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Air Fryer Orange Chicken

Air fryer orange chicken is lighter on the calories and SO much better than Panda Express. - Learn how to make the best orange sauce featuring real oranges and secret ingredient!
Prep Time 8 hours 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 8 hours 45 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 351kcal


Orange Sauce

  • 3 large oranges
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (light brown sugar or coconut sugar also works!)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch, mixed with 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh jalapeno pepper


  • 2 large eggs
  • 1-1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-in cubes
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • Canola or vegetable pan spray
  • Sliced green onions and hot cooked rice for serving


Orange Sauce

  • Use a paring knife to carefully remove peel from oranges (try to avoid cutting the white pith, you only want the orange zest) and place in a medium container. Juice oranges and reserve juice in fridge.
  • Sprinkle sugar over orange peel, seal container, and shake several times to infuse peel with sugar. Let sugar mixture sit at room temperature overnight or at least 8 hours (up to 24)
  • The next day, stir 1/4 cup water into sugar mixture until sugar is dissolved. Strain sugar mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl. Remove a few peels from sieve and finely mince into 1 tablespoons worth of peel. Add to orange sugar syrup and discard remaining peels.
  • Whisk 1/4 cup reserved orange juice, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and cornstarch-water mixture into orange sugar syrup until smooth. Set aside for a moment.
  • In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil until shimmery. Add ginger, garlic, and jalapeno and saute 1-2 minutes until just fragrant. Reduce heat to medium and pour sauce mixture into pan. Cook stirring occasionally until sauce is bubbly and thickened. Cover sauce and keep warm on low.


  • In a large bowl, whisk eggs until smooth. Add chicken and rice vinegar and submerge in egg mixture. Allow chicken to marinate 20 minutes.
  • In a separate large bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, salt, and pepper. Dredge chicken in flour mixture tossing several times until chicken is fully coated.
  • **Spray the grate of a 4-qt air fryer with pan spray and preheat 3 minutes to 400F. Lay chicken in a single layer on fryer grate (work in batches as necessary - we typically do 2 batches) Spray chicken well with pan spray and air fry at 400F 8 minutes, shaking basket once halfway through cooking. Repeat frying process with remaining chicken.
  • Toss hot chicken into warm orange sauce until evenly coated in sauce. Serve orange chicken over hot rice with green onions sprinkled on top. Enjoy!


*Sauce slightly adapted from Binging with Babish.
**For pan frying chicken instead of air frying, heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a large nonstick skillet or wok. Working in batches of two, pan fry breaded chicken in hot oil, turning occasionally until chicken is golden brown and registers 165F.


Serving: 4oz chicken (calucalted without rice) | Calories: 351kcal | Carbohydrates: 45.1g | Protein: 25.1g | Fat: 8.9g | Saturated Fat: 0.7g | Cholesterol: 143mg | Sodium: 1741mg | Potassium: 186mg | Fiber: 2.3g | Sugar: 23.4g | Calcium: 47mg | Iron: 2mg