This Mexican Chicken with Orange Sauce is packed with flavor and kissed by fresh orange juice for a very satisfying and fun dinner adventure. Cumin, oregano, onions, and green chiles really wake up your taste buds and leave you wanting more. Be sure to serve this with something (like rice) that will help you get every drop of the delicious orange sauce!
When I was in the fourth grade, my teacher decided that we would have a potluck lunch to help us get more involved in learning Spanish. Some children made decorations, some brought music, and I was asked to bring an entrée dish for everyone to share.
While my mother was a wonderful woman, cooking wasn’t her forte, and she had never made any Mexican food. So we grabbed a cookbook at the library and found Arroz y Pollo con Jugo de Naranja (Rice and Chicken with Orange Juice).
She and I stood side by side in the kitchen, reading the recipe, gathering the ingredients, and studying the picture. Step by step we made the dish and when it came out of the oven it smelled wonderful. We each took a bite and stared at one another, stunned – it was absolutely amazing! I packed it up and took it to class, so thrilled with what we had created.
It was a hit with my classmates and I was incredibly proud. That lit the spark begun by my grandmother, and I knew then that I loved cooking and always would. I’ve been lucky to turn it into a career here at The Heritage Cook thanks to all of you!
The memory of that dish lingers in my mind and today’s recipe is reminiscent of it, helping me recreate a moment in time.
The recipe calls for navel oranges which have no seeds and are normally quite juicy. Mine were on the dry side so I supplemented with mandarin oranges which were delicious. They have tiny seeds so I poured the orange juice through a strainer to capture the solids for a smoother sauce.
I hope you try this recipe for Mexican Chicken with Orange Sauce and make it for your friends and family soon. It works all year long so you don’t have to save it for when an ingredient is in season! The Artist and I loved it and I hope you do too.
Did you enjoy this recipe? Let me know in the comments and leave a star rating, I love hearing from you!
Ingredients needed for Mexican Chicken with Orange Sauce:
- Chicken pieces, oil, onion, green chiles or jalapeno, chicken broth
- Orange juice, lemon juice, oregano, bay leaves, navel oranges
- Cornstarch, sliced almonds, cilantro
Can I use a different cut of chicken? Yes, you can. I like thighs because they are more forgiving but you can use any cut you like. If you use bone-in chicken, it will take longer to cook fully; if you use boneless, it will take less time. Use an instant-read thermometer and be sure the chicken gets to at least 165°F without touching a bone!
How to make Mexican Chicken with Orange Sauce:
- Brown the seasoned chicken pieces in oil in a Dutch oven or large, ovenproof skillet. When browned, transfer to a plate and set aside.
- Add the onions and chiles to the pan drippings along with a second tablespoon of oil and sauté about 15 minutes, stirring often until softened and lightly caramelized. Add the oregano and bay leaves and cook another 3 minutes, stir in the broth, orange juice, and lemon juice, and bring to a boil.
- Place the chicken back in the pan, nestling it in the sauce and spooning some sauce over the top. Cover the pan with a lid or aluminum foil and bake 20 minutes at 350°F. Remove the lid or covering and continue cooking another 20 to 25 minutes, occasionally basting with the sauce, until an instant read thermometer registers at least 165°F without touching a bone.
- Remove the chicken from the pan and tent with foil to keep warm. Whisking constantly, pour the cornstarch/water mixture into the pan. Bring to a boil and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thickened.
- Transfer the chicken to serving plates, placing the pieces on a bed of rice if desired and topping with some of the sauce. Set a slice of orange on top of each piece of chicken, sprinkle with the almonds and cilantro or parsley if using. Serve immediately.
It is safest and most consistent to use an instant read thermometer to judge when the chicken is done. You definitely want to have it in the correct temperature range to be safe.
If you want to cook the rice along with the chicken, this dish becomes a form of arroz con pollo. Increase the liquid to be sure you have enough to cook both the rice and the chicken.
Recommended Tools (affiliate links; no extra cost to you):
- Chef’s knife
- Cutting board
- Citrus reamer
- Mixing bowls
- Dutch oven or large skillet
- Instant read thermometer
All recommended ingredients are gluten-free as of the writing of this article. Always check to be sure the products haven’t changed and are still safe to consume.
- 3 lb (1361g) boneless chicken breasts or thighs
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp vegetable or olive oil, divided
- 1 small onion, chopped finely
- 1/2 to 1 (4 oz; 113g) can mild diced green chiles (preferably Hatch brand) or 1 jalapeno, finely chopped, or to taste
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 to 1 tsp ground cumin
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup (237ml)* chicken broth, gluten free if needed
- 1-1/2 cups (355ml)* orange juice, preferably freshly squeezed
- 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 2 tbsp cool water**
- 1 or 2 navel oranges or mandarin oranges, sliced
- Cooked rice, for serving
- Sliced almonds, for garnish
- Chopped cilantro or parsley, for garnish
- Sprinkle chicken pieces on both sides with salt and pepper.
- Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large, deep skillet. Brown the chicken pieces on both sides without crowding – you need room between them to cook evenly. Cook in batches if your pan won’t hold all the chicken at once. Remove the browned chicken pieces and set aside on a platter. The chicken will not be cooked all the way through at this point.
- Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions and chiles to the pan along with the remaining tablespoon of oil and sauté about 3 to 5 minutes stirring often and scraping the bottom of the pan, until the onions have softened. Add the oregano, cumin, and bay leaves and cook another 3 minutes, stirring often. Stir in the broth, orange juice, and lemon juice, and bring to a boil. Scrape the bottom of the pan to be sure there is nothing sticking there. Sprinkle with some black pepper if desired.
- Place the chicken back in the pan along with any accumulated juices, nestling them into the sauce. Reduce the heat and simmer 5 to 8 minutes. Flip chicken to the second side and continue cooking for another for 3 to 5 minutes, occasionally basting with the sauce, until the chicken is cooked through and registers at least 165°F in the thickest part. Cook time will vary depending on the size of your pieces of chicken – thighs will cook faster than thicker breasts.
- Remove the chicken from the pan, place on a clean platter, tent with foil, and keep warm. With the pan set to medium heat and whisking constantly, pour the cornstarch/water mixture into the pan. Bring to a boil and cook, whisking constantly until the sauce is thickened. It should happen quickly. Whisk all the sauce to be sure it is evenly thickened. Remove the pan from the heat. Remove and discard the bay leaves.
- Place the chicken on a bed of cooked rice and top with some of the orange sauce. Set an orange slice on each piece and sprinkle with the almonds and cilantro (if using). Serve immediately.
Recipe found at www.theheritagecook.com
*If you want a stronger orange flavor in the sauce, you can increase the orange juice a bit and decrease the chicken stock by the same amount. But definitely use some chicken broth as it will mellow the sauce and balance the flavors.
**If you want a thinner sauce you can eliminate the cornstarch slurry entirely, or use less of it. I liked the body the slurry gave the sauce and helped it cling to the chicken better.
All recommended ingredients are gluten-free as of the writing of this article. Always check to be sure the products haven’t changed and are still safe to consume. Be sure to watch out for the chiles and stock you are using – gluten can hide in both of them.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 288Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 60mgSodium: 220mgCarbohydrates: 25gFiber: 3gSugar: 12gProtein: 22g
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is calculated by online tools and is merely an estimate.
If you enjoyed this recipe, be sure to follow me on social media so you never miss a post:
Create a New Tradition Today!