Crispy orange chicken is made from tender chunks of chicken thighs, coated in crispy panko breadcrumbs and oven baked for extra crunch. Team with a bowl of chinese fried rice, smother in tangy orange sauce, and you have a quick and easy Chinese meal that you’ll want to make again and again.
Crispy orange chicken is made from tender chunks of chicken thighs, covered in panko breadcrumbs for extra crunch, and oven-baked for crispness. It is covered in tangy orange sauce which provides a delicious citrus flavour that goes so well with chicken.
I’ve called my recipe crispy orange chicken, but you could substitute the orange for lemon and make it with a crispy lemon chicken instead – it will taste just as good!
The secret to extra crispy chicken is to coat the chicken in panko breadcrumbs (see this link on Wikipedia if you are unsure what panko breadcrumbs are) and then bake it in the oven until the crumbs are golden brown and crunchy. The chicken stays wonderfully juicy inside the crumbs.
This is one of my favourite quick and easy supper recipes – the sauce comes together in 5 minutes and the chicken only takes 15 minutes in the oven. And with a preparation time of only 15 minutes you can have this dish on the table in just over half an hour.
Serve the crispy orange chicken on a bed of chinese egg fried rice or noodles, and pour the orange sauce over the top.
How to make crispy orange chicken
To make the orange sauce you will need the following ingredients:
- Juice of 1 orange – this is approximately 1/4 cup
- 1 teaspoon orange zest – grate the outer zest from the orange before you squeeze the juice out. Make sure you don’t grate the white part as this is quite bitter.
- 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
- 4 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 4 Tablespoons brown sugar – you can use light or dark brown sugar.
- 2 cloves garlic – very finely minced. If you don’t have fresh garlic you can substitute with your favourite garlic paste.
- 2 Teaspoons cornflour – mixed to a paste with 2 Tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon groudnut oil – this is optional. I like to use it because it gives the sauce a nice shiny finish. If you don’t have groundnut oil you could use any neutral flavour oil, such as sunflower oil.
To coat the chicken you will need the following:
- 1/2 cup cornflour – approximately. The exact amount will depend on how many pieces chicken you have.
- 2 large eggs – lightly beaten.
- 1/2 packet Panko breadcrumbs – once again, this is approximate, depending on the amount of chicken.
For the chicken you will need:
- 600g – 800g boneless chicken thighs – this depends entirely on your family’s appetite. I find that 600g is sufficient for 4 adults.
- Salt – to sprinkle over the chicken before coating
Steps to make crispy orange chicken
Rinse the chicken under cold water, then pat dry with kitchen paper towels.
Cut the chicken into bite-sized chunks and sprinkle with salt to taste.
I find that I can get 4 – 6 pieces from each thigh, depending on the size of the thighs.
Coat the chicken
Prepare a baking-sheet by covering it with tin-foil or a piece of baking parchment.
Take 3 flat dishes or plates. Put the cornflour in the first one. Add the beaten egg to the second one. Pour the Panko breadcrumbs into the third one.
Note – the quantities given above are approximate only. You can always add more cornflour or breadcrumbs if you run out half-way through coating the chicken. It’s better than having to throw it away if you put too much on the plate.
Coating the chicken is a messy business. I have found this to be the easiest way to do it, without ending up with fingers covered in egg and breadcrumb lumps.
Coat all the chicken with cornfour first – then rinse and dry your hands.
Now take one hand and take a piece of cornflour coated chicken, and dip it in the egg. Place into the breadcrumbs.
Take the other hand and coat the chicken in breadcrumbs and place on the prepared baking sheet.
Repeat until all the chicken has been coated with egg and breadcrumbs.
Place the baking tray (you may need more than one) in a pre-heated oven (200C / 400F) and bake for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes check the chicken by cutting one piece in half – there should be no pink inside. If it is still pink, leave it in the oven for another minute or two.
The breadcrumbs should be crispy and golden.
How to make the orange sauce
Zest the orange on the smallest blade of your grater. Then cut the orange in half and squeese all the juice into a bowl.
Place all the ingredients for the sauce (except the cornflour and water) in a saucepan and bring to the boil.
Reduce the heat, cover with a lid and simmer for 5 minutes.
To thicken the sauce, mix the cornflour and water to a smooth paste and drizzle slowly into the sauce, stirring all the time, until it thickens. You may not need all the cornflour. The sauce should be a nice runny consistency. You want to be able to pour it over the chicken.
This recipe makes about 1 cup of sauce.
Can I freeze crispy orange chicken?
I wouldn’t freeze the cooked chicken as it will lose its crispiness once defrosted.
You can freeze the chicken pieces once they have been coated in breadcrumbs.
To freeze, place the chicken pieces on the baking sheet in the freezer until they are well frozen, then transfer them to a ziploc bag and leave in the freezer.
To cook – place the frozen chicken pieces on a baking sheet in a pre-heated oven (200C / 400F) and bake for 15 minutes until the crumbs are golden and crispy. Cut a piece of chicken in half and check that the chicken is not pink on the inside. If it is still pink allow to cook for one or two minutes longer.
To freeze the sauce
You can freeze the cooled orange sauce in a plastic container.
To use, tip the frozen sauce into a saucepan and heat gently until the sauce defrosts and starts to boil.
Can I double the recipe for the sauce?
To make a larger quantity you can double all the ingredients with the exception of the garlic. I would stick to 2 cloves unless you like your garlic really strong.
When thickening the sauce, just make sure to drizzle the cornflour mixture in slowly to ensure the sauce does not become too thick.
To make crispy orange chicken you will need the following equipment. In case you are missing something I have included some links to items on Amazon that I either use myself or personally recommend.
- Baking sheet – for baking the chicken
- Saucepan – for making the sauce
- Flat dishes or plates – for holding the coating ingredients
- Zester – for zesting the orange
- Panko breadcrumbs – for the extra crispy coating
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Recipe – Crispy Orange Chicken
Crispy Orange Chicken
For the chicken
- 600 g Boneless chicken thighs (for larger appetites use 800g)
- Salt to taste
For the chicken coating
- 1/2 cup cornflour approximately
- 2 large eggs lightly beaten
- 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs approximatey
For the orange sauce
- 1/4 cup orange juice approximately 1 orange
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
- 4 Tablespoons rice vinegar
- 4 Tablespoons brown sugar light or dark
- 2 cloves garlic finely minced
- 2 teaspoons cornflour
- 2 Tablespoons erwa
- 1 teaspoon groundnut or equivalent neutral flavoured oil
Prepare and coat the chicken
- Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F
- Rinse the chicken under cold water and pat dry
- Cut into bite-sized chunks
- Sprnikle with salt to taste
- Dip each chicken piece in cornflour then dip in egg and finally into panko breadcrumbs
- Place on a foil or baking parchment lined baking tray
- Place into pre-heated oven and bake for 10 minutes until chicken is cooked through and the crumbs are golden
For the orange sauce
- Place all ingredients except cornflour and water into a small saucepan and bring to the boil.
- Reduce the heat, cover with a lid and simmer for 5 minutes
- Mix the cornflour and water to a smooth paste and drizzle slowly into the sauce to thicken. Stir continuously and allow to simmer for another minute.
- Coat all the chicken with cornfour first – then rinse and dry your hands.
- Now take one hand and take a piece of cornflour coated chicken, and dip it in the egg. Place into the breadcrumbs.
- Take the other hand and coat the chicken in breadcrumbs and place on the prepared baking sheet.
- Repeat until all the chicken has been coated with egg and breadcrumbs.
The calorie count has been calculated using an on-line calculator and is provided for information purposes only. If the calorie count is important to you, you should consider calculating it yourself, using your preferred tool.
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If you enjoy Chinese food, perhaps you’d like to try Garlic Prawn Stirfry.
And don’t forget to serve this dish with Chinese Egg Fried Rice.
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