Sticky orange chicken is made from tender chunks of chicken, coated in crispy panko breadcrumbs and oven-baked for extra crunch. Team with a bowl of Chinese fried rice or noodles, smother it in tangy orange sauce, and you have a quick and easy Chinese-inspired meal that you'll want to make again and again.
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Sticky orange chicken
Sticky orange chicken is made from tender chunks of chicken, coated in panko breadcrumbs for extra crunch, and oven-baked for crispness. It is smothered in a tangy orange sauce which provides a delicious citrus flavour that goes so well with chicken.
I've called my recipe sticky orange chicken, but you could substitute the orange for lemon and make it into a sticky lemon chicken instead - it will taste just as good!
What I love about this recipe is that the chicken is oven-baked and not fried - so it turns out really crispy without being greasy.
There are 2 secrets to getting perfectly succulent chicken with a crispy coating and they are:
- marinate the chicken for a few minutes in a mixture of egg and cornflour. This not only forms a batter that allows the breadcrumbs to stick to the chicken, but the cornflour acts to tenderise the chicken.
- use Panko breadcrumbs for the coating. These are Japanese breadcrumbs, which are ultra-light and crispy and turn into crunchy perfection when fried or baked.
This is one of my favourite quick and easy supper recipes - the orange sauce comes together in 5 minutes and the crispy chicken only takes 15 minutes in the oven. And with a preparation time of only 15 minutes, you can have this crispy orange chicken on the table in next to no time. You do have to marinate the chicken for 30 minutes before coating it in breadcrumbs, so do factor this into your timing.
Once the sauce and chicken have been cooked, all you have to do is combine the crispy chicken pieces with the orange sauce and serve it either on a bed of Chinese egg fried rice or noodles. And there you have it, a Chinese takeaway in less time than it would take to order and wait for it to be delivered.
What you will need
You will need some baking trays for baking the chicken, and baking parchment to line the baking trays. You can get away without lining the baking trays, but then you will have to spend more time cleaning them afterwards.
To marinade the chicken you will need a mixing bowl large enough to hold the batter and the chicken pieces. I like these mixing bowls because they come with lids, which makes it easy to cover your chicken while it marinates.
For making the orange sauce you will need a small saucepan.
**You can get the complete list of ingredients and full instructions on how to make this sticky orange chicken on the printable recipe card at the end of this post**
Chicken and marinade
- Chicken - I used chicken breast fillets, but you could substitute these with boneless chicken thighs.
- Cornflour (you may know this as cornstarch) - this will be mixed with the eggs, to form the marinade and batter.
- Eggs - lightly beaten then combined with the cornflour.
- Salt - for seasoning. I like to add a little salt to the eggs and cornflour as I feel it enhances the flavour of the chicken. By all means, leave this out if you don't use salt in your cooking.
- Panko breadcrumbs - these are used to coat the chicken once it has been marinated. For the quantity of chicken in the recipe I used just over a cup of breadcrumbs. I would recommend you start with one cup and add more if necessary. That way you won't have to throw away any unused breadcrumbs.
- Oranges - you will need one cup of orange juice. How many oranges you need will depend on how juicy they are.
- 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. The orange zest is optional.
- Dark soy sauce
- Rice wine vinegar - if you don't have rice wine vinegar you can substitute it with dry sherry.
- Brown sugar - you can use light or dark brown sugar. I used 2 tablespoonfuls, but the actual amount will depend on how sweet the oranges are.
- Garlic - not pictured. Very finely minced. If you don't have fresh garlic you can substitute it with the equivalent amount of your favourite brand of garlic paste or bottled minced garlic.
- Ginger paste - not pictured. This is optional but does add an extra zing to the sauce.
- 2 Teaspoons cornflour - mixed to a paste with 2 tablespoons water and used to thicken the sauce.
- 1 teaspoon groundnut 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, or leave it out altogether.
What to do
Cut the chicken into bite-sized chunks, removing any visible fat and sinews.
Whisk the eggs and cornflour together until there are no lumps and season with salt to taste. Half a teaspoon should be sufficient.
Mix the chicken pieces into the egg and cornflour mixture, cover and refrigerate for half an hour to marinade.
Tip the Panko breadcrumbs into a shallow dish and lift a few pieces of chicken out of the marinade, allowing the marinade to drip off. Coat the chicken pieces lightly in the breadcrumbs and arrange the chicken pieces on a baking tray lined with baking parchment.
Repeat until all the chicken has been coated. Depending on the amount of chicken you have, you may need 2 trays. Keep the chicken in a single layer so it can crisp and brown properly in the oven.
Place the trays of chicken in a preheated oven (200C/400F) for 12 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of your chicken pieces.
The chicken will be done when the internal temperature measures 74C/165F. If you don't have a thermometer, cut a piece of chicken in half - it should be completely white, with no pink showing.
If you are adding orange zest, zest the orange on the smallest blade of your grater, or use an orange zester.
Cut the oranges in half and squeeze out one cup of orange juice.
Place all the ingredients for the orange sauce (except the cornflour and water) in a saucepan and bring it 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 orange sauce should have a nice runny consistency, a bit like a thick gravy. You want to be able to pour it over the crispy chicken.
Do remember to taste the sauce once it has been cooked. You may find you need to add a touch more sugar to sweeten it up a bit if your oranges are on the tart side.
Transfer the chicken to a serving dish and combine it with the orange sauce.
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Orange chicken FAQ
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 and open-freeze in the freezer until they are well frozen. Once the chicken is frozen, transfer the pieces to a Ziploc bag and leave it in the freezer.
To cook - place the frozen chicken pieces on a baking sheet in a preheated oven (200C / 400F) and bake for 15 to 17 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 it to cook for one or two minutes longer.
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.
To make a larger quantity you can double all the ingredients with the exception of the garlic and ginger. I would stick to the original quantities so as not to overpower the dish.
Save for later
If you would like to try this sticky orange chicken yourself, why not pin the recipe to one of your Pinterest boards so you can find it easily? Just click on the image below.
Alternatively, you can save the recipe by clicking on the floating heart icon on the right-hand side of the screen.
If this recipe isn't quite what you are looking for, why not try my orange chicken thighs made with juicy chicken thighs oven baked with mandarin oranges?
You may also like these other Asian-inspired meals:
- Garlic chicken stirfry - tasty chicken and vegetables stir-fried in an Asian-inspired sauce. Serve over rice, or for a meal with a difference, why not serve it in a hollowed-out bread roll?
- Pad Thai noodles with chicken and prawns - tender chicken pieces and prawns with noodles in a Pad Thai sauce
- Oven-baked cashew chicken - an easy oven-baked dish of chicken with cashew nuts.
- Garlic prawn stirfry - garlic prawns stir-fried in a garlic and honey-flavoured sauce
- Thai meatballs with satay sauce - chicken and pork meatballs in a tasty satay sauce.
- Sweet and sour chicken - succulent pieces of chicken in a homemade sweet and sour sauce
And of course, no Chinese meal is complete without a bowl of fluffy rice. If you are looking for easy ways to cook rice, you'll find step-by-step instructions in these posts:
Sticky orange chicken - ultra crispy
(Click the stars to rate this recipe)
For the chicken
- 21 ounce 600 grams chicken breasts or boneless thighs
- ½ cup cornflour / cornstarch
- 2 medium eggs lightly beaten
- ½ teaspoon salt optional
- 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs approximately (you may need slightly more)
For the orange sauce
- 1 cup / 240 ml freshly squeezed orange juice approximately 2 oranges
- 1 teaspoon orange zest optional
- 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
- 4 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar light or dark
- 2 cloves garlic finely minced
- ½ teaspoon ginger paste
- 1 teaspoon groundnut oil or equivalent neutral flavoured oil
- 2 teaspoons cornflour
- 2 tablespoons water
Prepare and coat the chicken
- Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F
- Cut the chicken into bite-sized chunks21 ounce 600 grams chicken breasts
- Whisk the eggs and cornflour together until there are no lumps and season with salt to taste. Half a teaspoon should be sufficient.½ cup cornflour / cornstarch, 2 medium eggs, ½ teaspoon salt
- Mix the chicken pieces into the egg and cornflour mixture, cover and refrigerate for half an hour to marinade.
- Tip the Panko breadcrumbs into a shallow dish and lift a few pieces of chicken out of the marinade, allowing the marinade to drip off. Coat the chicken pieces lightly in the breadcrumbs and arrange the chicken pieces on a baking tray lined with baking parchment.1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
- Repeat until all the chicken has been coated. Depending on the amount of chicken you have, you may need 2 trays. Keep the chicken in a single layer so it can crisp and brown properly in the oven.
- Place the trays of chicken in a preheated oven (200C/400F) for 12 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of your chicken pieces.
- The chicken will be done when the internal temperature measures 74C/165F. If you don't have a thermometer, cut a piece of chicken in half - it should be completely white, with no pink showing.
For the orange sauce
- If you are adding orange zest, zest the orange on the smallest blade of your grater, or use an orange zester.Cut the oranges in half and squeeze out one cup of orange juice.1 cup / 240 ml freshly squeezed orange juice, 1 teaspoon orange zest
- Place all ingredients except cornflour and water into a small saucepan and bring to the boil.2 tablespoons dark soy sauce, 4 tablespoons rice wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 2 cloves garlic, ½ teaspoon ginger paste, 1 teaspoon groundnut oil
- 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.2 teaspoons cornflour, 2 tablespoons water
- Transfer the chicken to a serving dish and combine it with the orange sauce. Serve with rice or noodles
I am not a nutritionist. The nutrition information has been calculated using an on-line calculator, and is intended for information and guidance purposes only. If the nutrition information is important to you, you should consider calculating it yourself, using your preferred tool.
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