Air Fryer Orange Chicken

by Karly

Our AIR FRYER ORANGE CHICKEN recipe is the perfect take-out fake-out meal you’ve been craving! The chicken cooks quickly in the air fryer, the sauce is a breeze to whisk together on the stove, and the whole meal is ready in 20 minutes!

orange chicken on a small round plate next to orange slices

You can bet that if we order Asian for dinner, someone in our family is going to order the Orange Chicken. It’s a definite favorite with that bright, sweet sauce, juicy chicken…mm, it’s so good!

Of course, homemade is usually best and I’m not going to lie…this homemade orange sauce is outrageous. Everyone in the family agrees that it’s better that the goopy stuff we get at our local Asian restaurant.

A little sweet, a little tangy. A hit of garlic and soy. What’s not to love about orange chicken sauce?

We’re using the air fryer for a healthy orange chicken…we’ve skipped the breading and deep frying to keep calories and fat on the lower side.

A wooden spoon scooping up orange chicken

Ingredients for Orange Chicken:

  • Chicken (breast or thighs)
  • Orange Juice
  • Orange Zest
  • Brown Sugar
  • Honey
  • Rice Wine Vinegar
  • Soy Sauce
  • Spices
all the ingredients for orange chicken spread out on a countertop

How to make orange chicken:

  • Cut your chicken breast into 1-2 inch pieces.
  • Coat the bottom of your air fryer basket with olive oil and place your strips in an even layer in the basket. Cook these for 10 minutes shaking halfway through.
cooked chicken in an air fryer basket
  • While the chicken is cooking, get a medium saucepan and saute the remaining ingredients except for the cornstarch.
  • Stir this and allow the sauce to boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Let it simmer for 3-5 minutes while stirring, then remove from heat.
orange chicken sauce in a sauce pan
  • Add in a cornstarch slurry and whisk until the sauce has thickened to your preferred consistency. We like ours a bit on the runnier side, but you can make this nice and thick, if that’s what you like.
  • Toss the chicken into the orange sauce and it is ready to serve.
  • You can garnish with green onions or sesame seeds if desired.
chicken in a clear glass bowl being covered in orange sauce

How to zest an orange:

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The best way to zest your citrus is with a microplane grater. Hold the microplane in one hand and the orange in the other hand. Run the orange back and forth over the grater to remove the bright orange peel. Rotate the orange to get all of the zest.

If you don’t have a microplane, you can also use a grater with small holes. You use this the same way you would grate cheese by pushing the orange into the grater and going back and forth. You’ll have larger chunks of zest, but it’ll work the same.

If you have neither, you can use a potato peeler or a knife to cut thin strips off the skin of the orange, then mince those strips very fine. No one wants big chunks of orange peel in their food.

No matter which method you choose, it is important to only get the orange colored portion of the peel. The white part of the peel is more bitter.

a white air fryer behind a plate of Chinese food

Freezing Orange Chicken:

This air fryer orange chicken can be frozen ahead of time. Make the sauce as directed, let cool, and then place in a ziptop freezer bag. When you are ready to serve, boil some water and place the entire bag in the water to thaw it out rapidly. Then dump it into a saucepan and whisk well as it finishes heating through. Add additional orange juice if the sauce is too thick or a bit more cornstarch if it’s too thin.

For the chicken, you can freeze this after cooking through. Store the chicken in a ziptop bag and thaw in boiling water along with the sauce. Reheat at 350 degrees F in the air fryer for 5-10 minutes.

Then just mix the two together for a quick and easy orange chicken dinner!

A plate of orange chicken in front of an air fryer

More Asian inspired recipes using the air fryer:

Other Air Fryer Favorites:

A plate of orange chicken in front of a white air fryer
A close up of a plate of orange chicken with vegetables

Air Fryer Orange Chicken

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

This easy orange chicken recipe is made in an air fryer and tossed in a homemade sauce. It is a great recipe for an Asian inspired homemade family meal!

Ingredients

For the chicken:

  • 1-1 ½ pounds chicken breast, cut into 1-2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cracked pepper
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil

For the orange chicken sauce:

  • 1 cup orange juice
  • Zest from one orange
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 tablespoons cup rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

Instructions

  1. Preheat the air fryer to 380 degrees for 5 minutes. 
  2. Add the chicken to a bowl and sprinkle with garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Drizzle with oil and stir well to coat the chicken.
  3. Place the chicken in the air fryer basket in an even layer. Cook chicken at 380 degrees for 10 minutes, shaking the basket or stirring the chicken halfway through cooking.
  4. While chicken is cooking, in a medium saucepan, prepare the sauce. Add the juice, zest, brown sugar, honey, vinegar, soy sauce, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, and ginger and whisk well to combine.
  5. Bring the sauce to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Let simmer for about 3-5 minutes, while stirring, and then  remove from heat. 
  6. Add the cornstarch to a small bowl with 2 tablespoons of water and whisk to combine. Add the cornstarch slurry to the sauce and whisk well.
  7. Continue cooking the sauce until it has thickened to your liking.
  8. Toss chicken into the orange sauce and serve.
  9. Garnish with chopped green onions or sesame seeds if desired.

Notes

We prefer white meat, but you could also use chicken thighs in this recipe.

Rice vinegar is the traditional option here, but white distilled vinegar also works fine.

You may add more cornstarch for a thicker sauce or thin the sauce back out with orange juice.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 593Total Fat: 26gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 160mgSodium: 785mgCarbohydrates: 45gFiber: 2gSugar: 38gProtein: 43g

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2 comments

Milisa May 4, 2021 - 1:47 am

Seriously delicious, this one has earned a permanent spot in the dinner rotation!

Reply
Karly May 4, 2021 - 11:30 am

Thank you, Milisa! <3

Reply

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