Air Fryer Orange Chicken – SUPER CRISPY! (VIDEO)

5 from 24 votes
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This Air Fryer Orange Chicken recipe is for those who love the taste of the crunchy Orange Chicken coated in that sweet, savory sauce but don’t want to fry in oil!

I have tested many different methods to recreate Orange Chicken in the air fryer, and this recipe is the best I’ve ever made! What’s my secret? I use potato starch to coat the chicken, spray with avocado oil spray, and then recreate the “double fry” method by cooking it TWICE in the air fryer for maximum crispiness!

Watch the Air Fryer Orange Chicken Recipe Video Below!

Ingredients for Air Fryer Orange Chicken

Chicken

  • 1 lb chicken thigh – I like to use 2″ pieces of boneless, skinless chicken thigh for Air Fryer Orange Chicken. You want to cut them into similar sized pieces so the chicken can cook evenly.
    • You can substitute with chicken breast if you prefer. Keep in mind that chicken breast has a tendency to dry out faster.
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper – I love white pepper and it’s used very commonly in Chinese cooking (another “secret ingredient” for cooking restaurant quality Chinese food at home). It has an earthier flavor than black pepper. I recommend having some in your pantry but if you can’t find it, you can always substitute with black pepper.
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce – You will need “light” (not “low sodium”) or “all-purpose” soy sauce. Do NOT use dark soy sauce, as it is too intense for this recipe.
  • 1 tbsp shaoxing wine – This is one of my favorite Chinese pantry staples. It adds a depth of flavor and complexity to the sauce and truly one of my “secret ingredients” for making restaurant quality Chinese food. If you can’t find it, you can substitute with mirin, sherry, or even chicken broth.
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1 inch ginger, grated
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 egg white – this is a binder for your chicken and potato starch – we can’t use the same batter as Orange Chicken, as it will not cook the same way in the air fryer. We’re going to be using a different starch to still get that same crispy texture!
  • 1.5 cup potato starch – Potato starch is my secret ingredient to getting the same crispy Orange Chicken batter in the air fryer WITHOUT having to deep fry! This is because potato starch has larger granule sizes than other starches (such as cornstarch), which helps it get a crunchier texture.

Sauce

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 tbsp orange zest
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock – You can use chicken stock or broth; you can also substitute with vegetable or beef stock/broth.
    • if you don’t have stock on hand, you can substitute with water.
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp cornstarch – A cornstarch slurry is a mixture of cornstarch and liquid (in Air Fryer Orange Chicken, it would be the orange juice and soy sauce mixture) that is used in cooking to thicken WITHOUT powdery lumps or additional flavors/colors! This is the secret to so many of your favorite Chinese dishes.
    • My #1 tip is make sure your cornstarch slurry has not separated before adding it in – I always try to re-stir right before!

Oils & Aromatics

  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp ginger, minced
  • 2 tbsp neutral oil (neutral oil SPRAY) – I used avocado oil cooking spray, as avocado oil is my go-to neutral cooking oil! You can use another cooking oil spray, as long as it is NOT olive oil. I don’t recommend using olive oil spray for this dish, due to the flavor profile and low burning point.
  • 1 tsp sesame oil – OPTIONAL – I like adding it to the sauce for an additional layer of nutty flavor; if you don’t have it, you can omit it.

Air Fryer Orange Chicken: Recipe Instructions

1. Marinate Chicken

Cut chicken into 2″ pieces and place in a medium bowl; add salt, white pepper, soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, grated garlic, grated ginger, sesame oil and egg white. Mix well (until all chicken pieces are coated in the mixture) and set aside; marinate for at least 30 minutes.

2. Mix Sauce and Prep Ingredients

Mix the Air Fryer Orange Chicken sauce by combining soy sauce, orange juice, orange zest, chicken stock, brown sugar, and cornstarch in a small bowl. Set aside.

Mince garlic and ginger; set aside in a second bowl with the mixed orange sauce.

3. Air Fry Chicken

Place potato starch in a shallow bowl or small baking sheet. Lightly coat marinated chicken pieces in potato starch. Set aside.

Prepare your air fryer spraying the tray or sheet with a neutral oil spray (I use avocado oil spray). Do not skip this part! You want to avoid the chicken sticking to the air fryer.

Place chicken pieces in a single layer in the air fryer. (Make sure chicken pieces are not touching each other.) Spray the top of the chicken thoroughly.

Air fry chicken at 350F for 10 minutes. Open the air fryer and shake the chicken to loosen any pieces that are sticking. Air fry for a SECOND time at 400F for 8 minutes, or until the chicken is crispy and reads 165F. Set aside.

4. Prepare Air Fryer Orange Chicken Sauce and Toss

In a large pan or wok over high heat, add 2 tbsp of neutral oil. Fry your garlic and ginger for 15 seconds. Immediately add your sauce and stir until thickened, about 1-2 minutes. Add vinegar and mix well to incorporate.

Add the air-fried chicken into the sauce and toss to combine. Once each Air Fryer Orange Chicken piece is coated in sauce, finish with an optional drizzle of 1 tsp of sesame oil. Serve with rice and enjoy!

PRO TIPS

Expert Tips for Making the BEST Air Fryer Orange Chicken!

Cut the Chicken into Uniform Pieces

  • Whether you use chicken breast or thigh, make sure to cut your chicken into uniform pieces to ensure that your Orange Chicken cooks evenly.

Coat Your Chicken Thoroughly

  • Individually coat the chicken pieces in the dry seasoning mix so that there are no dry spots. Be sure to pack the dry mix in to the chicken with your hands (I like squeezing it in) to properly coat the chicken so the batter sticks.

Secret Ingredient – Potato Starch

  • Potato starch is my secret ingredient to getting the same crispy Orange Chicken batter in the air fryer WITHOUT having to deep fry! This is because potato starch has larger granule sizes than other starches (such as cornstarch), which helps it get a crunchier texture. However, to get this crunchy texture, you will not want to skimp on your oil spray *read below!

Be Generous With Your Oil Spray

  • The neutral oil spray is the only source of oil in this recipe, so you will need to be generous with it!
    • Don’t skip spraying your air fryer tray or sheet BEFORE cooking the chicken – this will help prevent the chicken pieces from sticking.
    • Generously and thoroughly spray the chicken pieces to allow the potato starch coating to cook nicely (otherwise it will look & taste DRY).
    • Don’t forget to give the chicken a good second spray again when air-frying for the second time!

Double (Air) Frying is KEY!

  • After A LOT of recipe testing, the best results for Air Fryer Orange Chicken involved “DOUBLE FRYING” in the air fryer – once at a lower temperature for a longer period of time, then at a higher temperature for a shorter period of time.
  • This “double frying” method works because the first time you cook the chicken you cook to about 90% done at a lower temperature, to avoid burning the coating. The second time you air fry, you cook at a higher temperature (with another coat of cooking spray) to get the batter nice and crispy at the very end!

Storage and Reheating

You can store Air Fryer Orange Chicken in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

I like reheat Air Fryer Orange Chicken in the air fryer. When reheating the chicken in the air fryer, the sauce will further caramelize and infuse into the crispy batter! Air fry at 350°F for 6-8 minutes or until warmed through and crispy.

Alternatively, reheat in the oven at 350°F for 10-15 minutes until warmed through. I don’t recommend reheating Air Fryer Orange Chicken (or any air-fried/fried chicken) in the microwave unless you don’t care about the texture and just want to heat it back up as quickly as possible.

What to Serve with Air Fryer Orange Chicken

Orange Chicken was actually invented by the head chef at Panda Express, so I can’t think of a better dish to serve with the Air Fryer version than my Panda Express Chow Mein and a fluffy Egg Fried Rice! You can’t forget about the Honey Walnut Shrimp and Beef and Broccoli for a multi-course meal!

If you want to try other chicken Chinese Takeout dishes, try my sticky Sesame Chicken, tangy Sweet and Sour Chicken, String Bean Chicken, or General Tso’s Chicken! If you love the bright citrus of Orange Chicken, you definitely have to try Chinese Lemon Chicken!

What Else Can I Make in an Air Fryer?

I absolutely love cooking in the air fryer and I know my readers love it, too (they’re some of my most popular recipes!) If you’re craving another Chinese takeout dish made in the air fryer, try Air Fryer General Tso’s Chicken. If you want to make more “air-fried” chicken, Air Fryer Chicken Wings (my #1 post on my blog) or Air Fryer Chicken Tenders would be perfect! Of course, I had to re-create my most popular fried chicken recipes for the air fryer, including Air Fryer Chicken Katsu, Air Fryer Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken and Air Fryer Chicken Karaage!

I love using the air fryer to make easy meals, like Air Fryer Chicken Skewers. What’s great about is that even more involved recipes can be made in 1 hour in the air fryer, like Air Fryer Crispy Pork Belly! Air fryers are also perfect for making crispy vegetable dishes, like Air Fryer Brussels Sprouts.

If you tried this Air Fryer Orange Chicken or any other recipe on my website, please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it went in the comments below!

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5 from 24 votes

Air Fryer Orange Chicken (Video)

Servings: 4
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Air fryer orange chicken plated
This Air Fryer Orange Chicken recipe is the best I've ever made! The air fried chicken stays crispy in the sauce and is so delicious, healthier and better than takeout!

Equipment

Ingredients 

Chicken

Sauce

Oils & Aromatics

  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp ginger, minced
  • 2 tbsp neutral oil, I used avocado oil
  • 1 tsp sesame oil, optional

Instructions 

  • Cut chicken into 2" pieces and add in a bowl with salt, white pepper, soy sauce, shaoxing wine, grated garlic & ginger, sesame oil and egg white. Mix well until the seasonings and egg white are evenly distributed and marinate for at least 30 minutes.
  • Premix your sauce by combining soy sauce, orange juice, orange zest, chicken stock, brown sugar, and cornstarch in a small bowl and set aside.
  • Mince garlic and ginger and set aside with your sauce.
  • Lightly coat the chicken pieces in potato starch. Spray your air fryer tray with cooking spray (I like to use avocado oil spray), then lay the chicken down on a single layer. Spray the top of the chicken and cook at 350F for 10 minutes. Shake the chicken to loosen any pieces that are sticking, then air fry again at 400F for 8 minutes or until the chicken is crispy and reads 165F.
  • In a large pan or wok over high heat, add 2 tbsp of neutral oil and fry your garlic and ginger for 15 seconds. Immediately add your sauce and stir until thickened, about 1-2 minutes. Then add the vinegar and mix through.
  • Add back your chicken and toss to combine. Once the chicken is coated, finish with a tsp of sesame oil. Serve with rice and enjoy!

Notes

KEY TIPS
Cut the Chicken into Uniform Pieces
    • Whether you use chicken breast or thigh, make sure to cut your chicken into uniform pieces to ensure that your Orange Chicken cooks evenly.
Coat Your Chicken Thoroughly
    • Individually coat the chicken pieces in the dry seasoning mix so that there are no dry spots. Be sure to pack the dry mix in to the chicken with your hands (I like squeezing it in) to properly coat the chicken so the batter sticks.
Secret Ingredient – Potato Starch
    • Potato starch is my secret ingredient to getting the same crispy Orange Chicken batter in the air fryer WITHOUT having to deep fry! This is because potato starch has larger granule sizes than other starches (such as cornstarch), which helps it get a crunchier texture. However, to get this crunchy texture, you will not want to skimp on your oil spray *read below!
Be Generous With Your Oil Spray
    • The neutral oil spray is the only source of oil in this recipe, so you will need to be generous with it!
        • Don’t skip spraying your air fryer tray or sheet BEFORE cooking the chicken – this will help prevent the chicken pieces from sticking.
        • Generously and thoroughly spray the chicken pieces to allow the potato starch coating to cook nicely (otherwise it will look & taste DRY).
        • Don’t forget to give the chicken a good second spray again when air-frying for the second time!
Double (Air) Frying is KEY!
    • After A LOT of recipe testing, the best results for Air Fryer Orange Chicken involved “DOUBLE FRYING” in the air fryer – once at a lower temperature for a longer period of time, then at a higher temperature for a shorter period of time.
    • This “double frying” method works because the first time you cook the chicken you cook to about 90% done at a lower temperature, to avoid burning the coating. The second time you air fry, you cook at a higher temperature (with another coat of cooking spray) to get the batter nice and crispy at the very end!

Storage and Reheating

You can store Air Fryer Orange Chicken in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
I like reheat Air Fryer Orange Chicken in the air fryer. When reheating the chicken in the air fryer, the sauce will further caramelize and infuse into the crispy batter! Air fry at 350°F for 6-8 minutes or until warmed through and crispy.
Alternatively, reheat in the oven at 350°F for 10-15 minutes until warmed through. I don’t recommend reheating Air Fryer Orange Chicken (or any air-fried/fried chicken) in the microwave unless you don’t care about the texture and just want to heat it back up as quickly as possible.

Nutrition

Calories: 558kcalCarbohydrates: 64gProtein: 27gFat: 22gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 112mgSodium: 1034mgPotassium: 996mgFiber: 4gSugar: 10gVitamin A: 127IUVitamin C: 14mgCalcium: 74mgIron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Chinese
Tried this recipe?Mention @cj.eats_ or tag #cjeatsrecipes!

About CJ

I’m a third generation Chinese-American home cook who has always loved cooking & eating! Welcome to my food blog, where you can find trusted, tested, easy & approachable recipes for the everyday home cook that taste delicious! I am so glad you're here!

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Recipe Rating




22 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I found the air drying time for the chicken to not be enough for the air fryer I was using. Took about 45 mins to cook the chicken. Other than that the recipe and sauce was tasty. I would try again with a higher heat in the air fryer.

  2. Hey CJ–if I can’t find potato starch, can I just use cornstarch like in your other orange chicken recipe?

  3. 5 stars
    Is there a reason to Air Fry the chicken at 350F for 10 minutes, then again at 400F for another 8-10 minutes until golden and crisp versus just Air Fry the chicken at 400F for 10 minutes, flip then again 400F for 10 minutes? That is what many other recipes do, 400F for 10 minutes, flip then again 400F for 10 minutes. I found chicken didn’t get golden and crisp until I did it 2nd time at 400F for 15-20 total minutes, vs 10 minutes, and I followed reciept exactly (potato starch, flipping, spray each side, didn’t overcrowd basket.)

    1. Hi Mary! The cooking times really do depend on the power of your air fryer. I was using the Philips XXL air fryer and the time was great for me, but I realize the time may vary based on your air fryer. I’m glad it turned out ok with the extra time!

  4. 5 stars
    If my boyfriend and I hadn’t actually watched me make this recipe, there is no way we would have believed I could make orange chicken this delicious! Truly better than any restaurant I’ve ever ordered from and hard to believe it was in the air fryer. You nailed this 100%!!

  5. 5 stars
    My teenage son eats Panda Express once a week so I really wanted to find a healthier alternative. I made this today and it was delish!! Your measurements from the salt to the sesame oil are spot on! I loved that I could taste the orange flavor and not feel like I was eating straight-up sugar. I was a little unsure of the timing of the air fryer. Once I turned the temp up from 350 to 400 it took about 3 minutes to get there. I was afraid to overcook the chicken so I checked it at 5 minutes but it wasn’t totally brown. Ultimately it needed 8 minutes from the time it got to 400. My husband said that it tasted exactly like Panda Express and I should save myself time and just get it there, but no way! I will be making this again!

  6. 5 stars
    This was SO good!!! I’ve been wanting to make this for awhile now, and I wish I had made it sooner. This is seriously so delicious. 10/10!

  7. 5 stars
    Wow, this was delicious!!! Followed the recipe exactly and it turned out great! I used the zest and juice of 4 Mandarines, and the sauce had such a rich flavor. Since I love spicy food, maybe next time I’ll add in some chili flake 🙂 Thank you for sharing your recipes, and I look forward to trying your other creations!

  8. 5 stars
    Made this for dinner and it was delicious!! Learned something new using the potato starch and really enjoyed exploring the market I bought the starch from. Thank you for the helpful cooking hints, the dish came out amazing!