Healthy Orange Chicken
Asian | Published May 1, 2021 | Updated May 1, 2021 | By Tawnie
Skip the Panda Express Orange Chicken tonight and opt for this healthy orange chicken recipe instead!
It’s full of orange flavor, is gluten free and the boneless skinless chicken breasts (cut into bite sized pieces) are cooked on the stove in the sauce instead of being deep fried.
Table of contents
The orange chicken sauce is really simple to make and uses pantry staple ingredients like honey, soy sauce and rice vinegar.
We love this recipe with steamed white rice, cauliflower rice, or sometimes my fried rice recipe is we’re feeling extra!
- Oranges: The key ingredient to this sweet and savory, drool-worthy orange chicken sauce! You’ll want to zest the oranges first, and then squeeze the juice out of them.
- Chicken: you can use boneless chicken breasts or chicken thighs.
- Honey: Instead of white sugar, this recipe uses honey. It’s the ticket to sweeten the sauce!
- Soy sauce: feel free to coconut aminos or a low sodium soy sauce to reduce the salt.
- Ginger: fresh ginger is recommended to bring out the most flavor of the sauce
- Cornstarch: helps thicken the sauce and turn it into to a glossy, luscious sauce.
- Garnish ideas: green onions, sesame seeds
Step by Step Directions
- Whisk all of the ingredients together for the sauce in a measuring cup or bowl.
- Cube up the chicken and cook until no longer pink in a large non-stick skillet.
- Pour the sauce over the chicken and simmer.
- Add in cornstarch slurry to thicken the sauce.
- Serve with rice and vegetables. (we usually serve with broccoli!)
Expert Tips and Variations
- Add some sweet heat to the sauce by adding in 1-2 Tbsp. sweet chili sauce.
- Add more orange flavor by using more orange zest.
- Make the sauce ahead of time and store in the fridge so when you go to make the meal, that part is already done!
- Turn it into a stir fry by adding in your favorite vegetables.
- Chop the chicken into 1 inch cubes. If you cut it too small, it can dry out as it cooks.
- Enjoy with ramen noodles or udon noodles if you don’t feel like rice!
- Sub the chicken for tofu if you are feeling like a meatless meal.
You’ll want to bring the sauce to a boil, then down to a simmer and after you whisk in the cornstarch slurry allow it to thicken for ~5 minutes. Stirring occasionally. It will thicken more especially the longer it sits.
It may seem like a lot of sauce, but trust me you’ll want to use it all! It’s also good for reheating leftovers.
This recipe is not fried or breaded so therefore yes, it is. Just make sure your soy sauce is gluten free too. Other orange chicken recipes are usually breaded and not gluten free.
If you feel the cornstarch has made the sauce too thick, thin it out by whisking in a little water. This should do the trick.
This healthy orange chicken recipe is a little spicy since it uses 1/2 tsp. red pepper chili flakes. Feel free to omit if you don’t like the spicy kick!
More chicken recipes you will love
HUNGRY FOR MORE? If you try this recipe, why not leave a star rating in the recipe card right below and/or a review in the comment section further down the page? I always appreciate your feedback! You can also follow me on Pinterest or Instagram. Sign up for my email list, too!
Healthy Orange Chicken
- 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces (about 2 large breasts)
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups orange juice, freshly squeezed
- 1-2 tsp. orange zest
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2 tsp. garlic, minced
- 2 tsp. rice vinegar
- 1 tsp. ginger, minced
- 1/2 tsp. red pepper chili flakes (optional)
- 1/4 tsp. white pepper
- 1-2 Tbsp. cornstarch + 1-2 Tbsp. water to make slurry to thicken sauce
- Garnish ideas: green onions, sesame seeds
- In a large bowl or measuring cup, whisk together all of the ingredients for the sauce: orange juice, orange zest, honey, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, rice vinegar, red pepper chili flakes, and white pepper. (Cornstarch gets added at the end).
- Heat a wide non stick skillet; add oil and once the oil is hot add the chicken pieces. *Note: if you feel like the chicken is crowding your pan, don't put all of the chicken in at once. Cook in batches if needed and take the first half out and set it on a paper towel lined plate while you cook up the second half.
- Cook chicken on medium heat, stirring chicken occasionally, until chicken is cooked.
- Pour the prepared sauce into the skillet, making sure you get all the honey too that might have settled at the bottom!
- Allow the sauce to come to a simmer, and then add in the cornstarch slurry: whisk together the cornstarch and water, and then whisk that into the sauce. (Watch the video for reference!) The sauce will thicken and you'll know it's just right when your spatula leaves a little blank trail behind it.
- Garnish with green onions and sesame seeds and serve with rice or noodles and your favorite veggies.
- You’ll want to bring the sauce to a boil, then down to a simmer and after you whisk in the cornstarch slurry allow it to thicken for ~5 minutes. Stirring occasionally. It will thicken more especially the longer it sits.
- To make gluten free: Please ensure that all of your ingredients are gluten free, including the cornstarch and the soy sauce.
Hi, I’m Tawnie!
Welcome to my tiny “korner” on the Internet! I am a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who loves cookies as much as kale. (OK, maybe I like cookies a little bit more but shh, don’t tell anyone). I am so glad you’re here! Follow along for hassle free, realistic and approachable recipes.More about Tawnie
Omggggg better than Panda! Only thing we tweaked was that we used brown rice. Sooo yummy
omg thank you so much Beth! what a compliment 🙂 Looks so so good! xo, Tawnie
Are you able to make this in the instant pot?
Hi Michelle! I haven’t made this specific recipe in the Instant Pot actually but I’ve made a similar recipe in it. Here is what I would do: Cut the chicken up into cubes/bite size pieces. Place at the bottom of the instant pot with 3 Tbsp. melted butter. Next, make the sauce. Whisk all ingredients together and then pour over chicken. Place the lid on your Instant Pot, plug in and cook on high pressure for 4 minutes. Be sure the valve on top is set to sealing. Will take a few minutes to heat up to pressure, so in the meantime make your rice and steam the broccoli. Once time is up, use the quick release method. Add a cornstarch slurry if you need to thicken the sauce. I hope this helps 🙂 xo, Tawnie
This is one of my favorite chicken dish which I love to eat it with fried rice. Can’t wait to make it this dinner.
This Orange Chicken looks delicious! A perfect weeknight dinner.
This orange chicken looks so delicious! Can’t wait to give it a try!
What an excellent recipe! Definitely rivals my nearest Chinese take-out restaurant. I’ll be making this again and again!
It was SO tasty and SO flavorful. I served it with rice and veggies. Will definitely be making this again in the future.
Thank you so much.❤️
Thank you so much Tania!!