Orange Soda Is The Fizzy, Flavorful Kick Your Chicken Needs

Orange chicken is a beloved American Chinese classic that kids and adults alike can enjoy. With its tangy sweetness, enjoyably sticky texture, and savory depth, there's nothing we don't love about this vibrant dish. While orange chicken is delicious as it's traditionally prepared, there's always room to push the boundaries. Enter orange soda chicken.

Although it may seem unconventional, cooking meat with soda isn't as outlandish as it sounds. Soda can tenderize and caramelize meat, yielding a juicy, melt-in-your-mouth dish that leaves a sweet glazed finish to pork, beef, duck, and in this case, chicken. Soda, especially those with distinct flavors, can infuse chicken with a unique, nostalgic flavor. The sugars and flavors in the soda permeate the meat during cooking, adding dimension to the dish's profile.

Since orange soda can enhance the meat, using it as a marinade or cooking liquid is a convenient alternative to preparing a separate marinade from scratch. When paired with complementary bases, veggies, and garnishes, orange soda chicken is a well-balanced, one-of-a-kind dish that is downright fun to cook.

Assembling orange soda chicken

One foodie on TikTok assembled a beginner-friendly version of this fizzy dish that calls for some common pantry ingredients. To create the orange soda sauce, combine grated ginger and garlic, cane vinegar, sesame oil, cornstarch slurry, and orange soda over a flame and whisk until reduced. Season and coat diced raw chicken in cornstarch, fry until crispy, then toss the fried chicken in the orange soda sauce — and there you have it, orange soda fried chicken!

You can eat the chicken as it is or incorporate it into some of your other favorite recipes. For a simple pairing, pile the chicken atop a base of plain white rice; the neutral flavor of white rice allows the complexities of orange chicken to shine. Garnish with green onions, sesame seeds, or furikake for a crunchier texture. If you want a more flavorful base, fried rice will give the dish a salty, umami kick. 

Not big on rice? Serve the orange chicken over cooked noodles like chow mein or lo mein instead. For something lighter, serve your orange chicken on a bed of mixed greens or spinach. The vegetal freshness can balance out the overall richness of the dish. To impart a more pronounced citrus flavor, add orange slices to your bowl for a savory-sweet meal with a juicy edge. Next time you pass orange soda in the store, grab a case and get to cooking!