This home made Orange Chicken recipe is so light and easy, you be floored at how fast it is make Chinese food at home! Skip the breading and frying, but keep the delicious orange chicken sauce in this weeknight dinner that’ll make you forget takeout. 

       

Making Chinese food at home can seem intimidating, but I guarantee that you’ll have this easy orange chicken recipe on the table in under 30 minutes!

What makes it so different from other orange chicken recipes out there is that I skip the heavy breading and frying but keep the bright and luscious orange sauce that coats every inch of the chicken. This sauce is so easy and delicious, you’ll want to have your pork, shrimp, or even stir-fry veggies swimming in it!

What is the Difference Between General Tso’s and Orange Chicken?

I love both of these Chinese take-out classics, but what’s the difference between these two breaded chicken recipes?

A serving of Easy Orange Chicken in a dark sauté pan. A dark serving spoon has a scoop of the chicken and orange sauce in it ready to be served.

Both are fried chicken in mild, sweet, and savory sauces. General Tso’s sauce is chile-based making it on the spicy side. Chinese orange chicken sauce is, like its name suggests, orange-based with just a hint of heat if you want to add hot red pepper to it at all. 

Orange chicken is also a bit brighter in flavor and lighter in color than General Tso’s. And if you like crispy orange chicken, I know you’ll love this lightened up recipe, too!

Orange Chicken Ingredients

This is the basic shopping list for the best homemade orange chicken. The full list of ingredients is in the recipe card below, so be sure to keep scrolling down to check it out!

Ingredients for Easy Orange Chicken on a white marble counter. The chicken has been cooked and is in a dark sauté pan.

For the chicken:

  • Boneless chicken thighs or breasts
  • Extra virgin olive oil

For the sauce:

  • Low-sodium chicken broth
  • Orange — you’ll need the juice and some zest. You can also add some orange peel slices for a little extra oomph!
  • White vinegar or rice wine vinegar
  • Low-sodium soy sauce or coconut aminos
  • Brown sugar — dark or light works here
  • Fresh garlic and fresh ginger
  • Cayenne pepper — optional, but recommended if you like a little heat
  • Cornstarch

Overhead photo of a serving of Easy Orange Chicken in a white bowl served over white rice with steamed broccoli on the side. There is a small wooden bowl of sesame seeds in the top left of the photo.

How to Make Orange Chicken

Here are the quick steps for how to make this easy orange chicken recipe! The full instruction list is in the recipe card below, so be sure to keep scrolling down to the card.

STEP 1: Season the chicken pieces all over with salt and pepper.

STEP 2: Sauté the chicken until it’s fully cooked. Tent it with foil on a plate and let it rest while you make the sauce.

A hand is holding a white bowl with a spoon and cornstarch slurry in it. The bowl is held over a dark sauté pan with the start of the orange sauce in it.

STEP 3: Whisk the sauce liquids, orange zest, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, and cayenne pepper together in your pan. 

STEP 4: While the sauce simmers, whisk some cornstarch and water together until all the clumps disappear. Stir it into the sauce and let it simmer a bit more until it’s translucent and luscious. 

STEP 5: Toss the cooked chicken in the orange sauce until it’s completely coated. I like to garnish this chicken with sesame seeds and sliced scallions when I serve it.

Sautéed chicken pieces in the orange sauce in a dark sauté pan. Next to the pan are scallions and a bowl of white rice.

Tips For this Recipe

  • No more rubbery chicken! When cooking the chicken, be sure you don’t crowd the pan. A crowded pan will steam the chicken and turn it rubbery. Yuck! Instead, sauté the chicken in batches so that you only cook a single and spaced-out layer of chicken at a time.
  • Sauce too thin? Cornstarch will thicken this sauce once it starts to bubble. Add more cornstarch and water mixture for an extra sticky sauce.
  • Want an extra orange boost? Stir some orange peel strips into the sauce as it simmers with the cornstarch mixture.

Close up photo of orange chicken topped with sliced scallions.

What to Serve with Orange Chicken

You can always keep it simple and serve orange chicken with some rice and call it a night. White rice, brown rice, riced cauliflower, or even quinoa are all perfect to absorb all the yummy orange sauce. 

For low-carb serving options, go with cauliflower rice or wrap the chicken up in lettuce wraps!

Step up your rice game with this delicious veggie fried rice on the side of this chicken recipe.

A serving of Easy Orange Chicken in a white bowl served over white rice with steamed broccoli on the side.

I love lo mein noodles as a side dish or an entrée. It’s easy to keep these simple ingredients at home all the time to add as a side dish to this chicken for an easy weeknight dinner.

If you’re keeping it light, try this fresh and crunchy bok choy brown rice salad on the side of this meal. It’s got an unforgettable orange sesame dressing, which goes perfectly with the flavors of this orange chicken.

A serving of Easy Orange Chicken in a white bowl served over white rice with steamed broccoli on the side.

Easy Orange Chicken Recipe (Lightened Up)

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Additional Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Orange chicken is known to be a crispy and delicious Chinese take-out meal or like the mandarin orange chicken you can buy from Trader Joe's. But orange chicken doesn't have to be fried and heavy! Here's my twist on an easy orange chicken recipe that's been lightened up!

Ingredients

For the chicken:

  • 1 ½ lbs boneless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

For the sauce:

  • ¼ cup plus 2 tbsp low-sodium chicken broth
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
  • ¾ tsp finely grated orange zest
  • 3 tbsp white vinegar or rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce or coconut aminos
  • ¼ cup brown sugar (dark or light)
  • 1 large or 2 small garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 3 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp cold water
  • 4 thin strips orange peel (optional)

For serving:

  • 2 ½ cups cooked white or brown rice, riced cauliflower rice, or quinoa
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced (white and green parts)

Instructions

  1. To make the chicken: Season the chicken pieces with a good pinch of salt and pepper.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté the chicken in the oil in a single layer until cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. You don't want to crowd the chicken in the pan or it will just steam and get rubbery so cook the chicken in 2 batches if your pan isn't large enough to cook it all at once. Transfer the cooked chicken to a plate and set aside under a piece of aluminum foil to keep it warm.
  3. To make the sauce: Combine the chicken broth, orange juice, orange zest, vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger and cayenne pepper (if using) in the pan you cooked the chicken in. Whisk to blend well. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. 
  4. In a small bowl, whisk the cornstarch and water together until smooth. Add the mixture to the pan with the sauce. Continue simmering until the sauce is thick and translucent, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the strips of orange peel, if using.
  5. Toss with the cooked chicken pieces into the sauce to coat the chicken completely with the sauce. 
  6. Divide the rice/quinoa between 4 plates and serve the chicken over the rice/quinoa. Sprinkle the sesame seeds and scallions over the top of the chicken before serving.

Notes

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