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Air Fryer Orange Chicken

This popcorn chicken in the air fryer is so deliciously crispy.
a bowl of air fryer orange chicken topped with green onions in a bowl with white rice and orange slices
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Make the best Air Fryer Orange Chicken with this easy and delicious recipe. A tangy flavorful homemade sauce pairs well with the crispy and tender chicken. Serve over rice for a fantastic speedy homecooked meal.

a bowl of air fryer orange chicken topped with green onions in a bowl with white rice and orange slices

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This orange chicken in the air fryer is takeout fakeout at its finest. The chicken is lightly breaded and so crispy and the sauce is packed with flavor. Even better – every single component can be made ahead of time.

The base recipe for the chicken is the same as our delicious Air Fryer Popcorn Chicken. I highly encourage you to double the recipe and freeze half of the breaded (and uncooked) chicken. 

To make this a meal prep superstar, check out these tutorials on freezing garlic, freezing ginger, and freezing oranges (for the sauce).

If you want to serve this over rice, I have a lot of options for you! I prefer Instant Pot Jasmine Rice or Ham Fried Rice, but you might also like Instant Pot Sushi Rice, Instant Pot Brown Jasmine Rice, or Instant Pot Basmati Rice.

6 photos showing the steps in making orange chicken in an air fryer

No air fryer? Check out our Instant Pot Orange Chicken recipe for an unbreaded pressure cooker version of this recipe.

Pro Tips/Recipe Notes

  • Adjust the orange zest to your preference, but leave the amount of orange juice as is to balance the amount of liquid in the sauce.
  • To freeze: Place unbaked chicken without sauce in the freezer and freeze for 3 hours. Remove and break apart any pieces that might have stuck together, and place in freezer-safe storage (these are our favorites). To bake: spray with olive oil spray (I use our Misto) while still frozen, and bake according to the directions in the recipe card below. You’ll need to add 1-2 minutes of cook time.
  • Try to cut the chicken to somewhat uniform sizes so that it will cook evenly.
chopsticks lifting a piece of orange chicken from the air fryer out of a bowl
a bowl of air fryer orange chicken topped with green onions in a bowl with white rice and orange slices
Print Recipe
5 from 2 ratings

Air Fryer Orange Chicken

Prep Time25 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time40 minutes
This popcorn chicken in the air fryer is so deliciously crispy.



Orange Sauce


Make the Chicken

  • Place a piece of parchment or waxed paper on a baking sheet.
  • Cut chicken into small pieces, about ½ inches.
    1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast
  • In a bowl, sprinkle chicken with 1/4 tsp kosher salt, 1/8 tsp black pepper, and ¼ cup of flour. Toss to coat.
  • In a separate bowl, add buttermilk
    3/4 cup buttermilk
  • In another bowl, mix 1/2 cup flour, 3/4 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp pepper, cornstarch, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, and panko.
    2 tbsp cornstarch, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp onion powder, 1/4 tsp smoked paprika, 1 cup panko
  • Working with 5-6 pieces at a time, drop chicken into the buttermilk. If pieces are sticking together, separate them, making sure every side of the chicken is coated in the buttermilk mixture.
  • Shake off excess buttermilk and drop the pieces of chicken into the flour/panko mixture. Roll pieces in the dry mixture to make sure every side is coated.
  • Transfer chicken to the lined baking sheet, and repeat until all the chicken has been breaded.
  • Allow the chicken to sit at room temperature on the baking sheet for 15 minutes. This will help the breading adhere while in the air fryer, giving you the crispiest crust ever!
  • Preheat air fryer to 400F for 2 minutes.
  • While the air fryer is preheating, liberally spray the tops of the chicken with olive oil spray. Really get into all the nooks and crannies. Allow it to sit for 1 minute, and then flip the pieces over and spray the other sides.
    3 tbsp olive oil spray
  • Brush olive oil on the basket of the air fryer or line it with a piece of air fryer parchment.
  • Place pieces of chicken in the basket without allowing them to touch each other. You can pack the basket pretty full but will likely need to cook it in two batches.
  • Bake for 6 minutes at 390F, shaking at minute 4. Chicken is done with the internal temp is 165F.

Make the Sauce (While the Chicken Cooks)

  • In a small bowl, mix cornstarch and cool water and whisk to combine. Set aside.
    2 tbsp cornstarch, 1.5 tbsp cool water
  • Heat sesame oil, ginger, garlic, orange juice, orange zest, soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey, and sriracha in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally until ginger and garlic start to soften (~2 minutes).
    2 tsp sesame oil, 3 tbsp fresh ginger, 4 cloves garlic, 3/4 cup orange juice, 2 tbsp orange zest, 1/3 cup reduced sodium soy sauce, 1/4 cup rice vinegar, 2 tsp honey, 1 tsp sriracha
  • Stir in cornstarch slurry and bring to a boil and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute.
  • Reduce heat to low, and cook until sauce has thickened (~2 minutes).
  • Pour sauce over crispy chicken and serve over rice.


Try to cut the chicken to somewhat uniform sizes so that it will cook evenly.
If you need gluten-free options, try a gluten-free brand of cornflakes in lieu of panko and flour. They make a great crunchy breading alternative when pulsed in a food processor or blender!
Stovetop Instructions:
Heat cooking oil (like avocado) over medium-high heat in a cast-iron skillet. Add chicken, a few pieces at a time, and cook until golden brown. Carefully flip the chicken to cook the other side. Chicken is ready when internal temp reaches 165F.
Nutrition Facts
Air Fryer Orange Chicken
Amount Per Serving (4 oz)
Calories 500 Calories from Fat 144
% Daily Value*
Fat 16g25%
Saturated Fat 3g19%
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 3g
Monounsaturated Fat 8g
Cholesterol 78mg26%
Sodium 612mg27%
Potassium 730mg21%
Carbohydrates 54g18%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 11g12%
Protein 32g64%
Vitamin A 280IU6%
Vitamin C 32mg39%
Calcium 113mg11%
Iron 3mg17%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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2 comments on “Air Fryer Orange Chicken”

  1. Got an air fryer for Christmas so I’m trying alllll the things. This is my fave so far! Delicious and crispy, not soggy or gummy at all, which is usually my problem with homemade orange chicken. Such a good recipe! 5 stars