This award-winning Homemade Orange Chicken is a healthier alternative to takeout or a frozen meal. The whole family will love this stir fried chicken breast made with an orange juice marinade.

White bowls filled with rice and chicken with orange chicken sauce with a set of chopsticks taking out a bite.

Healthier Homemade Orange Chicken

I don’t go to Trader Joe’s too often, but when I do stop by, I’m sure to pick up a bag or two of the frozen Mandarin Orange Chicken.

Breaded chicken covered in a sweet orange sauce that’s ready in less than 30 minutes? Sign me up.

But maybe sign me up just once in awhile. Because this won’t come as a surprise, but this dish is not outstanding in the health department.

So, I took an item that is often store-bought and made it better (and healthier) at home with this orange ginger chicken recipe.

Why you’ll love this Orange Chicken Sauce Recipe

  • The Trader Joe’s version takes about 30 minutes to prepare, and my version shouldn’t take you much longer than that, if you exclude the hour it’s sitting in the fridge to marinate.
  • It was chosen as the winner of Whole Foods Market Cooking’s “Your Best Stovetop Chicken” contest!

“I downloaded this recipe about 5 or 6 years ago. The orange-ginger sauce has been in my fridge 24/7/365 since then. I use it for all my stir fries, fried rice, smoked ribs…EVERYTHING. Thank you for the many years of yummy.”

Ingredients for spicy orange chicken laid out on a light surface, including chicken, garlic, ginger, Asian condiments and oranges.

Spicy Orange Chicken Ingredients

  • orange zest – first things first, make sure you zest your oranges before you juice them, because you’ll need fresh orange zest for this orange chicken sauce recipe. And trying to zest AFTER juicing is the. worst.
  • orange juice – you’ll need 1-1/4 cups orange juice for the orange chicken marinade. More on this below.
  • low-sodium soy sauce – I chose the low sodium version because this orange ginger chicken recipe uses kind of a lot of soy sauce (1/4 cup) and I wanted to make it a little healthier than the frozen dinner version, after all.
  • fresh ginger – grated from a ginger root, not the dried ground kind.
  • garlic – you’ll need quite a bit – 2 tablespoons – of minced fresh garlic to add lots of flavor to the orange chicken marinade.
  • vegetable oil – some oil will go into the orange chicken marinade and the rest will be used for sautéing the chicken.
  • sriracha – this is optional, so my recipe calls for 0 – 2 tablespoons on purpose. Use no sriracha at all if you don’t want this dish to be spicy. Use up to 2 tablespoons (or even more, you daredevil!) if you love heat and want spicy orange chicken.
  • rice vinegar – this adds acid and depth of flavor to the orange ginger sauce.
  • light brown sugar – for that classic touch of sweetness that orange chicken always has.
  • ground white pepper – I love ground white pepper because it really gives a Chinese restaurant flavor to this home-cooked dish, but feel free to use ground black pepper if you don’t have white pepper.
  • cornstarch – this is used to thicken the marinade into a glazy orange chicken sauce.
  • chicken – This time around I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts, but I often use boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead.
  • green onions – to garnish the finished dish with a touch of green freshness.

Fresh is best for the orange juice marinade:

I know it’s tempting to just grab a carton of orange juice and use it for this orange chicken marinade, but I really encourage you to squeeze your own orange juice for this recipe!

First of all, the flavor of freshly squeezed orange juice in this orange ginger sauce simply cannot be beat. And squeezing 1-1/4 cups juice honestly doesn’t take that long.

Another reason to splurge for fresh oranges is that this spicy orange chicken recipe also calls for orange zest for a more intense orange flavor. You’ll need to buy at least 1 or 2 fresh oranges for the zest for the orange chicken marinade anyway, so you might as well juice them, too!

Plate with stir fried poultry and an orange chicken sauce recipe, garnished with green onions.

How to make Orange Chicken Sauce

A whisk stirring together a golden brown juice mixture in a white bowl.

1. WHISK. Whisk together the orange juice, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, vegetable oil, sriracha, rice vinegar, brown sugar, orange zest and white pepper.

A white measuring cup pouring a light brown liquid over sliced poultry in a plastic bag.

2. MARINATE. Put the chicken breast strips in a zip-top bag and pour most of the marinade over them (reserve some extra marinade for sauce). Then, refrigerate for 1 hour so the chicken can marinate and have lots of flavor when you cook it.

Sliced poultry being stir fried in a white skillet.

3. STIR FRY. Take the chicken out of the marinade and stir fry it in batches in a wok or large skillet, then set the chicken aside.

A white spoon showing the thickness of an orange sauce in a skillet.

4. REDUCE SAUCE. In the same skillet, bring the reserved orange juice marinade to a boil, add a cornstarch slurry and cook until it becomes a glaze consistency.

Stir fried chicken being stirred together with orange chicken sauce in a skillet.

5. TOSS. Toss the chicken in the orange chicken sauce.

Homemade orange chicken garnished with green onion in a white skillet.

6. GARNISH. Serve chicken sprinkled with green onions.

White rice topped with chicken with orange chicken marinade in a white bowl.

Home Chef Tips for the Best Orange Chicken Recipe

  • Make the orange juice marinade / sauce using blood oranges or cara cara oranges for a seasonal twist.
  • If you have a mixture of spice-lovers and spice-adverse eaters dining with you, omit the sriracha from the marinade and sauce, and simply offer sriracha, sambal oelek or chili crisp at the table for people to add to their servings.
  • Add an additional garnish of toasted white sesame seeds to this homemade orange chicken for a contrasting texture, if you wish.
White bowls filled with rice and homemade orange chicken, garnished with orange slices and chopped green onions.

How to serve Spicy Orange Chicken

  • Lean into the takeout theme and make shrimp wonton soup as a starter!
  • Pair this homemade orange chicken with steamed or stir fried broccoli or snow peas to get your veggies in!
  • Spoon the orange ginger chicken over white rice, brown rice or quinoa.
  • Serve over cauliflower rice for a lower carb meal.
  • Serve this chicken with orange ginger sauce with a side of Asian noodle salad instead of rice.
  • Sprinkle with sesame seeds for added flavor.
Closeup on the best orange chicken recipe garnished with green onions, over white rice.

Orange Chicken Sauce Recipe FAQs

What is Orange Chicken?

Orange Chicken is a popular Chinese-American takeout dish that usually consists of battered and deep-fried pieces of crispy chicken tossed with a sweet and sour orange-flavored sauce. My best orange chicken recipe swaps the deep-fried chicken for stir-fried chicken breast for a slightly healthier alternative.

Is Orange Chicken spicy?

Generally, Orange Chicken is not a spicy dish. However, some variations may include a hint of spice to balance the sweetness of the orange. You should adjust the spice level of this orange chicken sauce recipe according to your preference.

What is the difference between General Tso and orange chicken?

While both General Tso’s Chicken and Orange Chicken are popular Chinese-American dishes, their flavor profiles vary a little bit. General Tso’s tends to be a bit spicier with a more savory profile from hoisin sauce and red chili peppers, while Orange Chicken sauce has a sweeter, more citrusy taste.

Why is my orange chicken bitter?

If your orange chicken turns out bitter, it could be due to how you have zested your orange. When zesting, be sure you use only the outer orange zest of the fruit, and avoid the pith (the white membrane under the peel), which is bitter.

Several bowls and plates of homemade orange chicken served over rice on a light surface.
White rice topped with chicken and orange ginger sauce in a white bowl.

Spicy Orange Chicken

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

This award-winning Homemade Orange Chicken is a healthier alternative to takeout or a frozen meal. The whole family will love this stir fried chicken breast made with an orange juice marinade.


  • 1-1/4 cups orange juice (preferably fresh squeezed) (make sure you zest 2 teaspoons of orange zest first!)
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange zest
  • 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 0 - 2 tablespoons sriracha*
  • 1-1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions


  1. In small bowl, whisk together orange juice, soy sauce, ginger, 1 tablespoon oil, garlic, vinegar, orange zest, brown sugar, pepper and sriracha (if using).
  2. Place chicken in large zip-top bag; pour 1/3 cup marinade over chicken. Seal bag and refrigerate 1 hour.
  3. Remove chicken from marinade; discard marinade in bag.
  4. Heat large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil and half of chicken and cook 5 to 6 minutes or until chicken is golden brown and internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F, stirring frequently. Transfer chicken to medium bowl.
  5. Repeat process with remaining 1 tablespoon oil and chicken. Transfer chicken to bowl.
  6. Add remaining marinade to skillet; heat to boiling. In small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water. Whisk cornstarch mixture into marinade; boil 1 minute or until thickened.
  7. Return chicken to skillet; cook 1 minute or until heated through. Serve chicken sprinkled with green onions.


*Sriracha is optional. 1 tablespoon of sriracha will balance out the sweetness of the oranges without making the sauce too spicy for most eaters. 2 tablespoons of sriracha will make a noticeably spicier sauce. Use even more sriracha if you REALLY like spice!

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 478Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 120mgSodium: 787mgCarbohydrates: 34gFiber: 1gSugar: 24gProtein: 48g

This website provides estimated nutrition information as a courtesy only. You should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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