Air-Fryer Orange Chicken


Orange chicken is typically made with fried chicken coated in a sweet, sticky sauce. In this lightened-up version, we skip the oil in favor of an air fryer and make an equally delicious sauce that goes easy on the sugar. Serve with brown rice and steamed green beans.

a recipe photo of the Air Fryer Orange Chicken
Photo: Laura Kanya
Active Time:
20 mins
Total Time:
20 mins

How we made this diabetes-appropriate

1. We chose an air fryer over the deep fryer, which gives us that beautiful crispy, sticky coating on the chicken with just a little cooking spray instead of lots of oil. This slashes calories, plus using less oil (depending on the type) can help limit saturated fat. Too much saturated fat is associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.

2. We reduced the amount of sugar in this typically sweet dish by using a combination of orange juice and a small amount of honey. The honey adds the bulk of the sweetness, while the orange juice adds flavor and a little extra sweet flavor. We balance the flavor with a little reduced-sodium soy sauce, which helps keep sodium in check.

Tips from the Test Kitchen

Can I use chicken breasts instead of thighs?

Yes! While we prefer moist, tender chicken thighs, chicken breast works well too. The prep and cooking time for chicken breast is the same as it is for thighs, so simply follow the instructions.

I ran out of cornstarch; is there something I can substitute?

Rice flour or tapioca flour are the best substitutes. Regular all-purpose flour will make the coating pasty, so you should avoid using that as a substitute.

Can I substitute ground ginger or ginger paste for the fresh ginger?

Yes. Fresh ginger is your best option, offering the most flavor. Ginger paste will work well too, and you can use ginger paste and grated ginger interchangeably. If using ginger powder, cut the amount to ¼ teaspoon so the flavor doesn't overwhelm the dish.

I don't have an air fryer; can I make it another way?

Yes! This recipe can work in a regular oven too. After dredging the chicken, place on a wire rack coated with cooking spray and set over a rimmed baking sheet. Bake at 400°F until crispy and a thermometer inserted in the thickest portion registers at least 165°F, about 10 minutes.


  • 1 large egg

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces

  • ¼ teaspoon salt

  • ¼ cup cornstarch plus 1 tablespoon, divided

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • Cooking spray

  • 8 tablespoons orange juice, divided

  • 1 tablespoon honey

  • 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce

  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

  • teaspoon crushed red pepper

  • Toasted sesame seeds for serving


  1. Preheat air fryer to 400°F for 10 minutes.

  2. Whisk egg in a medium bowl. Add chicken; sprinkle with salt and toss to coat. Combine ¼ cup cornstarch and flour in a shallow bowl.

  3. Working with a few pieces at a time, dredge the chicken in the cornstarch-flour mixture, shaking off excess. Transfer to a large plate.

  4. Working in batches if necessary, generously coat all sides of the chicken with cooking spray. Add the coated chicken to the air-fryer basket; cook until crispy and a thermometer inserted in the thickest portion registers at least 165°F, 8 to 12 minutes.

  5. Meanwhile, whisk 2 tablespoons orange juice with the remaining 1 tablespoon cornstarch in a small saucepan or skillet until smooth. Whisk in the remaining 6 tablespoons orange juice, honey, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, and crushed red pepper. Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook, whisking frequently, until thickened and slightly reduced, 1 to 2 minutes.

  6. Toss the chicken with the sauce in a medium bowl. Serve topped with sesame seeds, if desired.


Air fryer

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

290 Calories
11g Fat
21g Carbs
25g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 4
Serving Size 3/4 cup
Calories 290
% Daily Value *
Total Carbohydrate 21g 8%
Total Sugars 7g
Added Sugars 4g 8%
Protein 25g 50%
Total Fat 11g 14%
Saturated Fat 2g 10%
Cholesterol 153mg 51%
Vitamin A 180IU 4%
Vitamin C 16mg 18%
Vitamin D 11IU 3%
Vitamin E 1mg 4%
Folate 33mcg 8%
Vitamin K 3mcg 3%
Sodium 418mg 18%
Calcium 24mg 2%
Iron 2mg 11%
Magnesium 36mg 9%
Potassium 384mg 8%
Zinc 2mg 18%
Vitamin B12 1mcg 42%

Nutrition information is calculated by a registered dietitian using an ingredient database but should be considered an estimate.

* Daily Values (DVs) are the recommended amounts of nutrients to consume each day. Percent Daily Value (%DV) found on nutrition labels tells you how much a serving of a particular food or recipe contributes to each of those total recommended amounts. Per the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the daily value is based on a standard 2,000 calorie diet. Depending on your calorie needs or if you have a health condition, you may need more or less of particular nutrients. (For example, it’s recommended that people following a heart-healthy diet eat less sodium on a daily basis compared to those following a standard diet.)

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a special diet for medical reasons, be sure to consult with your primary care provider or a registered dietitian to better understand your personal nutrition needs.

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