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Home » Cuisines » American » Chicken with Star Anise Orange Sauce

Chicken with Star Anise Orange Sauce

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When you’re in the mood for something comforting with a touch of exotic, this Chicken with Star Anise and Oranges is the perfect dish to whip up. You get the best of both worlds: the cozy tenderness of chicken thighs in a rich sauce, and a delicious mix of aromas and flavors that spice up your dinner routine. 

A large skillet with chicken breasts and star anise orange sauce.

Star anise, with its almost licorice-like flavor, goes perfectly with the bright, citrusy notes of fresh orange. Add a touch of chile-garlic sauce for a subtle kick, and you’ve got a meal that is sure to be a hit. Even better, it’s simple enough for a weeknight but has that wow factor to impress at a dinner party. 

A Little About This Chicken with Orange and Star Anise

  • The star anise adds a distinct and delightful flavor that’s different from other dishes.
  • The orange gives the sauce a bright, citrusy note that complements the star anise perfectly.
  • Slow cooking ensures the chicken is perfectly cooked and stays tender and juicy.
  • A touch of chile-garlic sauce rounds out the other flavors with a subtle kick.

If you’re looking for something new and delicious to add to your recipe rotation, this Chicken with Star Anise and Oranges is perfect. oranges

The Ingredients for Anise Chicken

Here is a list of the ingredients you will need for this recipe. Scroll down to the printable recipe card for all the details.

  • Meat: chicken thighs
  • Produce: onion, garlic, fresh ginger, oranges
  • Spices and herbs: star anise pods, cumin, salt, pepper, fresh thyme
  • Pantry: soy sauce, chile-garlic sauce, cornstarch, chicken broth, white wine, olive oil
Ingredients for chicken with star anise orange sauce: chicken thighs, oranges, star anise, onions, garlic, ginger, chile sauce, broth, wine, soy sauce, salt, pepper, and oil.

Substitutions

If you can’t find chile garlic sauce, you can use either Sriracha or chili paste instead. You could also leave it out if you don’t like spicy foods.

If you don’t have white wine, feel free to substitute it with dry sherry or even chicken broth. 

You can use boneless skinless chicken breasts in place of the thighs, however you will need to adjust the cooking time. 

How to Make It

Here is a brief overview to get an idea of what to expect with the recipe. Scroll down to the printable recipe card for all the details.

  1. Season and sear the chicken thighs.
  2. Saute onions, herbs, and spices. Add juice, broth, wine, soy, and chile sauce. 
  3. Place the chicken and sauce in a casserole dish and bake. 

Making the star anise orange sauce.
Adding the seared chicken to the skillet.

Variations

  • Lemon and Cardamom Chicken: Replace the oranges with lemons and the star anise with 3-4 cardamom pods. 
  • Blood Orange and Five-Spice Chicken: Swap out the regular oranges for blood oranges, and use Chinese five-spice powder instead of star anise. 

Tips for Success

  • You can substitute bone-in or boneless chicken thighs for this recipe.
  • Don’t forget to season the chicken with salt and pepper prior to searing it. 
  • Make sure you mix the cornstarch in cold water before adding it to the sauce. If you add dry cornstarch powder to hot liquid, it will clump up. 
  • Don’t skip the searing step. Browning the chicken in the skillet will add an extra layer of flavor to the dish. 
  • Don’t crowd the chicken pieces in the skillet. Overcrowding can cause the chicken to steam instead of sear.
  • Use a microplane to zest your oranges. It will give you a finer zest, which will infuse into the sauce more thoroughly. 
  • Freeze the ginger before grating it. This not only makes it easier to handle but also ensures you get really fine particles which can disperse well throughout the dish.

A skillet filled with chicken and star anise sauce.

Serving Suggestions

Spooning sauce over chicken on a mound of rice.

Storage and Reheating

In the fridge: Store the cooled chicken in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

In the freezer: Freeze any leftovers for up to 3 months. Make sure you cool it completely before freezing, and place it in a freezer-proof bag or container. 

Reheating: Defrost the chicken overnight in the fridge and reheat in the oven at 350°F for about 15 minutes or until hot. You can also zap it in the microwave if you remember to turn and stir the dish frequently. 

More Chicken Recipes 

Star anise chicken with orange sauce on a plate with rice and veggies.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Know When the Chicken is Done?

The chicken should reach an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) when fully cooked.

Can I Use Chicken Breasts Instead of Thighs?

Yes, you can substitute chicken breasts, but keep an eye on cooking time as they can dry out quicker than thighs.

Is There a Non-Alcoholic Substitute for White Wine?

You can use chicken broth with a splash of white wine vinegar as a substitute for white wine.

Chicken with star anise and oranges is a flavor-packed dish that’s easy enough for weeknights yet fancy enough to serve at special occasions. From the aromatic star anise to the zesty punch of fresh oranges, this recipe shows how a handful of ingredients can create a dish that’s not only delicious but also deeply satisfying. It’s a little adventure in your kitchen, and the result is worth every moment spent. 

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Star anise chicken in a skillet.

Chicken with Star Anise Orange Sauce

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

Chicken with star anise and oranges is a seriously flavorful dish that you can totally whip up on weeknights, but it's also fancy enough to wow at special occasions. From the amazing star anise to the tangy kick of fresh oranges, this recipe proves that a few simple ingredients can create a dish that's not just tasty, but also incredibly satisfying.

Ingredients

  • 2 Naval oranges
  • 8 skin-on bone-in chicken thighs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons avocado or peanut oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon peeled, grated fresh ginger
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons chili-garlic sauce
  • 3-4 star anise pods
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 3 tablespoons cold water
  • Fresh thyme sprigs
  • Orange quarters for garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F
  1. Finely grate the zest from one of the oranges and reserve. Squeeze the juice from the oranges, you should have 1 cup of juice, you may need to juice another half orange. Season the chicken with the salt and pepper.
  2. In a Dutch oven, braiser or large skillet set over medium-high heat, add the oil and when it is hot add half of the chicken pieces and sear it to a rich brown, then flip it and brown the other side. Transfer the chicken to a plate and proceed with the second batch and when it has browned transfer to the plate.
  3. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the remaining oil in the pan and return the pan to medium heat. Add the onions and cook until softened, 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger and orange zest. Cook and stir for 1 minute. Add the orange juice, broth, wine, soy sauce, chili-garlic sauce and the star anise pods. Bring the mixture to a boil, stir in the cornstarch slurry and cook for 1-2 minutes to thicken it slightly. Remove from the heat.
  4. Add the browned chicken, turning them to coat with the sauce. Place the lid on the pot and transfer to the middle rack of the oven and cook for 20 minutes. Then remove the lid and continue to bake for an additional 10-12 minutes to brown the chicken.
  5. Remove the pot from the oven, discard the anise pods and remaining thyme sprig stems. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter.  Pour the sauce into a dish or small pitcher and serve with the chicken.
  6. Serve the chicken on a mound of steamed rice with the sauce poured over the chicken, garnished with thyme sprigs and orange wedges
  7. Optional:  For a smooth, elegant sauce, strain it through a fine-mesh strainer set over a dish.

Notes

The chili garlic sauce is quite spicy, adjust according to your taste.

Another serving idea is to transfer the chicken to a platter and pour the sauce over all the chicken, garnish and serve

For a thicker sauce, additional cornstarch slurry can be cooked into the sauce in step #5 after the chicken is transferred to a platter.

If you need to be strictly gluten-free, make sure to choose a gluten-free soy sauce.

Store leftovers in a covered container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 205Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 43mgSodium: 905mgCarbohydrates: 18gFiber: 2gSugar: 8gProtein: 10g

Nutrition information is a guideline only, is calculated automatically by third party software, and absolute accuracy is not guaranteed.

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Pat Nyswonger

Pat is a wife, mom of four adult children, and grandmother to seventeen beautiful children. She is a self-taught home cook and loves creating delicious meals for her family and friends. Her kitchen is the hub of activity in her home, and she loves to entertain.

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