You are going to love how easy it is to make this tasty Air Fryer Orange Chicken from scratch. Both kids and adults love this sweet and savory chicken dish that has a crisp exterior. This recipe has gluten-free options and is a healthy makeover of the takeout version.

Completed air fryer orange chicken bites topped with sesame seeds and green onions.

Skip takeout and make this easy Air Fryer Orange Chicken from home instead. It’s done in 25 minutes which is less time than it takes to go pick up takeout anyhow.

Arrowroot starch or cornstarch along with air frying gives the chicken a crunchy exterior that tastes amazing coated in a sticky-sweet orange sauce.

This Air Fryer Orange Chicken is a family favorite and even picky eaters will love this dish. I like to serve it with white rice because it’s the perfect vehicle to soak up the delicious sauce.

Why You Need This Recipe

  • You aren’t going to believe how easy it is to make a healthy version of a favorite fast food dish.
  • It’s gluten-free and dairy-free. If you’re on a strict gluten-free diet it can be very difficult to eat Chinese takeout like from Panda Express since many of the dishes are cooked with soy sauce. Soy sauce often contains wheat as an ingredient. At home, you can control the ingredients. It’s so easy to use Tamari soy sauce or coconut aminos in its place.
  • There’s no MSG or preservatives in this healthy version of Chinese takeout that skips the deep frying.

Key Ingredients

Ingredients for Air Fryer Orange Chicken in small bowls on a white surface.

Boneless skinless chicken breasts – You can also use chicken tenderloins but they are usually more expensive per pound than chicken breast. If you are looking for a more budget-friendly option you can use boneless skinless chicken thighs.

Oranges – Fresh orange juice is truly delicious and rather easy too. I have a wooden reamer that is very effective but you can also roll the oranges on the counter before cutting in half to loosen up the juice if the oranges feel hard. I recommend fresh oranges, but you can use orange juice from the carton as well.

Coconut aminos – Coconut aminos has a similar flavor profile to soy sauce and makes a great substitution for it. It’s wheat, gluten, and soy free plus paleo and Whole30 friendly. You can also use tamari soy sauce in place of soy sauce if you’re just looking to avoid gluten.

Arrowroot starch or cornstarch – Arrowroot starch is what gives the chicken a nice and crispy crust. You can also use corn starch if you have it on hand.

Sesame oil – Sesame oil has a very distinct and nutty flavor that adds lots of flavor with just a small amount. It can be pricey but I use it for many of my Asian recipes and a little goes a long way!

Maple syrup – I love to sweeten the sauce with maple syrup for a natural and healthy alternative. You could also use honey or brown sugar.

Rice vinegar adds some tartness and balances the sweetness of the orange juice and maple syrup.

Recipe Steps

Collage of steps for making air fryer orange chicken.

Step One

The first step in this recipe is to cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and add them to a mixing bowl to toss with the arrowroot starch.

As always, please do see the recipe card at the end of this post for the exact ingredients and measurements.

Step Two

Then, transfer the chicken to your air fryer basket.

Step Three

Cook the chicken for 7-8 minutes at 400 degrees F.

Step Four

While the chicken cooks, you can make the sauce for your Air Fryer Orange Chicken on the stovetop in a small saucepan.

The orange sauce will thicken and become gooey with the addition of arrowroot or cornstarch.

Step Five

The last steps are to add the chicken to the saucepan with the orange sauce.

Cooked chicken breast chunks in a saucepan of orange sauce.

Serve your healthy air fryer orange chicken over steamed white rice or sautéed cauliflower rice. Sometimes I also like to throw some steamed broccoli florets into my bowl. I also like to top the chicken with some green onions and toasted sesame seeds for extra texture.

This is such a satisfying meal!

You can also make Instant Pot Orange Chicken if you prefer that method.

Chopsticks holding up a single bite of air fryer orange chicken.

Recipe Tips & Substitutions

  • Store any leftovers in a tightly-sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • If you don’t have arrowroot starch, you can use cornstarch.
  • If you don’t have coconut aminos, you can use reduced-sodium tamari (gluten-free) or soy sauce (not gluten-free).
  • If you don’t have fish sauce, just leave it out.
  • No Air Fryer? Bake the chicken in the oven on a baking sheet for about 12 minutes at 400 degrees F. Then toss in the orange sauce.
  • If you decide to double the recipe, be sure to cook the chicken in batches. The hot air needs to circulate around the chicken pieces to crisp them up.

Recipe FAQs

What if I don’t have fresh orange juice?

You can use jarred orange juice if you don’t have fresh orange juice. But, I really prefer freshly-squeezed orange juice for this recipe.

What air fryer do you recommend?

I have tried several different models, and they all pretty much work the same. I am currently using a version similar to this air fryer model. You might also like my round-up of the best air fryers under $100.

Can I make this in the regular oven instead of the air fryer?

Yes, you can definitely make this recipe using a regular oven as well, you just need to cook the chicken on a baking sheet for about 12 minutes at 400 degrees.

White rice and air fryer orange chicken on a white dinner plate.

I hope you make this recipe! If you do, please leave a comment and a starred review below.

And, consider following me on social media so we can stay connected. I’m on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube!

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Completed air fryer orange chicken bites topped with sesame seeds and green onions.

Air Fryer Orange Chicken


Description

You are going to love how easy it is to make this tasty Air Fryer Orange Chicken from scratch. Both kids and adults love this sweet and savory chicken dish that has a crisp exterior. This recipe has gluten-free options and is a healthy makeover of the takeout version.


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1.25 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon arrowroot starch or cornstarch, divided
  • 3 oranges, juiced (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1/4 cup coconut aminos (or tamari or soy sauce)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • Sautéed cauliflower rice or cooked white rice (optional, for serving)

Instructions

  1. Cut the chicken into 1-inch bite-sized pieces and place in a medium mixing bowl.
  2. Add two tablespoons of arrowroot starch or corn starch and use a spatula to coat the chicken.
  3. Place the chicken in the basket of your air fryer (see below for oven instructions) and cook for 7-8 minutes at 400°F.
  4. While the chicken is cooking, make the sauce. In a medium saucepan or pot, combine the orange juice, coconut aminos, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, maple syrup, ground ginger, and fish sauce.
  5. Add 1 teaspoon of arrowroot starch or corn starch and turn the heat to medium.
  6. Let the mixture come to a simmer for about 2 minutes, and then turn off the heat. Cover the pot with a lid.
  7. When the chicken has finished cooking, transfer it to the saucepan with the sauce. Stir so the chicken is coated and serve immediately.

Notes

  1. Store any leftovers in a tightly-sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  2. If you don’t have coconut aminos, you can use reduced sodium tamari (gluten-free) or soy sauce (not gluten-free).
  3. If you don’t have fish sauce or you don’t like it, just leave it out.
  4. OVEN instructions: cook the chicken on a baking sheet for about 12 minutes at 400 degrees F. 
  5. Store any leftovers in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat before serving.
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Main dish
  • Method: Air fryer
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: healthy orange chicken, paleo orange chicken, gluten free orange chicken, healthy air fryer orange chicken

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