Who needs Chinese takeout when you can make this show-stopping 3-ingredient orange chicken?
Orange chicken gives me so much joy. The chicken itself is amazing with its crispy exterior and juicy interior. But what makes it a true standout is the sauce.
Oh, how I love that sticky sauce. It’s sweet, tangy, savory, smoky – every delicious flavor you can think of!
Are you ready for a hearty Asian feast? This 3-ingredient orange chicken will give Panda Express a run for its money.
3-Ingredient Orange Chicken
Orange chicken is a sweet and savory dish popularized by Panda Express.
While not an authentic Chinese recipe, it’s an American adaptation of Chinese sweet and sour chicken.
Chicken pieces are battered and deep-fried and then coated in a sweet and sticky orange glaze. Be still, my heart!
Sure, you can always count on Panda Express to get your orange chicken fix, but you can also make it yourself at a fraction of the cost. Don’t worry, it’s easier than you think.
What Is Orange Chicken Sauce Made Of?
What makes this recipe so dear to me is that the sauce is such a cinch to make. You’ll literally just combine these three ingredients, and voila!
Plus, these ingredients aren’t even hard to find. In fact, I’m pretty sure you already have them on hand.
- Orange marmalade – The key ingredient that gives the sauce its signature orange flavor. There are no specific brand requirements here, just pick your favorite.
- Soy sauce – It adds a nice umami flavor that balances out the sweetness and tanginess of the orange marmalade. You can opt for low sodium for a more wholesome sauce.
- Barbecue sauce – I know it sounds strange, but trust me on this. Barbecue sauce blends really well with the other two ingredients and gives the sauce a touch of smokiness. Just as with the marmalade, feel free to pick your favorite.
Tips for the Best Chicken
- Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces for faster cooking and easier eating.
- The recipe card below shows you how to batter and fry the chicken, but you can cook it any way you want. For instance, for a healthier, oil-free option, roast the chicken in the oven.
- Use a heavy bottom cast-iron skillet for frying. It yields a crispier crust on the chicken than a regular frying pan.
- Do not overcrowd the pan to avoid steaming the chicken. Cook in batches if your pan is too small.
- For tastier chicken, marinate it in a blend of soy sauce, sake, and ginger. The marinade lends an umami flavor and a bit of spice that compliments really well with the orange sauce. Eight hours is best, but if you’re in a hurry, marinate it for 15 minutes at the least.
- If you don’t have time to make a batter, just coat the chicken in potato starch or cornstarch. This gives the chicken a nice, crispy crust once fried.
- For an extra orange-y flavor, add orange juice and orange zest to the sauce. You can also serve the chicken with orange slices for presentation.
- If you want a spicy sauce, throw a pinch of red pepper flakes into the mix.
- Be sure the chicken is cooked through by testing it with a meat thermometer. It should read at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
- The orange sauce isn’t only great with chicken, but with other meats, too, such as pork, beef, fish fillets, and shrimp.
- Stir the sauce frequently to prevent it from burning at the bottom.
- If the sauce is way too thick, stir in orange juice or chicken stock until desired thickness is achieved.
- Garnish the dish with sesame seeds and chopped scallions for extra oomph.
- If you’re serving the chicken with rice, prepare it right before you start this recipe. That way, both dishes will be done cooking around the same time.
- Place leftovers in a sealable container and refrigerate for up to 3 to 4 days. The chicken won’t be crispy anymore, but just as tasty.
- For a longer shelf-life, freeze the chicken in a freezer-safe container. Reheat in the microwave or on the stove.
What to Serve With Orange Chicken?
To me, the only way to eat orange chicken is with a bowl of steaming white rice.
I love how the rice absorbs the sauce and starts to taste just as amazing as the chicken. This combo is comfort food at its best!
If you’re on a low-carb diet, cauliflower rice is the perfect alternative. It’s much lighter and healthier, and its texture is on point.
You can also serve vegetable stir-fry on the side for a more substantial meal.
A medley of broccoli, sugar snap peas, bok choy, and bell peppers flavored with soy sauce and honey pairs well with orange chicken.
Can You Make This Dish in a Slow Cooker?
Definitely. I’ve done it with chicken breast, and it turned out amazing! Here’s how:
1. Cook 4 chicken breasts and 1 cup of chicken stock for 3 hours on high or 5 to 6 hours on low.
2. Drain the juices and add the sauce ingredients to the pot. Cook for 20 minutes.
3. Shred the chicken with a fork. Serve with rice.
More Simple Chicken Dinners to Try
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