Zesty Orange Chicken - Faster Than Take Out!!!

Zesty Orange Chicken is one of those dishes I like to order when we get take out. Now!..... I would rather make it at home! This recipe is so easy to make and really does give the chicken a nice zesty zip!!! I think the hardest part of this recipes is cutting the orange peel (and that really isn't that hard to do) but darn, it is one of the best parts of the recipe. The sweet orange flavor is like candy added to this spicy chicken dish! We also have an Orange Beef Stir Fry recipe that will satisfy that beef lover in your life!

zesty orange chicken

Key Tips for making Zesty Orange Chicken

The best tip for any recipe is to get all the ingredients out first. This is a very quick recipe to make.

So there are 3 ways to make the chicken for this recipe 1. Air fry 2. Bake or 3. Stir Fry. They are all easy and just depends on how you want to cook the chicken. In the long run, stir frying the chicken is the easiest way because there is only one pan for clean up. Preparing the chicken are the same steps for all three ways (air fry, bake or stir fry).

Preparing the Chicken

For the zesty orange chicken it's nice to cut the chicken into bite size pieces. Next, marinate the chicken in orange juice. Yes, orange juice. It sounds strange but it really puts that orange-y flavor into the chicken. We used fresh squeezed orange juice but bottled OJ will work just as well and is cheaper than buying oranges. If you get bottled oj, just remember, you'll still need one or two oranges in order to have the peel for the recipe. Place the cut up chicken breast into a bowl with the OJ and marinate for at least 30 minutes but no more than an hour.

zesty orange chicken

After 30 minutes of marinating the chicken drain and discard the orange juice. Toss the chicken in the spices (cornstarch, cumin, garlic, salt and turmeric). The three ways to make the zesty orange chicken are:

  1. Air Fry - Place the seasoned chicken in the air fryer for 18 minutes at 400 degrees.
  2. Bake - Place on a baking sheet and cook in a 400 degree oven for 25 minutes or until done
  3. Stir Fry - Heat 2 Tablespoons of oil in a saute pan. Cook the chicken in the pan. When the Chicken is done remove and use the pan for the sauce.

Making the Sauce

Peel the oranges and remove as much of the white part of the orange peel as possible. Don't forget to wash off the orange prior to peeling. Cut the orange peel into strips. (One of the best parts of this zesty orange chicken is the orange peel!!) Heat one Tablespoon of olive oil in a saute pan. Add the minced ginger, minced garlic and, if you're all about some sweet and spicy, add the chopped Habanero. Saute for a couple of minutes then add the sliced orange peel. Saute for 3 minutes or so. Add Orange Juice, soy sauce, and maple syrup (or honey). Bring to a boil and simmer until the sauce just reduces to about half.

zesty orange chicken
zesty orange chicken
zesty orange chicken

Toss the cooked chicken to the sauce mixture and coat. If the sauce needs to thicken more make a cornstarch slurry. (mix 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of water). Add the cornstarch mixture to the sauce and chicken. It will thicken and glaze the chicken.

Enjoy the Zesty Orange Chicken with rice or cauliflower rice.

Zesty Orange Chicken

Zesty Orange Sauce coats the air fried or baked chicken for an easy, healthier version of a take out classic.
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Course: Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: American, Chinese
Keyword: Air Fryer, Air Fryer Chicken Taquitos
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 Servings
Calories: 499kcal
Author: Belly Laugh Living

A Few Things We Use

  • Air Fryer


  • 2 Pounds Chicken Breast
  • 1 Cup Orange Juice

Spice Mix for Chicken

  • 2 Tablespoons Cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon Cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Turmeric

Sauce (Glaze)

  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 2 Cloves Garlic Finely chopped or minced
  • 2 Tablespoons Ginger Finely chopped or minced
  • 2 Orange peels Cut into strips
  • 1 Tablespoon Habanero Optional
  • 1 1/2 Cups Orange Juice
  • 1/4 Cup Maple Syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Cornstarch Optional


Prepare Chicken

  • Cut chicken breast into bite size pieces
    2 Pounds Chicken Breast
  • Marinate the Chicken in one cup of orange juice for at least 30 minutes No more than one hour
    1 Cup Orange Juice
  • Drain the chicken and discard the orange juice marinade. Toss the chicken in seasoning (cornstarch, cumin, garlic, salt, turmeric)
    2 Tablespoons Cornstarch, 1 teaspoon Cumin, 1 teaspoon Garlic powder, 1 teaspoon Sea Salt, 1 teaspoon Turmeric
  • Spray the air fryer with cooking spray (we used olive oil spray) If baking, spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. If stir frying heat 2 Tablespoon oil in a saute pan
    Air Fry: Place the chicken in the air fryer basket. Cook at 400 degrees for 18 minutes. Baking: bake in a 400 degree preheated oven for 25 minutes. If stir frying, stir fry the chicken in a saute pan with oil until cooked all the way through.

Orange Glaze

  • Peel the oranges, remove as much of the white part of the orange as you can and cut the orange peel into thin strips
    2 Orange peels
  • Finely chop ginger and garlic. Heat olive oil in large saute pan and add the ginger, and garlic. (Later you'll be adding the cooked chicken, so make sure to use a pan that's large enough to hold everything)
    2 Cloves Garlic, 2 Tablespoons Ginger, 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • Add the orange peel to the saute pan. Saute for 2 to 3 minutes. If using Habanero add with the orange peel.
    1 Tablespoon Habanero
  • Combine all sauce ingredients (Orange Juice, Maple Syrup and soy sauce) and add to the pan
    1 1/2 Cups Orange Juice, 1/4 Cup Maple Syrup, 1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
  • Bring sauce to a boil (takes about 3 or 4 minutes). Turn down to a simmer. Stirring often, simmer until sauce has reduced by about half. This takes about 10 minutes
  • After the sauce has reduced by about half. Add the cooked, (air fried, baked, or stir fried), chicken into the sauce.
    Stir the chicken in the sauce and continue to cook until the sauce has completely coated the chicken in a nice glaze. If the sauce needs to thicken more, make a cornstarch slurry (in a small bowl mix together 1 Tablespoon cornstarch and 2 Tablespoons water). Pour the Cornstarch mixture into the pan with the sauce and chicken. Stir until sauce thickens.
    1 Tablespoon Cornstarch
  • Serve with rice or cauliflower rice. Or enjoy on its own.


Calories: 499kcal | Carbohydrates: 49g | Protein: 51g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.03g | Cholesterol: 145mg | Sodium: 1103mg | Potassium: 1466mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 33g | Vitamin A: 631IU | Vitamin C: 141mg | Calcium: 82mg | Iron: 2mg
Tried this recipe? We'd love to hear from you!Mention @bellylaughliving or tag #bellylaughliving!
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