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Vegan Orange Chicken (With Soy Curls)

4.67 from 3 votes

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This Vegan Orange Chicken recipe tastes just like you’d expect orange chicken to taste – minus the chicken! The secret ingredient is soy curls. One bite and it will have you believing that there is a vegan Panda Express Orange Chicken!
vegan orange chicken in a bowl with text overlayI remember the first time I walked into a Panda Express as a  new vegan. It just seemed logical to me that a fast-food Chinese restaurant would have vegan options. Nope! There wasn’t a single vegan item on the menu. Not even the rice…or the veggies. (I understand that some Pandas now have some vegan options. So yay!)  But what I really missed was the familiar taste of orange chicken – without the chicken of course…

This Vegan Orange Chicken dish is the real deal! It tastes just like you would expect orange chicken to taste! Serve it over rice, Asian noodles, or try my Easy Vegan Fried Rice for an authentic Chinese take-out experience.vegan orange chicken in a bowl

It’s easy enough to come up with orange sauce. A little soy sauce…a little vinegar…some sweetener…orange juice… Heck, you can probably buy a bottle of prepared orange sauce in the store! What I couldn’t wrap my head around was how to replace the chicken – and do it in a minimally processed way.

Then I discovered Butler’s Soy Curls. Soy curls are a bit of a vegan miracle. They are basically the whole soybean – dehydrated and then expanded…or something! Butlers isn’t exactly saying how they make their soy curls other than that they come from the whole bean.

You can buy soy curls directly from Butler or by using the (affiliate) link on Amazon.

For other great recipes using soy curls try my BBQ Crunch Wrap with Soy Curls or my Hawaiin BBQ Soy Curls over Rice. Both are sure to please!

To make this recipe for Vegan Orange Chicken you will need:

  • For the soy curls:
    • (affiliate link) Butler Soy Curls
    • vegetable broth along with some added poultry seasoning
    • Some “baking” items such as: flour, salt, onion and garlic powder, chili powder, corn starch, baking soda – and of course, some salt and pepper.
    • Aquafaba – (the liquid drained from a can of beans)
  • For the sauce:
    • orange juice concentrate (not orange juice)
    • low sodium soy sauce
    • rice vinegar
    • agave
    • seasonings such as salt, pepper, garlic powder, ground ginger powder, red pepper flakes
    • cornstarch to thickenvegan orange chicken in a bowl with green napkin and fork

The FAQs for making the Vegan Orange Chicken recipe with soy curls:

Please read through the FAQs section for tips and tricks so that your vegan orange chicken will turn out as fabulous as mine!

How do we prepare and cook soy curls?

  • How long are we supposed to soak the soy curls? The instructions call for 15 minutes but the package says 10 minutes.
    • Soak the soy curls for 15 minutes in the vegetable broth along with some poultry seasoning. The package directions call for a 10-minute rehydration soak. I’ve had better luck for the best texture and flavor with a longer soak.
soy curls soaking in vegetable broth
Soak the soy curls for about 15 minutes in a vegetable broth along with poultry seasoning. Drain before coating and cooking.

What is Aquafaba and why do we use it?

    • Aquafaba is basically “bean juice”. It’s the liquid that comes in a can of beans. Many vegan bakers use it as an egg replacement in frostings, meringues, or as an egg replacer. In this recipe, we use aquafaba for the liquid to dip the soy curls into before we roll them in the flour mixture. I prefer using the liquid from garbanzo beans (chickpeas) or white beans.
    • Don’t throw those beans out! You can always use them to make hummus or one of my chickpea salad sandwiches like Egg Salad Sandwich with chickpeas or my Curried Chickpea Salad Both a big hit!
  • Set up a station for coating the soaked and drained soy curls. You will start by dipping them into the aquafaba first and then the flour mixture.soy curls in strainer, can of garbanzo beans in background, aquafaba in bowl, flour mixture in bowl - all ready to coat soy curls

How do we fry the soy curls?

  • You have two options:
    • The healthiest option is to air fry the coated soy curls. This is the option to use if you do not want the added fat and calories.
      • The timing can be a little tricky though because every air fryer is different. I have two different types of air fryers. Each cooks a little differently. You will just need to know your air fryer. I cook mine at 350° for 8 minutes in one machine and 10 minutes in the other.
    • The unhealthy but undeniably tasty option is to pan-fry the soy curls in a light tasting oil such as avocado oil. Place the coated soy curls in about 1/2 inch heated oil. Cook for a total of three minutes, turning once. Take out with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
      • NOTE: The oil used for this method is NOT calculated into the recipe card. The recipe card is calculated using the healthier air-fry method.

How do we make an authentic tasting orange sauce?

  • To save time, I make the orange sauce while the soy curls are soaking and cooking. It is pretty straight forward with some special notes:
    • Use only orange juice concentrate – not orange juice. Orange juice concentrate is what you buy in the frozen section in a can,
    • The orange zest really does add to the flavor an shouldn’t be left out.
    • Stir and cook on medium heat till bubbly and thickened
    • Toss together with the cooked soy curls and serve over rice or noodles. Try my Easy Vegan Fried Rice. It’s really good!

Orange Chicken Meal Prep

This recipe for Easy Vegan Orange Chicken works great for meal prep. Top with some green onion slices and separate into six containers  It will keep in your refrigerator for up to five days. Just pull it out and heat and eat.vegan orange chicken in meal prep containers

Things I found useful making this recipe for Vegan Orange Chicken (affiliate links):

Does this spark your appetite? Got a taste for more? Subscribe to Veggie Fun Kitchen to get new recipes and ideas to simplify your plant-based cooking routines delivered straight to your inbox! And stay in touch on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram for all the latest updates! Enjoy the recipe 💚

vegan orange chicken in a bowl

Vegan Orange Chicken with Soy Curls

This Vegan Orange Chicken recipe with soy curls tastes just like you'd expect orange chicken to taste - minus the chicken! You will have the options to air-fry or pan fry the breaded seasoned soy curls for an authentic Panda Express orange chicken taste.
4.67 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Asian
Keyword: Soy Curls, vegan orange chicken, vegan panda express
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 6
Calories: 215kcal
Author: Cindy Rainey

Ingredients

Soy Curls Soaking

  • 2 cups Butler Soy Curls (see notes)
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning

Soy Curls Coating

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder (more for sauce)
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch (more for sauce)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • aquafaba - liquid from garbanzo bean can see notes

Orange Sauce

  • 1/4 cup orange juice concentrate (not orange juice) see notes
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup agave nectar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Tablespoons cornstarch
  • zest from 1 orange about 1 Tablespoon

Other

  • 2 Tablespoons Optional - oil for pan-frying -more if necessary (see notes)
  • green onions for garnish

Instructions

Soy Curls Soaking

  • Cover 2 cups (dry) soy curls with 3 cups vegetable broth. Add in poultry seasoning.
  • Let soak for 15 minutes and drain. Set aside.

Soy Curls Coating

  • While soy curls are soaking combine all dry ingredients into a shallow dish or pie pan: flour, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, baking soda, cornstarch, and black pepper.
  • Drain one can of garbanzo (chickpea) beans. Save the liquid and put into a separate shallow dish.

Frying

  • Working with a few pieces of soy curls at a time, dip into the aquafaba first and then into the flour mixture. Coat well. Set aside for pan-frying or air-frying.
  • If pan-frying - line the bottom of a non-stick pan with oil of choice. I prefer avocado oil. Put up to 1/3 of the coated soy curls into the pan at once. Fry for about 2 minutes, turn and continue frying for another 1 minutes or until well browned. With a slotted spoon remove from the pan and put onto a paper towel-lined plate or baking sheet. Change out the oil if it starts to look gunky. Continue with the rest of the soy curls until finished.
  • If air-frying - Each air fryer is different. In my Cuisinart air frying, I cook at 350° for 8 minutes. You can start with that but do check every few minutes until you know how they will cook in your air fryer. Also, depending on the size of your air fryer, you might need to cook in batches.

Orange Sauce - Can complete this step ahead of time or after soy curls have cooked.

  • While the soy curls are soaking you can prepare the ingredients for the orange sauce.
  • Whisk together orange juice concentrate, rice vinegar, soy sauce, agave, sesame oil, garlic powder, ginger powder, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, and cornstarch. Save the zest to throw-in at the last minute.
  • In a medium saucepan stir and cook over medium heat until bubbly and thickened. Add in orange zest.
  • Toss together with cooked soy curls. Top with sliced green onion. Serve over a bed of rice of choice. See link for vegan Fried Rice in Notes.

Notes

  1. Soy curls can be found online at their website or on Amazon (affiliate link).
  2. Aquafaba is the liquid drained from a can of beans. I prefer garbanzos (chickpeas) or white beans. It is more viscous than water is - similar to egg whites. 
  3. Use orange juice concentrate (not regular orange juice). Generally, orange juice concentrate is found in the freezer section of your grocery store.
  4. Please be aware that if you use the pan-frying cooking method, the calories from the oil used are not calculated in the total on this recipe card.

Nutrition

Calories: 215kcal | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 2376mg | Potassium: 155mg | Fiber: 13g | Sugar: 20g | Vitamin A: 440IU | Vitamin C: 21.8mg | Calcium: 20mg | Iron: 2.3mg

vegan orange chicken in a bowl with text overlay

vegan orange chicken in a bowl with text overlay

By on July 24th, 2019

About Cindy Rainey

Veggie Fun Kitchen by Cindy Rainey
Welcome to Veggie Fun Kitchen where you will learn to recreate family favorites the plant-based/vegan way! Let me know if I can help. I'm here for you.

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4 thoughts on “Vegan Orange Chicken (With Soy Curls)”

  1. 4 stars
    I really loved this! But the sodium has quite the punch for a person purposely uses very little salt. I did check the sodium amounts in the recipe so I knew what I was getting into. I added fresh veggies like red and green peppers and onion chunks as well as I cut way back on the salt by using “no salt” but it was still pretty salty for me. Would using coconut aminos help? Any other ideas I could use? I really loved it and will make it again!

    Reply
  2. The recipe looks great, but that’s not why I’m writing.

    I tried to subscribe to your mailing list, and the system returned the following error when I clicked on the link: (maybe you can have someone check it out)

    “This XML file does not appear to have any style information associated with it. The document tree is shown below.

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