can use arrowroot or potato starch as well.
How To Make This Orange Chicken Recipe
- Make the sauce: Place the sauce ingredients (minus the cornstarch) in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Lower the heat and simmer for about 6 – 8 minutes. In a small bowl, make a slurry by mixing the cornstarch with water. Add the slurry to the sauce and simmer for a few minutes.
- Prepare the Chicken: In a bowl mix the chicken pieces, soy sauce and cornstarch until the chicken is well coated.
- Cook the Chicken: Heat the oil in a wok or large skillet over medium high heat. Cook the chicken in a single layer until the chicken is golden brown on all sides. You may need to do this in batches to not overcrowd the pan.
- Sauce it Up! Toss the chicken pieces with the orange sauce.
Is Orange Chicken Healthy?
- This orange chicken recipe is lighter and healthier than Chinese restaurant-style Orange Chicken. I use cornstarch instead of a heavy batter to create a light coating that will crisp up when pan frying. I also use less sugar than the typical orange chicken recipe.
Can I Make Orange Sauce Ahead of Time?
- Yes, the Orange Sauce can be made ahead and stored in an airtight container for about 3-4 days.
Orange Chicken Tips and Notes
- Using freshly squeezed orange juice is much better for this recipe as commercially bought juice contains a lot of sugar. If all you have is bottled juice, you may want to reduce the amount of brown sugar indicated in the recipe.
- When you cook the chicken, make sure you don’t overcrowd the skillet. You want to make sure the chicken is in a single layer having enough room for all the pieces to touch the bottom of the skillet. Too many pieces at once will steam the chicken instead.
- Serve this delicious dish with steamed rice or with this Jasmine Rice with Ginger and Lemongrass. Steamed vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and snow peas are also a great addition.
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Easy Orange Chicken
For the Orange Sauce
For the Chicken
- 2 pounds boneless and skinless chicken breast, cut into 3/4 to 1-inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2-3 tablespoons cooking oil (canola, vegetable, coconut, peanut or olive oil)
To Make the Orange Sauce
- Combine the orange juice, mirin, soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, garlic and orange zest in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for about 6-8 minutes.
- Make a slurry by combining the water and cornstarch in a small bowl.
- Add the slurry (cornstarch/water mixture) to the sauce. Mix well and allow to simmer for 3-5 minutes. The sauce should be a bit thicker than maple syrup. If you would like a thicker sauce read notes.
For the Chicken
- Place the chicken into a medium mixing bowl. Add the soy sauce and mix to combine. Add the cornstarch and mix well.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet or wok over medium high heat. Add the chicken, making sure they are all in a single layer touching the bottom of the skillet. You may have to cook the chicken in batches to make sure you get a crispy and golden layer. Too much chicken at one time can result in “steamed chicken” instead.
- Let the chicken cook until golden, flip and cook the other side until golden and cooked through, about 6-8 minutes total.
- Remove the chicken from the skillet and place them on a plate lined with paper towels. Continue until all the chicken is cooked.
- To serve, turn off the heat from under the skillet and discard any remaining oil. Return the crispy chicken to the skillet and pour in the orange sauce. Stir to coat the chicken with the sauce. Serve.
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