This healthy orange chicken recipe will convince you never to get takeout again! It has juicy and crispy pan-fried chicken coated in a light and refreshing orange sauce. Every bite gets better and better, and you'll never believe how easy it is to make!
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A Healthier Orange Chicken Recipe
When my family and I get Chinese takeout, I always order orange chicken. It's been my favorite ever since I was little, and I honestly could eat it every week.
But, as you can probably imagine, it's not a very healthy dish. That's why I decided to create my own healthier version! This easy orange chicken recipe is every bit as decadent and flavorful as traditional orange chicken, but it's made without flour, so it's lower in carbs and calories. Plus, making orange chicken healthy is way easier than you'd expect!
Why You'll Love This Recipe
The orange sauce. This sauce is so bright, refreshing, and perfectly sweetened. It soaks up into every nook and cranny of the chicken and really takes this dish to another level.
Restaurant-quality. This healthy homemade version honestly tastes like something you'd get from your favorite Chinese restaurant. Feed it to your family, and I guarantee they'll think you ordered take-out!
A healthier alternative. The orange sauce is made without corn syrup or tons of added sugar, so it's a far healthier swap than traditional takeout orange chicken. Plus, the chicken isn't coated in any flour or fried in oil, but it still has that addictive crispy texture.
For the chicken:
- Chicken breast - I used boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into cubes, but you can use a combination of breast and boneless skinless chicken thighs if you prefer.
- Baking soda - to get a golden brown, crispy coating on the chicken.
- Freshly squeezed orange juice - to add brightness and infuse more orange flavor into the chicken.
- Soy sauce - for an essential layer of savory flavor. Use low sodium soy sauce to help cut down on sodium.
- Salt and black pepper - just a pinch to taste.
- Corn starch - to absorb moisture and make for extra crispy chicken pieces.
- Garlic and ginger - for fresh Asian flavor. I used fresh ginger and garlic.
- Oil - use a neutral frying oil like vegetable oil or canola oil.
For the sauce:
- Orange juice - for bright, tart orange flavor and natural sweetness.
- Soy sauce - for savoriness.
- Rice vinegar - for a touch of sweetness and to balance out the soy sauce.
- Corn starch - to thicken the sauce.
- Garlic and ginger - to add an extra layer of flavor to the sauce.
- Red pepper flakes - for a subtle spicy kick. Feel free to use more if you prefer it spicier.
- Brown sugar - just a dash goes a long way to adding a little extra sweetness. I used Brown Swerve, which is a zero-calorie brown sugar alternative.
- Sesame seeds - for texture.
How To Make Healthy Orange Chicken
1. Prepare the chicken: Combine the chicken pieces with baking soda, fresh orange juice, soy sauce, salt, pepper, cornstarch, garlic, and ginger. Let the chicken marinate for at least 10 minutes.
2. Mix the sauce: In a separate bowl, add all of the sauce ingredients and mix until they're fully combined.
3. Fry the chicken: Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the chicken and cook for 5 minutes on each side until golden brown.
4. Add the sauce: Once all of the chicken is cooked, pour the orange sauce mixture into the skillet with the cooked chicken and cook for an extra 5 minutes. Once the sauce starts to thicken, add the sesame seeds and stir to combine. Serve the chicken warm with sides of your choice, and enjoy!
Tips To Make The Best Recipe
- Add orange zest from one orange to the sauce for an even fresher flavor. Just make sure not to add any orange pith since that will make the sauce bitter.
- Cut up the chicken pieces into roughly the same size so they cook evenly.
- Stir the sauce frequently to prevent it from burning as everything cooks.
- Swap the brown sugar for orange marmalade to get the same sweetness but with a fresher citrus flavor.
- Serve the chicken with sauteed broccoli and rice or cauliflower rice for a super healthy dinner.
Storing and Reheating Instructions
In the fridge: Store leftovers in an airtight container and keep it in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.
In the freezer: Allow leftover chicken to cool completely, then transfer it to a freezer-safe container and freeze the chicken for up to 3 months.
Reheating: I like to reheat the chicken and sauce in a pan over medium heat for about 5 minutes. You can also warm it up in a microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring between each. I personally don't like to microwave chicken because the texture becomes rubbery.
Frequently Asked Questions
What do I do if the sauce doesn't thicken?
The sauce may take time to thicken, so give it at least 5-10 minutes. If it still doesn't thicken, you can mix 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of water and add that to the sauce. Let it simmer for another 5-10 minutes while stirring often.
Is orange chicken healthy?
Traditional orange chicken isn't healthy because it's deep-fried and covered with flour and a very sugary glaze that usually has corn syrup and a lot of other processed ingredients in it. This healthy orange chicken recipe lightly pan-fries the chicken, and it has way less sugar than the regular version.
What is the difference between general tso and orange chicken?
The two are very similar, and the biggest difference is the sauce. General Tso chicken has a sweet and spicy sauce since it's chili pepper based, whereas the sauce for orange chicken is just sweet with no spice.
- Szechuan chicken
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For the chicken:
- 1 lb. chicken breasts, cut into cubes
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 2 tablespoon orange juice, freshly squeezed
- 1 ½ tablespoon soy sauce
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon ginger, minced
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil
For the sauce:
- ⅓ cup orange juice, freshly squeezed
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 3 tablespoon rice vinegar
- ½ tablespoon cornstarch
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon ginger, minced
- ½ teaspoon red chili flakes
- 3 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- Prepare the chicken; combine the chicken in a bowl with baking soda, orange juice, soy sauce, salt, pepper, cornstarch, garlic, and ginger. Let the chicken marinate for at least 10 minutes.
- In a separate bowl, combine all of the sauce ingredients in a bowl.
- Heat neutral oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add chicken and cook for 5 minutes per side until golden.
- Pour the sauce ingredients into the skillet with the chicken and cook the chicken for an extra 5 minutes.
- Once the sauce starts to thicken, add sesame seeds, and stir gently to combine.
- Serve chicken warm with broccoli and rice.
Nutrition Information:Serving Size: 1 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 332Total Fat: 13.1gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 101mgSodium: 823mgCarbohydrates: 16.1gFiber: 0.6gSugar: 4gProtein: 43.4g