Inspired by Chinese takeout, this Mandarin Chicken features tender bites of chicken tossed in a sticky, sweet and savory sauce. It’s an easy chicken recipe that’s ready in 30 minutes – your family will love it!
Easy Mandarin Orange Chicken
Mandarin Chicken is a family favorite meal – we love making easy takeout dishes at home!
Much like my honey walnut shrimp, this mandarin chicken recipe began with a desire to recreate a Panda Express menu item. Especially after the Panda Express Mandarin Chicken was taken off the menu awhile back. I still crave it. So it was time to get creative – and make my own!
This dish features tender, juicy bites of chicken in a sticky, sweet and savory orange sauce. It’s irresistible!
Why You’ll Love This Chinese Takeout Recipe
Here are a few reasons this has become a favorite meal for our family:
- Ready in 30 minutes. From start to finish, you can have this mandarin chicken recipe ready in just 30 minutes.
- Wonderful flavor. The sauce is delightfully sweet and savory, thanks to ingredients like fresh orange juice and zest, honey, and soy sauce.
- Made with easy-to-find ingredients. Everything in this recipe is an ingredient you can easily find at the store. I’m guessing you already have most of the items in your kitchen.
What You’ll Need
You’ll appreciate that this mandarin chicken recipe is made with a fairly short ingredients list – and that all of the ingredients are very common.
Scroll down to the printable recipe card for exact ingredients measurements and full instructions.
- Olive oil & toasted sesame oil – These oils are used to sear the chicken. I really like the flavor that sesame oil adds – just be sure to use “toasted” sesame oil to get that wonderful nutty flavor!
- Chicken – Boneless skinless chicken breasts are a great cut for mandarin chicken but boneless skinless chicken thighs are also very good.
- Orange juice & zest – Orange juice adds sweet acidity to the sauce. I highly recommend using freshly squeezed orange juice. And fresh orange zest bumps up that beautiful orange flavor in the dish.
- Soy sauce – This adds a salty, umami flavor to the sauce.
- Honey – Honey offers a touch of sweetness and adds a fun sticky quality to the sauce.
- Cornstarch – Cornstarch helps thicken the sauce into a glaze.
- Red pepper flakes – Red pepper flakes add a bit of spice. You could also use minced dried arbol chile or sriracha.
How to Make Mandarin Chicken
Here’s how to make this takeout-worthy dish in your own kitchen, whenever you want – in just 30 minutes!
- Sear the chicken. Add the oils to a hot wok or skillet. When shimmering, add the chicken in a single layer. Cook for 4 minutes, or just until no longer pink on the inside.
- Add the sauce. Whisk together the orange juice and zest, soy sauce, water, honey, cornstarch, and red pepper flakes. Stir the sauce into the chicken.
- Cook. Cook the mandarin chicken for an additional 8 to 10 minutes, until the sauce has thickened to a glaze.
- Enjoy. Garnish with green onion and sesame seeds, if desired, and enjoy.
What If My Sauce Is Too Thin/Thick?
If the sauce is thinner than you’d like: It’s easy to thicken the sauce! Simply remove 2 tablespoons of the sauce to a small bowl or cup and whisk in 2 teaspoons of cornstarch to create a slurry. Then drizzle the slurry back into the skillet, whisking it into the bubbling sauce. Let the sauce cook for another minute or 2, until thickened.
If the sauce is thicker than you’d like: It’s also very easy to make the sauce thinner! Just whisk in some water or more freshly squeezed orange juice, 2 tablespoons at a time, until the sauce is to your desired consistency.
Tips for Success
Besides my tips for thickening and thinning the sauce (above), I have a few more suggestions for making this easy mandarin chicken recipe.
- Use a large wok or skillet. I like to use a wok for Asian stir fry dishes, but it’s absolutely not a requirement. All you need is a large skillet, preferably with tall sides, that can cook the chicken pieces in a single layer.
- Avoid overcooking the chicken. When first cooking the chicken, before adding the sauce, the goal is to simply cook the chicken quickly so that there is no more pink in the center of the chicken. If you cook it more than that and also add a deeper sear to the exterior, you risk drying out the chicken (because it will still cook in the sauce after that).
- How do I know when the chicken is done? The easiest way to tell when your mandarin chicken is ready is to use an internal thermometer. The chicken should be cooked to 165° F – and the sauce should be at your desired thickness.
- What if the sauce is browning too quickly? If you notice the sauce cooking too quickly, just reduce the heat a bit. If the sauce is getting overly sticky or thick, whisk in a tablespoon or two of water or orange juice.
What to Serve with Mandarin Chicken
Mandarin chicken is typically served over steamed white rice, though fried rice or cilantro lime rice or chow mein noodles are both good alternatives. At Panda Express, I order my entrees over super greens – so I often make this at home as well!
How to Store & Reheat Leftovers
- Fridge. Store any leftover mandarin chicken in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- Reheat. You can reheat leftovers in the microwave or on the stovetop. If the sauce is too thick, add a splash of OJ when reheating.
More Asian-Inspired Recipes:
- Honey Walnut Shrimp
- Hunan Beef
- Cashew Chicken
- Slow Cooker Orange Chicken
- Pad Woon Sen
- Yaki Udon
- Thai Drunken Noodles
- Bejing Beef
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- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces and patted dry with paper towel
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 2 teaspoons orange zest
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
- Sliced green onion and sesame seeds, for garnish
- Set a wok or large skillet with tall sides over medium-high heat. When hot, add the olive oil and sesame oil.
- Once oil starts to shimmer, carefully add the chicken to the skillet in a single layer. Cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, or just until the chicken is no longer pink on the outside (it will not be fully cooked on the inside).
- In a small bowl, whisk together the orange juice, soy sauce, water, honey, cornstarch, and red pepper flakes.
- Reduce heat to medium and add the sauce to the chicken. Fold to combine.
- Cook the chicken for an additional 8-10 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened into a glaze and the internal temperature of the chicken registers 165° F. If the sauce is darkening too quickly, reduce the heat a bit more.
- Garnish with green onion and sesame seeds, and enjoy hot.
This recipe makes enough for 2 larger portions or 4 small portions.
If the sauce is thinner than you'd like: Remove 2 tablespoons of the sauce to a small bowl or cup and whisk in 2 teaspoons of cornstarch to create a slurry. Then drizzle the slurry back into the skillet, whisking it into the bubbling sauce. Let the sauce cook for another minute or 2, until thickened.
If the sauce is thinner than you'd like: Whisk in some water or more freshly squeezed orange juice, 2 tablespoons at a time, until the sauce is to your desired consistency.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 343Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 96mgSodium: 962mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 1gSugar: 10gProtein: 38g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Nutritionix. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your own favorite calculator.