I made one of the most popular air-fryer chicken recipes, and it was better than takeout

Air fryer orange chicken
I made a very popular orange-chicken recipe in my air fryer. Chelsea Davis for Insider

For my latest air-fryer experiment, I tried the top pick from The Kitchn’s January list of the most popular air-fryer recipes on Pinterest.

The list-topping recipe is for orange chicken, and I made the gluten-free version of it from recipe blog Lite Cravings.

Read on to find out how this dish turned out and how it stacks up against classic orange-chicken takeout.

The ingredients were easy to find

Air fryer orange chicken
I could find everything I needed for this recipe at my local Safeway. Chelsea Davis for Insider

The list of ingredients was surprisingly short and included chicken, egg, cornstarch, orange juice, ginger, oyster and soy sauce, honey, and red-pepper flakes.

I had most of these ingredients already, so shopping was a breeze.

The prep was pretty straightforward

Air fryer orange chicken
I made sure to keep the pieces as uniform as possible to allow for even cooking. Chelsea Davis for Insider

After I chopped my chicken into 1-inch cubes, I whisked an egg, dipped the pieces in it, then dumped a cup of cornstarch in a plastic, sealable bag.

Using tongs, I allowed the extra egg wash to drip off the meat before placing each piece in the gluten-free coating.

Air fryer orange chicken
I added extra cornstarch to the bag to make sure each piece was nicely coated. Chelsea Davis for Insider

Once I shook my plastic bag full of egg-washed meat and cornstarch, I dumped its contents onto a cutting board and liberally coated all the chicken with cooking spray.

It came time to break out my air fryer

Air fryer orange chicken
I divided the chicken between my two baskets. Chelsea Davis for Insider

Ready to bake the meat, I preheated my air fryer to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

After I laid out the chicken in the appliance, I coated the pieces again with a nonstick spray and cooked the batch for 20-25 minutes, shaking the baskets halfway.

In the meantime, I made the sauce, which was super easy to throw together

Air fryer orange chicken
The sauce took about seven minutes on the cooktop to thicken. Chelsea Davis for Insider

For the signature glaze, I dumped the orange juice, oyster sauce, and other ingredients into a pan over the cooktop and stirred it all together until it thickened.

After about seven minutes on a high simmer, it had achieved the ideal consistency.

Once the chicken was done, I tossed it in the sauce

The sauce perfectly thickened up and easily coated all of the nicely air-fried pieces of meat.

And thankfully, the crust stayed on the chicken bites and kept its crunch.

I couldn’t get over how tasty this dish was, so I will absolutely make it again

Air fryer orange chicken
It tasted shockingly similar to the orange chicken from Panda Express. Chelsea Davis for Insider

The glaze was absolutely delicious – tangy, savory, and sweet, it was the perfect combination of orange and soy. And the garlic and oyster sauce in the mix gave it an addictive and fantastic umami flavor.

The chicken was crunchy and had a great texture to it. Although it wasn’t as crispy as deep-fried takeout alternatives, it held up well in the thick, sticky orange sauce.

I hadn’t fried anything with just cornstarch before, but I was pleasantly surprised with the result, as the exterior had a hardy crunch.

Next time, I plan to use more nonstick oil to thoroughly coat the chicken pieces and to fry them a bit less, as I was so focused on getting a golden crust that I may have slightly overcooked the meat.

That said, it’s good to keep in mind that the air fryer won’t usually result in that browned, crunchy exterior a deep fryer would provide, but in this case, the final product was just as satisfying.