Baked Orange Chicken made with Panda Express Orange Chicken Copycat Sauce with an easy baked recipe that’s easier and healthier than frying in 30 minutes!
This recipe is healthier because of baking, but has the same sauce as my classic Panda Express Orange Chicken (Copycat) recipe and you should make it immediately and serve it with Easy Chow Mein or Chinese Fried Rice.
Baked Orange Chicken
Baked Orange Chicken takes the most difficult part of making my crazy popular orange chicken recipe out of the equation (that would be the deep frying). Most people don’t like deep frying because it can be dangerous, messy and it takes a lot of oil. This recipe is so much easier but uses the same delicious sauce you love and easy enough for dinner tonight.
The first time you make this recipe make it with this sauce (because yes, it is as good as the Panda Express original), but next time try making my recipes for General Tso’s Chicken or Easy Sesame Chicken using this method for baking the chicken. When you break down the panko bread crumbs and make them smaller you won’t have the spiky texture most people have when baking with panko, so it will taste and feel more like a classic orange chicken recipe.
Orange Chicken Sauce:
Classic orange chicken sauce is made with white sugar but some recipes call for marmalade or brown sugar. Using the Panda Express recipe most of the flavor comes from garlic, ginger, orange juice, orange zest and sesame oil.
The first thing we do is add the garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes to a pan with a bit of oil to saute before adding and thickening the sauce ingredients.
To cut down on the time you are working on this orange chicken recipe make your sauce while your chicken is baking. This way your orange sauce will be ready right when the chicken comes out and is perfectly crispy.
Finish the dish with some green onions, sesame seeds or extra crushed red peppers as a garnish.
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Chicken Thighs vs Chicken Breast
You can absolutely use skinless chicken breast in this recipe instead of chicken thighs, the reason I chose to use chicken thighs was because the classic Chinese Orange Chicken recipe is made using chicken thighs.
Since we are baking it in the oven the thigh meat will keep the meat more tender and any fat that renders out of the chicken will help to crisp up the bites. Most Chinese food that is battered is made using dark meat, so while chicken breast is certainly an option, just know it will make the dish slightly less tender.
You can also bread the chicken pieces and freeze them ahead of baking on a baking sheet. When ready to cook be sure to spray with cooking spray or coat with vegetable oil well because the extra condensation from defrosting will cause the breading to soften a bit, so the extra oil will help.
What to serve with Baked Orange Chicken:
We love to serve this with Chinese Steamed Rice, dim sum favorites like Crab Rangoon, Egg Rolls, Spring Rolls, or Potstickers and something non chicken like Beef Teriyaki or Coconut Shrimp.
More Easy Chinese Recipes:
- Beef and Broccoli
- Chicken Lo Mein
- Chinese Lemon Chicken
- Chinese Honey Chicken
- Sweet and Sour Chicken
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 2 pounds chicken thighs , boneless skinless
- 2 large eggs , beaten
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil , divided
- 1 1/2 tablespoons ginger , minced
- 2 teaspoons garlic , minced
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons rice wine (white wine works too)
- 1/4 cup orange juice , from the orange
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
- 10 tablespoons sugar
- 10 tablespoons white vinegar
- 1 orange , zested
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and add the panko to a food processor and pulse until the crumbs are much smaller, like regular breadcrumbs.
- Add the panko to one bowl, the chicken (cut into small chunks) in a second bowl, the eggs in a third bowl, and the flour in a fourth bowl.
- Dip the chicken pieces into the flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs and place on baking sheet, then spray with cooking spray (or brush lightly with vegetable oil).
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, while the chicken is baking, make the sauce.
- Add the remaining tablespoon vegetable oil, ginger, garlic and crushed red peppers to a saucepan on medium heat and cook for 30 seconds until fragrant.
- Add the rest of the sauce ingredients, bring to a boil until it thickens then turn off the heat and wait for the chicken to finish baking, then toss the chicken with the sauce and serve.
Delicious!! My family loves it and it is my mother in laws favorite recipe that I make! I was skeptical that it could bake crispy so I always browned them first. I was in a rush one day so just baked it and it was crispy! So awesome!
What can you use instead of rice wine?
Here’s a list to consider:
Best Rice Wine Substitutes
Pale Dry Sherry
Dry White Wine
Sake or Mirin
Apple or Grape Juice
This was really good! 2 things I will comment on though- it was WAY too sweet, next time I’ll add less sugar. Prep time is also much longer than 10mins, but I also don’t spend a ton of time in the kitchen so I’m probably slower than most! I added it to rice which helped the sweetness a little. Overall good and I’m glad I meal prepped it for the week
I love the taste of this recipe but who are you kidding? 10 minutes prep time? I didn’t even cut up all the chicken in 10 minutes and it took 20 minutes to make the sauce.
Hi Janet, thanks for bringing this to my attention. I will take a look at this and test the times again. Were your chicken thighs boneless and skinned by any chance? Again, thanks for letting me know.
This was amazing. I love sweet and sour with a little kick and this was perfect. My family loved it too. I added this to my faves because this will definitely go into the dinner rotations.
I never leave comments but decided to for this as I make it again and again. It is so good we can’t get enough. I serve it with fried rice to get my veggies. Thank you for a recipe that isn’t fried as I have a sensitive stomach. And it is so good!
This orange chicken is better than the box orange chicken I get from target. I will definitely be making this again. I didn’t have a food processor so I used a blender and it worked well, I also did 1/4 cups of orange juice instead of it being fresh from an orange.
The family loved it! Your recipes are easy to follow and elevate recipes to the next level. Thank you.
This was easy to make and a big hit for my family! I don’t have a food processor so I just put the panko in a ziploc baggie and went at them with a rolling pin. Served it with long grain white rice that I cooked in vegetable stock instead of water and steamed broccoli.
Made this tonight for 2 ….I used 3 boneless thighs and dredged in rice flour
Doubled sauce due to previous comments…I used 2 cloves garlic, 11/2 Tbsp chopped ginger, 1//3 c white sugar plus 1/3 c. Tangerine marmalade, as that’s what I had, used some white wine vinegar (1Tbsp) and the rest white vinegar, dark soy sauce (tamari) and low sodium soy equally, chicken got crispy baked convection oven at 400…I did have a full cup of sauce left I froze for later.
We really enjoyed it. Ty
I doubled the recipe and still didn’t have enough sauce for 2 lbs of chicken. I could have used another half as much. Following the advice of another reviewer, I used 2/3 c of vinegar and sugar. I used only panko but it was kind of gloppy. If I make this again I will use only cornstarch. My local grocery store has been out of cornstarch since the holidays. We liked the flavor. I added a couple of drops of red food coloring to brighten it. I didn’t have yellow food coloring. I let mine bake for another 15 minutes because the gloppy breading wasn’t browning. I served this with rice and baked egg rolls made with ground turkey.
I usually never leave reviews but considering this recipe made it into the “Really Good, Would Make Again” bookmark folder, this deserved a review. Wow this was yummy!! My husband is a pretty tough critic when I try new recipes and he loved this. I used chicken breast and it came out great. My only suggestion is you may want to double the sauce ingredients because it’s orangey deliciousness and you’ll want more! Thank you for sharing such a wonderful creation!
What is your recommendation for a side to serve with this.
I do rice and green vegetables, usually broccoli or green beans.
Absolutely delicious and better for you than frying!!
Made this last night, it was delicious! I made it with boneless skinless chicken breasts and it was terrific!
This is a repeat performance!! The balance of flavors is phenomenal! Wouldn’t change a thing!!
OK. I have finished the sauce and chicken. Well worth the time. It is absolutely delicious. An afternoon well spent.
As others have said, prep time of 10 minutes is way too generous. 2 eggs was not enough. Had to add a third. 1 c. Panko bread crumbs were not enough. Ended up using plain bread crumbs. Certainly not dragging out my processor to grind up more panko with my egg, flour, crumbs encrusted hands. I’m a trained chef. I feel for all the home cooks. A hint. Put flour into a baggie and shake like Shake and Bake. Easier. Off to grate orange rind and juice oranges. Another 10-15 minutes. Will report later as to how sauce turns out. As others have said, one recipe is not enough. I plan to double it but with less sugar and vinegar.
So the recipe says 10 Tblsp sugar and also 10 Tblsp white sugar. Is this a typo? If not, can you please explain? I really want to make this!! Thank you!
do you use a sheet pan with a rack to elevate the chicken? I want the chicken crunchy. Thank you.
Hi, I ran out of white vinegar. Can I use apple cider vinegar?
I always make orange chicken (and similar dishes) with apple cider vinegar. Given that it is already fruit-flavored from the orange, the apple cider is a nice complement to the orange. As an aside, I also use orange marmalade, which I make at home.
Hi. Is it ok to use white wine vinegar for the white vinegar?
It would change the consistency and flavor, but experimenting is half the fun of cooking!
Do I spray the pan before placing chicken on the baking sheet or am I spraying the chicken after placing it on baking sheet? Making tonight, excited to try!
Need to ask – am I spraying the pan before putting chicken on or spraying the chicken after placing on the pan? Making tonight, excited to try it!
Delicious – just like the photo.
My 14 year old daughter made this for dinner & it worked perfectly.
As others have mentioned you could adjust the sugar/vinegar/chilli ratio to suit tastes but it was crispy with a perfect sticky sauce.
Wouldn’t change a thing!! Amazing!!
This dish is really tasty. Here are the reasons for 4 stars and not 5. The prep time is way longer than 10 minutes. After dipping in egg and panko crumbs for half of the chicken, I needed to add another egg and more panko crumbs. The flour makes the egg thick and the egg makes the panko gooey. The sauce needs to be doubled so it is not all absorbed. It is definitely tasty and I will make again knowing these variations.
It’s delicious. I made this for my guests tonight and the sauce was so flavorful that everyone loves it!! Thank you.
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