National Orange Chicken Day

One of the most delicious holidays that we’ve ever had the good fortune to celebrate has to be Orange Chicken Day. This holiday is observed on July 15th and celebrates a dish that is commonly found in most North American Chinese restaurants. The dish originated in Mainland China as Chen Pi Ji but has since been modified to suit American tastes.

It’s a dish that consists of cut-up pieces of chicken that have been battered and deep-fried, then coated in an orange-flavored chili sauce that forms a sticky glaze. Although this dish is popular in the United States, it is rarely found in restaurants in China.

The History of Orange Chicken Day

As we stated earlier, Orange Chicken began as Chen Pi Ji, a dish that has some very specific differences from the North American Orange Chicken. For example, Chen Pi Ji (陈皮鸡) is usually made with Sichuan pepper, five-spice powder, and tangerine peel that is deep-fried with vinegar, soy, garlic, and sugar.

Orange Chicken is made with deep-fried chicken and coated in a sweet sauce made of soy sauce, orange juice, sugar, and vinegar. Chen Pi Ji is slightly citrusy and spicy but not very sweet. Orange Chicken is sweet and tangy with a slight jolt from the chili flakes.

As can be seen, the two dishes are close, but the American version is much sweeter and has more of a citrus profile. After the dish came to North America, there was a bit of controversy as to who altered the recipe to suit American tastes.

Chef Andy Kao claims to have created the recipe at Panda Express in Hawaii in 1987, but other sources have disputed that fact. Of course, Orange Chicken is just one variation of many Chinese American sweet and sour dishes. There are many others, including Lemon Chicken, Tangerine Chicken, General Tso’s Chicken, and a number of other dishes.

Orange Chicken Day is a holiday that was invented in 2017 by Panda Express. It was a promotional holiday that hoped to popularize the dish. It has been celebrated ever since by just about any Chinese restaurant that serves this dish.

Observing Orange Chicken Day

We think that the best way to observe this dish is for a person to visit their favorite Chinese restaurant and order a plate of Orange Chicken. Another way to celebrate this holiday is for a person to try and make this dish for themselves.

Although this dish might seem like it would be complicated to make, it’s actually quite easy once a person has learned a few basic techniques. Regardless of whether a person orders it from a restaurant or makes it for themselves, they should snap a picture of it and post it to social media using the hashtag #OrangeChickenDay to let everyone taste it with their eyes.

When is it?
This year (2024)
July 15 Monday
Next year (2025)
July 15 Tuesday
Last year (2023)
July 15 Saturday
Food & Drinks