Orange Chicken (Air Fryer)

2 people
20 min

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links.

This Orange Chicken (Air Fryer) is the easiest weeknight dinner and it is much tastier (and healthier) than takeout. The lightly breaded crispy chicken is tossed in the most vibrant orange soy flavored sauce. Serve this air fryer orange chicken over steamed or fried rice and dinner is served!


icon Click HERE for this recipe & more on my blog: https://biteswithbri.com/smashed-potatoes-air-fryer/

The older I get the more I enjoy cooking and eating at home. The chef in me always thinks “I could make this so much better or more flavorful”. Not to mention how expensive delivery is these days.


My husband & both love Chinese takeout, but over the past year we have exclusively been recreating it at home. We rarely order Chinese food anymore (bye bye Panda Express). Do you order delivery frequently?


So I have perfected my orange chicken (air fryer) recipe and to no surprise it is cooked in the beloved air fryer, like my favorite chicken teriyaki recipe.


The orange chicken (air fryer) is bread shake-and-bake style so it is super easy and makes cleanup a breeze. The panko adds some nice crispy bits but does not overpower the chicken. The orange sauce is made with fresh orange juice and zest giving it the brightest orange flavor. Hope you enjoy!! xx


Highlights

  • Better and healthier than takeout
  • Easy shake-and-bake breading
  • Crispy air fryer chicken
  • Sauce made with fresh orange juice and zest
  • Kid friendly
  • Easy dinner idea
  • Dairy free


Ingredient Notes

  • Panko Bread Crumbs: Do not substitute regular breadcrumbs.
  • Spray Oil: I like to use avocado oil, but any spray oil will work.
  • Toasted Sesame Oil: This is crucial for the flavor of the sauce. Be sure to use toasted sesame oil and not regular sesame oil. The flavor is very different.
  • Fresh Orange Juice: I have only tested the sauce with fresh orange juice. It is best for this recipe. I imagine store-bought would give the sauce a more intense flavor as fresh is much more mild.


Complete list of ingredients and amounts is located on the .


Helpful Equipment & Tools

Instructions

Overview

  • Lightly bread the chunks of chicken breast.
  • Air fry until golden and crispy.
  • Make the orange chicken sauce.
  • Toss the chicken and sauce together.


Step by Step

Step 1: In a plastic sealable gallon bag, add the panko, cornstarch, and salt. Seal tightly and shake. Use your fist to break up the panko into smaller bits.


Step 2: Place the chicken in the bag. Seal tightly. Shake until all of the chicken is well coated. Use your hands to press the panko mixture onto the chicken while shaking.

TIP - Be sure all of the breading sticks to the chickens and there is not much excess left in the bag.


Step 3: Preheat the air fryer for 5 minutes at 400 degrees. Spray the basket with oil. Arrange the chicken in a single layer in the air fryer basket. Spray the top of the chicken with more oil.


Step 4: Air fry at 400 for 10-11 minutes or until golden and at least 165 degrees (it should be well over). Do not flip or shake the basket during the cooking process.

TIP - Be generous with the spray oil. This helps browning and crisping.


TIP - Shaking or flipping the chicken is not necessary. It will just cause the breading to fall off.


Step 5: While the chicken is cooking, prepare the sauce. Heat the sesame oil over medium heat in a small saucepan. Add the garlic and ginger. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until fragrant. Add in the orange juice, soy, vinegar, zest, chili flakes, and sugar. Stir and bring to a light boil. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water. Add to saucepan and stir for 1-2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat immediately.


Step 6: In a large bowl, toss the chicken and sauce together.

TIP - Do not overheat the sauce or it will become too thick and gloopy. It will continue to thicken as it cools.


TIP - Serve immediately as the sauce will make the chicken soggy the longer it sits.


Make Ahead & Storage

  • Make Ahead: The sauce can be made the day before and stored in the fridge in an airtight container.
  • Reheating: Reheat in the microwave in 30 second intervals until warm before tossing it with the air fried orange chicken.
  • Refrigerator: The orange chicken tossed in sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 days. However, it is best to store them separately.
  • Reheating: The orange chicken tossed in sauce will not be crispy leftover. You can reheat it in the microwave if it is already tossed in the sauce. Reheating it in the air fryer is too messy because the sauce becomes sticky and drips through the basket. Chicken without sauce can be reheated in the air fryer at 400 degrees for 5-7 minutes or until heated through.
  • Freezer: You can store the sauce and chicken separately in the freezer. Follow the recipe through step 5. Allow the sauce and the chicken to cool overnight in the fridge. Place the chicken not touching on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Freeze for 4-6 hours and then transfer the frozen chicken to an airtight bag or container. Store frozen sauce and chicken for 2-3 months in the freezer. I do not recommend freezing orange chicken tossed in the sauce in the freezer.
  • Reheating: Reheat sauce from frozen on the stove or in the microwave covered. Air fry frozen chicken at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes, flipping halfway through. Do not thaw before heating.


Expert Tips

  • Use fresh orange zest. This ingredient is what gives the sauce its vibrant orange flavor. You definitely do not want to skip out on it. I use this grater to easily grate the orange.
  • Be generous with the oil. Liberally spray the chicken so that it is coated in oil. This will help with browning and crisping.
  • Do not shake. Shaking or flipping the chicken will loosen the breading too much.
  • Cook in batches if needed. You do not want to stack the chicken or it will not become crispy. Hold cooked chicken in the oven at 200 degrees while the other batches finish cooking. Toss in sauce right before serving.
  • Use a meat thermometer. Ensure orange chicken (air fryer) is cooked to 165 degrees before consuming.


Recipe Notes

  • This recipe serves about 2 people. To feed a finally, double the orange chicken (air fryer) recipe. Cook the chicken in batches. Hold cooked chicken in the oven at 200 degrees.

Variations

  • Oven: Arrange the chicken directly on a well greased baking sheet. Bake at 425 for 18-22 minutes.
  • Spicy: Double the amount of chili flakes for even more heat.
  • Stir-fry: Double the sauce and toss it with cooked onions, bell peppers, zucchini, or broccoli on the side.


FAQs

What do you serve with orange chicken?I serve this air fried chicken over steamed jasmine rice and broccoli.

Why is my orange chicken sauce too thin?The cornstarch was likely not heated enough and for a long enough period. If you remove the sauce from the stove and find that it is still too thin, put it back on the heat and continue to cook for another couple of minutes.

Is general tso and orange chicken the same?The chicken for both of these dishes is cooked the same, typically breaded and fried. The sauces are different. Orange chicken sauce has a strong orange flavor, while general tso sauce has more notes of ginger, soy, and spice.

Do you have to preheat the air fryer?Yes, for this orange chicken recipe it is important to preheat the air fryer at 400 degrees for 5 minutes so the chicken does not stick and gets crispy.

What cooking spray is best for the air fryer?Olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, and grape seed oil spray all the best options for the air fryer.

How do you cook frozen orange chicken?Air fry store bought frozen orange chicken at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes, flipping halfway through.

What is orange chicken sauce made of?It is made of soy sauce, rice vinegar, orange juice, orange zest, and other spices/aromatics.


Related Recipes

Olive Garden Crock Pot Chicken

Garlic Parmesan Wings (Air Fryer)

Butter Chicken Pasta

Air Fryer Teriyaki Chicken Thighs (Crispy)

Recipe details

  • 2  people
  • Prep time: 10 Minutes Cook time: 10 Minutes Total time: 20 min
Show Nutrition Info
Hide Nutrition Info

Ingredients

Chicken

  • 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs*
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound chicken breasts, cut in 1 inch pieces
  • spray oil*

Sauce

  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil*
  • 4 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 teaspoon ginger paste
  • 1/3 cup fresh orange juice*
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons water

Garnish

  • sesame seeds
  • green onions

Instructions


Review all recipe notes and instructions before beginning.
In a plastic sealable gallon bag, add the panko, cornstarch, and salt. Seal tightly and shake. Use your fist to break up the panko into smaller bits.
Place the chicken in the bag. Seal tightly. Shake until all of the chicken is well coated. Use your hands to press the panko mixture onto the chicken while shaking.
Preheat the air fryer for 5 minutes at 400 degrees. Spray the basket with oil. Arrange the chicken in a single layer in the air fryer basket. Spray the top of the chicken with more oil.
Air fry at 400 for 10-11 minutes or until golden and at least 165 degrees (it should be well over). Do not flip or shake the basket during the cooking process.
While the chicken is cooking, prepare the sauce. Heat the sesame oil over medium heat in a small saucepan. Add the garlic and ginger. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until fragrant. Add in the orange juice, soy, vinegar, zest, chili flakes, and sugar. Stir and bring to a light boil. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water. Add to saucepan and stir for 1-2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat immediately.
In a large bowl, toss the chicken and sauce together.
Garnish with sesame seeds, green onions, and enjoy!

Tips

  • Panko Bread Crumbs: Do not substitute regular breadcrumbs.
  • Spray Oil: I like to use avocado oil, but any spray oil will work.
  • Toasted Sesame Oil: This is crucial for the flavor of the sauce. Be sure to use toasted sesame oil and not regular sesame oil. The flavor is very different.
  • Fresh Orange Juice: I have only tested the sauce with fresh orange juice. It is best for this recipe. I imagine store-bought would give the sauce a more intense flavor as fresh is much more mild.
  • Use fresh orange zest. This ingredient is what gives the sauce its vibrant orange flavor. You definitely do not want to skip out on it. I use this grater to easily grate the orange.
  • Be generous with the oil. Liberally spray the chicken so that it is coated in oil. This will help with browning and crisping.
  • Do not shake. Shaking or flipping the chicken will loosen the breading too much.
  • Cook in batches if needed. You do not want to stack the chicken or it will not become crispy. Hold cooked chicken in the oven at 200 degrees while the other batches finish cooking. Toss in sauce right before serving.
  • Mahe Ahead: The sauce can be made the day before and stored in the fridge in an airtight container. Reheating: Reheat in the microwave in 30 second intervals until warm before tossing it with the air fried orange chicken.
  • Refrigerator: The orange chicken tossed in sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 days. However, it is best to store them separately. Reheating: The orange chicken tossed in sauce will not be crispy leftover. You can reheat it in the microwave if it is already tossed in the sauce. Reheating it in the air fryer is too messy because the sauce becomes sticky and drips through the basket. Chicken without sauce can be reheated in the air fryer at 400 degrees for 5-7 minutes or until heated through.

Brianna May
Want more details about this and other recipes? Check out more here!
Go

Comments

Next