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Mandarin Chicken Shopping Tips
Staples of Asian cuisine such as ginger, daikon, rice vinegar, and spicy chile sauces like Sriracha add bright, fresh flavors without lots of fuss.
Mandarin Chicken Cooking Tips
Sriracha has good heat but also has flavor - its mild sweetness comes from sun-ripened chile peppers as well as sugar and garlic.
The Best Way To Make Trader Joe's Mandarin Orange Chicken Might Surprise You
If you already enjoy Trader Joe's Mandarin Orange Chicken, good news — you can make it even better. It turns out that most of us have been preparing this product wrong the whole time. By just following the directions on the package, we've been seriously missing out. To get the best possible TJ's Mandarin Orange Chicken experience, don't bake it in the oven, but instead cook it in your air fryer — it'll be done faster and taste better.
According to The Kitchn, "I thought this cooking method would make the chicken marginally better (I mean, it's pretty great already) but I was surprised by how much better it was — and how much faster. Air-fried Trader's Joe's Orange Chicken doesn't just taste better than the oven-baked version — it also tastes better than the deep fried takeout version of this saucy chicken dish." Better-than-takeout chicken ready to go from freezer to plate in just twenty minutes (ten minutes of preheating, ten minutes of cooking)? Sign us up!
Orange Chicken Sandwich
Kiersten Hickman/Eat This, Not That!
If a fried chicken sandwich is served with pickles and a little bit of slaw, why wouldn't it also work with some orange chicken? Using the Trader Joe's orange chicken gives this classic dish a sweeter, tangier taste that is undeniably decadent.
A Note on Dried Ingredients
My last tip before we get to the good stuff is that this recipe requires getting your hands on some specialty Chinese dried ingredients.
These dried ingredients are great to have on hand for many of our other recipes including our hot and sour soup and Steamed Chicken with Mushrooms and Lily Flowers.
Here are photos of what wood ear mushrooms look like dried and later reconstituted:
And here’s what all three ingredients look like after reconstituting:
There, you’ll also find further details on plenty of other Chinese ingredients you may be scratching your heads over!
This retro Chinese restaurant favorite won’t disappoint! Give it a try and let us know what you think in the comments below.
Step by step recipe directions:
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350º F. Chop up the fresh herbs and add them to a small bowl. Add the melted butter, minced garlic, salt, and pepper and mix well. This is the mixture you will coat your chicken in.
Step 2: Take the raw chicken and make small cuts under the breast skin and legs. Take some of the herbed butter and rub all under the skin. This will allow the flavors to cook deeply into the meat. Rub the extra on the outside of the chicken.
Step 3: Next, slice a mandarin orange or tangerine. Add these orange slices under the skin as well. (Note you can use any types of oranges but I love the flavor of mandarin in this recipe.)
Step 4: Place the chicken in a large 12-inch cast iron pan and bake. Serve hot when the internal temperature of the chicken is 165º F.
Try it with this homemade gluten free gravy, or make a gravy from your pan drippings!!
Other Recipes You Might Like
This is a super quick, healthy and simple recipe to make and takes only 5 ingredients: chicken, ginger, soy sauce, lemon juice and sugar.
First, you pan-seared the chicken (breast or thighs), then you make the sauce. Slice the chicken into pieces and drizzle a load of the citrusy sauce on the chicken and serve with rice.
In the United States, another type of Mandarin Chicken served at Chinese restaurants is practically Orange Chicken.
I know it&rsquos confusing, but both are well loved by many people, including the pickiest eaters and kids. Try out both my recipes and see what you like. Happy eating!
Slow Cooker Mandarin Chicken – Low Carb & Gluten Free
So I know that some of you have been busting out low carb slow cooker recipes all summer &ndash I mean Carolyn over at All Day I Dream About Food made CHOCOLATE CAKE in the slow cooker a few weeks ago! Color me impressed!
For me though, busting out the slow cooker is like saying goodbye to Summer. I have a mental block against it, but I&rsquom trying to overcome my aversion. With kids heading back to school in the next couple of weeks, the slow cooker is making a comeback in my kitchen &ndash and earlier in the season than usual.
You just can&rsquot beat the convenience of throwing your ingredients into a slow cooker and coming home to dinner being ready hours later. So I&rsquom getting on board, and working on some keto friendly slow cooker recipes to make the back to school transition/chaos a little easier to deal with.
This low carb Slow Cooker Mandarin Chicken is one of my new faves. A little sweet, a little spicy, and with a decidedly Asian flair, I could eat this all week long (and I will!) It would be perfect served over my low carb coconut cauliflower rice!
I usually hate the extra step of browning my meat first, and will avoid it if possible &ndash I don&rsquot recommend skipping it for this recipe though, because the browning of the meat adds a lot of flavor. It also crisps up the skin which keeps it from being flabby and unappetizing after 6 hours in the slow cooker. The couple of minutes it will take you to brown this Slow Cooker Mandarin Chicken is definitely time well spent!
While your chicken is browning, you can throw the sauce ingredients into a bowl. Make sure you get no sugar added mandarin oranges in water. They are plenty sweet and low enough in carbs to work in this dish. If you don&rsquot have access to fresh red chili peppers, you can use dried red pepper flakes instead.
Then just nestle your chicken thighs in the slow cooker and pour the sauce over it. Cook on low for 6 hours (or high for 4 if you&rsquore short on time) and you&rsquore good to go.
Before serving the Slow Cooker Mandarin Chicken, I recommend removing the thighs from the sauce first. Then transfer the remaining liquid to a magic bullet or blender and add about 1/2 tsp of xanthan gum. Blend for about 20 seconds and you&rsquoll have a beautiful sauce to serve with your chicken and cauliflower rice (if using.) That step is optional, but I find that when you blend and thicken it, the sauce sticks to the chicken better and feels more authenticly Asian.
- In a medium saucepan, combine all the ingredients.
- Bring to a bare simmer, cover, and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, until the chicken is very tender and cooked all the way through.
- Remove the chicken from the pot and bring the mixture to a vigorous boil.
- Continue to boil for about 10 minutes, until the cooking liquid reduces by half and is thick enough to cling easily to the back of a spoon.
- Return the chicken to the pot and heat through.
- Discard the bay leaves. Serve the chicken with the rice and the reduced sauce.
Eat This Tip
Chicken adobo is leftover gold, not just because it's pretty awesome cold straight from the refrigerator, but because it can be converted into an amazing array of dishes that will make you forget you're eating last night's dinner. Make an Asian-style wrap by stuffing tortillas or Bibb lettuce leaves with a few chunks of chicken adobo, along with steamed brown rice, chopped scallions, roasted vegetables, and a squirt of sriracha. Or scatter the chicken on a salad of greens, mandarin oranges, almonds, and red bell pepper strips dressed with soy sauce, peanut oil, and lime juice.
This recipe (and hundreds more!) came from one of our Cook This, Not That! books. For more easy cooking ideas, you can also buy the book!
Trader Joe's Orange Chicken Fried Rice
- Calories 990
- Fat 34.6 g (53.3%)
- Saturated 8.5 g (42.6%)
- Carbs 123.2 g (41.1%)
- Fiber 9.4 g (37.4%)
- Protein 43.4 g (86.8%)
- Sodium 168.2 mg (7.0%)
Trader Joe's frozen Mandarin Orange Chicken
Trader Joe's frozen Stir-Fry Vegetables
from a 30-ounce box of Trader Joe's frozen Organic Brown Rice
Defrost and warm the sauce from the bag of Mandarin orange chicken according to package instructions.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the Mandarin chicken, vegetables, and brown rice. Stir-fry until everything is heated through and lightly crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and toss with the sauce.
Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Senior Contributing Food Editor
Sheela is the Senior Contributing Food Editor at Kitchn and the author of Mediterranean Every Day: Simple, Inspired Recipes for Feel-Good Food. She received her master's degree from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Italy and is also a Registered Dietitian.
Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.
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Leave a comment & rating Cancel reply
Delicious!! I used less brown sugar so it wouldn’t be so sweet, and it was perfect! This recipe is definitely a keeper!
Glad you were able to customize it more to your liking.
It was ok. Tasted nothing like the mall court Chinese bourbon chicken at all. Definitely didn’t hit the craving spot but was edible.
My family loves this recipe. I use extra apple juice in place of the bourbon. I’m going to try adding in broccoli and pineapple chunks this time around. Hope it don’t ruin it.
This was way too sweet. The sweetness buried the other flavors. Could not taste the bourbon or red pepper. I might try it again cutting back the brown sugar to about a 1/4 cup. But will probably try another recipe.
This was way too sweet. The sweetness buried the other flavors. I might try it again cutting back the brown sugar to about a 1/4 cup. But will probably try another recipe.
This recipe is absolutely amazing. I added a little more chili flake and made it spicier. So good. I think I will try the spice over pulled pork next time.
Absolutely delicious! A marinated the chicken overnight in the refrigerator with the sauce first. Then after draining the marinade from the chicken I followed the rest of the recipe step by step. I pan fried it and used dark brown sugar instead.
Made this tonight with a few adjustments to make it easier. Mixed the sauce ingredients first and used 1/2 tsp powered garlic instead of fresh – was feeling super lazy – (just mixed into the sauce) and 1/4 c of brown sugar (not packed). I let this sit while I partially cooked the chicken. Once the sauce was reduced and cornstarch slurry added – I added the chicken back in to finish cooking and get the sauce to the right consistency. I can’t imagine a full cup of sugar in this – would end up so sweet once it is reduced. In any case you can always add sugar at the end if you need to sweeten it up! But overall a great recipe.
This is my second time making this dish for family and it’s always not enough. So this time I am doubling the recipe so hopefully it will be enough. This is 1 of our favorite dishes. Thank you. Oh I also make shrimp fried rice to go with it.
Thanks for coming back to let me know how much you guys enjoy it, Jennifer.
Great recipe but not exactly like the mall bourbon chicken. I made the sauce first and put the raw chicken breasts in the instant pot, poured half the sauce and cooked for 20 minutes. Let the slow release for 5 minutes and then quick release. Took the chicken out and shredded it. I then sauteed the sauce that was left in instant pot adding a mixture of water and cornstarch to thicken the sauce and cooked for 5 minutes. Then I added back in the chicken and served with brown rice and broccoli. It’s definitely a new fave and using the instant pot made it easy
I can’t wait to try this! I want to share a good tip regarding soy sauce. I love Chinese/Asian food but the sodium makes me swell like a balloon! Substitute COCONUT AMINOS. It tastes exactly like soy sauce and has NO coconut flavor at all. Google it. I buy mine at Trader Joes.
Made this for Christmas eve dinner for the family. I made a huge batch, 5 large chicken breasts, so it took a while to make it, but with a little prep before dinner, it was no problem. It was delicious and made a nice change from turkey or salmon, which is what we usually fix for a crowd. This recipe is a keeper for sure.
Came out looking great but It was too sweet.
Lot of good in this recipe. Wife and I made it tonight. we so miss the Mall’s Food Court Bourbon Chicken. Well, we made this recipe. And, it’s not exactly like the food court, because the chicken is fried on a skillet. Which, we found, is not the same texture or feel or taste of the Food Court’s. However, the sauce is WORLD CLASS.
We will not make the chicken this way again (as the recipe says), but we will use this sauce on a different chicken preparation technique. Now, DtD says it is easy, so this is probably what most people can do in a limited amount of time. But, we’re willing to figure it out, where we never have to go out and spend loads of money to eat at places that don’t give ya much. So, we plan to try Sabrina’s sauce with this chicken approach …
I think Copy-KAT might have the approach that makes the chicken closer to the Mall’s look, taste, and texture. And, funny, this is first time that we ever used Bourbon, and DAMNED — does it add incredible flavor. Thanks to Sabrina for teaching us the difference in a sauce before & after Bourbon. Man, is it a huge change.
I’ll update this, if I can remember and if we get it conquered in this century. Also, if anyone has ideas, please let me know too. Thanks.
I’m about to make this dish. Can you use white vinegar instead of apple cider vinegar? I’m already subbing apple juice for the bourbon. Thank you.