Homemade Orange Chicken Sauce (and How to Make 3 Different Meals with It)

Not only you can use this orange sauce to make orange chicken or a quick stir fry, you can even make roasted vegetables with it! {gluten-free, vegan}

Not only you can use this orange sauce to make orange chicken or a quick stir fry, you can even make roasted vegetables with it! {gluten-free, vegan}

Do you want to whip up a healthy dinner on the table on a busy weeknight? Thinking about changing up flavors so dinner won’t be boring again?

Making stir fry sauce in advance is the perfect solution.

Over the years, I found out that mastering the few key components of stir frying is much more useful than just learning a recipe. That is – to understand the process of stir frying, how to choose and prep ingredients, and how to make a great stir fry sauce.

If you get these few tools under your belt, not only can you make your favorite takeout dish in your own kitchen that tastes even better than those in Chinese restaurants, but the whole process will become less intimidating – and the results more delicious!

Moreover, understanding the key techniques will make your meal planning and prepping more flexible, because you can use whatever ingredients you have on hand, instead of hunting down an ingredient just to follow through the recipe.

Even better, I will share all the secrets of how to use stir fry sauce to create quick and healthy meals, without stir-frying!

You ready? Let’s dive in!

Not only you can use this orange sauce to make orange chicken or a quick stir fry, you can even make roasted vegetables with it! {gluten-free, vegan}

Today’s lesson is on how to prepare a stir fry sauce.

This is the easiest part, because all you need to do is add all the ingredients in a jar and shake to mix.

You can prepare stir fry sauce beforehand, like on the weekend, so there will be one less thing to do when you’re ready to cook in the week.

The benefit of preparing stir fry sauce in bulk is that you can use it to make several meals with totally different main ingredients. It saves you tons of time, but your everyday dinner will taste different.

Introducing homemade orange chicken sauce

Orange chicken, orange beef, orange cauliflowers… Orange is one of the most popular flavors on a Chinese restaurant menu. So, I chose to start my stir fry sauce series with it.

In China we do not have orange sauce – we call it tangerine sauce instead. Rather than using orange juice and orange zest, we use rehydrated dried aged tangerine peels to impart a distinctive zesty and citrus flavor to the dish.

If you can find dried tangerine peels in your neighborhood Asian market, definitely grab a package. They stay good forever. In fact, they get even better (and more expensive) over the years. Look for labels that have “tangerine peel”, “tangerine skin”, or “old tangerine” on the package. The color of the dried peels is not wonderful (it has a brownish color). But, it has a richer and subtle umami flavor that fresh orange zest cannot provide. It just makes the whole dish taste much better.

How to prepare dried tangerine peels

To use dried tangerine skins you need to rehydrate it first. Measure them by piling them loosely in a cup (they will expand quite a bit after soaking). Cover with hot water and let sit for 15 to 20 minutes. Once the peels turn soft, slice them into thin strips. Or, you can mince them if you like a more refined texture. Measure the sliced tangerine peel again. If you have extra rehydrated peels, store soaked peels in a fridge or let them air dry completely before storing them in a bag.

Don’t have an Asian market nearby? No problem. You can easily make them at home by air drying fresh tangerine peels. If you want to make this sauce today without it, you can use fresh orange zest instead. Your dish will still taste better than Panda Express.

Chinese Orange Chicken

Click to image view Chinese orange chicken recipe

How to use the sauce

Assuming we are going to cook 2 servings: that can be 450 grams (1 pound) protein, or 6 to 8 cups vegetables, or 220 grams (1/2 pound) protein + 3 cups vegetables

(1) Pick 1 to 2 aromatics. Prep according to the list below.

Recommended aromatics

  • Ginger – 1 large piece minced (yield 1 tablespoon)
  • Garlic – 2 to 4 cloves, minced
  • Green onion – 2 to 3 green onions, sliced (add white part at the beginning and use green part for garnish)
  • Dried chili pepper – 2 to 3 peppers, torn to 3 to 4 pieces
  • Shallot or onion – 1 small shallot or 1/4 onion, thinly sliced or diced

(2) Choose and cut the protein.

Recommended Protein

  • Beef (flank steak or short ribs) – thinly slice (1/8 to 1/4-inch thick), or cut to strips
  • Chicken (skinless boneless breast or thigh) – Diced to 1-inch pieces, or sliced to 1/4-inch thick
  • Shrimps – peeled and deveined
  • Tofu (firm or extra firm) – Diced to 1/2 to 2/3 inch pieces

(3) Marinate / prep the protein

For each pound of meat or seafood, mix with 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (or peanut oil), 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 tablespoon cornstarch. Let marinate for 5 to 10 minutes.

To create a crispy crust, restaurant-style, learn this method so you can achieve the goal without deep-frying.

For tofu, marinate with 2 tablespoons soy sauce for 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and coat with a thin layer of cornstarch.

Not only you can use this orange sauce to make orange chicken or a quick stir fry, you can even make roasted vegetables with it! {gluten-free, vegan}

Don’t forget to shake the sauce before using.

(4) Cut and prep the vegetables

To make a quick dinner, my favorite way is to only use one type of vegetable. You can use two, but no more.

Recommended vegetables

  • Asparagus – Chopped to 1-inch pieces
  • Baby bok choy – Tear off large leaves and halve lengthwise, halve or quarter the rest
  • Bell peppers – Sliced or chopped
  • Broccoli (fresh) – Divide to small florets; steam or blanch (see this post to learn how to blanch the broccoli quickly in the same stir fry pan)
  • Broccoli (frozen) – Microwave for 2 to 4 minutes (depending on the quantity), so the broccoli is thawed and luke warm, but not heated up.
  • Brussels sprouts – Roasted (see this post for how to roast Brussels sprouts).
  • Cauliflower (fresh) – Divide to small florets; steam, blanch, or roast.
  • Cauliflowers (frozen) – Microwave for 2 to 4 minutes (for stir fry), or roast (see this post to learn how to crisp up frozen cauliflowers in the oven)
  • Carrot – Sliced into pieces or stripes (by using a julienne peeler); or cut to chunk and roast
  • Eggplant – sliced (see this post to learn how to prep eggplant so it crisps up during stir fry)
  • Green peas (fresh or frozen)
  • Onion – Sliced
  • Snow pea
Roasted Orange Cauliflower

Click to image view Roasted Orange Cauliflower recipe

(5) Make the stir fry, or use the stir fry sauce on baked or steamed food.

Read this post to learn the basic steps of making Chinese stir fry.

To learn how to use this orange chicken sauce now, go to:

Orange Shrimp and Asparagus

Click to image view Orange Shrimp and Asparagus recipe

More Stir Fry Recipes!

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5.0 from 3 reviews
Homemade Orange Chicken Sauce
 
Prep time
Total time
 
The sauce yields 12 servings, which is enough for cooking 4 to 5 dishes for two people. If you like the sauce, you can double or triple the amount, and freeze the extra to use later.
The prep time does not include the time to soak the tangerine skin.
Author:
Recipe type: Sauce
Cuisine: Chinese
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup dried tangerine peel (or grated orange zest)
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 3/4 cup rice vinegar (or distilled white vinegar)
  • 1/4 cup light soy sauce (or soy sauce, or tamari for gluten-free)
  • 1/4 cup Shaoxing wine (or Japanese sake, or dry sherry, or chicken stock)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 and 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
Instructions
  1. Add dried tangerine skin in a small bowl and add hot water to cover. Let soak for about 20 minutes, or until the tangerine skin softens. Drain and finely slice. Transfer 1/4 cup sliced tangerine skin into a bowl, and save the rest in a airtight container in the fridge for next time. If you do not use dried tangerine peel, grate about four fresh orange skins to make 1/2 cup orange zest.
  2. Add the rest of the sauce ingredients and the rehydrated tangerine skin to a big jar. Shake until the cornstarch is fully combined.
  3. Now the sauce is ready to use, or you can store it for later.
  4. When using the sauce, shake it first to let cornstarch dissolve completely, pour out about 2/3 cup to 1 cup sauce with 1 tablespoon tangerine peels.
  5. Store the sauce in the fridge for 3 to 4 days or in the freezer for 2 to 3 month.

 

If you give this recipe a try, leave a comment below, take a picture, and tag it @omnivorescookbook on Instagram! I’d love to see what you come up with! 🙂

Not only you can use this orange sauce to make orange chicken or a quick stir fry, you can even make roasted vegetables with it! {gluten-free, vegan}

Disclosure

Omnivore's Cookbook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
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Meet Maggie

Born and raised in Beijing, Maggie now calls Texas home. She’s learned to love barbecue, but her heart belongs to the food she grew up with. For her, Omnivore’s Cookbook is all about introducing cooks to real-deal Chinese dishes, which can be as easy as a 30-minute stir-fry or as adventurous as making your own dim sum. Recipes, step-by-step photos and video are the tools she uses to share her knowledge—and her enthusiasm for Chinese food.

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10 thoughts on “Homemade Orange Chicken Sauce (and How to Make 3 Different Meals with It)

  1. Stuart

    OH Boy!!! You can bet I’m gonna be all over this. For years my Asian girlfriend has been bringing home dried tangerine peels, handing them to me, to which I ask, “What am I supposed to do with these? (I’m the cook)” She explains that many dishes call for them. I’ve never seen one til now and when she’s not looking and forgets I toss them out. I’ll hafta find some and give this a try. I’m always wondering what sauce to experiment with what veg. Now I’ve got a reference for a solid starting place and my poor stomach won’t so often hear her say, “Oh well, we’ll eat it anyway.”

    THANKS!!!

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Stuart, I’m so happy to hear you’re excited about the stir fry sauce as much as I am! Re dried tangerine peels, we actually use it in many dishes, such as stir fries, braised food, and stew. You can find the tangerine peels in Asian grocery store. Or simple peel the fresh tangerine and air dry the peel. They will stay good forever, so definitely save them until you find the next recipe to try 😉
      Happy cooking and let me know how the dish turns out!

      Reply
  2. RossC

    I learned long ago that the sauce is the key to authentic and delicious stir fry… I am truly interested in gathering your sauce recipes… Thank you… :O)

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      You’re the most welcome Ross! I will post more sauce recipes soon and hopefully you can find one you like to cook in your own kitchen 🙂
      You’ll find out the homemade stir fried dishes truly taste better, and they are not as difficult to make as you thought.
      Happy Holiday!

      Reply
  3. Bonnie Wideman

    I am really happy you’re focusing on stir fry sauces. I’ve been thrilled with many of your recipes, but to have good, basic stir fry sauce recipes would aid my cooking greatly. Thank you! I’ll be doing the orange cauliflower for my vegan son when he comes for Christmas.

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Thank you for leaving a comment and let me know that you like the stir fry sauce idea Bonnie!
      Happy cooking and hope your son will love the orange cauliflower. Let me know how the cooking turns out 🙂
      Happy Holiday!

      Reply
  4. Stuart

    Made this sauce yesterday: terrific! With a chicken defrosted on the counter we had your orange chicken for dinner: fantastic outcome and indeed better then the neighborhood take-out. With a side of stir-fried brussel sprouts and rice we had happy dinner campers all the way around. And yes, no huge amount of oil to deal with: a great bonus.

    Can’t wait for more sauce tips & tricks.

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Stuart, I’m happy to hear you tried this recipe and liked it! We love serving it with brussel sprouts too (just had them today) 🙂
      I’ll be posting more sauce recipes in the coming weeks, so stay tuned 😉 Happy Holiday!

      Reply
  5. movielady

    Maggie, this sauce was *marvelous*! I dried the peels from the mandarin oranges that’re in season right now (I always eat them this time of year like they’re going out of style) and used them when I made it. Dinner tonight was so quick to make since the sauce was already done!

    I’m looking forward to the rest of the sauce series. Thanks so much for sharing. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      So glad to hear you enjoyed the sauce! It’s so fast and quick when you use premade sauce isn’t it?
      Happy cooking and hope you have a delicious new year 🙂

      Reply