Orange chicken is a popular Chinese takeout dish consisting of fried chicken pieces coated in a sweet and tangy orange sauce. Like most takeout items, orange chicken often requires reheating before eating leftovers. With the right technique, you can reheat orange chicken so it stays crispy and saucy. Follow these simple instructions to reheat orange chicken using a microwave, oven, or air fryer.
Reheating Orange Chicken in the Microwave
The microwave provides a quick and easy way to reheat orange chicken. Just be careful not to overcook the chicken, which can make it rubbery.
- Place the orange chicken pieces in a microwave-safe dish in a single layer. Avoid overcrowding.
- Cover the dish with a paper towel or microwave splatter guard. This prevents the sauce from splattering.
- Microwave on high power for 60-90 seconds. The time will vary based on amount of chicken and your microwave wattage.
- Allow to sit for 1 minute before serving. This helps further distribute the heat.
- If the chicken is still cold in the center, continue microwaving at 30 second intervals, checking frequently to avoid overcooking.
- Stir the orange chicken halfway through reheating to ensure even heating.
- Add a teaspoon of water if the sauce appears dry or thickened. The steam will help loosen up the sauce.
- Allow the orange chicken to sit for 2-3 minutes before eating to allow the texture to set.
- Use a lower microwave power setting (50% power) if you’re concerned about overcooking the chicken. This more gently reheats the food.
- Don’t stack chicken pieces or overlap them too much. This prevents hot and cold spots.
- If reheating a large portion, break it up into multiple dishes to reheat in batches for more even results.
Reheating Orange Chicken in the Oven
The oven is ideal for reheating larger batches of orange chicken without compromising texture.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Place orange chicken pieces in a single layer on an oven-safe baking dish.
- Cover tightly with aluminum foil.
- Bake for 10-15 minutes until heated through.
- Remove foil and bake for 2-3 minutes more to crispen chicken.
- If sauce looks thick, stir in a teaspoon of water before baking to loosen it up.
- Use a nonstick or foil-lined pan for easy cleanup if the sauce bubbles over.
- Place a baking sheet underneath the dish to catch any drips.
- Add a dash of cornstarch mixed with water if the sauce separates and becomes oily.
Reheating Orange Chicken in an Air Fryer
An air fryer mimics deep frying to reheat orange chicken back to crispy perfection.
- Place orange chicken pieces in air fryer basket in a single layer, avoiding overlap.
- Set air fryer to 380°F for 3-5 minutes, shaking basket occasionally.
- Increase temperature if needed to make the chicken crisper.
- Work in batches for larger amounts.
- Brush chicken pieces with a little oil for added crispness if desired.
- Let sit 1-2 minutes before serving.
Air Fryer Tips:
- Don’t overfill the air fryer basket. Crowding will lead to uneven cooking.
- Flip chicken pieces over about halfway through for even reheating.
- Add 60 seconds to reheating time for extra-saucy orange chicken.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I keep the sauce from getting runny when reheating?
Stir in a teaspoon of cornstarch mixed with a 1/2 teaspoon of water after reheating to help thicken up the sauce. Be careful not to over-thicken. Reheat sauce slowly at a lower power level.
What is the best way to reheat orange chicken and keep it crispy?
The air fryer will reheat orange chicken the crispiest. The oven also does a good job at maintaining crispness compared to the microwave. Place chicken pieces in a single layer for even crisping.
Is it safe to reheat leftover takeout orange chicken?
Yes, as long as the orange chicken was kept refrigerated and is reheated fully until steaming hot. Reheat leftovers within 3-4 days. Don’t reheat more than once. Monitor for signs of spoilage.
Can I reheat the chicken and sauce separately?
It’s best to reheat them together to prevent the sauce from thickening too much. If reheating separately, add sauce back over chicken right after microwaving when the chicken is still hot.
Additional Tips for the Best Reheated Orange Chicken
- Always reheat orange chicken thoroughly until piping hot, at least 165°F internally.
- Stir sauce frequently to maintain even heating and prevent scorching.
- If the sauce thickens too much, stir in a splash of water while reheating.
- Avoid reheating more than once. The texture declines with each reheating.
- Pay attention to hot and cold spots. Break up into smaller pieces or stir frequently.
- Craving that takeout flavor? Sprinkle sesame seeds over the reheated orange chicken.
Recipes to Use Up Leftover Orange Chicken
Leftover orange chicken is delicious repurposed into new easy meals. Try these creative recipes:
Orange Chicken Fried Rice
Toss cubed orange chicken, rice, peas, carrots, eggs, and green onions in the leftover orange sauce for a quick fried rice.
Orange Chicken Tacos
Warm orange chicken in corn tortillas or taco shells for a fun Asian fusion taco night. Top with slaw and queso fresco.
Orange Chicken Salad
Chop orange chicken and serve over mixed greens, shredded cabbage, mandarin oranges, and sliced almonds. Toss with an orange miso dressing.
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With its sweet, tangy, and slightly spicy flavor, orange chicken is a favorite for takeout and leftovers. Thankfully, it reheats beautifully as long as you follow a few simple guidelines. Pay attention to the cooking method, temperature, and texture when reheating so you can enjoy your orange chicken as if it were fresh from the restaurant. Feel free to get creative and give those leftovers a tasty new life in exciting recipes.