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Friday, May 25, 2012

Grammy’s Orange Chicken

‘Spicy Orange Chicken’ is a recipe I’ve had on the blog since the very beginning. I put it on our weekly menus regularly but have never actually written about. Well, it is a recipe that deserves some attention and today is the day!

This recipe has family history. It comes from Nate’s Grammy McCarthy and is one of the very first recipes I received when Nate and I got married. I feel like it’s one of those recipes that gave me confidence as a novice cook and I’m sure it will forever be part of my dinner rotation. Even though I always go to my computer to look up the recipe, I can still picture the recipe card in my head that Grammy gave to me all those years ago. Actually, there are two recipe cards…for some reason she wrote it up for me twice, and I can picture both of them clear as day. (For you sentimental folks out there, don’t worry…I still have the cards!)

Orange chicken is one of Nate’s favorite dinners. And he doesn’t love it just because it’s Grammy’s recipe (although I’m sure that’s part of the reason!). It is just such a wonderful, homey, warm, yummy meal. My kids literally gobble it up…actually, we all do!

A word about the name. Grammy has always called it ‘Spicy Orange Chicken.’ It is definitely not called this because it is spicy…it’s not hot at all. I think “spicy” refers to the fact it has spices in it (basil and nutmeg to be exact). So, to avoid further confusion, I’m changing the name to Grammy’s Orange Chicken. Although, in my mind and heart it will always be ‘Spicy’ because that’s what the recipe cards say. ๐Ÿ™‚

From our home to yours, I give you Grammy’s Orange Chicken. I hope you love it as much as we do!

Grammy's Orange Chicken
This recipe is a classic from Nate's Mary "Grammy" McCarthy, a family favorite!
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • ½ cup flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons vinegar
  • 1½ cups orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger (ginger is not in Grammyโ€™s original recipe, but we like the added flavor)
  • 1 can mandarin oranges
  1. Combine flour, salt and pepper in bag. Shake chicken pieces in flour until coated. Brown in butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Combine sauce ingredients and add to skillet. Cover and simmer 15-20 minutes or until tender and cooked through. (Jane note: I actually hardly ever cover it at this point, and if I do cover it I keep the lid tipped so some of the moisture can evaporate out. The flour on the chicken also helps the sauce to thicken.) Add drained mandarin oranges and cook 5 more minutes, being careful not to smoosh up the oranges too much. (Grammy called the mandarin oranges a โ€œsophisticated touch.โ€ย)
  3. Serve with rice.
  4. Freezes well if you want to make it ahead of time.


  1. 1
    Susan in SC

    That looks really yummy plus I have everything on hand to make this tonight!!! I think I will just add some french green beans on the side. Thanks.

    • Jane Maynard

      green beans is exactly what grammy would serve alongside orange chicken, I think you’re channeling her! ๐Ÿ™‚

      also, that is one of the things I love about this dish…I almost always have all the ingredients on hand. so nice! hope you enjoy it!

  2. 2

    I have been looking at this recipe for a while now on your blog and have been waiting to try it! I think it is going to have to go on my menu for next week! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Oh thank you for sharing this. It sounds right up my alley! ๐Ÿ˜€

  4. this sounds so wonderful! we love fruity chicken recipes. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. 5

    I just made this recipe of yours again the other night – I found it in your recipe list a while back and it’s become part of the regular rotation – a family favorite. Nice to see you give it a write up! We make it with cinnamon instead of nutmeg because that’s what I normally have in the cabinet. Love it!

  6. 6

    This sounds delicious! I’ll be trying this soon:) It’s making me hungry.

  7. 7
    Kim Maynard

    I haven’t made that recipe in years! I will have to look up the recipe card (also handwritten) and make it real soon. It is by far one of my favorites including Grammy McCarthy’s Cranberry Bread. Do you have that recipe yet? I know Steven would love it!

  8. 8
    Happy =)

    I keep saying I am going to try this (okay for the last month..). But, some reason or another I haven’t. I am still off this week (hubby is doing dinner) so maybe I’ll add it to next weeks menu. Thank you for sharing it!

  9. 9
    Stephanie P.

    This sounds great! I think I’d add a some garlic with that ginger, a red bell pepper, and some red pepper flakes because I love sweet heat! (I make a shrimp version of this using red peppers, red onion, and pineapple that is delish.)

    I’m cracking up at the “sophisticated touch” of mandarin oranges, that’s so adorable! I can barely decipher most of my mom’s family recipes–luckily my oldest sister did her best to put a family recipe book together while I was in college, you know that contained crazy things like exact ingredient amounts and proper instructions!? I crack up reading the cards where “Oleo” was called for butter or margarine.

    Thanks for the recipe!

  10. 10

    I’ve made this a few times. It is yummy!

  11. 11

    we just went out for dinner with some friends before a baseball game- it was a new place that I got a groupon for- anyway, my hubby loves HOT stuff- and we both have a pretty high tolerance for spice… so we ordered some wings to share with our friends- cola rum jerk and mango habenaro… both you would anticipate to have some sweetness and spice- they had neither- then my hubby ordered the jambalaya and asked the waitress if it was hot? she said, “oh yeah”- so he took her word for it (this is before he tried the wings)- it was good but there was no heat…. Being that we were in the St Paul, MN Como Park neighborhood (where my lovely great grandparents settled after when they moved here from Sweden along with all of their Swedish friends…) my hubby deemed- “MUST BE SWEDISH SPICY”… to describe their idea of what is spicy…

    Nate’s grammy wouldn’t happen to be Scandinavian would she?

    • Jane Maynard

      That story is so funny!

      Not Swedish….but she is Irish! Your theory could still stand! ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. 12

    Hi Jane! Four months ago, a google search for Orange Chicken led me to your beautiful site. Since then, I’ve become an avid visitor. I finally tried this recipe last night, and my family love, love, LOVED it! Thanks so much for sharing this superb recipe and for the fabulous job you do on this blog.

  13. 13

    We tried this last night and it was delicious! My blog is very much a work in progress but I wanted you to know I linked to your blog on my post today. Thank you for sharing such a great recipe!

  14. 14
    laura in san diego

    This sounds just yummy for dinner tonight! And welcome to ‘the neighborhood.’!

    • Jane Maynard

      I hope you like it – such a nice, home-cooked meal.

      and thanks – we can’t wait to settle in down there!

  15. I made this dish and it was really good

  16. 16

    I just made this recipe. It was delicious. I was nervous, but things turned out great. I am so happy to have a different chicken recipe. Thank you.

  17. 17
    Kristin Janzen

    Still just love this recipe – making it tonight for friends and family ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. 18

    Just found your site last week, and this was the first recipe of yours that I have made. Huge hit with the family, and it will definitely become a regular for us. Thank you!

  19. 19

    What is the serving size?

    • that’s a good question! ๐Ÿ˜‰ When I follow this recipe, we can feed our family with 2 adults and 3 kids and have leftovers for about 2 people. Hope that’s helpful!

  20. I made this tonight and my 3 and 6 yr old boys loved it. It was a bit sweet for me so I added some sambal oelek and it was great. Thanks for the recipe. I served it on quinoa instead of rice and cooked some green beans for the side but ended up mixing them right in. Delish!

    Next time, I’d probably add 1.5 to 2 tsp each of minced garlic and ginger and try cutting the sugar in half. If I thought my kids would go for it, I’d add a bird chili into it for a bit of heat but for now, I’ll just stick with the sambal oelek on the side.

    For the person asking about serving size, I used 3 medium sized breasts (instead of 2). For my family of 4 (average eaters with 2 adults, 3 yr old and 6 yr old), we have enough for one adult and one child to have leftovers. But I’d say that’s primarily because we had a lot of quinoa and beans.

  21. 21

    itโ€™s super tasty. in my family everyone likes it!

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