Healthy Orange Chicken
Published Feb 22, 2022, Updated Feb 15, 2023
This post may include affiliate links. Thank you for your support.
This healthy orange chicken is a lightened-up take on the classic Chinese take-out dish. It’s loaded with flavor, easy to make and absolutely delicious especially when paired with rice and a side of veggies.
Whenever Isaac and I order takeout (which isn’t that often) it’s usually either Indian or Chinese food. I love recreating our favorite dishes at home and while most of my versions aren’t super traditional (like this kung pao tofu) I thought it was time to remake a classic, which also happens to be one of Isaac’s favorite meals… orange chicken!
Most orange chicken dishes that you would get at a Chinese restaurant are fried and drenched with a sugary, sweet sauce, so in true EBF fashion I set out to make a lightened up version that was still full of flavor. And if I do say so myself, I think I nailed this recipe. It tastes just like the real deal, but is made with whole ingredients, less oil and no processed sugar. It’s seriously SO good!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Enjoy all the flavors of traditional orange chicken, just with less sodium, sugar and calories!
- It’s cheaper then ordering takeout!
- It’s baked and lightly sautéed on the stove top instead of fried.
- The sauce is refined sugar free. We’re using honey instead of white sugar.
Is Orange Chicken Healthy?
Traditional Chinese Orange Chicken is loaded with lots of excess fat, salt, carbs and sugar thanks to the batter, frying oil and sweet orange-flavored chili sauce, so it’s not necessarily the healthiest option. Don’t get me wrong, I will still indulge at a restaurant occasionally, but I love making healthy versions of restaurant favorites. And with a homemade version like this one, you can feel good about eating it multiple days in a row if you want (which is exactly what we did).
This simple, lightened up version is perfect and won’t leave you feeling heavy or overstuffed. For the sauce we’re swapping sugar for a touch of honey and instead of frying the chicken we’re baking it and then crisping it up on the stove top for a few minutes!
- tamari, soy sauce or coconut aminos – a star ingredient in the sauce! Tamari, soy sauce or coconut aminos all work well here. The savory, salty component complements the sweetness from the honey and orange juice.
- rice vinegar –another key ingredient in the sauce! I prefer rice vinegar, but white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar would also work.
- sesame oil – adds a robust flavor to the sauce. If you don’t have sesame oil on hand olive or avocado oil are good substitutes.
- arrowroot powder – a thickening agent for the sauce and part of the coating for the chicken! Cornstarch will work as a substitute.
- orange juice and orange zest – can’t have orange chicken without the orange! I like using freshly squeezed orange juice (added bonus you can use the same orange for the juice + zest!) for the best flavor but store-bought orange juice works as well.
- fresh garlic and fresh ginger – two flavor enhancers for the sauce!
- honey – instead of white sugar we’re using honey in the sauce, which keeps this dish refined sugar free!
- chicken breasts – boneless skinless chicken breasts, chopped into bite-size pieces.
- all-purpose flour – for the breading. You can also use gluten-free all-purpose flour.
- baking soda – we’re adding this to the breading mixture. It helps the chicken to crisp up when sautéing!
- eggs – helps bind the breading to the chicken.
- sea salt, ground pepper, and cayenne pepper – to season the dish.
- avocado oil or olive oil – for sautéing the chicken after baking.
- green onions – I love serving this dish with fresh green onions. Fresh herbs pack so much flavor!
- optional toppings – sesame seeds and red pepper flakes.
How to Make Orange Chicken
Start by preheating your oven to 425°F and coat a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Add all of your sauce ingredients to a small mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Set this bowl aside.
In a separate small mixing bowl whisk together arrowroot powder, flour, baking soda, cayenne pepper, and salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
In a shallow bowl crack eggs and whisk. Dredge each chicken chunk in the egg bowl, wiping off any access and then dip each into the flour mixture. Roll until each piece is covered completely. Place the coated chicken on the prepared baking sheet with parchment or a wire rack that fits on a baking sheet, without parchment. If you use the wire rack, be sure to spray it with cooking spray or the chicken will stick terribly and be a pain to clean.
Bake chicken for 15 minutes.
When baking timer only has a few minutes left, add oil to a large skillet over medium heat. When chicken is done in the oven, add to warm skillet and allow chicken to crisp up for about 2 minutes per side. Once chicken is golden brown and completely cooked through, add chicken to a plate and set aside while heating the sauce.
Pour sauce mixture into the same skillet over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and let sauce thicken up until it coats the back of a spoon, about 5-6 minutes. Once sauce has thickened up, add chicken back to the skillet and toss until all the chicken is coated. Remove from heat and serve!
How to Serve Healthy Orange Chicken
This healthy orange chicken recipe can be served so many different ways! I love serving it over rice with a side of veggies but feel free to get creative! Here are some ideas:
- Over grains: Brown rice, white rice, quinoa or cauliflower rice are all great options!
- With veggies: We love pairing this orange chicken with roasted veggies like roasted broccoli, roasted carrots or roasted green beans.
- With a salad: If you’re looking for a low-carb option, skip the grains and serve this orange chicken with a salad. This garlicky kale salad or easy spinach salad would both be delicious.
How to Store Leftovers
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. For reheating, warm the chicken on a skillet over the stove top or in the microwave.
I haven’t tried freezing this chicken, but I bet you could freeze it with no issues! To defrost, take the chicken out of the freezer and place it in the fridge to thaw the night before you’re wanting to eat it.
More Asian Inspired Recipes to Try
- Egg Roll in a Bowl
- Sesame Chicken
- Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Kung Pao Tofu with Roasted Cauliflower
- Asian Chicken Sheet Pan Meal
- Asian Tofu Tacos
- Easy Healthy Kung Pao Chicken
Popular Chicken Recipes to Try
- Slow Cooker Butter Chicken
- Healthy Chicken Enchiladas
- Air Fryer Chicken Breast
- Chicken Protein Bowl
- Za’atar Chicken Bake
Be sure to check out all of the chicken recipes here on EBF!
Healthy Orange Chicken
- ½ cup arrowroot powder, or cornstarch
- ½ cup all-purpose flour or gluten-free all-purpose
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 large eggs, whisked
- 1.5 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized chunks
- 2 Tablespoons avocado or olive oil
- Sliced green onions, for garnish
- Sesame seeds , for garnish (optional)
- Red chili flakes , for garnish (optional)
- Preheat oven to 425°F and coat a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Add all your sauce ingredients to a small mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.
- Place arrowroot powder, flour, baking soda, cayenne, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Stir to combine. Crack eggs into another shallow bowl and whisk.
- One by one, dredge each chicken chunk in the egg bowl, wiping off any access and then dip each into the flour mixture. Roll until each piece is covered completely.
- Place the coated chicken on prepared baking sheet with parchment or a wire rack that fits on a baking sheet, without parchment. Be sure to spray the wire rack with cooking spray or the chicken will stick! Bake chicken for 15 minutes.
- When baking timer only has a few minutes left, add oil to a large skillet over medium heat. When chicken is done in the oven, add to warm skillet and allow chicken to crisp up for about 2 minutes per side.
- Once chicken is golden brown and completely cooked through, add chicken to a plate and set aside while heating the sauce. Pour sauce mixture into the same skillet over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and let sauce thicken up until it coats the back of a spoon, about 5-6 minutes.
- Once sauce has thickened up, add chicken back to the skillet and toss until all the chicken is coated.
- Serve chicken over rice and garnish with green onions. Serve with a side of broccoli or another green veggie.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.