Airfry Orange Chicken Wings
Updated: Mar 5
Orange you crazy about wings? Tangy, sweet, and crispy orange chicken is deliciously addictive!
Orange chicken is widely popular in North American restaurants and its most popular association is with Panda Express! This tangy, sweet, and crispy dish is said to be a variation of "General Tso's Chicken". Another dish that is served in North American Chinese restaurants and not really known in China. It's possible that both these dishes were created to resemble sweet and sour dishes from China. So it is safe to say, "Orange Chicken" is a Chinese-American creation! And a delicious creation it is!
My family, especially my son, loves orange chicken over rice and veggies. And I have to admit the Panda Express orange chicken is really tasty! I am so happy to be able to make this dish at home for my family using a healthier method. The orange chicken has a refreshing citrus flavor complimented by ginger and garlic. Then the little amount of chili flakes tones down the tangy flavor with a bit of heat making it more flavorful but not spicy.
TIPS to make your airfryer fried chicken experience better! The chicken must be completely dry or drain of excess liquids. This is the only way the batter will crisp up nicely and not become soggy and stick to your airfryer. If you've experience sticky battered chicken, it's because the chicken had too much moisture. As that moisture evaporated from the chicken during the airfrying process, it creates steam that moisture the dry batter, which produces a wet and sticky shell instead of a nice crispy crunchy crust for the fried chicken. Prep your chicken pieces by press paper towels around the chicken pieces or letting them drain in a strainer for a few hours.
Another tip is to make sure the orange sauce turns into a candy glaze. Sauce makes crispy crunchy batter soggy. Glazes form a candied shell that keeps the batter crispy crunchy. The sauce must be reduced to a sticky tacky consistency prior to dressing the airfry chicken. Keep that sauce in a simmering stage for 10-minutes minimum and if it hasn't thicken to a glaze consistency, reduce it for another 2-3 minutes. Then toss chicken in the glaze over low heat.
Chicken & Dry Batter
2 lbs boneless chicken thighs or 18-20 chicken wings
2 tbsp olive/cooking oil
1/4 black pepper
1 tsp salt to season chicken
1 tsp salt to season dry batter
2/3 cup potato/corn/tapioca starch
1 tsp baking powder
Extra cooking oil and brush/cooking spray
2 tbsp olive/cooking oil
1 tbsp garlic minced
1 tsp ginger minced (1tbsp if you like it spicy)
1/2 tsp chili flakes (with or without seeds)
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
Orange slices or zest
Dry off chicken really well by letting them drain through a strainer or blotting with paper towels. It must be super dry in order for it not to stick to the airfryer tray during the cooking process. Too much moisture will cause the starch to be mushy. The extra moisture produces a lot of steam that saturates the dry batter coating. Making it sticky instead of crunchy.
Prepare chicken thighs by cutting them into 1.5-2 inch bite size pieces. Or if using wings, there's nothing to do except season with 1 teaspoon salt and the pepper. Let chicken absorb salt. About 10-15 minutes.
Prepare the dry batter on a plate or shallow bowl. Mix potato starch, salt, and baking powder to evenly distribute ingredients. Set aside.
Coat each chicken piece in the dry batter. Set aside.
Preheat the airfryer to airfry mode at 375°F fo 18-minutes.
Before airfrying the coated chicken. Use a pastry brush to dab oil onto the coated chicken pieces on both sides. Or use a cooking spray to apply oil on all sides of the chicken pieces. Place onto airfry rack. When preheat is ready, place chicken into the airfryer. Flip halfway and then move tray higher for the last 2-minutes of cooking. Remove and keep cooked chicken on a wire rack to prevent condensation. Finish airfrying the rest of the chicken pieces.
During the last 10-minutes of airfrying; measure out ingredients for the orange sauce. Prepare the sauce in a large skillet that you can toss the chicken pieces or wings.
Add oil, garlic, and ginger to the skillet. Turn heat onto medium-high and sauté for 2-3 minutes to bring out the fragrance. Add in chili flakes, orange juice, vinegar, and sugar. Mix well. Bring to a simmer and lower heat to medium to began the sauce reduction. It will take 10-minutes to reduce the sauce. If the sauce is runny, keep reducing it for another 2-3 minutes.
The sauce must be thick and a glazed like consistency to maintain the crisp and crunch on the chicken. Reduce heat to low and toss the airfry chicken into the skillet and coat evenly. Work fast here and turn off heat when glaze is almost gone and continue tossing wings until they are all coated with the glaze.
Garnish with fresh orange slices and scallions! Served immediately.