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Kosher Orange Chicken

This orange chicken is a kosher at home recipe for Panda Express’s orange chicken.

Orange chicken is crispy chicken in a sweet and tangy orange sauce. 

A plate of panda express (copycat) orange chicken

I feel a little funny calling this recipe “chinese orange chicken” because it is a really Chinese-American dish. 

In fact, this version of orange chicken is almost unknown in China.  Like sesame chicken, orange chicken is actually a variation of General Tso’s chicken. 

Traditional Chinese orange chicken is made with sliced fresh chicken, not the battered and fried like in American “Chinese” restaurants.  Also, it is flavored with dried orange or tangerine peel.

This version of orange chicken is claimed to have been developed in a Panda Express in 1987. 

Supposedly, Chef Andy Kao was working on developing a new recipe when customers came in, smelled the dish, and ordered it right away.

What is the difference between General Tso and orange chicken?

General Tso’s chicken is often spicier and a bit sweeter, while orange chicken tends to be sweet and tangy with a citrus flavor.


Sesame oil is relatively expensive and adds more calories to an already fattening dish.  Most recipes require it and if you have it on hand you are welcome to use it. 

Personally though, I don’t think it makes enough of a difference to the flavor to require it and, when making this dish, I usually leave it out.


Most people have a preference between eating white meat or dark meat.  They both certainly have their benefits and detriments in this recipe.  

White meat has the benefit of being lean, more readily available as boneless and skinless, and it cooks quickly. 

Dark meat is juicier and does not dry out as quickly, making it a safer choice.

At the end of the day, you can use either white or dark meat for this recipe.  The choice is yours.  I often just choose based on what I have on hand.


For a gluten free alternative, use corn starch or potato starch instead of flour. They both fry very nicely.



Use one hand to dip the chicken in the egg and the other to roll it in flour.

By using both hands you avoid getting thick layers of batter on your fingers known as “club hand.”


Place half the flour at the bottom of a container. Add the chicken and cover with the remaining flour.

Cover with a lid and shake for a few minutes. Each piece should come out well coated.


When frying chicken the temperature, of the oil is important.

If it’s too cold, the chicken will be oily. On the other hand, if the oil is too hot, the crust will fall off.

With a thermometer, it should about 350°F or 175°C to 375°F or 190°C degrees.

If you don’t have a thermometer, when the oil seems hot, drop a little flour into the oil.

If the flour sizzles and floats on the top, it’s hot enough.

To make sure it’s not too hot, keep it around medium-low and adjust as needed.

Non-Deep fried version

For a shallow fried version, follow the frying steps I use in my Chinese lemon chicken but use this sauce instead.


Kosher animals are kept in better conditions than non-kosher animals due to strict kosher health requirements of the animals.

Also, the salting process used as part of the process of making meat kosher is similar to dry brining, and therefore produces a better quality meat.

While I’ve only eaten kosher meat so I cannot compare, I’ve been told by non-Jews who do not keep kosher that they’ve noticed that kosher chicken is of superior quality to cook with.


According to the USDA, you should not wash meat or poultry, since water can splash bacteria up to 3 feet surrounding your sink.

study done by Drexel University shows that it is best to move meat and poultry directly from package to pan.  The heat from cooking will get rid of any bacteria that may be present.


If you want to clean your chicken without washing it, wipe it down with a wet paper towel.

Just make sure the paper towel doesn’t touch anything else and to toss the paper towel right away.



Defrosting chicken in the fridge is the most highly recommended.

To do this, place the frozen chicken in a pan and let it thaw. Oftentimes, when chicken thaws, it releases liquids that can leak onto your fridge, so the pan is really helpful.

Chicken typically takes a full day to thaw. Once thawed, it can remain in the refrigerator for a day or two before cooking.


Defrosting chicken in water should take two to three hours.  

Submerge your sealed chicken in a pot or bowl full of cold water.  Change out the water every 30 minutes or so. 

Do not hot use water because it can start cooking your chicken.

Can you cook FROZEN chicken?

According to the USDA, you can cook frozen chicken.  It will take 50% longer to cook, but it’s an option. 

You should also cook it on a roasting rack or over vegetables so that the heat can circulate around the chicken.


According to the USDA, “food thawed in the refrigerator is safe to refreeze without cooking.”  However, you do lose quality when refreezing previously defrosted meat. 

Every time you defrost meat, it loses moisture as it thaws, which also leads to a loss in flavor.  To compensate for this, marinate the chicken to add more flavor and juice.

The USDA also says not to “refreeze any foods left outside the refrigerator longer than 2 hours; 1 hour in temperatures above 90°F.”


Brining actually doesn’t do anything to help poultry.  In fact, it makes it soggy rather than juicy, with watered-down flavor. 

Aromatic brines and stock don’t help with flavor either.  This is because the salt pulls water molecules in, leaving most of the flavor behind.


A dry brine, on the other hand, loosens up muscle fibers, allowing them to retain more moisture without adding any excess liquid. 

Initially, the salt draws moisture out, then it dissolves in this liquid, creating a concentrated brine, which eventually gets reabsorbed.  This leads to more intensely flavored results.

An added benefit is that it also requires less space and mess than a water brine.  Not to mention the fact that it allows for crispier skin. 


Food experts are often under the impression that kosher meat and poultry cannot be brined and dry brined. 

This is because of the koshering process, which involves salting the meat.  However, the process is not nearly as long as the dry brining process, and unlike a dry brine, the poultry is soaked to remove the salt.

So, since the process is different than a dry brine, it is fine and even recommended to dry brine kosher poultry and meat.

How do you dry brine chicken?

Begin by patting the chicken with paper towels. This will help the salt adhere to the chicken.

Grab pinches of kosher salt and sprinkle it over the chicken until the chicken is generously salted and evenly coated.

Place the dry-brined chicken on a rack or a plate and refrigerate it. Refrigerate chicken pieces for at least 1 hour, skinless pieces for 30 minutes to 1 hour or up to about 12 hours, and a whole chicken for 8-24 hours.

Once the waiting period is up, there is no need to rinse off the chicken. Just cook it as usual.


Place cooled chicken in an airtight container or wrap in heavy-duty aluminum foil or plastic wrap.  Store in the fridge for up to 4 days.


Freeze leftovers within 3-4 days.  Place cooled chicken in an airtight container or resealable freezer bag. 

Freeze for up to 4-6 months.  After that, it is still safe to eat, but the quality begins to degrade.

Recipe SNAFU

The first time I made this recipe the batter came out much too thick.  I thought of cutting down the flour by half a cup.  Instead, I decided to add a tablespoon of water at a time until I reached the right consistency. 

Yield: 4 servings

Chinese Orange Chicken

A plate of panda express (copycat) orange chicken

This orange chicken is a Panda Express copycat with crispy chicken in a sweet and tangy orange sauce.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour



  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (190 grams)
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch (65 grams)
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup water (155 milliliters)
  • 1 tablespoons oil
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch cubes (455 grams)
  • 3 cups oil, for frying (700 milliliters)


  • 1/2 tablespoon oil
  • pinch chili flake
  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger, minced
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil, optional


  1. Whisk together salt, cornstarch, and flour in a medium size mixing bowl.
  2. Add the egg, water, and oil until it reaches the consistency of pancake batter. If for some reason it comes out too thick, add a little water at a time until it reaches the right consistency.
  3. Add the chicken to the batter.  Refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
  4. Heat oil to 350˚F or 175˚C.  If you don’t have a thermometer drop a little batter into the pan and see if it fries.  If it does, the oil is hot enough.
  5. Gently add the chicken making sure not to crowd the pan.  Fry until lightly golden brown.  
  6. Remove the chicken and place on a paper towel-lined plate.


  1. Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat.  Once the oil begins to shimmer, add red pepper flakes, ginger, and garlic.  Cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
  2. Add orange juice, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, and brown sugar. Stir to combine.
  3. Combine cornstarch and water to make a slurry.
  4. Continue to cook the sauce has a syrup consistency.
  5. Add in the fried chicken and stir until completely coated in the sauce.  Top with sesame oil.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 548Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 185mgSodium: 1237mgCarbohydrates: 65gFiber: 2gSugar: 12gProtein: 34g

Did you make this recipe?

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Monday 8th of May 2023

Made this for the fam last week. They loved it. The only change I made is I doubled the sauce because we like our sauce!


Thursday 11th of May 2023

I'm glad to hear that you're family enjoyed the orange chicken so much :)

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