EDITOR’S NOTE: Read our roundup of some of Aldi’s Chinese takeout options here.
Orange chicken is a popular dish in American Chinese restaurants. The dish did not originate in China, though. Instead, Panda Express, the Chinese-American fast food chain that first gained popularity in mall food courts, claims that one of its own chefs invented orange chicken in 1987 in Hawaii. Orange chicken has a mix of sweet and sour, with a combination of flavors such as brown sugar and honey along with vinegar and soy sauce, and one of Panda Express’ co-founders says orange chicken is a variation on another popular Chinese-American dish — General Tso’s chicken.
If you want to try orange chicken or General Tso’s chicken but you don’t live near a Panda Express, don’t worry. You can find both dishes year round in the freezer section at Aldi. In this post, we’re looking primarily at the orange chicken Aldi sells.
Fusia Asian Inspirations Orange Chicken cost $5.49 for a 26-ounce bag at the time of publication. The package describes is as “tempura white meat chicken in a tangy mandarin sauce.”
It’s a processed food, so it’s got a fairly lengthy ingredients list. It’s also full of sodium and added sugar, with the sugar content comparable to some desserts, so this is a dish best enjoyed only occasionally.
If you’re avoiding allergens, this contains egg, soy, and wheat.
The package says there are about five 5-ounce servings per bag (but don’t expect to feed a crowd with this — more on that shortly). One serving has 290 calories, 14 grams of total fat (18% DV), 2 grams of saturated fat (10% DV), 30 mg of cholesterol (10% DV), 680 mg of sodium (30% DV), 32 grams of total carbohydrates (12% DV), no dietary fiber, 18 grams of total sugars, 17 grams of added sugars (34% DV), and 10 grams of protein.
The package has instructions for heating this chicken in a conventional oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the sauce pouch and place it unopened in a bowl of hot water to thaw. Evenly lay the chicken on a baking sheet and place it into the preheated oven. Bake the chicken for 18-20 minutes or until the internal temperature of the largest piece of chicken read 165 degrees when pierced with an instant-read thermometer. Toss sauce with chicken or drizzle over top if desired. For a gourmet touch, add a garnish of your choice.
This chicken always comes out of my oven crispy. I usually drizzle the sauce directly over the cooked chicken on the baking sheet. There is sometimes a small chunk of sauce that’s still frozen after sitting in hot water, but once it goes onto the hot baking sheet it warms up.
This is a staple in my deep freezer for nights when I want something easy for dinner, and while it’s not as good as what we might get from a takeout restaurant or a place like Panda Express, my family likes it on its own merits. It has a nice sweet and sour taste.
There are four of us, though, and we have to conscientiously portion out this chicken because there’s not a lot of it if you’re feeding more than a couple of people. The solution is to either make two bags of chicken, or do what I do and serve it alongside other things such as Aldi egg rolls, lo mein or chicken fried rice, other pasta sides, or pot stickers or crab rangoon.
Fusia Asian Inspirations Mandarin Orange Chicken is Aldi’s take on a dish whose origins trace back — not so distantly — to the Chinese-American fast food chain Panda Express. While it’s not the same as what you’d get from a takeout restaurant, this is decent on its own merits.