Store Cupboard Sticky Orange Chicken

Store Cupboard Sticky Orange Chicken

One summer holiday in Florida, my children discovered the Americanised Chinese dish that is Orange Chicken. Almost as if in a fitting tribute to the state famous for its oranges, they chose to eat it at as many meals as they could. Even I, who prefers her dishes more sour and hot than sweet, succumbed to the charm of this citrusy, sweet, sour and slightly hot dish.

Back home, we soon discovered that orange chicken is hard to come by in Chinese restaurants/takeaways in the UK. So then the only option to feed the kids’ newly acquired addiction was to make it at home. I looked up recipes and started making some good Orange Chicken in my own kitchen. Almost all recipes call for orange juice and this is what I was doing too. Until the day I had the brainwave to use marmalade instead.

The result made me want to click my heels and sing from the rooftop. The chicken was orangier, stickier and, in my kids’ words, yummier. And I also discovered that if I had a few store cupboard ingredients, I could put this together at a moment’s notice. The frying of the chicken is time-consuming, but I have often bypassed that step with only a whimper of protest from my kids – I suspect they would eat old leather if it was covered in this sauce (& I promise I have resisted all temptation to test out this theory). When I am short of time, I just stir fry the chicken in a tiny bit of oil after step 1 & omit steps 2, 3 & 4.

Fresh garlic and ginger is good, if you have it, otherwise feel free to substitute the dried versions.

Store Cupboard Sticky Orange Chicken

A little bit sweet, a little bit sour, every bit delicious.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Chinese


For the Chicken:

  • 500 g chicken breasts, about 2 large
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup cornflour
  • 1/2 cup plain flour
  • oil for frying

For the Orange Sauce:

  • 1 454g jar shredless orange marmalade
  • 1/4 cup tomato ketchup
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp crushed chilli flakes optional
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp orange zest optional
  • chopped spring onions & sesame seeds for garnish


For the Chicken:

  • Cut the chicken into 1" cubes, combine with the soy sauce in a medium bowl and set aside for a few minutes (if you can spare them).
  • Heat the oil for deep frying in a pan over medium heat.
  • While the oil is heating, beat the egg in a small bowl and add to the chicken. Add the cornstarch and flour. Mix well.
  • Deep fry the chicken pieces in batches over medium heat for about 4-5 minutes until cooked through. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with kitchen towels.

For the Sauce:

  • If using fresh ginger and garlic, heat 2 tsp oil in a wok or deep frying pan and gently saute for a few seconds. If not, then you can start without any oil with the next step.
  • Empty the jar of marmalade into the pan and heat gently over a medium low heat. Add the ketchup, soy sauce, ginger & garlic powders, chilli flakes if using and the rice vinegar. Mix well and heat, stirring often, until the marmalade has completely liquefied and the mixture is bubbling at the periphery. It should look quite sticky at this point. Turn off the heat and add the orange zest if using.
  • Taste the sauce (be careful - hot, molten sugar!) to check if you need to adjust the saltiness, sourness or heat according to your preference. Once you're happy, add the chicken and mix gently. Garnish with spring onions and sesame seeds. Serve with steamed rice or boiled noodles.
Keyword chicken, orange, sour, sweet