When it comes to delicious, perfectly sweet, and spicy orange chicken, Trader Joe’s is one of my top fav frozen meals.
The Trader Joe’s brand Mandarin Orange Chicken has become a cult classic on TikTok and Pinterest since it’s super tasty and easy to prepare.
If you’re in a rush and need a quick but satisfying meal, the Mandarin Orange Chicken is always a solid pick—but why not zhuzh it up to take your frozen chicken to the next level?
I’ll be sharing five of my favorite hacks to elevate the orange chicken Trader Joe’s is so well known for from basic to mouth-watering, so let’s dig in!
5 Ways to Level Up the Orange Chicken Trader Joe’s Frozen Meal
Get the Scoop: Mandarin Orange Chicken
The Trader Joe’s brand Mandarin Orange Chicken is known for being one of the brand’s most delicious frozen offerings.
The orange chicken frozen meal consists of tender, bite-sized chunks of chicken covered in a crispy cornstarch and flour breading—it might sound simple, but the quality is really impressive considering a bag is just $4.99.
Of course, the star of the show is the orange sauce which combines ginger, vinegar, and orange juice to create the perfect balance of spice, sweetness, and tang.
The Trader Joe’s Mandarin Orange Chicken is the perfect weeknight dinner because it comes together in less than 30 minutes and uses only one or two dishes and pans.
Nutrition-wise, a cup of orange chicken (the recommended serving size) contains 320 calories, 16g of fat, 24g of carbs, and 21g of protein.
1. Orange Chicken Appetizer
One of the easiest ways to get creative with Trader Joe’s orange chicken is to serve it with toothpicks as a mess-free appetizer.
I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of this trick before reading it on the Trader Joe’s website—it’s genius!
Simply cook the orange chicken according to the package directions (bake in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit and then toss in a warm pan with the sauce packets) and then serve on a platter with toothpicks.
This is the perfect recipe for family gatherings, watch parties, celebrations, and more since you won’t have to worry about spreading germs or providing utensils.
I promise everyone is going to give kudos to the chef next time you serve up an orange chicken appetizer.
2. Air Fryer Orange Chicken
If you don’t have an air fryer by now, you’re seriously missing out!
Air-frying is my fav way to cook Trader Joe’s orange chicken to get piping hot, crispy chicken that won’t get soggy once tossed in orange sauce.
You can do a little experimenting with cooking temperatures and times but I’d recommend starting at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 10 minutes.
Make sure the chicken pieces are spread evenly in a single layer before you pop them in the air fryer (you might need to do a couple of batches).
After your chicken is crisped up, simply coat it in the orange sauce (which you can preheat in the microwave or on the stovetop), and voila—dinner is served!
If you’re in the market for an air fryer, check out this list of the best microwave air fryer combos to help you decide!
3. Toppings for Orange Chicken
Even though TJ’s orange chicken is delicious straight out of the bag, it can be fun to play around with different toppings that will add unique flavors and textures.
Sesame seeds make the perfect garnish and will transform your orange chicken into a restaurant-quality meal.
You can sprinkle sesame seeds right on top of the chicken before serving, or mix them into the sauce packets as you’re heating them.
Another fun topping for orange chicken is green onion because it adds the perfect amount of crunch and a hint of refreshing flavor.
I also just experimented with adding some fresh diced ginger into the mix and it was delicious!
Don’t be afraid to get creative with your orange chicken mix-ins—you can experiment with everything from garlic and ginger to red pepper flakes and chili oil.
4. Ditch the Orange Chicken Sauce
Okay, I know this one might be a bit scandalous, but hear me out!
We all know and love that delicious sweet yet tangy sauce that the orange chicken comes with, but sometimes it’s nice to mix things up.
If you’re feeling adventurous, try saving the orange sauce packets for another meal and tossing the TJ’s frozen chicken in another sauce of your choosing, like buffalo or garlic parmesan.
You’ll end up with an at-home version of boneless chicken wings that are perfectly crispy, saucy, and flavorful—yum!
5. Orange Chicken Sides and Dishes
For a complete meal that’s well-rounded and will keep you full and satisfied, I highly recommend serving your orange chicken with some sides or incorporating it into a dish.
Of course, you can never go wrong with fresh steamed or stir-fried vegetables and white, brown, or fried rice.
To make things even easier on busy weeknights when you want to keep the cooking to a minimum, you could also bake veggies like broccoli and bell peppers on the same sheet pan as the orange chicken.
I always add veggies to my orange chicken to help get more vegetables into the meal.
Other fun ways to serve the Mandarin orange chicken are with rice or chow mein noodles, or in a wrap with creamy Asian-inspired coleslaw for a delicious on-the-go meal. You could also serve gluten free teriyaki chicken using those ideas too!
I have to say, I think serving the TJ’s orange chicken over chow mein noodles is my absolute fav.
I hope these Trader Joe’s orange chicken hacks inspire you to get creative next time you’re reaching for a bag in your freezer!
Don’t forget to tag me on Insta (@wtfab) so I can get even more mouth-watering orange chicken inspo.
Feeling hungry? Find more food and drink recipes here.
Yes, the Mandarin Orange Chicken is delicious and one of the brand’s best-selling frozen meals!
You can follow the oven and stove top directions on the bag or cook in the air-fryer.
I recommend sesame seeds, green onion, and chili oil.
Elise Armitage is an entrepreneur and founder of What The Fab, a travel + lifestyle blog based in California. At the beginning of 2019, Elise left her corporate job at Google to chase her dreams: being an entrepreneur and helping women find fabulous in the everyday. Since then, she’s launched her SEO course Six-Figure SEO, where she teaches bloggers how to create a passive revenue stream from their website using SEO. Featured in publications like Forbes, Elle, HerMoney, and Real Simple, Elise is a firm believer that you can be of both substance and style.