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Chinese Orange Chicken

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Chinese orange chicken just plain gets it! Try this recipe today!

When I lived in California, Chinese orange chicken was one of my favourite Chinese/American dishes at our local Chinese takeaway. It’s one I learned to prepare as a kid and continued making it right through my university days. However, it’s also a dish that I forgot about for a very long time until I recently saw a recipe for it on my friend Kevin O’Leary’s blog SilkRoadRecipes.

I decided it was time to make it again and this recipe is the result. It’s pretty much Kevin’s recipe but with a couple of small changes. Kevin O’Leary writes two outstanding blogs, Kevin is Cooking and Silk Road Recipes. If you’re looking for inspiration in the kitchen, you should really check both of his food blogs out!

Chinese orange chicken

What is Chinese orange chicken?

Chinese orange chicken is a hugely popular Chinese/American dish known for its sweet, tangy and midly spicy orange flavoured sauce and crispy battered chicken.

It is now quite popular in other places around the world so there is a good chance you will know why I love it so much. Chinese orange chicken can be prepared in less than 30 minutes and is delicious served simply over jasmin rice or  egg fried rice.

Is Chinese orange chicken an authentic Chinese recipe?

No. Although Chinese orange chicken isn’t a dish you are likely to find in China, you are very likely to see it on most Chinese restaurants in the US.

Chinese/American dishes are prepared with the American palate in mind. You will usually find more meat in these dishes and they are often sweeter. Although not considered to be authentic, American/Chinese dishes were developed over time by Chinese immegrants and their descendants, so they really are Chinese and very good Chinese at that.

Getting this recipe right

Your Chinese orange chicken needs to be sweet, tangy and just a bit spicy. These flavours can easily be adjusted to taste. So be sure to taste it before serving!

You can make the sauce sweeter by adding more sugar. For a tangier flavour, stir in more vinegar. You can make it saltier by adding a dash more soy sauce or salt.

Do you have to use the MSG in the recipe?

Absolutely not. In fact, Kevin’s recipe that inspired me to make this Chinese orange chicken does not include MSG. It is optional.

I like to use it as it does an amazing job at enhancing the flavour. If you would like a bit more information about MSG, I have written an information page here. Feel free to google it for more information though.

How long can you store leftovers in the fridge?

This is a recipe that is best eaten when the chicken is hot and crispy. If you do have leftovers, you can keep them in the fridge for at least three days. Then just heat them back up in a wok or in your microwave. Your Chinese chicken leftovers will still be amazing!

Step by step photographs

Ingredients for Chinese orange chicken

Get your ingredients together before starting. It’s a lot easier that way.

Preparing the batter for the chicken

Place the ingredients for the batter in a mixing bowl.

The batter for the chicken

Whisk it all until smooth. It should be thick like an American pancake batter. Don’t forget the orange zest. 

Chicken in the batter

Place the chicken in the batter. It can marinate overnight like this if time permits.

Chicken the oil temperature for frying.

Heat the oil to 190C/375F. If you don’t have an oil thermometer, you can place a wooden chopstick in it. The oil is ready when thousands of bubbles form around it on contact.

Frying the chicken

Fry the chicken in batches for about 5 minutes per batch or until golden brown.

Frying the aromatic ingredients.

Discard all but about 2 tbsp of the cooking oil. Then fry up the garlic, ginger, spring onions (scallions) and dried chilli flakes.

Adding the sauce ingredients and the slurry.

Add the sauce ingredients to the sauce and bring to a simmer. Then pour in the slurry. This will thicken the sauce and give it a glossy appearance.

Chinese orange chicken

Add the chicken and orange wedges to the sauce to coat. Serve immediately while the chicken is still crispy.

Orange chicken


Yield: 4 - 6

Chinese Orange Chicken

Orange chicken
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • Zest of 2 oranges
  • 1kg (2 lbs) chicken thighs or breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 cup plain (all purpose) flour
  • ½ cup cornflour (corn starch)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 125ml ( ½ cup) water
  • 75ml (1/3 cup) Chinese cooking wine or dry sherry
  • 1 egg
  • 6 spring onions (scallions)
  • Rapeseed (canola) oil for deep frying
  • 2 tbsp rapeseed (canola) or peanut oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 x 2.5cm (1 inch) ginger, finely chopped
  • 4 spring onions (scallions), finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp dried chilli flakes (optional)
  • 70ml (1/4 cup) orange juice
  • 70ml (1/4 cup) distilled white vinegar
  • 70ml (1/4 cup) water or unsalted chicken stock plus 2 tbsp
  • 2 – 3 tbsp light soy sauce, to taste
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp MSG (optional)
  • 2 tbsp cornflour (corn starch)
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil


  1. Zest the oranges and then cut them into wedges. Set the orange wedges aside for later.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the orange zest, flour, cornflour (corn starch), salt, water, the Chinese cooking wine and egg until smooth. This batter should be quite thick and creamy like American pancake batter. Stir in the chicken pieces. The thick batter will literally coat the chicken when added.
  3. Now heat the oil for deep fat frying in a wok. You’re aiming for a cooking temperature of 190C/275F. If you don’t have an oil thermometer, you can test the oil heat by placing a wooden chopstick or spatula in the oil. When thousands of little bubbles form on contact, your oil is ready for frying.
  4. Carefully lower the pieces of battered chicken into the oil. You should do this in small batches to retain the cooking heat. Fry for about 5 minutes or until the chicken Is crispy and golden brown in colour. Transfer to a wire rack to drip any excess oil.
  5. Discard all but about 2 tbsp of the oil. Place your wok back over a high heat and stir in the chopped garlic, ginger and spring onions (scallions) and dried chilli flakes, if using. Fry for about 30 seconds and then pour in the orange juice, vinegar, 70ml (1/4 cup) water or stock, soy sauce and sugar. If using MSG, stir it in now too.
  6. Bring to a simmer. Make a slurry by mixing the remaining water or stock and pour it into the simmering stock to thicken some. Adding the slurry will not only thicken but give the sauce a glossy appearance.
  7. Stir the fried chicken pieces and orange wedges into the sauce so that each piece is nicely coated. Drizzle with the sesame oil and serve garnished with the chopped spring onions (scallions).

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 260Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 35mgSodium: 1649mgCarbohydrates: 34gFiber: 2gSugar: 27gProtein: 4g

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I hope you enjoy this Chinese orange chicken recipe. If you do try it, please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you. 


Saturday 28th of October 2023

Looks fantastic Dan, thanks so much for the mention. Congratulations once again on another outstanding cookbook, One Pot!

Dan Toombs

Wednesday 1st of November 2023

Thanks very much again, Kevin Dan

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