This Healthy Orange Chicken couldn’t be easier to make and there’s absolutely no added sugar of any kind! It’s naturally sweet because of the easy homemade orange chicken sauce that comes together in just minutes in the pan. It’s also gluten free, Whole30, paleo, and dairy free as well. So the next time you’re craving takeout, this Healthy Orange Chicken is your easy answer!
Does anyone else just love those breaded, deep fried chicken cubes all coated in a sweet sauce? Well… I can definitely say I always have! But as time has gone on, I find myself craving more flavor and less of the stomachache I always get with those types of foods. And so my obsession with healthier, (and easier) take-out style recipes continues with this orange chicken.
Orange chicken is yet another tasty dish that is deep fried and coated in a sauce that has more sugar than your average dessert! But the good news is, it tastes incredible when you make it with no added sugar at all. It’s all about the deep flavor in the sauce which is easy make, but has a few key tips to make it super tasty.
So if you’re like me and crave those take-out flavors, this one’s for you! And because we make super easy recipes around here, there’s no deep frying involved either. This is a lighter orange chicken not because we’re counting calories, but because who has the time or desire to deep fry chicken at home? (Ok… I’ll admit I do deep fry once or twice a year, but that’s it. It’s just too much work!)
So first up let’s talk about the ingredients in this Healthy Orange Chicken!
- Chicken – You can use either boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs. I lean toward using chicken thighs because they’re much more forgiving in a stir fry. Chicken breasts can go from barely done to ‘sawdust’ pretty fast, but chicken thighs aren’t as touchy. But if you’re careful with your cooking time on the chicken, you’ll be fine. I’ve made this recipe both ways, and they’re both good!
- Garlic & Ginger – Freshly minced garlic and ginger are key for the best tasting stir fry of any kind. But any shortcut you like to use like the squeezeable ginger etc can be substituted, although I can’t vouch for the outcome. Once I got used to mincing up ginger and garlic, I got faster at it, and it only takes me a couple of minutes now! And please don’t substitute dried ground ginger, people will tell you it’s fine, but it’s really not very tasty! This recipe only has a few ingredients, so it’s important they’re fresh. And I don’t want you to be disappointed in the results you’ll get from dried ginger.
- Orange Juice & Zest – Again fresh is best here, but you can substitute orange juice (unsweetened) from the carton. But since you’re zesting an orange here, it only takes a couple minutes to squeeze the orange juice fresh.
- Coconut Aminos – you can sub in Tamari or gluten free soy sauce, but start with less because they’re both saltier. I think coconut aminos (which is a soy free substitute) is the perfect balance here because of it’s natural sweetness that really makes the sauce extra tasty without added sugar.
- Tapioca – this is optional to slightly thicken the sauce, but I prefer to let the sauce get thick on it’s own because the flavor is more concentrated.
- Green Onions & Sesame Seeds – these are mostly for garnish, but the green onions provide a welcome savory flavor that’s nice with the sweetness.
Ok, now let’s jump in and make this recipe step by step!
First up you want to prep everything before you get started because this stir fry comes together pretty fast. Also it helps to get your side dishes started too.
This stir fry takes between 10-15 minutes to cook, so anything else that takes longer like rice needs to be started before you start prepping your ingredients.
Tip: To make chicken easier to cut up, try cutting it up when it’s still partially frozen. I get my packages of chicken out of the freezer the night before and place them in a bowl in the refrigerator. Then when it comes time for dinner, the chicken is still partially frozen, and so much easier to cut up!
Now that everything is prepped, we’re going to sauté the chicken first. Then remove it from the pan and sauté the ginger and garlic.
Finally add the orange juice and zest along with the coconut aminos and briskly simmer until it begins to thicken, 8-10 minutes.
The last step is to add the chicken back to the pan and cook for about 1 minute to heat through and coat with the sauce.
Then just sprinkle the green onions and sesame seeds over the top and serve immediately!
What to serve with this Healthy Orange Chicken:
Finally I have some more take-out recipe inspiration for you!
- Sweet Potato Noodle Pad Thai
- Thai Basil Chicken Stir Fry
- Paleo Mongolian Beef
- Easy Gluten Free Ramen Stir Fry
- Whole30 Sweet and Sour Chicken
- Instant Pot Korean Beef Bowls
- Instant Pot Egg Roll Bowls
- Banh Mi Lettuce Wraps
- Sweet Chili Chicken Stir Fry
- Paleo Pineapple Fried ‘Rice’
I sure hope you get a chance to make this stir fry soon. And if you do, I hope you’ll leave me a comment/rating below. I always love hearing from you here in the comments. And also over on Instagram where you can tag me at #getinspiredeveryday with your photos!Print
This healthier version of the classic take-out Orange Chicken will have you coming back for more, and you’ll never miss the sugar because this dish has so much flavor without it!
1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs, or chicken breasts, cut into 1/2” cubes
2 tablespoons avocado oil
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 clove minced garlic
2 teaspoons orange zest, from a microplane grater
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice, about 2 oranges
1/4 cup coconut aminos, or tamari/soy sauce to taste
Optional: 1 teaspoon tapioca starch mixed with 1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
Sesame seeds to sprinkle over the top
Start by prepping all the ingredients before you begin to cook.
Place a large 9-10″ cast iron or non-stick skillet over medium high heat. When the pan is hot, add 1 tablespoon avocado oil and the cut up chicken.
Sauté stirring only as the chicken browns for 3-4 minutes, or until just done. Remove the chicken from the pan and set it aside.
Lower the heat to medium-low and add the remaining tablespoon avocado oil, toasted sesame oil, ginger and garlic. Cook stirring constantly to prevent browning until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Then add the orange zest, orange juice, and coconut aminos to the pan. Bring to a boil then lower the heat to maintain a brisk boil. The goal in this step is to reduce the sauce.
When the sauce is thickened, 8-10 minutes, add the chicken back to the pan. Or if you like a bit more sauce you can add the optional thickener before the sauce thickens on it’s own, at about the 5 minute mark in the cooking time.
Cook to warm the chicken and combine it with the sauce. Then sprinkle with the green onions and sesame seeds before serving.
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Stir Fry
- Cuisine: Asian
Keywords: Healthy Orange Chicken Recipe, Healthy Orange Chicken Stir Fry, Simple Orange Chicken, Easy Orange Chicken