Sweet And Sour Chicken Vs Orange Chicken

If you’re ordering in Chinese for dinner, you might be tempted to get orange chicken or sweet and sour chicken. If you’re trying to decide between orange chicken and sweet and sour chicken, you’ll benefit from being aware of the distinctions between the two.

While the components for orange chicken and sweet and sour chicken are similar, the dishes’ resulting flavors couldn’t be more dissimilar. So, what does sweet and sour chicken taste like in comparison? The sweet and sour flavors in the traditional sweet and sour-chicken are more evenly distributed.

Flavors in orange chicken range from sweet and sour to acidic and spicy. In our guide, we dive deeper into the difference between orange chicken and general TSO.

By the end, you’ll know more to pick between a balanced meal or other recipes and how to deal with leftover sweet and sour sauce ingredients, if there are any. (Learn How Many Potatoes In A Bag Of Chips)

Orange chicken

What Is Orange Chicken?

Orange chicken is a dish with Chinese origins that is now particularly popular. It features a sweet and tangy sauce drizzled over breaded chicken portions.

Orange chicken is made using white chicken meat, typically the breast, although it can also be made with dark chicken meat, like the thighs. The chicken is often breaded and cooked into fried chicken pieces. A seasoned batter is used to coat each bite-sized piece of chicken, which is then deep-fried until crispy and golden.

After deep frying, the chicken pieces are added to the unique sauce and cooked for a short while, allowing the chicken to absorb the flavors. Sauce ingredients comprise orange juice, sugar, apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, and additional spices like ginger, garlic, red chili flakes, and extra orange zest are typically combined to make orange chicken sauce.

Citrusy, sweet, and with just a touch of heat to balance it all out, the sauce that results are delicious. The spicy orange chicken can be served over steaming rice with some veggies.

The orange-based sauce of General Tso is more chili-based sauce. Alternatively, is orange chicken sweet? For example, it differs from sesame chicken as orange sauce doesn’t have any sesame seeds, and sesame chicken contains no orange, making a sweet taste possible.

What Is A Sweet And Sour Dish?

A popular Chinese dish that has been around for a long time is sweet and sour chicken, written on the menu. Owing to its rich flavor and balance of flavors, as well as the fact that it is simply wonderful, this dish has become very popular worldwide.

Before being chopped into bite-sized pieces, chicken breast or thigh flesh is deboned and skinned.

After being breaded, these pieces are deep-fried till golden and crispy. However, the dish can also be used with chicken pieces that haven’t been deep-fried or made in a batter. Before being served, the cooked chicken pieces are combined with the sweet and sour sauce and evenly coated in the special sauce. For the chicken to absorb its flavor properly, it is ideal to let it sit in the sauce for a few minutes.

Ketchup, lemon juice, sugar, soy sauce, and apple cider vinegar are the most widely used components. For added flavor, ingredients like salt, garlic, and occasionally ginger are used.

Some sweet and sour recipes also call for pineapple juice or pineapple chunks, sliced bell peppers, and onions to give the dish extra flavor and depth. When served over steamed rice or Jasmine rice with veggies on the side, sweet and sour chicken can be eaten as is, taken out of a takeout container, or transformed into a filling dinner.

As an example, steamed white rice is the most common rice to eat both dishes with rather than fried rice. (Read What Temperature Is Broil)

Differences Of Orange Chicken And Sweet And Sour Sauce

Knowing how sweet and sour chicken and orange chicken differ helps you differentiate these popular dishes.


  • Orange chicken is made with skinless chicken breast or thigh portions that are breaded and deep-fried. Orange juice, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, vinegar, chili flakes, and zest make the sauce.
  • Sweet and sour chicken is made using skinless chicken breast or thigh meat, breaded and deep-fried or not. Sweet and sour chicken sauce typically contains soy sauce, sugar, vinegar or lemon juice, ketchup, salt, garlic, and pineapples or peppers.


Sweet and sour chicken has a balanced flavor from the sweet and sour ingredients. The spicy sweet-and-sour sauce is rare.

  • The sweet and sour sauce requires sugar and vinegar.
  • Orange chicken has a citrus flavor from the orange juice and zest in the sauce and some spice.


Red chili flakes with orange chicken make it spicier than sweet and sour chicken. Your preferred food heat level determines how much you add. Sweet-and-sour chicken can be made without chili flakes. Add chili flakes to your sweet and sour sauce if you enjoy it a bit spicier.

chilli flakes

What does orange chicken taste like?

Orange juice or orange zest makes orange chicken sweet. Sweet-and-sour chicken uses sugar to make its flavor sweet. Dishes on the west of the border often replaced some ingredients with Worcestershire sauce and honey.

How To Make Orange Chicken

You’ll need a few ingredients to make this dish.

Chicken ingredients:

  • 3 whisked eggs
  • 4 boneless and skinless chicken breasts cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • Oil
  • 1/3 cup of flour

Sauce ingredients:

  • 1 cup of orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar (or white vinegar)
  • 1/2 cup sugar (can use brown sugar)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon of cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon of red chili flakes
  • Orange zest

Cook The Orange Sauce

Start with orange sauce.

If you mess up, you won’t waste your chicken by frying it.

Start by putting these ingredients in a medium pot:

  • Sugar
  • Orange juice
  • Soy sauce
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Red chili flakes
  1. For three minutes, allow these ingredients to heat in the pot.
  2. In a small, smaller bowl, you must combine one tablespoon of cornstarch and two teaspoons of water.
  3. A paste will result from this.
  4. Pour the paste you’ve just made into the medium bowl, then stir it up.
  5. Give it five more minutes to cook.
  6. Remove the mixture from the heat once it thickens, then add in the orange zest.

Cook Chicken

Now that your sauce is prepared, it’s time to prepare the chicken and cook it.

  1. You should use a shallow dish or a plate to combine flour and cornstarch.
  2. For flavor, you can also add a little salt.
  3. Then combine it all.
  4. To whisk your eggs, you’ll need another small dish.
  5. Then, place the chicken pieces in the egg and water mixture in the bowl.
  6. Each piece of chicken is dipped in the egg mixture, dusted off any excess, and then rolled in a combination of flour and cornstarch.
  7. The next step is to add cooking oil to the bottom of a heavy-bottomed pot.
  8. At least two to three inches of oil should be at the bottom.
  9. Place the pot over medium-high heat on the stove.
  10. Check the oil’s temperature using a thermometer.
  11. It should be heated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  12. In the pot, you may cook multiple chicken pieces at once.
  13. Each one should go in the bottom of the pot, and you should place it for two or three minutes to cook.
  14. Cook them continuously until they are golden brown.
  15. When it’s finished, place the chicken on a platter with a paper towel covering it.
  16. You must stir-fry the chicken in the orange sauce once everything has finished cooking.

When you’re finished, you can sprinkle any leftover sauce over it and a dish of cooked rice in a medium-sized bowl or baking dish to serve.

chicken dish

How To Make Sweet and Sour Chicken

Grab your ingredients:

  • Chicken breast,
  • salt and pepper,
  • sugar,
  • cornstarch, flour,
  • ketchup,
  • oil, toasted sesame seeds,
  • rice vinegar,
  • oyster sauce,
  • sriracha, egg,
  • pineapple juice, soy sauce, and green onions.


How, then, do you make this delicious classic sweet-and-sour chicken dish?

  1. Briefly marinate the chicken. First, add some flavor to the chicken by tossing it in a large bowl of soy sauce.
  2. Cover and marinate for 5 to 10 minutes as you prepare the other ingredients.
  3. Make the sweet-and-sour chicken sauce.
  4. Afterward, combine the ketchup, rice vinegar, oyster sauce, sugar, cornstarch, pineapple juice, and sriracha.
  5. Chicken is breaded. The chicken should be taken from the soy sauce marinade and dried with paper towels.
  6. Place the chicken pieces in one of the flour bowls and toss to cover the chicken completely.
  7. Each piece of chicken should next be dipped in the beaten egg, followed by the second bowl of the flour mixture.
  8. As you proceed, place the breaded chicken pieces on a platter. Continue until all the chicken pieces have been breaded.
  9. Now, heat your oil over medium heat in a large wok or skillet.
  10. Add the chicken pieces once the oil is sizzling hot.
  11. Cook the chicken for 5 to 7 minutes, tossing and stirring occasionally. The crispy chicken ought to be golden brown.
  12. Pour the sauce over the fried chicken, gently stirring to coat every piece, and lower the heat to medium-low.
  13. A further 1–2 minutes will pass with intermittent stirring until the sauce has thickened.

Tips and Tricks for Sweet and Sour Chicken

Instead of using chicken breasts, you could also use chicken thighs in this recipe. Dark meat on chicken thighs is more fatty and juicy than white meat; the whole dish will be a little richer.

  1. Test the temperature of your oil by adding a few flour specks. The oil is ready to cook the chicken if the flour sizzles.
  2. You can replace the sauce with store-bought sweet and sour sauce if you’d like!
  3. After the chicken has finished frying, reduce the heat to low and add 1 to 1 1/2 cups of sauce to the skillet or wok.
  4. Stirring is necessary to heat the sauce and coat the chicken pieces thoroughly.

It’s straightforward to use vegetables in this dish! Stir fry bell peppers, onions, broccoli, mushrooms, or anything else you like into the dish.

If you make too much, you can freeze sweet and sour, yet store the sauce away from your fried chicken. (Learn How Long Can Uncrustables Stay Out)


Orange chicken and sweet-and-sour chicken differ in a few ways. Most people can distinguish between the two foods based on their tangy flavors and colors. However, they also share some similarities, such as the genesis of the two recipes. The traditional Chinese takeout recipe mentioned above can be used to cook a delightful orange chicken supper.

Sweet And Sour Chicken Vs Orange Chicken

Scroll to Top