RECIPE ROAD TEST: COPYCAT PANDA EXPRESS ORANGE CHICKEN
When our beloved Frozen Orange Chicken was sold out at Trader Joe's tonight (*gasp!*), I had to improvise, so I grabbed 1lb of chicken breast strips instead and decided to try it from scratch. I remembered seeing this recipe a while back and it looked easy enough, so I thought I'd give it a go.
I should say, I was nervous about doing this. I've tried orange chicken before, only to be left with a hugely messy kitchen and less than stellar results. The taste was never quite right, the chicken would stick to the pan, the kids would pronounce it officially "not good". I was pretty stressed going into this little test.
The results? Thumbs up!! This was definitely the easiest orange chicken I've made to date. Yes, it's still kind of a process, but the sauce was easy, the breading was easy, the chicken didn't stick, and my kids and husband ate it up. I wouldn't say it tasted exactly like Panda Express, but it was still good and will be my go-to recipe for orange chicken from now on.
That said, I did make a few slight changes and have some tips below to help make this recipe a winner for you too:
R E C I P E A D J U S T M E NT S :
I had to tweak the recipe slightly, but not too much. I didn't have an orange, so I swapped the 1/4 cup water and orange zest for 1/4 cup orange juice. I also just couldn't stomach using the amount of sugar called for (10 Tbsp!! That's 120 grams of sugar, people!!). I can't stand it when people review recipes where they basically change the whole thing, but this I just simply couldn't do. So I used only 1/3 cup sugar instead (basically half the amount called for). This adjustment made the vinegar and salt slightly more powerful - in hindsight I should have reduced those too, and will do that next time, probably reducing both by half also.
T I P S :
I think a big part of why this recipe felt so much easier than ones I've tried before is because I did a few key things to make the job easier:
I bought chicken breast strips that I just had to cut a bit more into cubes. Somehow not having to totally cube the chicken made this feel easier, so I'd recommend getting these, or pre-cubed chicken.
I used jarred chopped garlic and ginger. Again, not having to chop these makes things feel so much quicker and easier!
Have the kids help! The orange sauce is easy enough for the kids to mix up themselves, including the gathering and putting away of ingredients.
O V E R A L L :
Not gonna lie - I'll still be grabbing for the frozen Trader Joe's version to make those weeknights easy now and then, but when I have a bit more time, this is definitely going to be my new go-to for orange chicken. If you like this type of dish, give it a try!
Click here for the original recipe.