Sesame Orange Chicken

Sesame Orange Chicken, A copy-cat Trader Joe’s Chinese dish, has fresh orange juice in the sauce, thickened by the cornstarch dredged on the chicken pieces. Enjoy with freshly made sticky rice.

Sesame Orange Chicken - The Foodie Affair

Sesame Orange Chicken Recipe

Sometimes I feel like I’m in prison!” my son declares after he describes the variety of bland tasting fried and frozen foods the school cafeteria has to offer.

Ok, his perspective might be skewed just a smidgin, but I get where he is coming from.

He’s offspring from a foodie family. His taste buds are probably a tiny bit more refined than the average college student.

Going from mom’s kitchen of homemade “The Bomb” Potpie and Fresh Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcakes, straight to preservative-laden, cafeteria-style cooking takes a few adjustments… umm, just a few.

He continued the conversation explaining that he didn’t have lunch because he lost his student ID card.

AND while getting a new one, the dining hall closed, which by the way, wouldn’t re-open until dinner time.

My kid was starving!!

Sesame Orange Chicken - The Foodie Affair

Chicken Dinner Idea

I felt a stab directly to my heart. A quick jab, and although painful, it only lasted for a second or two because I remembered that I sent plenty of snacks after the holiday break. 

Have a snack until dinner, I suggested.” “Mom, I ate everything except for the last few bagels, which I tossed because they got moldy!

For the record, there are plenty of fast-food places on campus, but my son would hate to spend the cash when he has this campus meal plan going on.

We chit-chatted some more, and then he asked, “So what have you been cooking up?” (Knife inserted, now twist, please!)

Really?! You want me to torture you with delectable details while your aching stomach is growling for fuel?

What mom would add to their kids’ misery?! I threw him a bone, “Oh, not much. I made meatloaf a few days ago.

I couldn’t tell him what he has been missing! I couldn’t tell him that I made one of his favorite Chinese dishes, Sesame Orange Chicken.

Sesame Orange Chicken - The Foodie Affair

He doesn’t read my blog, so it’s our secret, ok?!

Make this meal for yourself. Leftovers are delicious as well. That’s if you happen to have any.

in a blue and white bowl with broccoli.

Sesame Orange Chicken

Homemade orange chicken made with fresh ingredients. This copycat Trader Joe's chicken is a family favorite meal. Perfect dinner idea.
5 from 4 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Asian
Keyword: orange chicken recipe, sesame orange chicken
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 Servings
Calories: 407kcal
Author: Sandra Shaffer


  • Chicken
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts cut in bite size pieces
  • 1 Tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • Sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
  • 3-4 garlic cloves minced
  • 5 scallions sliced (save top for garnish)
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 Tablespoon Chili Garlic Sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 large orange juiced
  • Hot cooked rice


  • Place cornstarch and pepper in a large resealable plastic bag. Add the chicken, a few pieces at a time, and shake to coat.
  • In a medium sized sauce pan, sauté garlic and scallion (white portion) in the oil until fragrant. Watch closely so it doesn’t burn.
  • Add the tomato sauce, water, honey, chili garlic sauce, soy sauce and orange juice. Heat to a boil, then reduce it to simmer for 5-6 minutes.
  • To prepare the chicken; in a wok or large sauté pan, on medium-high, heat the oil (sesame/canola combination). Brown the chicken on both sides (approximately 4-5 minutes). Repeat in batches if needed to prevent overcrowding and even cooking of the chicken. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate.
  • Wipe clean the wok or sauté pan and return the cooked chicken to the pan. Pour the sauce over the chicken and cook until slightly thickened.
  • Serve over white, brown or no rice, and steamed broccoli.


Garnish with green onions and sesame seeds (pan toasted, if you prefer).


Serving: 1g | Calories: 407kcal | Carbohydrates: 60g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 28mg | Sodium: 828mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 26g


Please note that the nutritional information provided are guidelines and may vary based on the brand of products used. For your specific nutritional goals use My Fitness Pal or Verywell Fit recipe calculators. All content within this site is not intended as medical diagnosis or treatment and should not be considered a substitute for professional medical expertise.

Another care package should be arriving at his dorm in a couple of days 🙂

Recipe adapted from Hye Thyme Cafe blog, which is no longer an active site.

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5 from 4 votes (4 ratings without comment)

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  1. This sounds great, but 4 lbs of chicken to serve four people? Isn’t that a bit much? I’m not sure my family eats 4lbs of chicken in a week of dinners! Am I missing something?

  2. I’m so excited to try this recipe…I’m actually looking for a good Trader Joe’s orange chicken copycat that I can make gluten free for a crowd of 60 people!

    Can you be a bit more specific on what kind of “chili garlic sauce” you use? Brand, where you can find it, etc.?

    Thank you in advance! I love your blog…

    1. Hi Charity! Oh, you are going to be busy in the kitchen! So glad you will be giving this a try! It’s tasty with so many fresh ingredients. The Chili Garlic Sauce is available at any grocery store in the Asian section. It’s a small 8 ounce jar titled “Chili Garlic Sauce” Made by Huy Fong Foods, Inc. I just found a photo of it on an Amazon link – Good luck with your gathering and happy cooking 🙂

  3. Oh my gosh, Sandra! You’re killing me! This looks amazing! I make sesame chicken the same way- with cornstarch breading, but mine isn’t orangey! I’ll be trying this one. And no worries. Your kid will be fine. If nothing else he’ll appreciate your cooking even more!