Published Mar 16, 2022
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Skip the takeout and make sesame chicken at home with this simple recipe. It’s loaded with flavor, comes together in under 30 minutes and is absolutely delicious as a full meal when paired with rice and a side of veggies.
I recently shared my recreation of orange chicken (which is SO good btw!) and now I’m sharing a healthier version of the Chinese-American classic takeout… sesame chicken! And I have to say, this recipe definitely gives my orange chicken recipe a run for its money!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- It takes about 25 minutes from start to finish, so it’s the perfect addition to your weekly dinner menu.
- Enjoy all the flavors of traditional sesame chicken, just with less sodium, sugar and calories!
- It’s cheaper then ordering takeout!
Is Sesame Chicken Healthy?
Sesame chicken is typically battered, fried and coated in a sweet sauce. It’s delicious, but not necessarily the healthiest option at a restaurant. The average serving size of sesame chicken at a Chinese restaurant is about 790 calories and 36 grams of fat. No thank you!
This simple, lightened-up version has less sugar, fat and calories and won’t leave you feeling heavy or tired. For the sauce we’re using less sugar and coconut sugar instead of white sugar. For the chicken we’re using boneless chicken breasts and cooking on the stovetop instead of frying.
All that said, sesame chicken paired with some type of grain and vegetable is definitely a healthy meal in my book. It’s a good source of protein, healthy carbs and nutrients!
pro tip! If you wanted to make this sesame chicken recipe even healthier skip the coating on the chicken and just saute the chopped chicken breasts and make the sauce as directed!
- tamari, soy sauce or coconut aminos – a star ingredient in the sauce! Tamari, soy sauce or coconut aminos all work well here.
- 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 – this adds a nutty flavor to the dish. I highly recommend using sesame oil but in pinch you can use another option in your pantry.
- arrowroot powder – a thickening agent for the sauce and part of the coating for the chicken! Corn starch will work as a substitute.
- coconut sugar – instead of white sugar we’re using coconut sugar in the sauce, which keeps this dish naturally sweetened. Both brown sugar and white sugar would work as a substitution. I bet honey or maple syrup would also work!
- fresh garlic – fresh garlic is key here for optimal flavor. Of course you can take a shortcut method and buy peeled garlic, jarred minced garlic or frozen crushed garlic cubes. I just wouldn’t recommend swapping the fresh garlic for garlic powder.
- fresh ginger – fresh ginger gives this dish the best flavor. Mince the ginger yourself or buy frozen ginger cubes for easier prep. I always have them in the freezer.
- sambal oelek – also called Huy Fong chili paste or garlic chili sauce, this spicy condiment is a mainstay in Asian cooking. You can find it on the international aisle at your grocery store. If you don’t have sambal oelek, you can use sriracha instead. Omit the sambal if you don’t want the dish to be spicy at all. If you like more flavor and spice, you can add more.
- sea salt and pepper – for seasoning the dish.
- sesame seeds – can’t have sesame chicken without sesame seeds! We’re using these in the sauce and for topping!
- chicken breasts – boneless skinless chicken breasts, chopped into bite-size pieces. You can also use chicken thighs if you prefer.
- baking soda – we’re adding this to the breading mixture. It helps the chicken to crisp up when sautéing!
- egg – helps bind the breading to the chicken.
- avocado oil or olive oil – for sautéing the chicken.
- green onions – I love serving this dish with fresh green onions. Fresh herbs pack so much flavor!
- optional topping – sriracha for a little added heat.
How to Make Sesame Chicken
Step 1: Start by adding all your sauce ingredients to a small mixing bowl, whisk to combine and set aside.
Step 2: Cut chicken into chunks. Whisk together egg, arrowroot powder, salt + pepper. Add chicken and toss to coat.
Step 3: Heat oil and add chicken to pan with egg mixture. Cook chicken 3-4 min per side until golden brown. Pour sauce over chicken and bring to a simmer until it starts to thicken. Serve over rice with a side of broccoli or veggie of choice.
How to Serve
This healthy sesame chicken recipe can be served in 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 vegetables: We love pairing this sesame chicken with roasted veggies like roasted broccoli, roasted carrots or roasted asparagus. In a pinch? Try air fryer broccoli or air fryer asparagus!
- With a salad: If you’re looking for a low-carb option, skip the grains and serve this sesame chicken with a salad. This garlicky kale salad or easy spinach salad are both great options. If you want to stick with the Asian vibe this pad thai salad is also 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
- Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Kung Pao Tofu with Roasted Cauliflower
- Asian Chicken Sheet Pan Meal
- Asian Tofu Tacos
- Easy Healthy Kung Pao Chicken
- Healthy Orange Chicken
Popular Chicken Recipes to Try
- Slow Cooker Butter Chicken
- Healthy Chicken Enchiladas
- Air Fryer Chicken Breast
- Chicken Protein Bowl
- Za’atar Chicken Bake
- Apple Cider Vinegar Chicken
Be sure to check out all of the chicken recipes here on EBF!
- ⅓ cup reduced sodium tamari, coconut aminos or soy sauce
- 2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons water
- 1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- ½ Tablespoon arrowroot powder, or cornstarch
- 3 Tablespoons coconut sugar
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
- 1 teaspoon sambal oelek, or chili garlic sauce
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 3 Tablespoons white sesame seeds
- 1.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1 large egg
- 2 Tablespoons arrowroot powder, or cornstarch
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
- 2 Tablespoons olive or avocado oil
- Toppings: sesame seeds, green onion, sriracha
- rice or cauliflower rice, for serving
- roasted or steamed broccoli, for serving
- Add all your sauce ingredients to a small mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.
- Cut chicken into bite-size chunks.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together egg, arrowroot powder, salt + pepper. Add chicken pieces to bowl and toss to coat.
- Add oil to pan and warm on medium high heat. Once warm add chicken to pan with egg mixture. Cook chicken 5-6 minutes per side until golden brown.
- Pour sauce over chicken and bring to a simmer until it starts to thicken, about 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Serve over rice with a side of broccoli or veggie of choice.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.