Air fryer orange chicken is a delicious and healthy alternative to traditional deep-fried orange chicken. Not only is it lower in fat and calories, but it's also quicker and easier to make in an air fryer. In this article, we'll explore everything you need to know about making air fryer orange chicken that's both healthy and delicious.
How to make air fryer orange chicken that's both healthy and delicious
To make air fryer orange chicken, you'll need boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cornstarch, eggs, panko breadcrumbs, and orange juice. You can also add extra flavor with ginger, garlic, and soy sauce.
First, cut the chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces. Mix together the cornstarch and spices in a bowl. In another bowl, whisk together eggs and a splash of water. In a third bowl, place the panko breadcrumbs.
Coat the chicken pieces in the cornstarch mixture, then dip them in the egg mixture, and finally coat them in the panko breadcrumbs. Place the chicken pieces in the air fryer basket, and set the temperature to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook for about 10 minutes, flipping halfway through the cooking process.
Once the chicken is cooked, it's time to make the orange sauce. In a small saucepan, combine orange juice, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and a pinch of sugar. Cook over medium heat until the sauce thickens, stirring occasionally. Once the sauce is thickened, pour it over the cooked chicken and toss to coat. Serve with steamed rice and vegetables for a healthy and delicious meal.
Why air frying is a healthier alternative to deep frying
Deep-frying chicken in oil adds a lot of fat and calories to the dish, which is not healthy. Air frying, on the other hand, uses hot air to cook the food, which results in a crispy texture without the need for oil. This makes air frying a healthier alternative to deep frying.
In addition to being a healthier alternative to deep frying, air frying also has other benefits. It is a faster cooking method, as the hot air circulates around the food, cooking it evenly and quickly. Air frying also produces less mess and odor compared to deep frying, as there is no oil to clean up or dispose of. Additionally, air frying is a more versatile cooking method, as it can be used to cook a variety of foods, from vegetables to desserts.
The benefits of using an air fryer for cooking chicken
Using an air fryer to cook chicken has several benefits:
- It's quicker than traditional cooking methods, as the hot air circulates around the food, cooking it faster.
- It's healthier than deep frying, as it uses little to no oil.
- It results in a crispy texture, similar to deep frying, without the need for excess oil.
- It's easy to use and requires minimal preparation.
In addition to the benefits mentioned above, using an air fryer to cook chicken also helps to retain the natural juices and flavors of the meat. This is because the hot air circulates evenly around the chicken, ensuring that it is cooked thoroughly and evenly. As a result, the chicken is tender and juicy, making it a delicious and healthy meal option.
Another advantage of using an air fryer for cooking chicken is that it is a versatile cooking appliance. You can use it to cook a variety of chicken dishes, including wings, drumsticks, and even a whole chicken. Additionally, you can experiment with different seasonings and marinades to create unique and flavorful dishes that your family and friends will love.
A step-by-step guide to making air fryer orange chicken from scratch
We've already covered the basics of making air fryer orange chicken, but here's a step-by-step guide for easy reference:
- Cut boneless, skinless chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces.
- Mix together cornstarch and spices in a bowl.
- Whisk together eggs and a splash of water in another bowl.
- Place panko breadcrumbs in a third bowl.
- Coat chicken pieces in cornstarch mixture.
- Dip chicken pieces in egg mixture.
- Coat chicken pieces in panko breadcrumbs.
- Place chicken in air fryer basket and cook at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 10 minutes.
- Flip chicken halfway through the cooking process.
- While chicken is cooking, mix together orange juice, ginger, garlic, and soy sauce in a small saucepan.
- Cook sauce for a few minutes until it thickens slightly.
- When chicken is cooked, toss it in the orange sauce and serve.
Here are a few tips to make your air fryer orange chicken even more delicious:
- Marinate the chicken in the orange sauce for a few hours before cooking to infuse it with more flavor.
- Add some heat to the dish by including red pepper flakes or sriracha sauce in the orange sauce.
Additionally, if you're looking for a healthier version of this dish, try using whole wheat panko breadcrumbs and reducing the amount of cornstarch used in the coating process.
How to choose the right kind of chicken for your air fryer recipe
When making air fryer orange chicken, it's important to choose the right kind of chicken. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts work best, as they cook quickly and evenly in the air fryer. If you prefer dark meat, you can use boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead.
Another important factor to consider when choosing chicken for your air fryer recipe is the quality of the meat. Look for chicken that is fresh and free from any bruises or discoloration. It's also a good idea to choose organic or free-range chicken, as they tend to have a better flavor and texture. Additionally, make sure to pat the chicken dry with paper towels before cooking, as excess moisture can prevent it from getting crispy in the air fryer.
Tips for getting the perfect crispy texture on your air fryer orange chicken
To achieve the perfect crispy texture on your air fryer orange chicken, follow these tips:
- Use panko breadcrumbs instead of regular breadcrumbs for a crispier texture.
- Flip the chicken halfway through the cooking process to ensure even cooking.
- Don't overcrowd the air fryer basket, as this can result in uneven cooking and a less crispy texture.
- Cook the chicken at a high temperature (around 400 degrees Fahrenheit) to achieve a crispy texture.
The nutritional benefits of using orange juice in your recipe
Orange juice adds flavor and nutrition to your air fryer orange chicken recipe. It's a good source of vitamin C, which supports immune function and helps your body absorb iron from your food. Orange juice also contains potassium, folate, and thiamin. However, orange juice can be high in sugar, so use it sparingly in your recipe.
How to make a healthier version of orange chicken sauce with less sugar and sodium
To make a healthier version of orange chicken sauce, you can use low-sodium soy sauce and reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe. You can also add flavor with ginger and garlic instead of relying on excess salt. Here's a recipe for a healthier orange chicken sauce:
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- 1 clove garlic, minced
Mix all ingredients in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat until the sauce thickens slightly, stirring occasionally.
The best side dishes to serve with your air fryer orange chicken for a complete, nutritious meal
Pair your air fryer orange chicken with some healthy side dishes for a complete, nutritious meal. Here are some ideas:
- Roasted vegetables, such as broccoli or asparagus
- Steamed rice or quinoa
- Sautéed kale or spinach
- Fresh fruit salad
Why air frying is a great cooking method for busy weeknights
Air frying is a great cooking method for busy weeknights because it's quick, easy, and requires minimal preparation. You can make air fryer orange chicken in under 30 minutes, making it a convenient option for a quick and healthy meal.
How to meal prep your air fryer orange chicken for easy, healthy lunches all week long
To meal prep your air fryer orange chicken for easy, healthy lunches all week long, follow these steps:
- Cook a batch of air fryer orange chicken on Sunday.
- Divide the chicken into separate meal prep containers.
- Pair each container with a healthy side dish, such as roasted vegetables or quinoa.
- Store the meal prep containers in the fridge until ready to eat.
- Reheat the chicken and side dish in the microwave for a quick and healthy lunch option.
Frequently asked questions about cooking with an air fryer
Here are some frequently asked questions about cooking with an air fryer:
Can you cook frozen chicken in an air fryer?
Yes, you can cook frozen chicken in an air fryer, but it will take longer than cooking fresh chicken. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for cooking frozen chicken in your specific air fryer model.
Do you need to use oil in an air fryer?
No, you don't need to use oil in an air fryer. Air fryers use hot air to cook the food, which results in a crispy texture without the use of oil. However, you can use a small amount of oil to enhance the flavor and texture of your food.
What foods can you cook in an air fryer?
You can cook a variety of foods in an air fryer, including chicken, fish, vegetables, and even desserts. Air fryers are versatile and can be used for many different types of cooking.
Is air frying healthier than deep frying?
Yes, air frying is healthier than deep frying. Deep frying adds a lot of fat and calories to the food, which is not healthy. Air frying, on the other hand, uses little to no oil, making it a healthier alternative to deep frying.
How do you clean an air fryer?
To clean an air fryer, first unplug it and let it cool down. Then, remove the basket and tray from the air fryer and wash them in warm, soapy water. Use a soft sponge or cloth to avoid scratching the non-stick coating. Wipe down the inside of the air fryer with a damp cloth or sponge. Never immerse the air fryer in water or put it in the dishwasher.
Other healthy and delicious air fryer recipes to try at home
If you're looking to expand your air fryer recipe repertoire, here are some other healthy and delicious air fryer recipes to try at home:
- Crispy air fryer Brussels sprouts
- Air fryer sweet potato fries
- Crispy air fryer tofu
- Air fryer salmon
- Air fryer turkey meatballs
Air frying is a versatile and convenient cooking method that can help you make healthier meals at home. Give air fryer orange chicken a try for a quick, easy, and delicious meal that's both healthy and satisfying.