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One of my favorite dishes to make from scratch is a stir fry. We switch it up constantly making different sauces and vegetables, but one thing stays the same – I love making them in my air fryer. And that’s exactly where this Air Fryer Orange Chicken was made.
While I love eating Chinese takeout, I find a lot of the bottled sauces they use include a lot of processed ingredients to make them last longer. Some even use artificial flavoring!
That’s when I started making my own sauces. They’re incredibly simple to make and a healthy option compared to the versions you would get through takeout or even at the grocery store.
This orange sauce includes only staple ingredients when it comes to Asian cooking. They’re all ingredients you can find uses for in another easy sauce or dish to make.
Feel free to use this delicious sauce on other recipes too, including chicken wings!
How to Make Air Fryer Orange Chicken
Preheat your air fryer to 400 degrees and cut your chicken into 1 1/2-inch cubes. They don’t need to be perfect, but you want them as consistent in size as possible.
This allows them to cook evenly without some being overcooked and dried out and others still undercooked.
Place the cubed chicken into a bowl or Ziploc bag and add in the cornstarch or potato starch. Mix or shake to combine and coat the chicken evenly.
I recommend adding half the cornstarch at first and adding a little at a time to ensure there is no extra cornstarch in there. You want just enough to cover the chicken.
Here is what the starch should look like on the chicken.
Read more below on what happens when you add too much potato or cornstarch to the chicken then air fry it — hint: it’s not good at all.
Add coated chicken into the air fryer tapping any extra cornstarch off beforehand and cook for 7-9 minutes until the chicken just reaches 165 degrees internally.
Shake the basket every few minutes for even cooking. If pieces are stuck together, try to separate them if possible.
While the chicken is cooking, you can start putting together the orange sauce.
Combine the orange juice, brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, red pepper flakes, and orange zest into a small saucepan on medium heat.
Bring the mixture to a simmer and let it simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
In a separate small bowl, mix the additional cornstarch and water to create a slurry. This will help thicken the sauce so it’s not as thin.
Mix the cornstarch and water mixture to the sauce and simmer for one additional minute then remove from heat. The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.
Remove the chicken from the air fryer and combine it with the sauce.
Serve with green onions and sesame seeds if desired and enjoy!
What Happens If I Use Too Much Cornstarch?
Cornstarch and potato starch can make a MESS if you add too much. Since starch is light and airy, it will fly around the air fryer causing it to look like a snow globe blew up.
Your chicken also won’t brown correctly, although it will be still edible.
I promise it’s easy to avoid this from happening.
Simply add half the corn starch to the chicken and mix then add the rest in slowly. Once the chicken is fully coated, stop. You don’t need to use the full 2 tablespoons if you don’t need it!
Before you place the coated chicken into the air fryer, tap any excess starch off and cook following the directions above.
Do I Need to Use the Orange Zest?
The orange zest is added to this sauce to really bring out the orange flavor in this Air Fryer Orange Chicken recipe.
While you can make this recipe without any added orange zest, I find the sauce tastes much more vibrant and flavorful with it.
I use this microblade to zest the orange and even the fresh ginger for this recipe.
The Sauce is a Still a Little Too Thin for My Liking. Can I Thicken It?
Yes! The sauce thickness should be made to your taste. If you like your sauce a little thicker, mix another 1 teaspoon each of cornstarch and water and add it into the sauce.
Let it cook for another minute then remove it from the heat.
The sauce does thicken a little more while cooling, so account for that.
If you happen to thicken it too much, add a little water to it to help thin it out.
How Long Can I Keep the Orange Sauce?
The orange sauce can be kept refrigerated for up to 3 days.
When ready to use, just heat it in a microwave until warmed and toss over the remaining chicken.
How Do I Reheat the Chicken in the Air Fryer?
Preheat your air fryer to 350 degrees and cook chicken for 3-4 minutes until warmed thoroughly.
I recommend keeping the sauce and chicken separately, but if they are combined, place them in a pan (like this air fryer pizza pan) or on aluminum foil to help with sticking and cleanup.
Is General Tso Chicken the same as Orange Chicken?
The main difference between general Tso chicken and orange chicken is the sauce.
The orange sauce includes orange flavoring (from orange juice and orange zest) while general Tso is flavored without any orange and may include hoisin sauce depending on the recipe.
The chicken used in both dishes is made the same way.
Other Air Fryer Recipes You’ll Love:
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts or chicken thighs
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch or potato starch
For the Orange Sauce
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger (or 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger)
- dash of red pepper flakes
- zest of one orange
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch mixed with 2 teaspoons water
Optional to serve
- green onions, chopped
- sesame seeds
- Preheat air fryer to 400 degrees.
- Combine chicken pieces and cornstarch into a bowl and mix until chicken is just fully coated (see notes above about not overcoating them).
- Cook chicken for 7-9 minutes shaking the basket halfway through or until chicken is just at or above 165 degrees internally.
- Meanwhile, combine the orange juice, brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, red pepper flakes, and orange zest into a small saucepan on medium heat.*
- Bring mixture to a simmer and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Mix cornstarch and water together in a small bowl and add it to the orange sauce.
- Let simmer for one additional minute while stirring then immediately remove from heat.
- Remove chicken from the air fryer and combine with sauce.
- Top with green onions and sesame seeds if desired and enjoy immediately!
*This will make just enough sauce to coat the chicken. If you would like extra sauce for a full stir fry, you can double the recipe.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 630Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 193mgSodium: 618mgCarbohydrates: 46gFiber: 4gSugar: 22gProtein: 75g
This nutrition information is based on the exact products I used in this recipe. Brands and sizes of products could alter exact nutrition and should always be calculated independently.