Another “baked, not fried” recipe? Yep! I’m on a roll and cannot get enough of it! You need this Easy Baked Orange Chicken in your life!
After working on Baked Cream Cheese Wontons, I got excited about turning Orange Chicken (a staple American Chinese dish) into a baked version as well. Orange chicken is typically breaded, deep fried, coated with a sticky, sweet, tangy, citrusy glaze that is out of control.
It is delicious, but how awesome would it be if you can make this at home? And wouldn’t it be even better if the make-at-home Orange Chicken calls for simple ingredients from your pantry, is healthier, easy to make, and is even more delicious than the fried ones?
Well, I got you covered! I have to say – I’m thrilled about how this turned out. Get ready to say goodbye to greasy Chinese takeouts!
The orange chicken inspiration
For us, another frequent encounter with Orange Chicken is Trader Joe’s famous Orange Chicken. They have a great frozen version that we buy frequently for quick meals. It has been one of their bestsellers for years, and it is just fantastic.
Anyone who knows me knows I am a huge Trader Joe’s fan. When I was living in Memphis, we did not have a Trader Joe’s. I would drive three hours to Nashville, with a cooler, to go shopping at Trader Joe’s. It was like a fun adventure and getaway for me. And no, I didn’t do it all the time. Even I am not that obsessive. Ha.
I probably did it once a year, during a weekend when life wasn’t crazy busy, and sometimes turned it into fun road trips with girlfriends. We shopped and went to see the pretty sights in Nashville as well. Ah, those good old days.
All that to say, Trader Joe’s Orange Chicken is another inspiration for this dish. I have probably consumed more of their Orange Chicken than ones from Chinese places. Thank you Trader Joe’s – just walking down your grocery aisle is inspirational.
How to make Easy Baked Orange Chicken
Orange chicken is basically chicken with an orange sauce, with some Asian influenced spices thrown in there. The first thing to do is prepare the coating for the chicken. Grab a flat bowl, add flour, cornstarch and salt, and mix well. Grab another bowl and whisk one egg.
Cut a defrosted chicken into smaller cubes. Pat dry chicken to remove all excess water. Dip cubed chicken into the egg mixture, coat all over, and then coat multiple times in the flour mixture. I coat it in flour mixture at least 3-4 times to get a nice, thick coat of flour on the chicken.
Depending on the size of the bowls you use, you can throw many pieces of chicken into the egg mixture at once instead of doing it one at the time. You do want to make sure each piece of chicken is coated evenly with the flour mixture.
Typically I use one hand to work on the egg mixture and another hand (with a spoon) to work on the flour mixture. This way I keep one hand wet and another dry. Wet hands on flour mixture can be tricky.
Line baking sheet with aluminum foil and spoon 2 tablespoons (or more if needed) of vegetable oil onto parchment paper and spread all over evenly. I use aluminum foil for easy cleanup, but you can also place chicken directly on the baking sheet.
From my experience, it can be very challenging removing the chicken pieces from the aluminum foil/baking sheet if you skimp on the oil. So be generous with it!
Bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees F, remove from oven, use a pair of tongs flip chicken, and bring baking sheet back to oven and cook for another 15 minutes. Once chicken is done, remove chicken promptly from baking sheet into a large bowl.
I typically make the orange sauce when the chicken is baking. In a small pot, combine orange marmalade (I used Smucker’s brand), soy sauce, minced garlic and a tiny bit of red pepper flakes. If you like it spicier, you can add more red pepper flakes. Bring to boil under medium low heat.
Once it boils, keep boiling on low heat for 4-5 minutes to slightly thicken sauce. Keep stirring the whole time and keep it under low heat to prevent sauce from burning. Remove from heat once sauce is done.
Add sauce to bowl with chicken and toss to coat chicken evenly. And that’s it.
Dinner is served.
Jazzing it up
Since I was little, I was taught every meal needs a serving of vegetables or fruits. Thanks, mom and dad :). If you want some greens to go with this dish, try my super simple Sautéed Brussel Sprouts and Carrots recipe. These two dishes compliment each other well in taste, and doing this provides a nice, more balanced diet.
Or, equally delicious, make some appetizers and sides, for example, these super delicious Egg Drop Soup, Hot and Sour Soup and Baked Cream Cheese Wontons recipes, and bam, you just made your very own Chinese takeout. How fun and awesome is that??
Have fun with this one!