Homemade Takeout: Orange Chicken

November  8, 2015
9 Ratings
Photo by Linda Xiao
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 15 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

Put down the takeout menu and the forlorn look of someone settling for second best. Today we recreate the real thing: Panda Express' orange chicken. —Kendra Vaculin

What You'll Need
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
  • 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar, divided
  • 2 teaspoons grated ginger
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely grated
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 to 1 1/2-inch cubes (thighs work great here, too, but to me takeout tastes like a basic-b breast)
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon cornstarch (or potato starch), divided
  • canola (or other neutral oil) oil, for frying
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2/3 cup orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon orange marmalade
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  1. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season salt and pepper. In a large bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar, and the grated ginger and garlic. Add cubed chicken and set aside to marinate for 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Using a large slotted spoon or strainer, transfer the marinated chicken to new large bowl, discarding the excess marinade. Sprinkle in 1/4 cup cornstarch and toss to coat.
  3. In a large pot, heat 1/2 inch of oil over medium-high. Working in batches, add the coated chicken in a single layer and fry, turning occasionally, until golden brown and cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes per batch. Move to a large paper towel-lined plate or wire rack set in a baking sheet to cool. Cubes will be crunchy looking nuggets of magic, and just get crunchier as they cool. Resist urge to eat them all from the baking sheet.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 2 tablespoons water to form a slurry. In a large saucepan, combine the remaining 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, honey, orange juice, marmalade, ketchup, remaining 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar, and sesame oil. Heat over medium until just starting to bubble at the edges, then add the slurry, a spoonful at a time, while whisking, to thicken the sauce. Turn off the heat. Add the chicken cubes to the pan and toss to coat.
  5. Serve the chicken and remaining sauce from the pan with rice and broccoli like the homemade takeout champ you ARE.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Elise Fahrer
    Elise Fahrer
  • Matti Neustadt Storie
    Matti Neustadt Storie
  • Veronica_Lytle
  • Anna Francese Gass
    Anna Francese Gass
  • Carolina Herrera Cabrera
    Carolina Herrera Cabrera
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44 Reviews

Amy T. December 5, 2022
I thought it was delicious! It's actually great even before the orange sauce is added! Big hit at my house....I didn't see ketchup in the ingredients either and never used it. I didn't miss it.
JennyDodson September 21, 2022
This is a fantastic recipe. It's important to follow the directions, and be patient in letting hot oil to cook the chicken. It requires patience, but we really enjoyed it.
Linda D. December 3, 2021
Thank you so very much, Kendra. Absolutely delicious!
ann H. May 28, 2020
This is a really good recipe, and easy to make on a weeknight.
The instructions said to add ketchup, so I added 1 TBSP. and hoped it would harmonize with the other ingredients. It worked well enough.

I followed the recipe exactly, and next time I’ll add some red pepper flakes to the sauce and I’ll top with toasted sesame seeds.
Thanks for sharing this recipe! I’ll definitely make it again.
kristina October 29, 2019
Has this recipe changed since originally published? A few people mention wine, but there's no wine in the ingredient list. Also, there's no ketchup, but ketchup is listed later on in the recipe.
Robin March 17, 2018
Great flavors, easy to prepare. A deep saucepan with sufficient oil (I used close to 1/2 inch of peanut oil) along with leaving the chicken untouched while it cooks, should alleviate the sticking problem.
windofheaven February 11, 2018
White wine is pretty 'foreign' to traditional Chinese cuisine. I'd go with rice wine/sake or sherry instead. Would definitely benefit from a squirt of ketchup, a few crush or dried whole chiles (arbol) and strips of orange peel.
Elise F. December 9, 2017
I followed this recipe exactly and it was totally inedible. The chicken was a gooey mess that stuck to the pan. I had such high hopes for this and they fell short.
windofheaven February 11, 2018
Not supposed to pan-fry, but deep-fry.
Matti N. November 1, 2017
Every ounce of coating stuck to my pan, despite more than sufficient oil. Mostly a disaster of a recipe.
windofheaven February 11, 2018
Not enough oil specified for properly deep-frying the chicken. They need room to swim!
ENEB August 1, 2017
This was not good at all. In fact, it was inedible. My kids are big fans of orange chicken so I thought I would make a homemade version. I had great hope for this recipe but it simply doesn't work. I wish I could say otherwise. First recipe from Food52 that was a hug flop.
Veronica_Lytle July 14, 2017
I felt compelled to comment. I never comment. Make this. That is all.
Anna F. March 23, 2017
this was delicious and my family loved it. so much better than take out. thanks for an amazing recreation!
Marie February 28, 2017
I made this for dinner last night for my family of 4. I didn't know how much chicken 4 chicken breasts called for in the recipe really was, so I settled on 2 pounds. As it turned out, that amount of chicken pretty much used up all the marinade, so I didn't even bother with the extra step of transferring the chicken to another bowl before sprinkling with the cornstarch. I just added the cornstarch right to the marinade bowl with no ill effects noticed. My family really liked this! I have to confess I've never had Panda Express orange chicken, So I can't compare. In all honesty it wasn't as delicious as the orange chicken we had at this authentic Chinese restaurant in Chinatown in Chicago last spring. But it was quite tasty and a nice change from what we'd been having. It's a keeper!
Carolina H. February 14, 2017
This recipe looks yummy but what about the rice? Someone has the recipe to make the perfect panda-express white rice that comes with the orange chicken?
Yayita January 30, 2017
This was a pleasant surprise; as it was as satisfying as orange chicken from takeouts I had back in college. To say they taste and look the same would be a lie, but I wasn't after eating takeout. I was craving sweet and tangy chicken entree and this hit the spot. I followed the recipe as directed, but since I didn't have orange marmalade I used strawberry jam which could account for the darker orange sauce coloring. I definitely browned my chicken a bit more which gave my chicken a darker hue than the photos; I plan to be more attentive next time and get them lightly browned.
jenncc August 30, 2016
This is really good! I did not use all the sauce but it was delicious. Will be making this again.
linklau May 28, 2016
This sauce is extremely intense with orange flavor! I think I should have just used enough sauce to make the chicken glisten, instead of enough for the chicken to swim in. Family liked it, but we all agreed that the sauce was too strong.
Kate April 7, 2016
This is as good as it looks and really easy! Do not skip the ginger -- it adds the perfect depth to the flavor, oh so good. I am nervous about my chicken cooking times so fried mine for 5:30 and it was probably a little crispier but very good. I followed this recipe perfectly (other than the chicken cook time) and it really turned out beautifully. Agree there are more dishes to clean up than I'd like, but if you clean as you go it's not so bad. Thank you!! Yum!
lois February 25, 2016
I made this last night and we enjoyed it. It was a little dish-intensive for my taste (two bowls for raw chicken, a pot for the sauce, and a very messy skillet for cooking the chicken--not to mention whatever you need for your side dish(es)), but I will make it again on occasion. I was concerned about quantity: what is "four chicken breasts"? For the record, I used a package of chicken that was about 1.7 lbs before trimming. There was enough marinade and sauce, but none to spare.
Marie February 28, 2017
Same concerns here! As I noted, I settled on about 2 pounds of chicken for a family of 4. We had some leftovers, but this produced a good ratio of sauce to chicken. Also, I dirtied every pan in my kitchen plus several bowls. I had a ton of cleaning to do afterwards. It's a good recipe, but there's a reason people order take-out. That said, it was good enough I will be making it again, just not on a weekly rotation.
Linda A. February 21, 2016
What does one use in place of the white wine--which Panda Express doesn't use according to cv?
David November 28, 2016
Mirin (Japanese rice wine) should work. Since it's used to make teriyaki sauce, I could see Panda Express using it. Look it up and you'll see lots of information of its use in Oriental cooking.
Marie February 28, 2017
I used Japanese sake, because that's what I had on hand in my fridge. It turned out delicious.