If you're looking for a healthier alternative to the traditional deep-fried orange chicken, using an air fryer might be just the solution you need. Not only does it result in a crispy coating, but it also cooks the chicken to perfection without the excess oil. Here's everything you need to know about cooking orange chicken in an air fryer.
A beginner's guide to cooking orange chicken in an air fryer
First, let's outline the basics. For those new to the air fryer game, it's essentially a compact convection oven that uses hot air to cook your food. You'll need to preheat it before cooking and be mindful of the cooking time and temperature. That being said, once you master these basics, the possibilities for healthy and delicious meals are endless.
Now, let's talk about the ingredients you'll need for this orange chicken recipe. You'll need boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cornstarch, salt, pepper, garlic powder, orange juice, soy sauce, honey, and orange zest. Make sure to have all of these ingredients on hand before you start cooking.
When it comes to cooking the chicken in the air fryer, it's important to cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and coat them in a mixture of cornstarch, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. This will give the chicken a crispy texture. Then, cook the chicken in the air fryer for about 10-12 minutes, or until it's cooked through and crispy. While the chicken is cooking, you can prepare the orange sauce by mixing together orange juice, soy sauce, honey, and orange zest in a small saucepan. Heat the sauce over medium heat until it thickens, then pour it over the cooked chicken. Serve with rice and steamed vegetables for a complete meal.
The benefits of using an air fryer for cooking orange chicken
Aside from the obvious health benefits of using an air fryer, such as reduced oil intake, there are other reasons to consider using this appliance for your orange chicken. It's quicker than oven-baking, the cleanup is minimal, and the chicken comes out with a crispy coating with minimal effort.
In addition to these benefits, using an air fryer also allows for more even cooking of the chicken. The hot air circulates around the food, ensuring that it cooks evenly on all sides. This means that you won't have to worry about undercooked or overcooked chicken, which can be a common problem when using other cooking methods. Additionally, air fryers are versatile appliances that can be used for a variety of other dishes, making them a great investment for any kitchen.
Ingredients needed for making delicious orange chicken in an air fryer
Here's what you'll need to make orange chicken in your air fryer:
- Boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into bite-size pieces
- Salt and pepper
- Panko breadcrumbs
- Orange juice and zest
- Soy sauce
- Rice vinegar
- Sesame oil
- Green onions
- Sesame seeds
Orange chicken is a popular Chinese-American dish that is loved by many. It is a sweet and tangy dish that is perfect for any occasion. Making orange chicken in an air fryer is a healthier alternative to deep-frying, as it uses less oil and still produces crispy chicken.
To make the dish even healthier, you can use whole wheat breadcrumbs instead of panko breadcrumbs. You can also substitute the honey with maple syrup or agave nectar for a vegan option. Additionally, you can add some vegetables like broccoli or bell peppers to the dish to make it more nutritious.
Step-by-step instructions on cooking orange chicken in an air fryer
1. Preheat your air fryer to 375 degrees F.
2. In a bowl, mix together cornstarch, salt, and pepper. In another bowl, beat an egg. In a third bowl, add panko breadcrumbs.
3. Coat the chicken pieces in the cornstarch mixture, then dip in the egg, and finally coat in breadcrumbs.
4. Place the chicken in the air fryer basket, making sure the pieces aren't touching. Fry for 12-15 minutes, flipping once halfway through.
5. While the chicken is cooking, make the orange sauce: in a saucepan, mix together orange juice and zest, soy sauce, garlic, honey, rice vinegar, and sesame oil. Cook over medium heat until thickened, then remove from heat and stir in sliced green onions.
6. Once chicken is cooked, remove from the air fryer and coat with the orange sauce. Serve hot, garnished with sesame seeds and additional green onions if desired.
7. For a healthier option, you can use boneless, skinless chicken breasts instead of chicken thighs. This will reduce the amount of fat in the dish.
8. If you want to add some extra heat to the dish, you can add some red pepper flakes to the orange sauce mixture. This will give it a spicy kick.
Tips and tricks for achieving perfectly crispy orange chicken in an air fryer
- Make sure to preheat your air fryer for best results.
- Be careful not to overcrowd the basket which can lead to uneven cooking.
- If you want an extra crispy coating, try spraying the chicken lightly with cooking spray before cooking.
- If you're short on time, use a store-bought orange sauce instead of making it from scratch.
- Experiment with using different seasonings and coatings to add variety to your orange chicken.
Another important tip for achieving perfectly crispy orange chicken in an air fryer is to use cornstarch instead of flour for the coating. Cornstarch creates a lighter and crispier texture compared to flour. Additionally, make sure to shake off any excess coating before placing the chicken in the air fryer to prevent clumping and uneven cooking.
Healthier alternative: Making orange chicken in an air fryer instead of deep-frying it
One of the biggest advantages of making orange chicken in an air fryer is that it eliminates the need for deep-frying, which typically involves a lot of oil. This means you can enjoy a delicious and crispy meal without the added calories and fat. And since air fryers cook food without the need for oil, it's a much healthier alternative to traditional frying.
Another benefit of using an air fryer to make orange chicken is that it's a much quicker cooking method than deep-frying. With an air fryer, you can have your meal ready in just a fraction of the time it would take to deep-fry it. This is especially convenient for busy weeknights when you don't have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen.
Additionally, making orange chicken in an air fryer allows you to experiment with different flavors and seasonings. You can add your own unique twist to the dish by using different spices or sauces. This makes it a fun and creative way to cook, while still enjoying a healthier version of a classic Chinese takeout dish.
Pairing suggestions: What to serve with your air-fried orange chicken
Looking for some ideas on what to serve alongside your air-fried orange chicken? Here are a few options:
- Steamed broccoli or green beans
- Vegetable stir-fry
- Fried rice
- Asian-style slaw or salad
If you're looking for something a little heartier to serve with your air-fried orange chicken, consider adding a side of noodles. Lo mein or chow mein noodles would be a great complement to the dish.
For a lighter option, try serving your chicken with a side of steamed or roasted sweet potatoes. The sweetness of the potatoes will balance out the tanginess of the orange chicken.
Frequently asked questions about cooking orange chicken in an air fryer, answered
Q: Can I freeze my air-fried orange chicken?
A: Yes, you can freeze leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
Q: What other meats can I cook in my air fryer?
A: Air fryers are great for cooking all kinds of protein, from chicken wings to salmon fillets. You can experiment with different seasonings and coatings to keep things interesting.
Q: How do I clean my air fryer after cooking orange chicken?
A: It's important to clean your air fryer after each use to prevent buildup and ensure it continues to function properly. Start by unplugging the appliance and allowing it to cool down. Then, remove the basket and any other removable parts and wash them with warm, soapy water. Use a soft sponge or brush to gently scrub away any stuck-on food. For the interior of the air fryer, use a damp cloth or sponge to wipe away any residue. Avoid using abrasive cleaners or scouring pads, as they can damage the non-stick coating. Finally, dry all parts thoroughly before reassembling and storing.
Troubleshooting common problems when cooking orange chicken in an air fryer
If you're new to using an air fryer, you may encounter a few issues when cooking orange chicken. Here are some common problems and how to fix them:
- My chicken isn't coming out crispy enough: Try using cooking spray or a light coating of oil to help the coating crisp up.
- The chicken is too dry: Try marinating the chicken in buttermilk or yogurt for at least an hour before coating and air frying.
- The chicken is overcooked: Keep an eye on the cooking time and adjust accordingly. Consider reducing the temperature if your air fryer is powerful.
Now that you know how to make air-fried orange chicken, it's time to put your new skills to use. Experiment with different coatings and seasonings to find your perfect recipe, and enjoy a healthier version of this classic Chinese-American dish.