This perfectly tangy and savory air fryer orange chicken recipe tastes even better than takeout! It’s a breeze to make and perfect for budget-friendly family dinners.
Just when you think homemade takeout-style orange chicken can’t get any easier, this 30-minute air fryer orange chicken recipe comes along!
We love making our favorite takeout meals in our household because it’s so easy to recreate those amazing flavors. However, the air fryer is a total game-changer when it comes to these dinners! Like with air fryer salmon bites and air fryer steak, the air fryer speeds up the process and gives the whole family a restaurant-worthy meal quickly and easily.
Table of Contents
- Made from fresh orange juice. While I absolutely love the crispy and juicy air fryer chicken breasts in this dish, the homemade orange sauce is the real star. Making it with freshly squeezed orange juice and real orange zest gives it the best zingy flavor!
- Uses a hands-off cooking method. Just toss the marinated chicken breasts in the air fryer and let this hands-off tool work its magic.
- A 30-minute dinner. From cooking the chicken to making the sauce to putting it all together, this dish is ready to enjoy in about 30 minutes.
- Budget-friendly. Put the takeout menu down. This homemade orange chicken recipe is so much better AND inexpensive to make, too!
This dish uses a mix of chicken, condiments, and fresh fruit to give it its addictively tangy and savory flavors. Here’s everything you need to make it:
- Chicken breasts. This is my favorite protein when I’m making orange chicken at home. Boneless skinless chicken breasts soak in the marinade easily and cook quickly in the air fryer compared to chicken thighs. It’s also leaner too, which is always a plus.
- Salt and pepper. To season the chicken breast marinade.
- Soy sauce. To marinate the chicken. You can use tamari or coconut aminos if you’re gluten free.
- All purpose flour and cornstarch. I like to coat the chicken pieces in both flour and cornstarch for extra crunch. You can also sprinkle some panko for even more crunch.
For the orange chicken sauce:
- Sesame oil. For the signature sesame notes. A little goes a very long way (hence the small amount used).
- Garlic and ginger. Fresh ginger and garlic cloves are a must. Please do not use the dried kind!
- Soy sauce. Like I said, you can use tamari or coconut aminos if you’re gluten free.
- Orange marmalade. Optional, but I sometimes like to add this in to intensify the orange flavor and to add some sweetness. You can omit this or swap it out for some brown sugar.
- Orange juice and zest. Use freshly squeezed orange juice and grated zest from Valencia or Navel oranges.
- Hot sauce. Use any hot sauce you like. Sriracha is my preference!
- White vinegar. The vinegar cuts through the overly tangy and sweet flavors. Rice vinegar works well as a mild-flavored substitute.
- Cornstarch slurry. A slurry made from cornstarch and water thickens the orange sauce and ensures it sticks to every bite of chicken.
How to make orange chicken in the air fryer
I’ve included step-by-step photos below to make this recipe easy to follow at home. For the full printable recipe instructions and ingredient quantities, scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Step 1 – Marinate the chicken. Toss the chicken pieces, salt, pepper, and soy sauce in a shallow bowl. Let the chicken marinate in the mixture for 10 minutes.
Step 2 – Bread the chicken. Coat the marinated chicken pieces in the flour, cornstarch, and optional bread crumbs.
Step 3 – Air fry. Lay the breaded chicken in a single layer in the air fryer basket and spray the tops with cooking spray. Cook until they’re crispy and golden.
Step 4 – Make the sauce. Meanwhile, heat the sesame oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger, then the soy sauce, orange marmalade, orange juice, orange zest, hot sauce, and white vinegar. Stir to combine and let it simmer before pouring in the cornstarch slurry. Continue simmering until it thickens.
Step 5 – Combine the chicken and sauce. Transfer the cooked chicken pieces to a large bowl. Pour the orange sauce over top and toss to coat. Serve and enjoy!
Recipe tips and variations
- Marinate ahead of time. If you want to save some time, you can marinate the chicken in the soy marinade for up to 4 hours ahead of cooking. Just cover the bowl and leave the chicken in the fridge.
- Don’t overcrowd the air fryer. In testing, I found that chicken pieces that were overlapping in the air fryer didn’t get as crispy as when the pieces were cooked in a single layer. If your air fryer isn’t big enough to avoid overlapping, cook the chicken in two batches instead.
- Use other protein. You can swap the chicken breasts for chicken thighs, salmon, tofu, or shrimp.
- Skip the bread crumbs. The breading is optional here! Feel free to skip it to lighten up the dish.
- Make it spicier. I find that the hot sauce gives the orange sauce a nice kick but you can add a pinch of cayenne or red pepper flakes for extra heat.
How to store leftovers
To store: Pack the leftover sauce-covered chicken in an airtight container and store it in the fridge for up to 5 days.
To freeze: After it cools, store the orange chicken in an airtight container and freeze for up to 6 months. Let the leftovers thaw in the fridge before reheating.
To reheat: You can quickly reheat leftover orange chicken in the microwave or toss it in a non-stick skillet over medium heat until heated through.
Frequently asked questions
Yes! If you’d rather air fryer the chicken as whole breasts instead of chunks, follow the same process as my air fryer chicken breasts. Once cooked, douse in the sauce.
You can. Place the crumbed chicken pieces on a baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven at 180C/350F for 15-17 minutes, flipping once.
More family dinners made in the air fryer
- Air fryer BBQ Chicken– Foolproof method and super juicy.
- Air fryer coconut shrimp– Maximum crispiness minus the deep frying.
- Air fryer stuffed Peppers– One of my favorite quick and wholesome dinners.
- Air fryer chicken Parmesan– This tastes like something from a restaurant.
- Air fryer chicken cutlets– All the golden crunch minus the oil.
Air Fryer Orange Chicken
- Preheat the air fryer to 190C/375F.
- In a bowl, combine the chicken pieces, salt, pepper, and soy sauce. Let it marinate for 5-10 minutes.
- In a small bowl, combine the flour and cornstarch. Dip each piece of chicken in the flour mix until well coated.
- Place the coated chicken pieces in a single layer in the air fryer basket and spray generously with oil. Air fry for 12-15 minutes, flipping halfway through.
- While the chicken is cooking, prepare the orange sauce. In a saucepan, heat the sesame oil over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and ginger, and sauté for about 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Add the soy sauce, orange marmalade, orange juice, orange zest, hot sauce, and white vinegar to the saucepan. Stir well to combine all the ingredients. Bring the mixture to a simmer.
- In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch and water to create a slurry. Slowly pour the slurry into the simmering sauce while stirring continuously. Allow the sauce to simmer for an additional minute or two until it thickens.
- Once the chicken is cooked, transfer the cooked chicken pieces to a large mixing bowl. Pour the prepared orange sauce over the chicken. Gently toss the chicken until completely coated.
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