Is Orange Chicken the most recognizable “American Chinese” dish? I don’t know but what I do know is that this homemade version is so much better than the takeout kind!
Using freshly squeezed orange juice and the zest of 1/2 orange is key to taking this sauce to the next level! You can sub with store bought orange juice if you prefer but I highly recommend using freshly squeezed juice + zest!
If you cannot or do not want to use wine, you can sub with sherry, mirin, or chicken stock!
I get asked all the time if you can sub black pepper for white pepper – and my answer is, it depends BUT you need to watch the ratio. White pepper has a milder flavor profile than black pepper, so it’s a 1-1 substitute. I would start with less black pepper and add as you go. (But really, you should have white pepper in your pantry! It’s a staple in mine!)
FLOUR + CORNSTARCH + BAKING POWDER
My not-so-secret tip to the crispiest chicken is a combination of FLOUR, CORNSTARCH, and BAKING POWDER. When mixed with the flour, the cornstarch makes the flour coating crispier and gives it that golden brown color! (It has to do with prevention of gluten development.) The baking powder reacts with the oil and creates tiny air bubbles, which also helps form a crispy coating.
Add any leftover marinade (or 1-2 tbsp of water) to your seasoning mix (flour/cornstarch/baking powder) and rub them together to create the craggily bits we all love!
Do not let your frying oil drop below 325-350F when frying! I highly recommend you use a thermometer to keep an eye on the temperature. If you see it dropping below 325F, fry your chicken in batches. Frying at a low temperature will result in too much moisture (AKA SOGGY!)
OPTIONAL DOUBLE FRY
This is OPTIONAL but if you want your chicken to be extra crispy, you can fry for a second time for 1 minute at 350F!
- 1 lb chicken thigh cut into 1" pieces
- 2 cloves garlic grated
- 1 tbsp ginger grated
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce
- 1 tbsp shaoxing wine
- 1/2 tsp white pepper
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- orange zest of 1/2 orange
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp white pepper
- 3 cups neutral oil for frying; I used avocado oil
- 1/4 cup light soy sauce
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 3 tbsp brown sugar
- 1/4 cup chicken stock sub water
- orange zest other 1/2 orange
- 2 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 tbsp ginger minced
- 1/2 tbsp crushed red pepper
- 2 tbsp distilled white vinegar
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1/4 cup water
- Cut boneless, skinless chicken thigh into 1" pieces and marinate with garlic, ginger, light soy, Shaoxing wine, white pepper, sesame oil, and orange zest for 30 minutes
- For your sauce: mix together light soy, orange juice, water or stock, brown sugar, and orange zest until sugar is dissolved.
- Whisk together AP flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt, and pepper. Drizzle in some of the extra chicken marinade and mix to create more craggily bits.
- Dredge your chicken and pack the coating in well.
- Fry at 350F for 4-5 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oil and set aside.
- OPTIONAL: Fry at 350F for another 1 min for extra crispiness.
- Over high heat, sauté garlic, ginger, and crushed red pepper for 15 seconds until fragrant. Immediately add in your sauce, vinegar and mix, then add your cornstarch slurry to thicken.
- Toss in your chicken and coat evenly for 30 seconds and serve immediately with rice. Enjoy!