Orange chicken
Orange chicken
Place of originChina (original version)
United States (Chinese-American version)
Region or stateHunan (original version)
Various claims (Chinese-American version)
Main ingredientsChicken, orange sauce or orange peels

Orange chicken is an American Chinese dish of fried chicken in a sweet orange-flavored chili sauce glaze.


The variety of orange chicken most commonly found at North American Chinese restaurants consists of chopped, battered and fried chicken pieces coated in a sweet orange-flavored chili sauce, which thickens or caramelizes to a glaze. While the dish is very popular in the United States, it is most often found as a variation of General Tso's chicken in North America rather than the dish found in China. Chef Andy Kao claims to have developed the original Chinese-American orange chicken recipe at a Panda Express in Hawaii in 1987.[1][2] Since Panda Express is closely associated with this dish, Panda Express uses orange chicken as a promotion tool by having a dedicated food truck tour the country distributing samples of orange chicken.[3]

Orange chicken is called Chinese food in North America, but orange chicken is rarely found in Chinese restaurants in China. Andrew Cherng, owner and founder of Panda Express, said that orange chicken is just a variation of General Tso's chicken, another dish that is almost unknown in China. Journalist Jennifer 8. Lee says that both "General Tso's chicken and Orange Chicken are Americanized mutations of sweet and sour dishes found in China."[1] Orange chicken has also entered the menus of the mainstream U.S. by being served in school cafeterias,[4] and in military bases' chow halls,[5] and also found in the supermarket frozen meal aisle.[6][7]

Jimmy Wang, executive director of culinary innovation at Panda Express, claims orange chicken is one of the most creative dishes in the past thirty years.[8] In most countries in the western hemisphere, the names "orange chicken", "orange peel chicken", "orange-flavored chicken", and "tangerine chicken" are typically used for this particular dish.

This dish may have originally come from the "tangerine chicken" dish from Hunan, China. In Chinese, this dish is known as "陳皮雞", literally "dried citrus peel chicken", referring to dried orange or tangerine peel. However, the taste and recipes of this dish differ due to cultural and geographical factors. In American Chinese restaurants, the use of tangerine was changed to the use of fresh orange peel or no orange at all. Tangerine is used in traditional Chinese medicine as well as cooking. Tangerine chicken tastes fresh and spicy, but orange chicken tastes sweet and sour. Orange chicken is crispy cooked in a sweet and little spicy orange sauce.[9] The sweetness of orange chicken was introduced to cater to American tastes.[10]

Another preparation of orange chicken

Chinese names

This dish may be known as the following in Sinitic languages:


Orange chicken is the signature dish of the American fast food chain Panda Express, which sells over 100 million pounds of it every year.[12] In the TV series The Big Bang Theory, the character Sheldon's favorite Chinese food is orange chicken.[13]

See also

Similar Chinese chicken dishes:


  1. ^ a b del Barco, Mandalit (October 30, 2017). "Orange Chicken, Panda Express' Gift To American Chinese Food, Turns 30 (MP3 audio)". All Things Considered. NPR. (written transcript).
  2. ^ Krystal, Becky (September 18, 2015). "Is orange chicken a guilty pleasure, or just plain guilty?". Washington Post.
  3. ^ Harris, Jenn (August 15, 2015). "There's a Panda Express food truck. And it's full of free orange chicken and waffles". Los Angeles Times.
  4. ^ Whaley, Monte (October 23, 2017). "Orange chicken in the school lunch line? You bet, in Brighton". Denver Post.
  5. ^ "28 Day Cyclic Menu". Quartermaster School Joint Culinary Center of Excellence. July 2011.
  6. ^ "Orange Chicken". Lean Cuisine.
  7. ^ "Sweet & Spicy Orange Zest Chicken". Healthy Choice. Archived from the original on 2022-02-28. Retrieved 2017-11-20.
  8. ^ "Orange Chicken, Panda Express' Gift To American Chinese Food, Turns 30". Retrieved 2020-11-05.
  9. ^ "The Original Orange Chicken® | Entrees | Panda Express Chinese Restaurant". Retrieved 2020-10-16.
  10. ^ a b "据说中餐在美国很流行,美国人吃的到底都是啥?". Retrieved 2020-10-28.
  11. ^ Show, Yule (4 October 2017). "[下廚記 VII]橙花雞". 梅璽閣之幸福生活.
  12. ^ Vawter, Eve (29 August 2019). "What Really Makes Panda Express' Orange Chicken So Delicious".
  13. ^ Pasden, John (2010-04-14). "The Big Bang Theory: Sheldon's Chinese". Sinosplice. Retrieved 2020-10-16.