This crispy air fryer orange chicken is simple to make and results in a tender and crispy chicken that gets coated in a sticky orange sauce. It's better than your favorite takeout version!
If you've landed here, I'm guessing you've tried the Panda Express or Trader Joe's orange chicken, so I'm excited to share a recipe like those with you to make at home (but healthier and better IMO)!
Then try this sweet and sticky orange cauliflower for a vegetarian version.
Why You'll Love Air Fryer Orange Chicken
This air fryer orange chicken recipe is such an easy dinner the whole family loves. We serve ours over stovetop coconut rice or Instant Pot coconut rice and a side of broccoli. It's quickly become a family favorite!
Air-frying the chicken cooks it quickly and gives it an effortlessly crispy outside. It also eliminates the need for deep frying with added oils.
We love this recipe because it's easy, healthy, and delicious. It checks all the boxes for a delicious meal any day of the week.
Here are the simple ingredients for this orange chicken. The produce is fresh, easy, and affordable to find in your local grocery store. Jump down to the recipe card for exact measurements.
Gluten-Free Orange Chicken
- Boneless skinless chicken breasts: we're cutting this into chunks, so no need to have them the same size.
- Coconut aminos: we love to use this as a gluten-free soy sauce substitute in so many of our Asian recipes, but you can use Tamari, and soy sauce are both good options.
- Egg white: the chicken gets coated in this and helps the corn starch stick to the chicken.
- Corn starch: this is the coating for the chicken, but you could use potato starch too.
Homemade Orange Sauce
- Garlic, salt, and black pepper for flavor.
- Sesame oil: the flavor and fat from this help the flavor in the orange sauce, but you could also use another oil like olive oil or avocado oil.
- Fresh ginger: find fresh ginger in the produce section near the garlic. Just peel the outside and grate it into the sauce. You can use ground ginger if you have that.
- Fresh orange juice: gran about 3 large oranges and squeeze the fresh juice out of them for the best orange flavor.
- Orange zest: we first tested this recipe with orange zest in the chicken coating and the sauce and it was a little too much. Just a bit of zest in the sauce is the perfect amount.
- Rice wine vinegar: we always use some sort of acid in recipes, especially in sauce, to balance out the flavors. White vinegar works too.
- Sweetener: take your pick when it comes to sweetening the sauce a bit. Our favorite options are pure maple syrup, honey, or brown sugar.
How to Make Air Fryer Orange Chicken
Here are the steps to make orange chicken in the air fryer (with photos!). Skip down to the recipe card for the full recipe.
- Prep the chicken: Add the cubed chicken to a medium bowl with the salt, and coconut aminos and toss quickly. Place the cornstarch in a large bowl, add the chicken, and toss to coat fully.
- Transfer to the air fryer: Generously spray the basket of the air fryer with nonstick spray. We used an avocado oil spray because it cooks at high heat well. Place the chicken in an even layer then spray the top of the chicken too. Do not overcrowd the air fryer basket or it will end up soggy rather than crispy.
- Air fry: air fry for 8-10 minutes, pausing to shake the air fryer once or twice. The internal temperature of the chicken should be just below 165°F when it's ready to eat.
- Make the sauce: cook the garlic and ginger in sesame oil for a few minutes then add the rest of the ingredients and cook on medium-low to thicken. Carefully transfer the cooked chicken to the sauce and cook on low for a few more minutes until the sauce is thickened and coats the chicken.
Video: Watch How to Air Fry Orange Chicken
- Remove the chicken from the air fryer JUST before it's completely cooked. It will continue to cook in the sauce and you don't want dry, chewy chicken.
- There's no need to add extra cornstarch or a cornstarch slurry to this recipe because the chicken is coated in it. As the chicken mixes in with the sauce the starch will seep into the sauce and thicken it. It may take a bit longer so keep mixing!
- Use coconut oil spray or olive oil spray to spray the orange chicken. Vegetable oil spray can coat the air fryer and create build-up. You could also invest in a quality oil sprayer.
The air fryer is great for raw chicken recipes. If it's cubed it will take less than 10 minutes to cook. You'll need a bit longer if you're cooking chicken breast.
The orange sauce is made of a mix of orange juice, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, sweetener (like honey or brown sugar), and either soy sauce or a gluten-free option like tamari. The combination of these Asian flavors makes the most delicious sweet and zesty sauce.
As usual, your term of healthy may be different than mine, but in general, eating take-out orange chicken isn't the healthiest option. I love making it at home because I can control the type of ingredients in it and avoid unhealthy cooking oils especially. This recipe is naturally gluten-free and dairy-free.
There are two options to thicken the sauce: you can turn the heat down to low and reduce it to thicken it or make a cornstarch slurry with cornstarch and water and add a bit at a time to the sauce to help it thicken. I tested this recipe a few times and found how it's written results in the perfect thickness, so make the recipe start to finish before deciding if you want it thicker.
It takes 8-10 minutes to cook pieces of chicken in the air fryer at 400°F.
How to Serve Air Fryer Orange Chicken
- My favorite way to serve this is with a batch of coconut rice and air fryer broccoli. While the chicken is cooking in the sauce, add broccoli to the air fryer with olive oil and salt and air fryer at 400°F for about 15 minutes, shaking a few times as it cooks.
- A batch of gochujang noodles on the side.
- Stir fry vegetables are another great option. You can take the vegetables from our steak stir fry and make them.
- Fried rice with veggies is a perfect side dish. You could use cauliflower rice too for a low carb option.
Fridge: Allow to cool completely then store leftover orange chicken in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Freezer: I recommend freezing the chicken and sauce separately or the chicken will get soggy. Cook the chicken according to the directions then flash freeze on a baking sheet and transfer to a freezer bag to avoid the chicken clumping together. Store the sauce in a separate container. Thaw both overnight in the fridge and cook together on the stove when you're ready to serve. The chicken and sauce will last up to 3 months in the freezer.
If you make this recipe, I’d love for you to give it a star rating ★ below. You can also tag me on Instagram so I can see it!
More Air Fryer Recipes
Air Fryer Orange Chicken
Air Fryer Chicken
- 1 ½ lbs chicken breast cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons (Soy Sauce work stoo) (Soy Sauce works too)
- 1 egg white whisked
- ¼ cup corn starch or tapioca starch for grain free
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- ½ teaspoon fresh grated ginger
- 3 cloves minced garlic
- ¾ cup fresh orange juice about 3 oranges
- 2 teaspoons orange zest
- ¼ cup Coconut Aminos or Tamari (Soy Sauce works too)
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- ¼ cup brown sugar, pure maple syrup, or honey
- Top: sesame seeds, green onions and orange zest, chili flakes
- Air Fryer
- Preheat the air fryer to 400°F for 5 minutes.
- Add the chicken pieces in a medium bowl with the salt, coconut aminos, egg white, and orange zest and toss quickly.
- Place the cornstarch in a large bowl, add the chicken, and toss to coat fully. Alternately, place the corn starch in a freezer bag with the kitchen and close tight then shake to coat the kitchen.
- Generously spray the basket of the air fryer with cooking spray. We used an avocado oil spray because it cooks at high heat well. Place the chicken in a single layer in the air fryer and generously spray the top of the chicken. Do not overcrowd the air fryer basket. If it doesn’t fit in your size air fryer work in batches. The chicken will become soggy instead of crispy if it’s too crowded.
- Air fry at 400°F for 8-10 minutes, or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. I like to remove my chicken 5-10 degrees before to allow for carryover cooking. The chicken will also cook a little more in the sauce.
- While they’re frying, make the orange sauce. Add the sesame oil to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once it’s hot, add the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the rest of the sauce ingredients. Allow it to come to a boil, then turn it down to low and simmer for 5-7 minutes, until it reduces and thickens.
- When the chicken is done, carefully transfer the air fryer chicken to the sauce and toss well. Allow it to cook on low for 4-5 minutes to thicken a bit more. Serve right away with green onions, toasted sesame seeds, or chili flakes.