This orange chicken is a Panda Express copycat recipe with crispy chicken in a sweet and tangy orange sauce. My version tastes just as good as the restaurant version and is easy to make at home!
Chinese orange chicken is totally irresistible – that SAUCE, it just makes the dish something special. This chicken has the same flavors as the Chinese food classic made in the comfort of your own kitchen. Serve your orange chicken with veggie fried rice or chicken chow mein for a complete meal.
Some of my favorite dishes are the copycat dishes I get to play around with. This Panda Express orange chicken definitely makes it to the top of the list as one of my favorite meals to make. The kids always come back for seconds. Serve your chicken as part of an Asian style meal along with beef lettuce wraps and egg drop soup.
Table of Contents
Orange Chicken Ingredients
To make this recipe, you will need chicken thighs, eggs, salt, black pepper, flour, cornstarch, vegetable oil, sesame seeds, green onions, garlic, ginger, orange juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, orange zest, red pepper flakes, rice vinegar and sesame oil.
How Do You Make Orange Chicken?
Start by placing eggs, salt and pepper in a bowl. Next, mix together flour and cornstarch and heat your oil in a deep pan. Dip each piece of chicken into the eggs, then roll the chicken in the flour mixture. Fry the chicken pieces in batches until they are crispy and brown, then drain the chicken on paper towels. While the chicken is cooking, prepare the sauce. Cook some garlic and ginger in a skillet or pan, then add the rest of the sauce ingredients and bring to a simmer. Add some cornstarch to thicken the sauce, then toss the fried chicken in the sauce. Sprinkle sesame seeds and green onions on the chicken, then serve and enjoy.
Tips For The Perfect Dish
- This recipe is best when served immediately, as the crispy coating will soften over time as it absorbs the sauce.
- I recommend serving your chicken with steamed rice, noodles, cauliflower rice or even quinoa for a complete meal.
- If you’re planning to make this recipe in advance, fry the chicken then store it separate from the sauce. When you’re ready to eat, reheat the chicken in the oven at 400 degrees F until crispy, then warm up the sauce on the stove and toss everything together.
- It’s best to fry the chicken in small batches so that everything will cook evenly.
- Choose a neutral oil for frying that has a high smoke point. Some great options include vegetable oil, canola oil or peanut oil.
It’s very important to use a deep frying thermometer for this recipe. If the oil is too cold, the chicken coating will absorb too much grease. If the oil is too hot, the coating may burn before the meat is cooked through.
This recipe is very close to the Panda Express recipe with fried chicken pieces in a sweet and savory orange sauce. Classic Panda Express orange chicken doesn’t include the sesame seeds and green onion, but I add them for the color and flavor. These two ingredients are definitely optional and don’t define the dish. So, if you want an exact Panda Express replica, omit these two ingredients.
Orange chicken is not the healthiest dinner choice because it’s fried and the sauce contains sugar. If you’re looking for a healthier version, you could try stir frying your chicken in a small amount of oil instead of breading and deep frying it, and cut the sugar in the recipe down by half or use low calorie sweetener.
This dish can absolutely be made in a slow cooker. Of course, there’s a difference in the way it’s prepared. I actually love making orange chicken in the crockpot and show you how to do so in my slow cooker orange chicken recipe!
Orange chicken sauce is made of vegetable oil, garlic, ginger, orange juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, orange zest, red chili flakes, rice vinegar, sesame oil, water and cornstarch.
While this recipe is delicious as-is, you can make some customizations to suit your tastes.
- Protein: You can use chicken breasts instead of chicken thighs. You could also use thinly sliced beef or shrimp. For a similar flavor without the deep frying, check out my orange shrimp and broccoli and orange beef stir fry recipes.
- Vegetables: Feel free to toss some cooked veggies in with the chicken and sauce. Some great options include broccoli, green beans, bok choy, carrots or mushrooms.
- Flavorings: For an extra kick of sweet orange flavor, stir a tablespoon of orange marmalade into the sauce. If you prefer a spicier dish, you can add more red chili flakes or stir in some sriracha.
Whether you prefer this chicken in the slow cooker or oven, either way, it turns out to be one of my favorite dishes every time. It has such a bold, sweet flavor that it’s hard to put the fork down! My kids are always begging for this dish and I’m always happy to serve it!
Orange Chicken Video
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For the chicken:
- 1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into 1 inch pieces
- 2 eggs lightly beaten
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- oil for frying
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- 1/4 cup sliced green onions
For the orange sauce:
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 cup orange juice
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons orange zest plus additional for garnish if desired
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
For the chicken
- Place the eggs in a bowl; add salt and pepper to taste.
- Mix together the flour and cornstarch and place in a shallow bowl or on a plate.
- Heat 3 inches of oil in a deep pan to 350 degrees F.
- Dip each piece of chicken into the egg mixture, then coat in the flour mixture. Repeat the process for all of the chicken pieces.
- Fry 8-9 pieces of chicken at a time for 5 minutes or until browned. Repeat with all the remaining chicken.
For the sauce
- While the chicken is cooking, make the sauce.
- Heat the 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 1 minute.
- Add the orange juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, orange zest, crushed red pepper, rice vinegar and sesame oil to the pan. Bring to a simmer.
- Whisk together the cornstarch and water. Add to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly, or until sauce has thickened.
- Add the chicken pieces to the pan and toss to coat with the sauce. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and green onions and serve. Garnish with additional orange zest if desired.
- It’s very important to use a deep frying thermometer for this recipe. If the oil is too cold, the chicken coating will absorb too much grease. If the oil is too hot, the coating may burn before the meat is cooked through.
- This dish is best when served immediately, as the coating on the chicken will soften over time as it absorbs the sauce.