If you’re looking for a healthy meal, keep on looking.  But if you want to see one of my very favorite dinners, look no further.  Since this is essentially fried chicken in a sticky, sweet sauce over a bed of refined carbs, I only make this a couple of times a year.  But I enjoy it immensely every.single.time.  (I also guard the leftovers fiercely.)  Actually, I had only every tried orange chicken making this version at home.  This is supposed to be a knock-off version of a popular take-out meal.  When I finally got around to trying the “original”, I was sorely disappointed.  It doesn’t even compare.  So if you happen to like that take-out dish, then I think you will really enjoy this.  I particularly love how the cayenne pepper provides slight spicy counterbalance to the sweetness.  Can’t wait for the next six months to pass so I can justify eating this again :)
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For the marinade and sauce:
¾ cup low-sodium chicken broth
¾ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1½ tsp. finely grated orange zest
6 tbsp. white vinegar
¼ cup soy sauce
½ cup brown sugar (dark or light)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. fresh ginger, grated
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
1½ lbs. boneless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. cornstarch
2 tbsp. cold water
8 thin strips orange peel (optional)

For the coating and frying:
3 large egg whites
1 cup cornstarch
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
3 cups peanut or canola oil (I like a combination)


  • 01

    To make the marinade and sauce, combine the chicken broth, orange juice, orange zest, vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger and cayenne pepper in a large saucepan; whisk to blend well.  Measure out ¾ cup of the mixture and transfer it to a large zipper lock plastic bag.  Add the chicken pieces to the bag, pressing out the excess air and sealing well.  Refrigerate and let marinate 30-60 minutes, but no longer.  Place the saucepan with the remaining mixture on the stove and heat over medium-high heat.  Bring to a simmer.  In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water until smooth.  Add the mixture to the saucepan 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.

  • 02

    To prepare the coating, place the egg whites in a pie plate and whisk until frothy.  In a second pie plate combine the cornstarch, baking soda and cayenne pepper; whisk to blend.  Drain the chicken of the marinade in a colander or large strainer; pat dry with paper towels.  Place half of the chicken pieces in the egg whites and turn to coat.  Transfer the pieces to the cornstarch mixture and coat thoroughly, shaking off the excess.  Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining chicken pieces.

  • 03

    To fry the chicken, heat the oil in a 11- or 12-inch round Dutch oven or straight-sided sauté pan until the oil reaches 350˚ F.  Carefully place half of the chicken pieces in the oil and fry until golden brown, about 5 minutes, turning the pieces halfway through cooking.  Remove from the oil with a skimmer or slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.  Return the oil to 350˚ F and repeat with the remaining chicken pieces.

  • 04

    Reheat the sauce if necessary and toss with the cooked chicken pieces.  Serve over rice, if desired.

  • This combo of flavours sounds perfect!

  • Delicious Annie! The sweet/sour orange marinade is a winner…would work well with pork too!

  • Wow… I have to try this! I’ve been looking for a good orange chicken recipe!!!!

  • My husband and I discovered that Cook’s Illustrated orange chicken a few years ago and fell in LOVE with it!

    We don’t make it very often, though – but it’s been far too long since the last time. Thanks so much for the reminder – I’m pretty sure I’ve got a bunch of chicken thighs in the freezer. :)

  • Hahaha I love your anticipation with eating this again in six months. Sometimes it necessary to splurge with cooking your favorite dish wether it be healthy or not. I probabaly do it at least once a month :)

  • It’s hard to find good orange chicken at a restaurant. This really looks like it hits the spot!

    I’m trying to be healthy at the moment, but next time I’m in the mood for a treat, I’ll consider this. Bookmarked!

  • I agree that the take-out version of this isn’t that great at all… Your homemade version looks delicious!

  • Is it a really strong orange flavor? All the recipes I’ve tried seem to really punch the orange flavor, unlike the takeout versions?

  • BKing

    Good heavens! I cannot wait to make this. Thank you so, so much for all the amazing recipes you post. I have come to rely on your site for delicious recipes, both sweet and savory. Your recipes never disappoint. Thank you for all your time and effort–you & PW are my favorite food bloggers.

  • Orange chicken is one of my favorites. I hadn’t been able to find a good orange sauce before. This sounds wonderful!

  • Annie

    I don’t know, I’m sure each person’s definition of “strong” would vary. I think it’s just right.

  • I would serve this with some steamed broccoli and then call it healthy! ;)
    It looks delish!

  • Well I guess I will have to just try it and let you know! :)

  • I made Sesame Chicken last night, for the first time. I wasn’t all that thrilled with it, and I told my son that I want to make Orange Chicken, some time. So your recipe is perfect timing! I will definitely give this a try!

  • Sue

    We love orange chicken! This is a MUST TRY! Hopefully I have the control to make it only twice a year:)

  • This looks great! :)

  • When you posted this recipe a few years ago (I’m a long-time reader), I made it for my (then) boyfriend. Shortly thereafter he proposed, and I credit it in part to this recipe :-D. We’re blissfully married now, and eat this every few months (in lieu of the once delicious but now disgusting chemical taste ew Panda Express version).

    It seems like no matter what I do to it, it always turns out delicious! It’s a very forgiving recipe.

  • This sounds like something we would really like. However, if I make it, I’ll use the broiler. We do so little deep frying, and the oil, once having been used for chicken, ends up getting thrown out. Of course I could strain and refrigerate it. But – it don’t happen.

  • Such a yummy meal. I make a version of this with a couple adjustments and I think it is better than anything you can get at a restaurant. But most home cooked food is!

  • i love orange chicken! i’m sure this homemade version is WAYY better than takeout!

  • I just found out yout site, you are such an inspiration! Congratulations, the photos are beautiful.

  • This definitely just went on the list… my husband would love it!

  • Marcy

    This sounds great…but my hubby is on a diet and won’t let me fry things anymore. =) I may try marinating and cooking the chicken pieces without deep frying and tossing with the sauce – I’m sure it won’t be quite as delicious, but I need some new inspiration for dinner. Thanks for another great idea!

  • Looks amazing, way better than that frozen bag I get from Trader Joes! Can’t wait to try it, thanks for sharing!

  • A dish like this shouldn’t be healthy.. sounds delicious!

  • I’ve made this ATK recipe and can say it is amazing EVERY.SINGLE.TIME! :)

  • Forget health. This looks amazing!

  • I’ve made this several times before and love it as well. The cornstarch coating really hooks it up!

  • Bernie

    Does it have to be real fershly squeezed orange juice or can it be from a carton?

  • I don’t think I could go 6 months between this dish. I don’t have that kind of will power. Sweet and spicy makes such a great combination. I’m a little leery of deep frying. As I learn to cook more, I slowly start to attempt things that seemed really scary (deep frying) only a short time ago. Deep frying you are next! Now, excuse me, I must go buy a hot oil thermometer. Any recommendations?

  • Annie

    If you want it to taste good, yes, it should be freshly squeezed.

  • Annie

    I just use my candy thermometer.

  • Jessica

    Annie! Wow! I saw this recipe this morning and made my shopping list and came home and cooked it for dinner as fast as I could. Delicious! This is definitely going in the family favorite section of my recipe box!

    You’re blog is fabulous! Love it!

  • This was absolutely delish. Thank you for all of your great recipes. My family has loved every one of your recipes that I’ve tried!

  • Totally agreed that orange chicken in restaurants is not always what it’s cracked up to be. If you ever find yourself in Vermillion, SD (can’t imagine why) you must try it at Chae’s. It is absolutely to die for! Recently became vegan and will definitely be trying your recipe with some tofu, thanks for sharing!

  • I found an orange chicken recipe that I LOVE! It actually doesn’t have any orange in it at all but it tastes just the take out to me! I’ll have to try this recipe and see how they compare!

  • Tara

    All I can say is WOW! I made this tonight and I have to say everyone was impressed. I think this is the best chicken recipe I have ever made. So great, it’s puts take out to shame.

  • Orange chicken is my boyfriend’s favorite! I will be making this very, very soon!

  • This looks super yummy! I love orange chicken!

  • Looks addicting – just saved the recipe :)

  • Lori

    This recipe looks amazing! I came over from the nest looking for your apple compote recipe, but I’ll be trying this one also for sure! Question… can you make the marinade up a day or so before and keep in the fridge? Time is a little short after work and I like to prep things for dinner the night before. Would that work for this recipe?

  • Annie

    That would be fine, but don’t actually put the chicken in until you get home from work.

  • jen

    Just wanted to let you know my husband and I made this last night and we absolutely loved it! We added extra crushed red chili to up the heat a bit, and we skipped the egg whites. Instead, we just coated the chicken in the cornstarch while it was still wet with marinade. It was delicious! Thanks so much for the great recipe.

  • We tried this last night and my husband said, “If you can make Kung Pao Chicken like THIS, we won’t ever have to go to a Chinese place again.” It was absolutely amazing!!!

  • Julie

    Made this last night. My four year old was nervous about eating it. After he tasted it he exclaimed, “Mommy! You saved my life!” Needless to say, he liked it.

  • Oh my goodness – we made this last night and it is absolutely worth every single solitary second of the 3,600 on the elliptical it’ll take to burn this off. It is incredible! Thank you so much for sharing the recipe with all of us.

  • Val

    Made this for supper tonite and it was another hit for my family and myself. I know what you mean about “guarding the leftovers.” There was just abit left over. I love the cayenne pepper/fresh ginger that you can taste. Wow! Will make this dish again!

  • This recipe is so YUM. It has a spicy kick (ginger or cayenne pepper?) that is not too hot but spicy enough that your chapped lips will notice.

  • Meghan

    Yum! I made this tonight for dinner, and it was delicious! I don’t like orange chicken from Chinese restaurants, but it’s my husband’s favorite dish, so I thought I’d give him a special meal. I used a lot of dishes in the preparation, but it was worth it. Thanks for the great recipe!

  • jen

    you saved my bacon, annie! my lenten promise this year is no eating out…of course, i hadn’t yet shared that fact with my husband when he came home this morning offering a trip to panda express for dinner(the nearest is 70 miles away, i’m 20 weeks pregnant and have been craving it like mad, but we never got around to going)and turning him down almost made me cry. i’m making my shopping list right now and about to hit the store! thank you so much for sharing your cooking adventures, i’m really glad i stumbled upon your site! i will be visiting you regularly :)

  • Hi Annie,

    Your recipe is beautiful. Would it be all right with you if I shared it on my blog please? All credit would go to you and a link back here of course.


  • Annie


  • Thank-you Annie!

  • Sheila

    I made this last night for dinner and it was delicious! Time consuming if you’ve never made something like this before so give yourself plenty of time. ***** Stars for sure. I think today’s leftovers for lunch were EVEN BETTER!!!

  • I really need to try this!!!It’s mouthwatering…

  • Nina

    I made this tonight with Extra Firm Tofu instead of chicken! YUMMMMMM!! Find out about it on your Facebook update Annie :)) Thanks for all your post :))

  • Why only twice a year? Is it that unhealthy?

  • Annie

    Yes, it’s fried food. Fried = not healthy.

  • I’m made this Orange Chicken last night. Oh, my! It was delicious–I’ll never have to order from a Chinese restaurant again.

  • Chris

    This orange chicken was absolutely fantastic. We are a saucy people so I made extra marinade and served with steamed broccoli.

  • Chris

    I forgot to mention that I also used gluten free soy sauce in the marinade easily making this a gluten free meal.

  • Tempest Bisang

    I use carton-ed orange juice probably half the time I make this. Sure, the fresh squeezed tastes, well, fresher. But prepared OJ doesn’t make it taste bad. I think it’s almost as tasty as it is with fresh squeezed :)

  • Jessica

    could you just like brown it in a tbsp or two of olive oil instead of actually frying? would this help cut down on the ‘unhealthiness’? and do you think it would be as good? b/c i’m not a huge fan of fried food and have made chicken like this before? i love orange chicken and cant wait to try this recipe! thanks!

  • annieseats

    Would it be healthier that way? Yes. Would it be as good? No. But, feel free to make adaptations as you see fit. Enjoy!

  • Made this for dinner tonight (with tofu instead of chicken) and it was delicious! My 4 YO asked for seconds and I can’t wait to eat leftovers for lunch! I will say it used a decent amount of dishes, but when you cook regularly, you’re kinda used to that. :D And thanks to the poster below with the GF tip; good to tuck a few recipes away for when I’m entertaining GF friends!

  • Jessica

    I made it this way for dinner last night and it was yummy – my husband loved it! thanks again for another great recipe. This is def. my go-to food blog for just about everything! :)

  • Angottih

    I just made this for dinner tonight. WOW! I did everything the same except I was out of cornstarch, so I used flour. And, I didn’t want to fry it so I just sauteed them …then after I poured the sauce over the chicken in the sautee pan & let it simmer a couple minutes. OH MY GOSH! My husband & kids couldn’t believe how amazing it was! Panda Express orange chicken is their favorite and now they say they are never going to eat there again! Thanks! Love this awesome recipe!

  • Anuradha

    Looks great! Can this e made a day in advance or it won’t be as good?

  • annieseats

    It won’t be the same.

  • Anuradha

    Not even like 6-8 hrs before? I was planning to make it for guests and didn’t want to be cooking once they arrived.

  • annieseats

    If you want it to be best, it should be made fresh.

  • Malanaraka

    This is my new favorite recipe! I could eat it every day. Thank you!

  • Joy

    Just made this for dinner and loved it! My picky 6 year old even said “Mom, this is good!”

  • Sarah

    Great recipe, Annie! I made this several weeks ago and I am still talking about it. Like band camp…remember that one time I made that amazing orange chicken:)

  • annieseats

    Haha! So funny. My brothers feel the same way about this recipe. They talk about it all the time!

  • Kelly

    I have had this recipe on my “to-make” list for about a year. However, my first foray into Chinese American cooking did not go so well, and I have never had any orange chicken that really impressed me.

    Well, out of the blue I decided to try this. I trusted you, Annie.

    It was the worst idea I have had in awhile. It was so delicious I had a hard time putting it down! Not only that, but I can be certain I will be craving this long into the future!

    Thank you (again) for sharing an incredible recipe!

  • annieseats

    So glad it worked out for you, and glad you enjoyed it :)

  • Diane

    Made this last night and it was fabulous!!!! I totally loved it. I have a hard time with frying–getting the temp right–seems no matter what I do the temp just keeps rising. I think I got it right this time, though. I added a little more oil once it started to get too hot and it cooled off. Is it normal for the oil to cool quite a bit after you add the chicken?

  • annieseats

    Yes, that is expected since the chicken is a much cooler temp than the oil. If you are frying things in multiple batches, it’s always important to let the oil come back to temp before doing the second batch, otherwise the outside will appear cooked but the inside will not be done. Glad you enjoyed this!

  • Julie

    I made this for a friend who’s father just passed away. I doubled the recipe and filled a large foil pan (deep 13X9 pan) . It was easy to make, but it did take me longer than expected, about 2 1/2 hours. I doubled the sauce recipe. I like a little more zing, so I added a teaspoon of red pepper flakes to the sauce. I added broccoli and carrots both fresh and steamed in the microwave. I added fresh mushrooms and red julienned pepper which were sauteed in olive oil. Although I doubled the recipe using two packs of boneless, skinless, chicken breast, I only needed the three egg white wash (with a little water) and one cup of cornstarch. I added an additional teaspoon of cayenne pepper to the cornstarch. This recipe was a hit. I would definitely make this again and plan to add it to the kids cookbook I am making for Christmas.