Instant Pot Orange Chicken – Panda express inspired minus the grease & the extra calories. This healthy orange chicken has the most amazing sauce with a slight kick. You just need 15 mins to make it!
Note: This post has been updated with reheating directions, serving ideas, leftovers & storage , frequently asked questions and extra tips!
Orange chicken recipe healthy
Panda Express inspired Instant Pot Orange Chicken is a quick and healthy version of the restaurant counterpart. There’s no deep frying involved and the recipe comes together in just 15 mins!
This easy orange chicken recipe has the most addictive sauce which is sweet with a subtle kick.
It has the freshness from freshly squeezed orange juice, a good punch from freshly grated orange zest, lots of sweetness from sugar (both brown & white) & a whole lot of goodness from orange marmalade. You’ll just need a bowl of steamed Jasmine rice to enjoy this Asian takeout chicken dinner.
Ingredients & Substitutions
Find the Ingredients with actual measurements way below the post on the “Recipe Card“. The list below is just a reference.
- Chicken: Use boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs. You can even use thawed frozen chicken.
- Aromatics: Finely chopped ginger & garlic.
- Red Pepper Flakes: If you are heat intolerant do skip adding the red pepper flakes.
- Sugar: Both brown and white sugar.
- Fresh Orange Juice: You can use sweetened bottled juice. In that case, reduce the amount of sugar used in the recipe. Freshly squeezed orange juice will certainly give the flavors an outstanding boost.
- Orange Zest: The zest from a fresh orange. Just grate the outer skin (only the orange part) lightly with the help of a hand grater.
- Light Soy Sauce: You can sub it with tamari or coconut aminos.
- Rice Vinegar.
- Ketchup: You can use Sriracha too for a spicy flavor or you can even use a mix of Sriracha sauce & ketchup.
- Orange Marmalade: The marmalade will totally enhance the flavors of this panda express orange chicken recipe. It’ll make the sauce more sweet, thick, glossy, sticky & rich! That’s how we love our Orange Chicken. However, you can totally skip the Marmalade. The recipe will still be tasty.
- Cornstarch Slurry: A naturally gluten free thickener. We love it!
- Any Neutral Oil: You can use oils like avocado, extra light or light olive oil, canola oil, sunflower oil or even vegetable oil.
Tips & Tricks
- Build flavor: Just rub the chicken with few drops of sesame oil & light soy sauce and than Sauté it until lightly golden around the edges. This step will help mimic the restaurant quality wok flavors to some extent.
- Cook the chicken with orange juice: Pressure cooking the chicken with freshly squeezed orange juice will add tons of great flavor. Add freshly squeezed orange juice for best flavor.
- The Sauce consistency: We love a thick sauce that coats the chicken pieces well. Use cornstarch slurry to thicken it and add the marmalade at the end. So good!
- Red pepper flakes: Adds a lovely zing to the dish without making it overtly spicy. However, if you have little ones at home skip the red pepper flakes.
- Orange Marmalade: The marmalade adds a whole new dimension to the recipe. It adds a great depth of flavor, gives the sauce a fabulous consistency, makes it thicker, adds more sweetness & freshness. Imagine a burst of bright orange flavor. If you don’t have it handy just skip it. You’ll still love this easy orange chicken recipe.
- Orange Zest, when to add it: If you prefer an intense and fresh orange flavor add it before the pressure cooking cycle. If you prefer a subtle orange flavor add it after the pressure cooking cycle.
- Control the Sweetness: This recipe is on the sweeter side with a good kick from the red pepper flakes. However, if you do not prefer sweeter sauces do reduce the amount of sugar according to your preference.
How to make orange chicken?
Find the detailed step by step recipe along with measurements way below the post on the “Recipe Card“.
Step #1 Saute Chicken
Set the Instant Pot on SAUTE & set it on NORMAL.
Just 30 seconds is all you need to quickly saute the ginger & garlic.
Add the cubed chicken & saute until the edges begin to turn lightly golden. This helps boost the flavor so so much.
If adding red pepper flakes add mid way.
Step #2 Pressure Cook
De-glaze the pot really well after adding the Orange juice. This is to prevent the BURN error. Scrape the sides & the bottom of the pot with the help of a spatula.
PRESSURE COOK on HIGH for just 1 minute followed by a QUICK RELEASE.
Step #3 Thicken the Sauce
Add the sauce ingredients – sugars, light soy sauce, ketchup, rice vinegar, orange zest & cornstarch slurry (helps thicken the sauce).
Mix well & simmer on SAUTE at LOW for 1 min stirring from time to time.
Add the orange marmalade, mix & simmer until you reach the sauce consistency that you love.
Enjoy this instant pot Orange Chicken breasts with rice 🙂
How to serve
You’ll love this Orange marmalade Chicken on a bed of white Jasmine Rice or even brown rice. Noodles are a great option as well! Here’s our favorite picks:
- Instant pot hibachi fried rice.
- Chili garlic noodles instant pot.
- Instant pot green beans no steamer basket.
- Wonton soup.
- Hot and sour soup.
- Asian salad.
- Chinese egg rolls.
Leftovers & storage
Fridge: You can store the Instant Pot Orange Chicken for 6 days in the fridge. Use air tight containers. The sauce will thicken further when stored in the fridge.
Freezer: This recipe will last for 2 months in the freezer. Store it in individual portion size freezer safe bags or containers. Thaw the dish over night in the fridge before re-heating.
How to reheat
You can reheat this orange chicken instant pot recipe in the microwave oven until warm or hot. Add a few drops of water before popping it into the microwave oven.
Orange Chicken will last for 5 days in the fridge when stored in moisture free air tight containers.
Yes Orange Chicken can be frozen for upto 3 months.
We always prefer individual size freezer safe bags or containers. It’s easier this way to re-heat and enjoy the dish.
The orange chicken sauce recipe is made with orange juice, sugar, rice vinegar, soy sauce, fresh ginger, minced garlic, red chili flakes, ketchup, water, cornstarch, orange zest & orange marmalade.
Orange chicken tastes sweet with a subtle kick. It has a bright & fresh flavor.
More Asian take-out recipes you might like
- Instant pot kung pao chicken.
- Instant pot Sesame Chicken
- Instant pot drunken noodles.
- Authentic chicken lo mein recipe.
- Instant pot ramen stir fry.
- Instant pot pad Thai.
- Instant pot shrimp and broccoli.
- Thai peanut chicken instant pot.
- Instant pot sweet and sour pork.
- Instant pot egg roll in a bowl.
- Instant pot cashew chicken.
- Instant pot sweet and sour meatballs.
- Instant pot chicken teriyaki.
- Instant pot stir fry shrimp.
- Instant pot Mongolian chicken.
- Instant pot pork lo mein.
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- 0.83 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs diced into ½ inch cubes (380 grams)
- ½ cup orange juice (from a fresh orange)
- 1 tsp Finely Chopped Garlic.
- 1 tsp Finely chopped ginger
- 1 tsp red chili flakes (optional)
- 3 tbsp any neutral oil
For the Sauce
- Begin the recipe by gently rubbing the cubed chicken pieces with sesame oil & light soy sauce. Set them aside while you prep the other ingredients. This step is OPTIONAL. However, it adds a nice touch to the recipe.
- Now, set the Instant Pot on SAUTE function & set it on NORMAL heat settings. Add oil & when the oil becomes moderately hot gently release the finely chopped ginger & garlic and saute them for just 30 seconds.
- Next, add the flash marinated chicken pieces & saute them until lightly golden around the edges. Add the red pepper flakes mid way. Saute the chicken while scraping the sides of the pot to loosen any bits & crumbs.
- Add the orange juice & de-glaze the pot very well with the help of a spatula. This is to help prevent the BURN error. It'll help loosen the bits & crumbs stuck at the base of the pot or on the sides.
- CANCEL the SAUTE function. Close the lid, seal the valve and PRESSURE COOK on HIGH for just 1 min.
- Once, the pressure cooking cycle is over perform a quick release manually moving the valve from the SEALING to the VENTING position. Open the lid carefully.
- Now add all the ingredients mentioned above in the, "For the sauce" category of the Ingredients section and also the cornstarch slurry. Give a good stir. CANCEL the Pressure cook option.
- Turn on the SAUTE function & keep it at LOW. Simmer the sauce until it thickens to the consistency that you prefer (the sauce also thickens further as it cools down). Finally add the orange marmalade, mix well and simmer for just 30 seconds to blend in the marmalade with the sauce. You'll have a fabulous sticky sweet thick sauce at the end.
- Enjoy with Jasmine Rice, brown rice or noodles.
- Measuring Units Used, 1 cup = 240 ml & 1 teaspoon = 5 ml
- The Recipe is sweet, you can reduce the amount of sugar to control the sweetness.
- Ketchup: If you love spicy food sub the ketchup with Sriracha Sauce. You can also use 1:1 ketchup:Sriracha.
- Red Pepper Flakes: They add a subtle kick to the dish. However, if you are completely heat intolerant or making the dish for little ones skip using them.
- Orange Juice: For best flavors use the juice from fresh oranges.
- Bottled orange juice: It’s not a great sub for fresh juice. However, if you totally cannot find fresh oranges you may use bottled juice. In that case reduce the amount of sugar according to your preference.
- If not using Orange Marmalade: Use ¼ cups both brown sugar and white sugar.
- The Sauce: We prefer a thick sauce that beautifully clings to every piece of chicken. However, you may keep the sauce consistency the way you prefer. Simmer it less to thicken it less.