The Best Orange Chicken is made without orange juice but is perfect with the tart/tangy, sweet orange sauce you expect with orange chicken with a bit of a kick. Serve it over rice for a dish that is better than takeout!Jump to Recipe
What Makes This The BEST Orange Chicken?
This orange chicken is made without orange juice!!! Orange chicken made without orange juice! WHAT??? It is so good, made with simple ingredients and NO ORANGE JUICE!
The ingredients are simple. You most likely have them in your kitchen.
For the sauce, you need: soy sauce (not light or low sodium), white vinegar, white sugar, garlic powder, white pepper (black pepper can work), cornstarch (so it will thicken when put on the heat), water, and orange zest (that is optional). These will be mixed together and set aside.
A NOTE ABOUT WHITE PEPPER: White pepper is used quite often in Chinese cuisine. It has a peppery bite to it like black pepper but is more mild than black pepper (and will not leave black flecks behind). You can use black pepper in place of white pepper, the flavor will be a bit more strong.
You will sauté some minced garlic, ground ginger, chopped green onions and a pinch of dried red pepper flakes.
The sauce is added to this and you get a well rounded sweet, orange tasting sauce with a bit of kick. The cornstarch that is added to the sauce ingredients will help the sauce thicken as it heats!
***If you want your orange chicken extra saucy double the recipe. This recipe will cover the chicken but does not have a lot of extra sauce.
How does this end up being orange chicken without orange juice or fresh squeezed orange juice? The ingredients make it savory, sweet, tart and tangy and is perfectly delicious. The orange zest of course brings a bit of orange to the sauce but it’s Orange Chicken made without orange juice and it works!
Crispy chicken is a necessity for Orange Chicken. I use boneless skinless chicken breasts cut in to bite size pieces.
I fry the chicken pieces (after they are breaded) in a bit of oil. If you do not want to fry the chicken, you can bake it in the oven or just use cooked chicken pieces without the breading. (See the recipe card “notes” below for more details)
Once the chicken is cut up into pieces you need to bread it.
First, you will need some eggs, beaten with a bit of salt and white pepper (black pepper works too). Put the chicken pieces in the beaten eggs and make sure all pieces are coated in the egg.
Next, to bread the chicken you will need some cornstarch and flour. I use a bowl. Mix the flour and cornstarch together. This will bread the chicken.
After you have covered the chicken in the beaten egg, place the chicken the flour/cornstarch mixture.
Finally, to get the chicken pieces crispy you will need to let it cook in some oil.
I like to have about 1/2 inch of oil in my saucepan/skillet. Heat the oil on medium heat until it starts to shimmer on the bottom of the pan, or drops of water sizzle when dropped in the oil.
Place the breaded chicken in the hot oil, making sure to not overcrowd the pan (you may have to cook the chicken in batches). I use a fork to turn the chicken pieces as needed so all sides get cooked.
Cook the chicken until the outside is crispy and the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit. If the chicken cooks too fast adjust the temperature. Just check the internal temperature of the largest piece and you will know they are all done.
Use a slotted spoon or tongs to take out the cooked chicken and place the chicken pieces on some paper towels to soak up the extra oil.
Cook all of your chicken and set it aside.
Finishing up The BEST Orange Chicken
Once your chicken is cooked, dump the oil out of your pan (I pour it into a foil lined bowl to let it cook then wrap up the oil in the foil and dump it in the garbage). Wipe the excess oil out of the pan.
Next, heat the tablespoon of oil in your pan over medium heat. Saute the minced garlic, ground ginger, chopped green onions and dried red pepper flakes, stirring them until they are fragrant. Add your orange sauce and mix it all together using a whisk or spoon.
The sauce will thicken as it heats up.
**If the sauce does not thicken, or you want it thicker, make a cornstarch slurry. Mix equal parts cornstarch and cold water and slowly add it to the sauce a little at a time over medium heat, whisking as you add it. It may take a minute or two to thicken so slowly add it until it gets as thick as you want it.
Once your sauce has thickened, take it off the heat and add your cooked chicken. Gently stir the chicken around in the sauce making sure it is all evenly covered.
Serving The Best Orange Chicken
Finally it is time to eat! Serve your orange chicken over cooked rice. I like to add extra chopped green onions to my plate of orange chicken. (The orange wedges you see in some photos are just for the photos and not necessary).
You will love this orange chicken and you will not even know there is no orange juice added to the sauce! It is orange chicken without orange juice and is so much better than takeout!
If you liked this recipe please take the time to leave a comment and a star rating below! Also, don’t forget to follow me on Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram!
For some other tasty dishes try these recipes on the blog:
- Firecracker Chicken (this dish brings the heat)
- Sweet and Sour Chicken
- Steak and Pepper Stir Fry
- Mongolian Chicken
- Mongolian Beef and Broccoli
- Lettuce Wraps
Check out the latest posts from the Butcher’s Wife!
- Chipotle Chicken
- Fast and Easy Pasta Salad
- Shrimp Salad
- Foil Packet Loaded Potatoes
- Easy Pretzel Bites (made from store bought pizza crust dough)
- The Best Orange Chicken
The Best Orange Chicken (made without orange juice)
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/3 cup white vinegar
- 3 Tbsp cold water
- 3 Tbsp soy sauce *not low sodium or light
- 3 Tbsp cornstarch
- 1 to 2 tsp orange zest *optional
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp white pepper *black will work- see blog post above or notes below for a bit about the difference
Sautéed Sauce Ingredients (these are not mixed in with the other sauce ingredients)
- 1 Tbsp canola oil *vegetable or olive oil work too
- 2 tsp minced garlic (bottled/jar minced garlic) *if using fresh use 4 fresh garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 to 1 tsp ground ginger *add more if you like the taste of ginger – I like it so I add the full 1 tsp. *if using fresh grated/minced ginger use 1 tablespoon
- 4 green onions, chopped fine
- pinch dried red pepper flakes *more to taste if you want it spicier
- 1 1/2 lbs. chicken, cut into bite size pieces *boneless skinless chicken breast or boneless chicken thighs
- 1 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 large eggs, beaten
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp white pepper *black pepper works great too-see blog post above or notes below for a bit about white pepper vs. black pepper
- oil for frying the chicken – canola or vegetable works best *enough oil (about 1/2 inch in the pan) so the chicken is mostly covered to fry/cook
- Rice, cooked – enough for each serving *this recipe can serve anywhere from 6-8 people depending on serving size
- green onions, chopped *in addition to the chopped green onions used in the sauce
- Mix all of the orange sauce ingredients in a glass measuring cup or bowl. Set aside.Do not add the sauteed sauce ingredients- you will use these later.
- In a bowl, beat your eggs and add the salt and white pepper. In a separate bowl add and mix your cornstarch and flour together.
- Take the chicken pieces and add them to the beaten eggs. Mix them around making sure all pieces are covered.Then, take the egg covered chicken pieces and drop them in the bowl of flour/cornstarch. Toss/mix the chicken around to make sure they are all covered in the flour mixture.
- Over medium heat, heat about a 1/2 inch of oil in a large skillet. You need an enough oil to almost fully cover the chicken. You will know the oil is hot enough when the oil starts to shimmer on the bottom of the pan or the oil sizzles when a few drops of water are dropped in it.
- Drop the breaded chicken in the hot oil, not overcrowding the pan. You will probably have to work in batches. Flip the chicken pieces half way through cooking. The chicken is done when it’s cripsy and the internal temperature reaches 165℉. (Check the thickest/biggest piece of chicken-then they all should be done).If the chicken is getting too crispy on the outside before it is cooked fully reduce the heat as needed.Using a slotted spoon or tongs, take the cooked chicken out of the oil and place the cooked pieces on paper towels. Set aside the cooked chicken while you make the sauce.Repeat until all of the chicken is cooked.
Making the Orange Sauce
- Clean the oil out of the pan you just used. (I pour the hot oil in a bowl lined with foil and then when it cools I wrap it in the foil and throw it away).In the pan, over medium heat, add your oil. Then add the minced garlic, ground ginger, red pepper flakes and chopped green onions and stir it around until its fragrant.Add the orange sauce ingredients and stir/whisk the sauce over medium heat until it thickens.*If the sauce thickens too much, add a little bit of water at a time to thin it out to your liking.**If it doesn't thicken, or you want it thicker make a cornstarch slurry to add to the sauce. Mix equal parts cornstarch and cold water and mix it together. Slowly add a little at a time, stirring a little in and waiting to see if thickens. If it doesn't thicken to what you like, add a little more at a time until it reaches the thickness you like. Start with 1 tablespoon of each, you can always make more slurry if needed.
- Once the sauce has thickened to your liking, remove the pan from the heat and add the cooked chicken into the sauce in the pan. Gently stir the chicken into the sauce until all the chicken is covered. *If you want a lot of extra sauce double the sauce. This recipe and the amounts listed above will cover the chicken but not leave you with a lot of extra sauce.
- Serve the chicken over cooked rice and add chopped green onions if desired! Enjoy!!!