Our Orange Chicken Recipe
This simple orange chicken recipe is inexpensive and easy to make for your party, even ahead of time.
Our Orange Chicken Recipe goes together with very little effort. The orange sauce is so simple – it’s an easy dinner recipe that your guests will love and you will appreciate.
We’re going to show you two different ways to cook the chicken, one method for when you want to make this dish well in advance and another for when you’re able to serve it the same day.
Like many great dinners, the secret’s in the sauce. Our orange sauce recipe uses ingredients right from grocer’s shelves, quick and easy to assemble for your party.
Best of all, this is another inexpensive meal. The chicken thighs and breasts can be bought well ahead of time and frozen until you need them.
This recipe will 50 people as an entree, if you are you are serving other entrees and/or appetizers. Remember that your guests are going to eat a little over a pound of food per person for dinner.
Read about Party Food Quantities and how to plan for the right amounts.
Shopping List for 50 People:
___5 pounds of boneless chicken thighs
___5 pounds of boneless chicken breasts
___1 – 12 ounce jars of honey, cheap is fine
___1 -12 ounce jar of orange marmalade, cheap is fine, even better!
___64 ounces of Duck Sauce. Most grocery stores will have this available, or it can be ordered online.
___6 - large (like soup size) cans of mandarin oranges, around 72 ounces total
___1 quart of orange juice – good quality, not from concentrate
___Grand Marnier, the orange liqueur – 2 small “nip” (airplane size) bottles
___Salt, pepper and garlic powder
___Vinegar, any kind, very small amount. Rice wine vinegar is best
___Frank’s Hot Sauce, very small amount
___1 pound of all-purpose flour
___oil for frying, a quart should do
___4 disposable aluminum pans 10”x12¾”x2½”
___2 bunches of fresh curly parsley
___12 large oranges, whatever’s cheap and looks nice.
The Orange Sauce:
Open the cans of mandarin oranges, use a large strainer and separate the oranges from the juice.
Save the juice! Store the half of the drained mandarin oranges in a zip-lock bag and refrigerate.
Combine the other half of the mandarin oranges, all the mandarin orange juice, honey, Grand Marnier(no tasting!), orange marmalade and duck sauce in a large bowl. Stir well. Careful now: Splash in just one half teaspoon of vinegar and two drops and one of Frank’s Hot Sauce. Add about one third of the orange juice.
TIP: Duck sauces are different, some thicker than the others. You want to make a nice, clingy sauce here, thick enough to stick to the chicken. Use as much orange juice as you need for the thickness of the sauce you want.
Check the sauce out for taste. It should be tangy sweet with just a little “hit” in the background. And a little more vinegar or hot sauce to sway the flavor one way or the other, and if you go too far just add some more orange marmalade to compensate.
TIP: So now that you’ve got the best orange sauce recipe on the planet, don’t be afraid to do some roasted duck and top it with this treat. Way cool for that special dinner!
When you’re ready to serve the chicken, transfer the sauce into a pan and warm it up. But for now, cover the sauce and refrigerate. That’s it! We said it was easy.
Unwrap the packages of chicken thighs and chicken breasts, washing the chicken under running cold water.
Pull off the skin and any leftover pieces of fat or bone.
Using your washable cutting board and a sharp knife, cut the chicken into pieces around 2” long by ¾” around or so. The idea here is for your guests to be able to cut each piece of chicken just once.
Don’t let a lot of cut chicken accumulate in your work area. Refrigerate it as soon as it’s cut. When the chicken is all cut and refrigerated, pour 1/4” of frying oil into a large frying pan and heat until very hot, around 350°.
Click here to check about thermometers.
Seasoning the Chicken:
In a large mixing bowl, stir together 1lb. of flour, 1tbsp. of salt, 1tbsp. of garlic powder, and 1/2tbsp. of pepper. Stir this mixture very well to combine all the dry ingredients.
TIP: Go ahead and wet the tip of your finger, dip it in the dried flour mix, and have a taste. Spicy enough for your crowd? And a little more pepper to kick it up, or more flour to cool it down. Get creative if you want, with some onion powder, paprika, and even some chili powder if you want to fire up your guests!
HEY: Want to do a thick, crunchy bread coating for this chicken? Use the Ask-a-Caterer form at the bottom of this recipe. We’ll send you some recipes and ideas.
On your workspace, lay out as much chicken as will fit in your frying pan. (Don't let the chicken stakeout at room temperature list are actually working on it.) Roll each piece of chicken around in the flour mix.
Cooking the chicken:
Method ONE – for when you want to prepare the chicken ahead of time:
When the oil is hot, carefully add the chicken. Fry each side for 1½ - 2 minutes. You’re looking for that “golden brown.” We know the chicken is not completely cooked yet. No problem.
Remove the chicken from the frying pan and continue frying more. When the chicken you’ve already fried has cooled down, transfer into to zip-lock bags, squeeze out all the air, and seal. Now, if you’re going to have your party within the next two days, store the cooked chicken in the refrigerator. If your party is within the next 30 days, store the chicken in your freezer.
If you froze the chicken, thaw it completely in your refrigerator for two days before the party. On the day of the party, follow the directions in method TWO to complete the dinner.
Method TWO – for when you’re serving the chicken the same day:
Fry the chicken just like we described in Method ONE. Again, we know it’s not completely cooked when it’s fried in 1-1/2 – 2 minutes on each side. That’s OK. We’re going to finish cooking the chicken in the oven.
After using either method, win the chicken is fried, place it in a preheated 400°F oven for five to seven minutes. All poultry is finished cooking when the internal temperatures reached 165°F. Only the Thermometer Knows. Click here to check out our section on Food Thermometers and Food Safety.
TIP: You’ll get the best results with Method TWO, cutting, frying and serving the chicken on the same day. But hey, time is time and if you don’t have it, Method ONE will work fine for you.
Out of the oven? Great! Lay out the four aluminum pans and spray each one with lots of vegetable spray, bottom and sides. Evenly divide the fried chicken into the four pans. Pour the warm sauce into the aluminum pans, equally dividing it.
Cover each pan tightly with aluminum foil – shiny side down. Let your oven cool down to 150°F, keep the pans of chicken tightly covered and let them stay warm right there.
Your Eyes Eat First
You’ll probably be serving one or two pans of chicken at a time in your chafing dish.
Click here to read about chafing dishes and food warmers.
When you’re ready to serve, remove one or two cans from the warm oven, uncover and spread some of the mandarin oranges from the refrigerator over the top of each pan.
In addition, slice the fresh oranges into decorative rounds, leaving the peels on, and decoratively arrange the slices around the outsides the dishes.
TIP: Cover the warm chicken with film, removing just before guests arrive at the buffet.
Keep the remaining chicken warm in the oven or in another chafing dish.
Spread some of the fresh washed parsley in and around the chafing dish.
The fresh oranges, mandarin oranges and the parsley add a lot of nice flavor to decorate this dish.
TIP: Orange Chicken goes beautifully with rice. Go to the Rice Pilaf Recipe on our website and consider serving it with chicken.
When serving rice, we put one aluminum pan of Orange Chicken and one aluminum pan of rice in the same chafing dish. Decorate both with parsley.
Here's our Rice Pilaf Recipe - it's really good.
This dish freezes very well. Package the leftover chicken into zip-lock bags, squeeze out the air and seal. Be sure to cook the chicken fully to 165° when reheating.
Ready for some more Dinner Party recipes?
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Find an Appetizer that will go with Orange Chicken
Questions about the Orange Chicken Recipe? Want a crispy fried coating for the chicken? Need an idea for your party? Use the form below to ask us about quantities, substitutions, whatever. We're here to help. Ask a Caterer is free:
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