One of my favorite ways to use up veggies from my garden (or my last grocery haul) is by making stir fry. Vegetables, meat, sauce, dumped over rice, and dinner is done. Bonus if the sauce is the perfect mix of salty, sweet, tangy, and spicy…just like the sauce for my Sticky Orange Marmalade Chicken Stir Fry.
I’m sure I’m not the only person who loves Chinese takeout but doesn’t love the typical bloated, overstuffed feeling after eating it. Not to mention the expense. This recipe keeps everything I love about takeout – such as the crispy chicken and zingy sauce – but with extra veggies and without the bad stuff.
You can use any orange marmalade in this recipe. But why not try my Blackberry Blood Orange Marmalade instead? I used it to create this recipe, and it definitely added some complexity and a beautiful deep color to the stir-fry sauce. And it’s a great way to use some of your own homegrown blood oranges (or take advantage of the ones in season at the grocery store!).
Marmalade is typically not only very sweet but also a little bitter because of the orange peel. It pairs perfectly with the savory flavors of soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, and veggies. If you don’t have marmalade, I’ve included instructions to substitute it with orange juice, zest, and sugar in the “Tips” section of the recipe below.
One more option…although I love the crispy pan-fried chicken pieces coated in sauce, I also like the simplicity of just throwing the chicken in the oven. I’ve included a baked variation in the “Tips” section of the recipe, using very similar ingredients.
So, on to the recipe. First, mix up your sauce ingredients. The sauce has some pleasant texture to it, depending on how chunky your marmalade is. I thinned it out with a tablespoon or two of water so it wouldn’t burn when it hit the pan, but the sauce will thicken up quickly.
Next, put the chicken in a bowl, and dump in the corn starch, flour, garlic powder and salt. Mix it together until the chicken is coated in the dry ingredients. Then add 3/4 cup of water and stir until it looks like a batter (with chicken in it).
Place the chicken pieces in a preheated pot or saucepan with about 1/2 inch of vegetable oil in it. Be sure to spread the chicken well in the pan. You want each piece to get perfectly crispy and golden. I cooked the chicken in three batches to be sure the oil stayed nice and hot. As long as the temperature stays hot enough (aim for between 325° and 375°F), the chicken won’t be greasy at all.
Once the chicken is deep golden brown and cooked through (about 5-8 minutes, depending on the size of your chicken pieces), take them out of the oil. Let the chicken drain on a sheet pan or plate lined with paper towels.
Now you’re ready to begin the stir fry. Heat a big sauté pan or wok over medium-high heat. Add about a tablespoon of the fry oil that you used for the chicken. Add in the sliced peppers and snow peas, and fry for 2 or 3 minutes until they are slightly soft and a little charred around the edges.
Then add the sauce and chicken into the pan. Toss everything around until the sauce thickens a little and coats all of the vegetables and meat. Turn off the heat so the sauce doesn’t burn.
I like to serve this over jasmine or basmati rice. You can sprinkle some chopped green onions or sesame seeds on top…or just dig in! It’s addictive and satisfying, and trust me – using homemade marmalade makes all the difference.
One last tip – take the time to make double the amount of pan-fried chicken pieces, then freeze half of them in a freezer-safe bag or container. When you’re ready to make the next back of Sticky Orange Marmalade Chicken, pull the already fried chicken pieces out of the freezer. Defrost them in the oven at 300°F for about 10 or 15 minutes before tossing in the stir fry. Dinner’s halfway done!
Sticky Orange Marmalade Chicken Stir Fry
- Large sauté pan or wok
- Saucepan or pot for pan frying
- ¼ c. soy sauce
- ½ c. orange marmalade
- 1 TBSP rice vinegar
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes or to taste
- 1 TBSP water
- 1.5 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into 1-inch pieces
- ½ cup cornstarch
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- ¾ cup cold water
- vegetable oil for frying
- 2 bell peppers 1 red and 1 yellow, sliced
- 2 cups snow peas sliced
- cooked jasmine rice for serving
- chopped green onions and sesame seeds (optional)
- Pour vegetable oil into a wide saucepan or pot until it is about half an inch deep. Preheat the oil to 375°F (190°C).
- Prepare the sauce: In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine the sauce ingredients (soy sauce, marmalade, rice vinegar, minced garlic, sesame oil, red pepper flakes, and 1 TBSP water). Set aside.
- Prepare the chicken: Place the chicken in another bowl. Add the cornstarch, flour, salt, and garlic powder, and stir to coat the chicken. Add ¾ cup of water and combine until it has a batter-like consistency.
- Place the batter-coated chicken pieces into the hot oil, separating the pieces. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan. You may have to cook the chicken in two or three batches, depending on the size of the pan. Fry the chicken, turning once, until it is deep golden brown and cooked through, about 5-8 minutes. Remove the chicken from the oil and let drain on a paper towel lined sheet pan.
- Make the stir fry: In a large sauté pan or wok, heat 1 TBSP vegetable oil (you can use some of the leftover frying oil) over medium-high heat. Add the bell peppers and snow peas, and stir fry until the veggies are slightly softened and blistered around the edges, about 3 minutes. Add in the sauce and the cooked chicken; stir until the meat and veggies are coated. Once the sauce has thickened slightly, turn off the heat. Serve over rice. Sprinkle with chopped green onions or sesame seeds, if desired.
- You can use chicken breasts instead of chicken thighs. Prepare the same way, although breast pieces will cook slightly quicker (4-6 minutes).
- If you don’t want to use marmalade, you can substitute 1/2 cup of orange juice (preferably freshly squeezed), the zest of one orange, and 1/4 cup of brown sugar. The resulting sauce may not be quite as sticky, but it will be just as delicious!
- To make an oven-baked version: Combine the cornstarch, flour, garlic powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Beat 1 egg with a little water in a separate bowl. Add the chicken pieces to the egg and toss to coat. Take the egg-coated chicken pieces one at a time and coat them thoroughly in the flour mixture. Spread the coated chicken in a single layer on a foil- or parchment-lined sheet pan that’s coated in a thin layer of vegetable oil (use a pastry brush to spread about a tablespoon of oil on the parchment or foil). Cook the chicken in a preheated 400°F (205°C) oven for 15 minutes, flip the pieces over, then cook for another 10-15 minutes until golden brown and crisp. Then continue with step 5 above.
- To freeze the chicken for later use: Spread the cooked chicken in a single layer on a baking dish, then place it in the freezer for at least 2 hours. Put the frozen chicken in a freezer-safe bag or container. When ready to use, spread the frozen chicken pieces on a baking dish and put it into a cold oven. With the chicken in the oven, heat the oven to 300°F to defrost the meat and crisp it up, about 10-15 minutes. After combining the sauce ingredients, continue with step 5 above.