Sweet and Spicy Baked Orange Chicken Tenders

Sweet and Spicy Baked Orange Chicken Tenders are marinated and smothered in the most tantalizing sweet heat orange sauce you can’t even imagine!   You will crave this chicken over your favorite Chinese orange takeout!

Sweet and Spicy Baked Orange Chicken Tenders


I try and pace myself in sharing too many sweet and spicy recipes.  Its hard.  Hard when all I want to do is smother chicken in ooey, gooey, mouthwatering different concoctions of sweet heat like my Sweet and Spicy Honey Dijon Glazed Chicken I shared last week or my all time favorite Skinny General Tso’s Chicken.  I could live off sweet and spicy chicken, especially because all my sweet and spicy chicken recipes are baked and not fried.  And your palate wouldn’t even know it.   It would be too busy loving, savoring, being hypnotized by the multidimensional flavors and wanting more…

Sweet and Spicy Baked Orange Chicken Tenders with green onion garnish.

I’m already wanting more…More hypnotic Baked Orange Chicken Tenders.  They are bursting with flavor by being marinated in a sweet and spicy (but not too spicy) orange sauce which doubles as the tantalizing sticky Orange Glaze later.  This is one of my favorite methods of cooking – to reserve some of the marinade, whisk it with cornstarch and it instantly becomes your glaze – double the flavor WITHOUT double work!

Showing the sauce being added to the baked chicken.

After marinating, you dredge your chicken in flour, then a mixture of browned panko and crushed cornflakes.  I love the flavor and texture combination of seasoned panko with cornflakes – it just adds an undeniably dimension of delicious BUT if you don’t want to buy cornflakes just for this recipe (but believe me you will make this again and again), you can substitute the cornflakes with more panko and it will still be delicious – just maybe missing the undeniable dimension of delicious 🙂

Showing how to bread the chicken for Sweet and Spicy Baked Orange Chicken Tenders.

You then bake your chicken tenders for about 20 minutes while you heat your Orange Glaze.

Showing the chicken before baking it in the oven for Sweet and Spicy Baked Orange Chicken Tenders.

The to-live-for Orange Glaze is a harmonious concoction of orange juice, orange marmalade, brown sugar, and splashes of lemon juice, sriracha, hoisin sauce (like Asian BBQ sauce), ginger, garlic, etc.  Are you drooling yet?   I am.  This ingredient list might seem a bit lengthy but keep in mind, you are simply whisking the ingredients together to create this tantalizing Glaze.

Showing the chicken being dipped in the sauce to make Sweet and Spicy Baked Orange Chicken Tenders.

After the Glaze simmers and thickens for just a minute or so, you bathe each chicken tender in the sticky sweet heat.  You can use tongs as shown, but honestly, I just use my fingers – because then I can lick my fingers when I’m done.  Somehow cooking is just more fun that way…and more delicious.

Tender, juicy Baked Orange Chicken Tenders are marinated and smothered in the most tantalizing sweet heat orange sauce you can't even imagine! You will crave this over your favorite Chinese orange takeout!

After you coat your chicken in sauce you are going to want to eat them right away – I mean of course you are going to want to eat them right away, but the sooner you devour them, the firmer the breading will be.  That being said, they are still incredible with softer breading.  As in Patrick ate all the leftovers and if you knew Patrick, he doesn’t do leftovers unless they taste just as AH-mazing the next day.

These are amazing any day.

Close up vice of the Showing the chicken before baking it in the oven for Sweet and Spicy Baked Orange Chicken Tenders with sauce on top.

So say goodbye to your favorite takeout Orange Chicken and hello to lick-your-fingers, lick-the-plate, lick-the-bowl worthy BAKED Orange Chicken Tenders.  hypnotically delicious…

Picking up a piece of Sweet and Spicy Baked Orange Chicken Tenders.

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©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com

Tender, juicy Baked Orange Chicken Tenders are marinated and smothered in the most tantalizing sweet heat orange sauce you can't even imagine! You will crave this over your favorite Chinese orange takeout!

Sweet and Spicy Baked Orange Chicken Tenders

Servings: 4 servings
Total Time: 40 minutes
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

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  • 8 chicken tenderloins (about 1 ½ pounds)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Orange Marinade/Glaze

  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/3 cup orange marmalade (regular, not sweet)*
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons quality hoisin sauce (like Lee Kum Kee or Kikkoman)
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon Sriracha/Asian hot red chili sauce
  • 1/2 tsp EACH salt, garlic pwdr, ginger pwdr,onion pwdr
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

Chicken Breading

Garnish (optional)

  • green onions
  • orange zest


  • Whisk the Orange Marinade/Glaze ingredients together in a medium bowl. Add ⅓ cup to a large freezer bag with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the chicken and marinate 60 minutes up to overnight in the refrigerator. Refrigerate reserved Glaze separately.
  • Melt ½ tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in panko and continue to cook and stir until browned. Remove from heat. (You can do this while your chicken marinates or days before and store in an airtight container.)
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil then top with a wire baking rack. Spray rack with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
  • Line up your breading station: Add flour to a large freezer bag. Whisk milk and eggs together in a bowl or shallow dish. Mix panko, ground cornflakes, ½ teaspoon salt, ⅛ teaspoon pepper and ½ teaspoon garlic powder in a large bowl.
  • Remove chicken from marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Add chicken to flour and toss until evenly coated. Working with one chicken tender at a time, remove from flour, shake off any excess then coat in milk/egg mixture and drain off any excess. Roll chicken in panko/cornflakes, pressing to adhere. Shake off any excess and place on wire rack. Repeat until all chicken tenders are breaded.
  • Bake for 20 minutes at 425 F degrees or until chicken is cooked through. Broil until golden. Let cool for 10 minutes while you prepare your Glaze.
  • Add reserved Glaze to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil while stirring. Reduce to a simmer until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Using tongs, dip chicken in Glaze to coat then return to baking rack or individual plates. Garnish with orange and green onions if desired.


  • Cooking time:  Total cooking time does not include marinating as that will vary upon individual.
  • *Orange marmalade: Bitter or Seville marmalade is traditional and won’t have a special label, sweet orange marmalade made using Valencia, navel, or similar oranges can also be found, but it will be called out as “SWEET Orange Marmalade.” If you can only can only find sweet orange marmalade then reduce the sugar in the recipe by 1-2 tablespoons. 
  • **Cornflakes:  You measure out 3 cups cornflakes before you grind them I use my food processor and pulse until the size of panko crumbs. You can place cornflakes in a freezer bag and crush with a rolling pin. You can substitute cornflakes with additional panko for a total of 1 ¼ cups panko and brown panko with 1 tablespoon butter.
  • Crispy factor:  The less time you wait between coating the chicken in the glaze and eating, the crispier it will be. That being said, the chicken has a wonderful texture but is not overly crispy.

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  1. Marisa Franca @ All Our Way says

    Breakfast is looking pretty darn boring after reading this post! My oh my all of the recipes look amazing and we do eat chicken quite a few times a week. We definitely have panko on hand all the time — I’ll have to get a small box of cornflakes to complete the recipe. BTW — we eat so much chicken I swear I’m sprouting pin feathers 🙂 Have a great day!!

    • Jen says

      LOL! I think I am sprouting feathers too! I love having chicken on hand – we eat it everyday so I am constantly trying to think of new ways to reinvent it so its not boring 🙂 Hope you can try it soon, thanks Marisa!

      • Clara says

        Do you have a substitute for the hoisin sauce? I can’t use it due to needing gluten free.

        • Jen says

          Yes! Kikkoman has a gluten free hoisin sauce at Walmart (and other places) or Amazon.

  2. Dorothy Dunton says

    Hi Jen! My mouth is crying again! We eat a lot more chicken and pork these days as it is much cheaper than beef. My son loves orange chicken so I will definitely pass this on to him! Your recipes are so honest which I very much appreciate! 🙂

    • Jen says

      You are too nice, thank you Dorothy! I try and be as upfront as I can 🙂 I am so excited for your son to try this – I think he will love it!! Have a fabulous weekend!

  3. Carolyn Johnson says

    Have the recipe pinned & will give this a whirl next week! By the way, I made your ribs recipe (the one with the blackberry preserves in the sauce) and they were FAB! I will be doubling the recipe and taking to my sister’s house in two crockpots for Easter this year ’cause we’re all tired of ham 🙂
    Big fan here in SLC!

    • Jen says

      Hi Carolyn in SLC! Thank you so much for your kind comment! I am thrilled you you loved the ribs – and what a fun idea to make for Easter, seriously brilliant and so easy! I am excited for you to try this chicken as well – hope you love them as much as the ribs!…. thats a lot of !!!!! 🙂

  4. Joshua Hampton says

    Wow. I could live off baked sweet and spicy chicken too. In fact, I think I already do. This chicken recipe is gorgeous. Can’t wait to have it for dinner.

    • Jen says

      Sweet and Sour Chicken is a great choice to live off of! I hope you love this version too! Thanks so much!

  5. Tally says

    Yummy! This looks amazing. My mom used to make something similar

    • Jen says

      Thanks Tally! I hope you love it as much as your moms!

  6. Teri Giese says

    Hey lovely lady! Am so darn far behind in my emails, had to just delete a bunch, except for the truly exceptional, that is!! Lol!! Had the typical,bad things occurring in 3’s.!!All of which had me in bed and useless for a few days. I DID make your pork,and was fantastic, made some pasta the same week that was also yours. A flank steak is waiting to be grilled for your carne asada recipe that we have been craving for, like a LONG time. All love California burritos,so am making the whole Jen recipe stuffs!! All the new recipes look awesome, am drooling, literally. Doc is trying to get some weight on me, bring on the beef I say!!! Hugs and hope all is happy, healthy and all good in your life sweetie!! P. S. Am sunscreen to about 400 +blogs, mostly food! Am a food spaz!!!

    • Jen says

      Hi Teri, it is so good to hear from you! I am so sorry you hit a rough patch but your optimism and love of life still shines through, you are such a ray of sunshine! I am so flattered that you have cooked so many of my recipes – especially with you subscribing to so many food blogs! We truly share a passion for cooking which makes life so much for fun – and tasty! I hope your health improves and you can eat enough CA burritos to pack some weight on 🙂 You will be in my thoughts and prayers! xoxo

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much Malinda! They are super good – you might need to make a separate batch for yourself 🙂

  7. Mantras says

    Oh yum, this sounds delicious! And love your photos, by the way

    • Jen says

      You are so nice, thank you! I love taking the photos but it can be hard when all I want to do is eat the food 🙂 Hope you love this recipe!

  8. Therese says

    These were finger licking good!! That’s because we used our fingers to get the last drop of the amazing orange glaze of our plates! 🙂 And love that it’s not fried! This will be a repeated favorite in our house. Along with many others we’ve tried and loved! Thank you for sharing your delicious creations for the rest of us to enjoy! 🙂

    • Jen says

      LOL! love that these were finger licking good Therese and I’m thrilled they will be a repeat! Thank you for trying my recipes and commenting – I love that you have found several your whole family enjoys! Have a great weekend!

  9. Sue says

    Excellent, fantastic recipe! I had to use 22 chicken tenders but all were satisfied!

    • Jen says

      That is a lot of chicken tenders but I am so happy you loved the recipe! Thank you so much Sue!

      • Sue says

        This time I made 28 so everyone had 4 each! Much better! Except my husband and I still seem to have only gotten 2! Hmm?! Also, I use the glaze as a dipping sauce or pouring over sauce due to time constraints. I also use all panko crumbs, I never have the cornflakes. Yum!

        • Jen says

          Awesome Sue!….except for you and your husband only getting 2 part…someones sneaky 🙂 Love the idea of using the sauce as a dipping sauce – yum! Thank you! I love hearing your family is loving this one!

  10. Toots says

    Wow this orange chicken was amazing! My husband and I both loved it. Lot of prep work but totally worth it. I don’t have a wire rack so I heat up my cookie sheet in the oven prior to putting the chicken on it that way the coating crisps up right away and it doesn’t stick. The sauce was great. I had exactly 1/3 cup of orange marmalade; it’s like it was just begging to be used in this recipe 🙂 Will make again and again.

    • Jen says

      I am so happy this was such a hit, worth the prep work and a new favorite – yay! Thank you so much! I love the tip of heating the cookie sheet prior to putting the chicken on it – I definitely will use that in the future! Thanks for taking the time to comment! I hope you find more favorites here!

  11. Fran says

    Your Sweet & Spicy Orange Chicken Tenders called for “NOT sweet orange marmalade.” What is unsweetened marmalade, and can you suggest a brand and/or where it can be found? Thanks. This looks delicious and can’t wait to make it.

    • Jen says

      Hi Fran! Orange Marmalade comes not sweetened so if the label says “Orange Marmalade” – that is what you want as opposed to those that call out “Sweet Orange Marmalade” on the label – sorry for the confusion! From my experience it can be found anywhere from Wal-mart to Ralphs. Smuckers has a great one. Enjoy!

  12. Melanie M says

    Made this for dinner last night and, holy smokes, it was DELICIOUS!!! Orange Chicken is our favorite Chinese takeout and this sauce was far better than we have found at any of the restaurants in our area. I made it as two individual chicken breasts instead of tenders because it’s what I had (and I was too lazy to cut them into fingers 😉 Kicking myself for not doubling it so we’d have leftovers for tonight. Thank you for such a fabulous recipe!

    • Jen says

      YAY! I am thrilled you loved this so much Melanie! I actually just made this sauce into Chinese Orange Chicken last week and will be sharing the recipe soon – hope you love it just as much!

  13. Travis says

    I really want to try these, but I have hypertension so sodium and fat are on my radar. I was curious if you had a basic idea of the nutritional information in these?

  14. Jennifer P says

    I’m fairly new to your website- finding you over Pintrest a few months ago, but I am now a dedicated fan!!! My family of 5 (15 month old, 5 year old, 7 year old included) love your recipes and I am never worried about spending time prepping a meal that no one likes– which is the worst! Sweet chipotle pork, honey cashew chicken, pulled BBQ chicken, the amazing dishes with peanut sauce which always make the kids happy, all the grilled kabobs that make the husband happy…. delish.

    I would love to know what sides you serve with your main dishes! Always seems like I am stir-frying some vegetables and serving rice with the Asian inspired cuisine and wondering about options to change it up.

    • Jen says

      Hi Jennifer, sorry for the delay as I am way behind after recovering from pneumonia, but I so appreciate your comment! I am so happy you stumbled across my blog on pinterest and am honored to call you a “fan!” I am amazed you have already made so many of my recipes and I am thrilled everyone, including the kids are enjoying them! As far as sides go, I usually keep them pretty simple as my main dishes are a little more involved/flavorful and the star of the show. I do a lot of simple stir fried veggies like you as well as lots of roasted veggies. I have a few of my favorite roasted veggies under my SIDE section on my Recipe Index. I also am a huge rice fan so I’ll often add rice with a variety of everything from beans to corn to tomatoes to my rice cooker for a side. hope that helps!

  15. Ashley says

    Any chance you can make the sauce without orange juice? I have everything else, just no OJ. Will it still turn out the same?

    • Jen says

      Hi Ashley, I would have to experiment to get good results as OJ is a predominant ingredient – sorry!

  16. SBakes says

    Another homeroom recipe from your site! The method produced crispy chicken and the sauce was amazing! I always appreciate the detailed steps you provide. This really didn’t take as much time to make as I expected. Will definitely make again and again.

    • Jen says

      Sorry for the delay Stacy I’m catching up on comments but THANK YOU so much for commenting! I’m thrilled you loved these orange chicken tenders and that they actually took less time than expected -winning! Thanks for making my recipes!

  17. Jim says

    Made this tonight for my family. It was amazing!!!!!!! The recipe was easy to follow and was actually very simple to make. My wife said it reminded her of the Orange Chicken at Pei Wei (her favorite Asian restaurant).. My girls always want orange chicken when we go out. Needless to say, there are no leftovers. The whole family loved it. Thanks for sharing this recipe.

    • Jen says

      Thank you for taking the time to comment Jim! I’m thrilled these orange chicken tenders were a hit with the entire family!

  18. L says

    Hi Jen! What’s the difference between orange marmalade and sweet orange marmalade? I like Smuckers or Bonne Maman. Would either be okay?

    • Jen says

      Great question, just added it to the notes: Orange marmalade: Bitter or Seville marmalade is traditional and won’t have a special label, sweet orange marmalade made using Valencia, navel, or similar oranges can also be found, but it will be called out as “SWEET Orange Marmalade.” If you can only can only find sweet orange marmalade then reduce the sugar in the recipe by 1-2 tablespoons.