Orange Chicken Meatballs

Check it out—orange chicken without the deep-frying. Yes, it’s a thing—at least it is in my home. It’s my riff on the classic orange chicken recipe by flipping it to a meatball, avoiding the deep frying and taking a few liberties with the ingredients. The flavor is all there, albeit a bit spicier, but you can always leave out the Sambal sauce for a milder version.

Orange Chicken Meatballs | Bakers Royale

Orange chicken is one of my little guys favorite, but I’ve never been a big fan. I don’t like the coating and most times it’s not nearly flavorful enough. Keeping those things in mind, when I worked the recipe for this orange chicken meatball: (1) I skipped the coating, since I was not deep frying. (2) I added minced ginger, Thai basil and Sambal for a pop in flavor. (3) To solve the sometimes dry texture of chicken meatballs I added in some pork for added moisture and tenderness. (4) I love working with jams, because it’s a fast and easy way to add flavor, so I made a sauce to coat the meatballs and for dipping (for those that like their meatballs drenched in sauce).

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My little guy loved these. Yay, to that, because these orange chicken meatballs mean one less trip to Panda Express (I know, ewwww. But he loves it.)

Orange Chicken Meatballs - Bakers Royale copy

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this recipe

Orange Chicken Meatballs

Yield: Serves 4


For the meatballs

  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 lb. ground chicken
  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Sambal Olek sauce (this is a chili paste found in the Asian section of most food stores)
  • 3 leaves Thai basil, finely chopped

For the sauce:

  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup apricot jam
  • 3 tablespoons onion and garlic jam (I used Stonewall Kitchen)
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon Sambal Olek sauce (this is a chili paste found in the Asian section of most food stores)


Preparation: Heat oven to 450 degrees. Lightly cover a baking sheet with non-stick spray. Set aside.

To make meatballs: In a large bowl, stir and combine panko and milk. Let stand 10 minutes.

Add remaining ingredients, quickly and gently mix ingredients until everything comes together (do not over mix). Transfer mixture to refrigerator and chill for at least 25 minutes. 

Lightly cover hands with non-stick spray and shape mixture into 11/2 inch meatballs. Place onto prepared baking sheet and transfer to the oven and bake for 7 minutes. 

In the meantime, to make sauce: Place all ingredients in a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Reserve half of sauce for serving. 

Remove meatballs from oven after the first 7 minutes and toss in sauce. Return meatballs to pan and finish baking for another 7-10 minutes or until cooked through (internal temperature should be 165 degrees F).

Remove meatballs from the oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Serve with remaining sauce.

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  1. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonAmy @ Amy's Healthy Baking says

    When I was a kid, I absolutely LOVED Panda Express’s orange chicken! As an adult…. I try to find healthier alternatives and skip the fast food. 😉 These look right up my alley! And if your boys don’t approve, I’ll eat their servings too!

  2. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonTori// says

    Ooooh! Yeah, okay this has to be on the menu asap! What a great way to switch up the flavors for meatballs!

  3. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonLauren @ Climbing Grier Mountain says

    Mmmmmm….I’m loving this spin on orange chicken! So much flavor!

  4. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonMary Ann | The Beach House Kitchen says

    These sound and look totally amazing! I have one who likes Panda Express too Naomi! I’ll have to make him these and I’m sure he’ll change his tune!

  5. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonCarrie says

    I love everything about this recipe! My orange chicken obsessed 10 year old is going to get these for supper soon!

  6. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonTaylor @ Food Faith Fitness says

    I am a HYOOGE orange chicken fan. And a HYOOOGE meatball fan. So, together? These are LIFE.

  7. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonDenisse | Le Petit Eats says

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen meatballs look this appetizing before! What an awesome twist!

  8. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonMaaz Iqbal says

    Your blog is very informative. I have solved my many problems with the help of your articles. In the way, you write is very amazing, it increases my interest and I read more and more. Thanks.

  9. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonRachael @ Rachael's Foodie Life says

    I’ve never been interested in orange chicken, I love lemon chicken, but these sound incredible and I can’t wait to try them!!

  10. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonBrenda @ a farmgirl's dabbles says

    My family loves anything “orange chicken”. And meatballs! For sure a winner. So pretty, too.

  11. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonTara says

    I made these for dinner tonight, and they were delicious! Nice, fresh orange flavor. I served over white rice with steamed broccoli. I might make 1.5 times the sauce next time.