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:
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 fresh 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.