Skip the takeout & make this Healthy Orange Chicken Recipe for dinner! 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!
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I really don’t play favorites with my recipes.. or at least I try not to.. but whenever someone asks me what my favorite recipe from my site it, I always say it’s this Healthy Orange Chicken Recipe
(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!
Orange Chicken is one of my favorite things to order when we get takeout.
But as I’m sure most of you know.. takeout is definitely not the healthiest dinner option. Most takeout restaurant food is loaded with sodium, sugar, and mystery ingredients which can make it tough for people with food allergies to enjoy!
Years ago when I first started eating healthy was on a mission to try to make all my favorite foods healthy, and orange chicken was one of the first things to get a makeover!
This is not an authentic orange chicken recipe, but a lighter version of one of my favorites foods that has been made paleo, gluten free, dairy free, nut free and plant based for everyone to enjoy.
I’ll admit, there were (and still are) many concoctions that I try that come out a total mess. Muffins that are flatter than pancakes… Breads that never rise..
But THIS lighter orange chicken recipe recipe is one where all the healthy substitutions turned into something SUPER delicious!
It’s seriously one of the best healthy chicken recipes.
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
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.
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.
Ways to Serve this Healthy Orange Chicken:
Feeding a crowd of hungry people? Serve it over a giant bowl of brown rice/quinoa + broccoli.
Trying to keep paleo? Skip the rice entirely or do cauliflower rice.
Not a huge fan of cauliflower rice? Serve it over zoodles!
Veggies: Broccoli, green beans, or steamed cauliflower are great for veggie side dishes
What to do if the sauce doesn’t thicken with this Healthy Orange Chicken
Give it time, I promise. Re-read the directions listed in the recipe.
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!
My sauce is more brown than orange, is this ok?
Yes! This is totally fine! Your sauce might look a little dark than these photos simply due to the ingredients you use.
The color won’t impact the flavor!
The next time you’re tempted to get takeout… skip the delivery service and just make it yourself!
I hope you love this amazing twist on takeout as much as we do. It’s a delicious healthy chicken recipe I think you’ll love!
Substitutions for this Healthy Orange Chicken Recipe:
Orange Juice– you can sub regular bottled orange juice with freshly squeezed orange juice. We don’t recommend low calorie or low sugar orange juice in this recipe
Chicken- You can substitute chicken breasts with chopped chicken tenders or boneless skinless chicken thighs
Vegan/Vegetarian: You can sub chicken with cooked tofu, or try our Vegan Orange Chicken
Ginger– you can substitute fresh ginger with 1/2 tablespoon ground ginger
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.
Storing/Serving Healthy Orange Chicken:
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!
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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.
- Feeding a crowd of hungry people? Serve it over a giant bowl of brown rice/quinoa + broccoli.
- Trying to keep paleo? Skip the rice entirely or do cauliflower rice.
- Not a huge fan of cauliflower rice? Serve it over zoodles!
- Broccoli, green beans, or steamed cauliflower are great for veggie side dishes