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Mandarin orange chicken is one of the most prevalent dishes in Chinese cuisine. The combination of marinated bread chicken, coupled with a sweet and sour sauce that emanates from the splash of orange juice. This recipe is relatively easy to make and can be paired with a variety of delicious side dishes, including bell peppers, carrots, green salads, and more. Here are the best sides to pair orange chicken with.
Table of Contents
- What is Mandarin Orange Chicken?
- How to Make Mandarin Orange Chicken?
- What Goes Well With Mandarin Orange Chicken?
- Bottom Line
What is Mandarin Orange Chicken?
Mandarin orange chicken is a popular Chinese dish featuring deep-fried balls of marinated, breaded chicken (use white meat chicken parts), served in a hot and sour sauce made from orange juice.
Much like its name suggests, this dish is known for its prevalent citrusy flavors akin to tangerines or oranges. You’ll quickly find this dish becoming a staple in your household, and for good reason. It’s just so delicious and easy to make; what’s not to like?
How to Make Mandarin Orange Chicken?
Get the best of Chinese cuisine right from the comfort of your home. This recipe is loaded with deep, zesty, citrusy flavors that can be coupled with the simplest of side dishes to create a mouth-watering main course for your and your family.
Here’s what you’ll need for the orange sauce:
- Zest from 1 orange
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/3 cup rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1/2 cup sugar
For the Chicken:
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 cup corn starch
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups vegetable oil for frying
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 large shallot
- Whisk the sauce ingredients in a medium bowl, then set this aside
- Cut the chicken into 1-inch cubes, then whisk eggs with salt and black pepper in a bowl, followed by the chicken, and stir everything together
- In a separate bowl, whisk flour and cornstarch. Remove the chicken from the egg mix, allowing the excess to drop off, then transfer the chicken to the cornstarch mixture coating them thoroughly.
- Add oil to a large skillet, and heat it over medium-high heat until it reaches 350F. Once the oil is hot, fry the chicken in batches. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, and flip the chicken pieces until the chicken becomes tender.
- Remove the chicken cubes and transfer them to a plate lined with paper towels to drain them from the oil
- Once the chicken is done drying, pour out the hot oil and wipe the pan clean. Add a fresh tablespoon of vegetable oil, along with some chopped garlic and shallots. Cook for a minute, then add the orange sauce mixture. Let that simmer until the sauce starts to thicken.
- Once the sauce starts to bubble, add the fried chicken pieces and toss them so that they’re evenly coated. Let it simmer for another minute or so before serving with steamed white rice and garnish with spring onions. Serve alongside your favorite side dish on the dinner table for you and your whole family to enjoy!
What Goes Well With Mandarin Orange Chicken?
Although Mandarin orange chicken can be enjoyed as one dish alone, it’s only better when paired with a side that compliments its saucy, crunchy texture. Take a look at some recipe ideas for a little inspiration on what goes well with orange chicken for dinner.
- Egg Drop Soup
- Fried Rice
- Stir Fry Vegetables
- Chow Mein Noodles
- White or Brown Rice
- Chinese Coleslaw
- Vegetable Lo Mein
- Egg Noodles
- Cucumber Salad
- Steamed Vegetables
Egg Drop Soup
Egg drop soup is a classic Chinese dish made using chicken, fresh vegetables, and noodles. The only thing you’ll need to do for this side dish is to stir fry your favorite vegetables, like mushrooms, bean sprouts, and baby corn in a wok, followed by some shredded chicken.
Add a dash of soy sauce, a little sugar, and some back pepper to the mix, and you’ll have a scrumptious side dish served alongside your sweet and sour Mandarin orange chicken, yum!
If you’re on the lookout for some popular dishes to have with your Mandarin orange chicken, then fried rice is at the top of the list. As an incredibly versatile dish, you can serve this with anything you like, from chicken tikka masala, to simpler dishes. Whether you prefer simple fried rice or chicken fried rice, it’s entirely up to you. Serve this alongside a bowl of fresh salad or red onion for a truly spectacular finish. Here’s what you’ll need to make it:
- Frozen peas
- Black pepper
- Cooked and chilled rice
- Green onions
- Soy sauce
- Oyster sauce
- Sesame oil
Heat some butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat till it’s melted. Then add your egg and cook until it’s scrambled, stirring often. Remove the egg and transfer to a separate plate.
Add another tablespoon of butter to the pan and heat the butter until melted. Add your carrots, onion, peas, and garlic, seasoning with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Sauté for another 5 minutes till the onions and carrots have softened.
Increase the heat, and add in your rice, green onions, soy sauce, and oyster sauce, stirring thoroughly. Allow 3 minutes for the rice to finish frying, stirring often. Then add the eggs and stir again. Remove this from the heat and stir in the sesame oil until everything has been coated thoroughly. Season with additional soy sauce if desired.
Serve this side dish with your main sweet and sour sauce Mandarin orange chicken, for a dinner that’ll have everyone licking their fingers from the alternating savory and sweet taste.
Stir Fry Vegetables
Stir fry vegetables are the perfect representation of a familiar side dish. They’re incredibly versatile and match the flavors of your orange chicken beautifully. Since they pair so well with other dishes, why not incorporate them when cooking orange chicken? This is a simple, easy dish for you to prepare, bringing forth impeccable flavors to serve alongside your main dish.
You can either buy a stir fry mix or chop them up yourself; here’s what you’ll need:
- Broccoli florets
- Baby corn spears
- Whole pepper
- Olive oil
- Unsalted butter
- Garlic cloves
- Minced ginger
- Chicken broth
- Soy sauce
- Hot sauce
In a large wok, over medium heat, add some oil, then add the vegetables and stir fry for 3 minutes or until the vegetables are crisp-tender. Add some butter, garlic, and ginger and cook till considerably aromatic. Then in a small bowl, combine chicken broth, cornstarch, soy sauce, honey, and hot sauce, then pour this over the vegetables and stir. Turn the heat down to medium-low and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the sauce thickens and the vegetables reach a wonderful tenderness.
You can have this side dish served with your saucy orange chicken for some finger-licking goodness.
Prawn Chow Mein Noodles
Amongst the many side dishes for orange chicken, you’ll know that when there’s Chinese on the menu, you simply must include a delicious side of chow mein that’ll blend perfectly with it. A popular dish starring noodles and fresh stir-frying vegetables, they’re perfect for whenever you’re running short of time. Simply toss them into the oven for a few minutes, and they’ll be ready for you in no time.
Here’s what you’ll need to make this side dish:
- Black pepper
- Chinese rice cooking wine
- Egg noodles
- Bell pepper
- Spring onion
- Bean Sprouts
- Red chili peppers
- Vegetable oil
- Soy sauce
- Oyster sauce
- Sesame oil
Season the prawns with salt, black pepper, and wine. Boil the egg noodles. Meanwhile, mix soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, and sugar in a bowl and set it aside. Heat a large wok on medium-high heat, and add a tablespoon of oil into the pan. Sauté the prawns for a few minutes per side, then remove them from the wok and set them aside.
Drizzle a couple of tablespoons of oil into a pan, and sauté garlic for 10 seconds on medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, and bell peppers, and stir fry for a minute. Then add the cooked egg noodles, pouring the sauce mixture into the pan as well.
Place the cooked prawns back into the wok, followed by spring onions, bean sprouts, and chili slices. Thoroughly toss the ingredients, and cook for another couple of minutes.
Serve alongside your main orange chicken for a delicious meal.
White or Brown Rice
White or brown rice is the most common side dish to have alongside any sweet or savory dish. Often served alongside sauce-dominated dishes like Mandarin orange chicken, simply coat your rice in sauce and allow the flavours to envelop the pillowy texture of the white rice. I love using long grain rice because the flavors bind beautifully with each grain, allowing for maximum satisfaction with every bite.
Brown rice is healthier and provides a nutty taste. However, it’s not always great when paired with every food. For instance, you wouldn’t want to serve your brown rice with intensely flavored dishes like kung pao chicken, instead opt for simple steamed white rice for the perfect melded flavors.
Similarly, serve white rice alongside Mandarin orange chicken for the best results and instant satisfaction for you and your guests.
Like simple coleslaw being the perfect addition to any meaty dish, Chinese coleslaw provides the same service. The key to every coleslaw side dish is to certify that your chosen vegetables have been cut very finely and refrigerated before your main dish is ready to eat. What’s more, additional flavorings are always welcome when it comes to sauce-dominated dishes like Mandarin orange chicken. Here’s how to make it:
- Purple cabbage
- Green onion
- Toasted peanuts
- Peanut oil
- Soy sauce
- Sesame oil
Whisk salt, garlic, honey, sesame oil, soy sauce, vinegar and peanut oil in a small bowl. Combine purple cabbage, carrot, green onions, peanuts, and cilantro in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and toss generously. Cover and pop it in the fridge, then serve with orange chicken.
Vegetable Lo Mein
A speedy, spectacular side dish to serve with orange chicken is vegetable lo mein. Similar to ramen noodles, its simplicity happens to blend beautifully with a variety of main dishes that feature a delicious sauce. As long as the noodles are cooked properly, you’re good to go!
If you’re an avid noodle lover, then this one is for you. When it comes to wondering what to serve with orange chicken, there is an abundance of side dishes that you can choose from, yet there’s something about noodles that almost makes it the missing piece of the puzzle. The secret here is to use your delicious sauce as the dominant part of the dish and keep your egg noodles as plain as possible. Add some steamed broccoli to the mix if you want some added texture, and serve with your favourite Mandarin orange chicken.
Cucumber salad is such a simple salad to prepare, with lots of Chinese-inspired elements, of course. Finely slice your cucumbers into long thin strips, add a splash of white wine vinegar, and chopped red chilies, and garnish with black and white sesame seeds. The sesame seeds will add an additional blissful texture to the overall salad.
You can serve immediately, or pop the salad into the fridge to chill before serving with your saucy orange chicken.
Steamed vegetables are almost a default accompaniment to chicken, so why not serve with orange chicken? The most classic choice to go for is the velvety mushrooms, crunchy cabbage, crispy cauliflower, and a bit of broccoli. They’re perfect for adding a nice crunchy texture to your main dish and taking minutes to cook.
Place them in a steamer basket over a pot of boiling water, then once they’re nice and tender, toss in soy sauce, sesame oil, or cooking wine, and serve with orange chicken.
Mandarin orange chicken can pair with absolutely anything, providing that our working with simple yet savory ingredients that’ll complement the orange deliciousness of this main dish perfectly. Whether you’re planning to host a party or simply make yourself a delightful evening meal, choosing any of the side dishes listed above will have your taste buds singing in no time!
What is Chinese Food Orange Chicken Made of?
This Chinese orange chicken is made using boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-size pieces, dredged, and then deep fried till golden and crispy. The citrusy flavors from the orange sauce is simply divine. Made with garlic, vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, ginger, red chilli flakes, and orange zest.
What is the Difference Between Orange and Mandarin Chicken?
The difference between orange and Mandarin chicken relies on the ingredients that make up the sauce. Mandarin chicken is plenty flavorful, with more of an orangey citrusy flavor, whilst the orange chicken is less flavorful and saltier compared to mandarin.
Is Orange Chicken Considered Healthy?
Orange chicken isn’t an appropriate meal choice to make, especially when you’re trying to lose weight. High in fat and carbs due to the abundance of oil used during the frying process.