Skip takeout & try this Healthy Orange Chicken Recipe! Paleo, gluten free + delicious – it’s one of the best healthy chicken recipes! Made with just a few ingredients, it’s tasty and easy to make!
Healthy Chicken Recipe
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If you’re looking for healthy chicken dinner ideas- look no further. This Healthy Orange Chicken is one of our all time favorite meals (with this Healthy Sweet and Sour Chicken coming in at a close second!).
Made with minimal ingredients, full of flavor, and easy to make – this dish is one I always turn to when I need something easy and healthy.
It’s seriously one of the best healthy chicken recipes.
What is orange chicken?
Orange Chicken is a Chinese American dish that typically is made with battered chicken pieces tossed in a sweet and sour orange sauce. This dish is sautéed instead of battered to make it a healthier dinner recipe.
Why we love Healthy Orange Chicken:
There’s a-lot to love about this healthy orange chicken recipe
- Baked, not fried: Typically orange chicken is battered and fried, then tossed in sauce. This healthy orange chicken recipe is sautéed lightly in oil and then tossed in the sauce making it lower in fat and carbs.
- Lower in sugar: Orange chicken often comes tossed in a very sweet, thick sauce. This healthy sauce recipe tastes just as good with way less calories!
- Minimal Ingredients: This orange chicken recipe was made to be gluten free, dairy free, grain free, refined sugar free and paleo friendly so that anyone can enjoy it regardless of their diet.
It’s so simple and delicious, here’s what you’ll need to make it:
Ingredients for healthy orange chicken:
To make healthy orange chicken you’ll need:
- chicken breasts
- toasted sesame oil
- orange juice/zest
- chicken broth
- coconut aminos
- garlic powder, pepper
- fresh or ground ginger
You can find substitutions for all of these ingredients below in the green shaded substitutions box.
How to make Healthy Orange Chicken:
Making orange chicken requires a little bit more steps than many of our recipes, but it’s SO worth it!
- Heat oil in pan and cook until browned. While chicken is cooking, whisk together sauce ingredients
- When chicken is cooked, remove from pan and set aside in a bowl.
- Add sauce ingredients to the pot and bring to a boil.
- The sauce should be bubbling and actively boiling for 15 minutes or so until it thickens. Make sure to constantly stir so that it doesn’t burn.
- You’ll know the sauce is thickened when it coats the back of a spoon.
- Once the sauce is thickened, add the chicken back to the pan and toss until coated.
Substitutions for this Healthy Orange Chicken Recipe:
Chicken- You can substitute chicken breasts with chopped chicken tenders or boneless skinless chicken thighs
Veggies- Serve this healthy orange chicken with any vegetables you like. Our favorites are green beans or broccoli. You could also serve it with our cauliflower fried rice.
Orange Juice– You can sub regular bottled orange juice with freshly squeezed orange juice but we don’t recommend it. We don’t recommend low calorie or low sugar orange juice in this recipe. It can make the sauce taste bitter. Do not try to cut back on the orange juice used. The orange juice helps the sauce thicken and is necessary
Coconut Aminos – You can sub coconut aminos with soy sauce or bragg’s liquid aminos – but the recipe will no longer be paleo. If using Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, use HALF the amount – bragg’s is much saltier.
Honey– You can sub honey with maple syrup. We have never tried making this with sweetener substitutes so we’re not sure how it would work. Coconut sugar will not work in place of honey. You need a liquid sweetener.
Vegan/Vegetarian: You can sub chicken with cooked tofu, or try our Vegan Orange Chicken
Ginger– You can substitute fresh ginger with 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
What To Serve With This Easy Healthy Chicken Recipe?
You can serve this healthy orange chicken in so many different ways!
Paleo/Low Carb: If you’re paleo or looking to eat lower carb, skip the rice entirely or do cauliflower rice.
Veggies: Broccoli, green beans, or steamed cauliflower are great for veggie side dishes.
Salad: You can also serve this alongside a salad
Storing/Serving this Healthy Chicken Recipe
Storing: I keep this healthy orange chicken in the refrigerator for up to 4 days
Reheating: You can reheat this healthy orange chicken in a pan or in the microwave.
Freezing: We have not tried freezing this healthy orange chicken but I think it would work!
Orange Chicken FAQ
Give it time, I promise. Re-read the directions. The chicken needs to be completely removed from the pan, and the sauce needs to boil for 15-20 minutes. Stir the sauce every few minutes, and once the sauce starts to pull away from the pan as you scrape it back, you’ll know it’s ready!
Yes! This is totally fine! Your sauce might look a little dark then these photos simply due to the ingredients you use. The color won’t impact the flavor!
Sweet and sour sauce typically is made with vinegar, while orange chicken sauce is made with orange juice.
Traditional orange chicken isn’t very healthy because it is battered and fried and often has a lot of sugar. This Healthier Orange Chicken recipe is sautéed and has less sugar than other recipes.
No, this orange chicken recipe isn’t spicy.
If you add too much orange pith with your zest or don’t add the correct amount of orange juice or honey, your dish could be bitter. It also could turn bitter if your sauce is overcooked.
Orange chicken is a Chinese-American dish featuring a tangy orange-flavored sauce, while honey chicken is typically a Chinese dish tossed in a sweet and sticky honey sauce, which has a sweeter and less citrusy flavor profile than orange chicken.
On top of being super delicious + beyond easy to make, this recipe is so versatile. Here are different ways to serve this Healthy Orange Chicken.
Can you make orange chicken in the instant pot?
General Tso vs. Orange Chicken
General Tso and Orange Chicken are very similar dishes. Both typically use chicken that has been battered and fried.
The main difference is that General Tso chicken is tossed in a chili based sauce, while orange chicken is tossed in an orange based sauce.
How Does This Healthy Orange Chicken Taste?
This healthy orange chicken is so tasty. It’s tossed in a sauce that is the perfect mix of sweet and salty from the orange and coconut aminos. It tastes like a less sweet version of traditional orange chicken, but still packs a heavy orange flavor!
Love chicken? If so – here are some of our other favorite healthy chicken recipes!
Healthy Orange Chicken
- Clean + cut chicken into 1 inch cubes.
- In a large frying pan, heat sesame oil. Cook the chicken until the edges are brown and slightly crispy (Approx 12-15 minutes)
- As the chicken is cooking, stir together the sauce mixture in a separate bowl
- Once the chicken is thoroughly cooked remove it from the pan and place it off to the side in a separate bowl.
- Pour the sauce mixture into the same pan you cooked the chicken in.
- Bring the sauce mixture to a boil for 15-20 minutes, stirring every minute or so until it starts to thicken. (You will know it has thickened when you scrape the pan and it pulls away from the pan) The sauce should be bubbling the entire time.
- When the sauce thickens, add the cooked chicken back in + stir to coat the chicken
- Serve over steamed broccoli or green beans for a paleo option, or rice/quinoa.
- Sprinkle with sesame seeds + enjoy!
- *** If substituting ground ginger for fresh ginger, cut the amount to 1/2 teaspoon
Instant Pot Instructions
- IMPORTANT: If making this recipe in the instant pot you will need 3 teaspoons of cornstarch or arrowroot powder. You also must use 1/2 the amount of ingredients in the sauce recipe, except for chicken stock. Ex: Orange Juice: 2 cups = 1 cup
- Mix together 1/2 the amount called for in the recipe for the orange juice, coconut aminos, honey, garlic powder, ginger, orange zest and pepper. Set aside.
- Turn the Instant Pot to sauté on the highest heat setting. Drizzle in 2 tablespoons of sesame oil and allow it to heat up. The Instant Pot will display the word “hot” when it’s ready.
- Trim the chicken breasts and dry them off with paper towels. When the Instant Pot is hot place the chicken breasts in the oil. You’ll need to do 2 at a time so you do not crowd the pot. Sear them on each side for 2 minutes then flip just to get a golden color. You’re not trying to cook them through.
- Pull them out and set them on a cutting board. Dice them into 1 inch pieces.
- Put the diced chicken back into the Instant Pot and pour the sauce mixture over. Close the lid and put the vent to sealing. Set it to Manual High Pressure for 3 minutes. Note that pot will take 3-5 minutes to come to pressure before the display starts counting down the 3 minutes you’ve set.
- When it’s finished quick release the steam by setting the valve to venting. Be sure to use a towel or pot holder to do this so you don’t get burned.
- When the Instant Pot releases all the steam the button will lower down and you’ll be able to safely open the lid.
- Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon and place on a plate. Mix together the chicken broth and corn starch.
- Turn the Instant Pot back to sauté choosing the highest heat setting again. Your sauce should begin to bubble. Stream in the corn starch slurry and whisk. Allow the mixture to boil for 7-9 minutes until it’s nice and thick.
- Return the chicken to the sauce and select the “Keep Warm” setting on the Instant Pot. Serve over steamed broccoli or green beans for a paleo option, or rice/quinoa.
- To get your sauté on highest setting, Press sauté then hit the adjust button and choose “more” to set it to the highest setting.
- It’s very important that they are dried off before you put them in the hot oil so they will brown.
- It’s very important to brown the chicken breasts whole prior to dicing them. This ensures that maximum surface area makes contact with the pan and the chicken actually browns. Browning the chicken is an important step. This seals the juices in and ensures the chicken doesn’t release too much liquid while being pressure cooked. This additional liquid effects the consistency of the sauce.
- The sauce will seem thin until you add the corn starch slurry and reduce it down. This is normal
Important Note: This is not an authentic orange chicken recipe. My goal is always to share recipes that are a bit healthier and made with affordable, accessible ingredients so everyone can enjoy them regardless of their food allergies or dietary restrictions. Here’s a link to an authentic Orange Chicken Recipe.