This Crispy Orange Chicken is my stay-in version of the well-known Chinese take-out dish. The chicken gets its fabulous crunch from a coating of egg whites and cornstarch. And oh — the sauce! It’s extra citrussy with orange juice and orange zest. You might like to serve this fun main course alongside white rice, broccoli, and a wedge of fresh orange. Here’s the step-by-step in both video and photographic steps:
Crispy Orange Chicken
Note: The above video will explain the entire recipe for Crispy Orange Chicken. So be sure to watch it! For the few of you who can’t watch videos (or can’t stand the sight of me), just proceed to the following photographic step-by-step. Unfortunately my pictures are rather ghastly. And that’s too bad, because Crispy Orange Chicken is a very attractive dish!
Grab some skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 1 1/4 pounds total), and cut them into bite-size pieces. As mentioned in the video, the chicken will be very easy to cut if you freeze it for an hour or two.
Next, put the whites of 4 large eggs plus 2 tablespoons of cornstarch in a medium bowl…
And violently whisk the works until the whites turn slightly foamy. (This same egg white/cornstarch “Velveting” solution is great for Sesame Chicken, too. Click here for the recipe.)
Add the cut-up chicken, stir it about to coat, and then set the bowl aside while you heat up the oil and make the orange sauce.
Pour about 2 inches of vegetable oil into a heavy pot or Dutch oven, and insert a deep-fry thermometer. Heat the oil over medium heat until the oil achieves 350°F. No guessing here — use a thermometer.
While the oil is heating, make the sauce! In a non-stick skillet over medium heat, add 3/4 cup orange juice…
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar (or, use regular white or rice vinegar)…
1 generous tablespoon soy sauce (or, use gluten-free Tamari sauce)…
A tablespoon brown sugar (yes, that blurry stuff is brown sugar)…
2 minced cloves of garlic (I used 2 teaspoons of garlic paste)…
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more or less to taste)…
A teaspoon of fresh, minced ginger (I used already-minced ginger from a squeeze bottle)…
The grated zest of 1 large orange…
And 1/2-to-1 teaspoon sesame oil. If you hate sesame oil (I love the stuff), just omit it.
Note: With the exception of the 3/4 cup orange juice, all of the other can be measured out to suit your taste buds.
Using the Christmas-colored silicone whisk that your mother sent one year, whisk the ingredients just until they come to a boil. Then remove the pan from the heat.
The oil has reached 350°F by now. Working in batches, add the chicken to the oil one piece at a time. If you add two or more pieces all at once, the pieces will stick together. You can fry 20-30 pieces per batch, as long as you add each piece singly. Fry for just a minute or two, until the chicken turns tan in color.
Use a slotted spatula to retrieve the chicken, and then transfer it to paper towels to drain. Notice the chicken doesn’t look particularly appetizing? We’re going to fix that in the next step.
To color the chicken further, and to really set up its crunch, return ALL of the chicken (all at once) to the hot oil! (Hint: If at all possible, watch the video up top.) Let the chicken fry until it turns chestnut brown or deep golden brown — 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to fresh paper towels to drain. Cut off the heat beneath the oil.
While the chicken is draining, whisk together 1/4 cup orange juice and a generous teaspoon cornstarch to make a smooth slurry.
Then return the sauce to medium heat, and when it begins to bubble, whisk in the orange slurry. Whisk until the sauce thickens — 30 seconds to 1 minute. Turn off the heat.
Note: My apologies for the ghastly photograph above and elsewhere. My tripod decided to visit its relatives, thus forcing me to photograph with one hand while mixing or frying with the other.
Now add the gorgeous chicken to the sauce…
And toss it about with a spatula until each morsel shimmers.
I served this poetry above a bed of rice, alongside some steamed broccoli florets and a garnish of sliced scallion. You might prefer to serve your chicken some other way, such as on a bed of rice, alongside some steamed broccoli florets and a garnish of sliced scallion.
I hope you will give this Crispy Orange Chicken a try, and then post your review of it in the comments field below. Five stars means the recipe worked out for you!
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And…here’s the printable:
Crispy Orange Chicken
For the Chicken:
- 1 1/4 lbs skinless, boneless chicken thighs
- The whites of 4 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- Vegetable oil for frying
For the Sauce:
- 3/4 cup orange juice
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 or 2 minced cloves of garlic (or, use garlic paste)
- 2 teaspoons minced, fresh ginger (or, use bottled ginger)
- 1/4 teaspoon (or more, to taste) red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar (or, use white or rice vinegar)
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce (or gluten-free Tamari sauce)
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- The grated zest of 1 large orange
For thickening the sauce:
- 1/4 cup orange juice blended with 1 teaspoon cornstarch
Suggested garnish and accompaniments:
- Sliced scallion, steamed broccoli florets, wedges of orange
Preparing the chicken:
- Cut the chicken into bite-size morsels. Tip the egg whites and cornstarch into a medium bowl, and whisk until slightly foamy -- about 30 seconds. Add the chicken to the bowl, and toss with a spatula to coat. Let the chicken marinate for about 10 minutes.
Heating the oil:
- While the chicken is marinating, pour 2 inches of the vegetable oil into a heavy pot or Dutch oven. Insert a deep-fry thermometer, and warm the oil over medium heat until the thermometer registers 350°F.
Making the sauce:
- While the oil is heating, set a large (10- or 12-inch diameter) non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add 3/4 cup orange juice to the skillet, then whisk in the brown sugar, garlic, ginger, red pepper, vinegar, soy sauce, and orange zest. Whisk until the mixture comes to a boil, then remove from the heat.
Frying the chicken:
- To avoid clumping, add the chicken pieces one-by-one to the hot oil, frying in batches until the chicken just starts to color -- 1 or 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Then, to really crisp up the chicken, return all of it to the oil in one large batch. Fry until the pieces turn a rich golden brown -- about 2 minutes. Drain on fresh paper towels.
Finishing and serving:
- Bring the sauce to a simmer, then whisk in the orange juice-cornstarch slurry. Whisk until the sauce thickens -- 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add all of the chicken, and toss is about so that each morsel glistens with sauce. Serve hot or warm with the above suggested garnish and accompaniments.