OMG you guyyyysssss… Orange chicken has been on my list for-ev-er and I finally got around to making it today and now I’m kicking myself for not making it sooner because this Easy Orange Chicken is most definitely my new favorite! The chicken pieces are tender, juicy, and lightly breaded, while the sauce is sweet and spicy, with a whoosh of fresh orange. Absolutely perfect.
The Pan Fry Method for Easy Orange Chicken
I really don’t like fried food, but I can’t deny that a little bit of fried flavor helps dishes like this feel more authentic (and by “authentic” I mean tasting like Americanized take-out, LOL), so for this Easy Orange Chicken I used the same pan-fry method that I used for my Easy Sesame Chicken. This method involves coating the chicken pieces in a thin cornstarch and egg batter, then frying with a small amount of oil in a skillet until golden brown.
Tips for Success with the Cornstarch Method
Some people have had trouble with this method in the previous recipe, so I want to give you a couple tips here:
- Make sure your skillet is nice and hot. If it’s too cool the egg batter will slide off the chicken and turn into scrambled eggs in your skillet.
- Don’t stir the chicken too much while it cooks. After adding the chicken to your skillet, don’t touch it until it’s golden on the bottom, then flip, and cook again. Stirring too much can knock the cooked batter off the chicken, leaving you again with separate cooked eggs and chicken.
- If you’re a beginner, use a non-stick skillet. If you prefer to use stainless steel, let the skillet heat up before adding the oil. This helps prevent the egg from sticking.
This cornstarch-egg frying method gives the chicken pieces just a touch of breading and fried flavor, while leaving the dish tasting light and fresh. IMHO, it’s absolutely perfect.
What to Serve with Orange Chicken
That zest on top really makes the orange flavor POP! ✨
Easy Orange Chicken
- 1 large orange ($0.70)
- 3 Tbsp soy sauce ($0.28)
- 1.5 Tbsp brown sugar ($0.06)
- 1/2 Tbsp rice vinegar ($0.06)
- 1 tsp grated fresh ginger ($0.04)
- 1 clove garlic, minced ($0.08)
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes ($0.02)
- 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch ($0.02)
STIR FRIED CHICKEN
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 1.3 lbs.) ($3.94)
- 1 large egg ($0.27)
- 2 Tbsp cornstarch ($0.08)
- Pinch of salt and pepper ($0.05)
- 2 Tbsp cooking oil ($0.08)
- 4 cups cooked rice ($0.75)
- 2 green onions, sliced ($0.14)
- Remove the zest from the orange using a zester or small-holed cheese grater, then squeeze the juice from the orange. You'll need about 1 tsp zest and 1/2 cup juice. Combine the juice and 1 tsp zest with the soy sauce, brown sugar, rice vinegar, grated ginger, minced garlic, red pepper flakes, and 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch in a small sauce pot. Before placing it over heat, whisk until the cornstarch is fully dissolved. Heat the mixture over medium-low until it begins to simmer, thicken, and turns into a glossy glaze (about 3-5 minutes). Remove the sauce from heat and set it aside.
- Use a sharp knife to remove any excess fat from the chicken thighs, then cut them into small 3/4-inch pieces.
- Combine the egg, 2 Tbsp cornstarch, and a pinch of salt and pepper in a mixing bowl and whisk until the mixture is smooth and frothy. Add the chicken pieces and stir to coat them in the egg mixture.
- Heat a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Once hot, add 2 Tbsp cooking oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the skillet. Add the chicken, making sure all the pieces are touching the surface and not piled on top of one another. Let the pieces cook until they are golden brown on the bottom.
- Flip the chicken pieces, breaking them apart from one another as you turn them. Let them cook until golden brown on the second side and cooked through (about 5-7 minutes total cooking).
- Turn the heat off under the skillet and pour on the prepared orange sauce. Stir to coat the chicken pieces in sauce.
- Serve the chicken and sauce over cooked rice, garnished with sliced green onions and any left over orange zest.
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How to Make Homemade Orange Chicken – Step by Step Photos
Begin by making the orange sauce so that it’s ready to go when you need it. Zest one large orange, then squeeze as much juice out of it as you can. You’ll need about 1 tsp zest and 1/2 cup juice.
Combine the orange juice and orange zest in a small sauce pot with 3 Tbsp soy sauce, 1.5 Tbsp brown sugar, 1/2 Tbsp rice vinegar, 1 tsp grated fresh ginger, 1 clove of minced garlic, 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, and 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch. Whisk them all together until the cornstarch is fully dissolved before heating. Once combined, heat the sauce over medium-low until it begins to simmer, thicken, and turns into a glossy glaze. This should be relatively quick, or about 3-5 minutes. Turn the heat off and set the sauce aside.
Trim any excess fat from four boneless, skinless chicken thighs, then cut them into 3/4-inch pieces. This was about 1.33 pounds of chicken.
Whisk together one large egg, 2 Tbsp cornstarch, and a pinch of salt and pepper until it’s light and frothy. The mixture may seem dry at first, but the cornstarch will begin to melt into the moisture from the egg.
Add the chicken pieces and toss them until they’re coated in the egg mixture.
Heat a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat, then add 2 Tbsp cooking oil and swirl until the skillet is coated. Add the chicken pieces to the skillet so that they are in a single layer and not piled on top one another. Let them cook until golden brown on the bottom, then begin to turn the chicken pieces, breaking them apart from one another and you flip. Let the chicken cook on the second side until golden as well and the pieces are cooked through. Try not to stir the chicken too much to avoid the batter falling off. Total cooking time should be about 5-7 minutes.
Turn the heat off, then add the prepared orange sauce. Stir to coat the chicken pieces in sauce.
Garnish the chicken with sliced green onions and any leftover orange zest.
Serve the Easy Orange Chicken over warm cooked rice (preferably jasmine rice) and enjoy!