This amazing recipe for healthy orange chicken is a great alternative to classic orange chicken but with all the flavor. Unlike the classic takeout version, it is not deep fried, it contains a lower amount of sodium, and it uses fresh orange juice and brown sugar for sweetness. You will love it!
One of the items that I usually go for whenever we order Chinese takeout is the classic orange chicken. I love the contrast of the sweetness of the chicken with the saltiness of a nice portion of fried rice. What I don’t like is the high amount of calories, sodium, and sugar that one small portion has, especially when I am trying to eat healthier.
That is the reason why I love making this version of orange chicken at home. We all know that anything we make ourselves in our kitchens will always come out healthier because we’re using less fat, sodium, and sugar. But that does not mean that it should lack great taste, and this is one of those recipes.
What You’ll Need
- Marinade: I always use the same marinade I use for my beef with broccoli recipe which is made with soy sauce, garlic, baking soda, and water. The baking soda will help tenderize the meat, while the soy sauce adds sodium and flavor.
- Orange Sauce: We will be using fresh orange juice and a small amount of brown sugar to add sweetness. For flavor, we will add, orange zest, soy sauce, rice vinegar, hoisin sauce, ginger, and red pepper flakes for spiciness. You can also use your favorite hot chili sauce instead of the red pepper flakes.
- Cornstarch: We will add this ingredient to help thicken the sauce. I love the texture of a very thick sauce but if you like it on the thinner side, you can add less or skip it altogether.
- Chicken: I use chicken breast to make this recipe healthier but you can also use chicken thighs to add more flavor.
- Sesame seeds and/or green onions: I usually use them for presentation only. You can use either, both, or neither.
How To Make Healthy Orange Chicken
- Marinade the chicken. Cut the chicken breast into small pieces and mix it with the marinade for about 30 minutes. This will give the marinade a chance to tenderize the chicken and add extra flavor.
- Combine the ingredients for the orange sauce. Stir it well so the cornstarch dissolves with the orange juice, especially before adding it to the chicken.
- Stir fry the marinated chicken in a small amount of oil until golden brown. Stir frequently so the chicken doesn’t stick to the pan.
- Once the chicken is cooked through, lower the heat, add the orange sauce, and simmer for a few minutes until it thickens. Serve immediately and garnish with the sesame seeds and/or green onion.
- Grains or Pasta: I usually serve this dish with plain white rice and sometimes with homemade fried rice. You can also serve it with brown rice or quinoa. And to change things up, I double the amount of sauce and serve it with rice noodles.
- Vegetables: I love serving it with a nice side of steamed, air-fried, or roasted broccoli. You can also serve it with stir-fried vegetables or even oven-roasted Brussels sprouts.
- Lettuce wraps: To make them you can use large leaves of green leaf or butter lettuce. They turn out very similar to these delicious chicken lettuce wraps.
This amazing recipe is a healthier take on the classic orange chicken but with all the flavor. It is not deep fried, contains a lower amount of sodium, and uses fresh orange juice and brown sugar for sweetness.
- 1½ lbs chicken breast or chicken thighs cut into small pieces
- 2 tbsp oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- Sesame seeds (Optional)
- 2 green onions, chopped (Optional)
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ⅛ tsp baking soda
- ¼ cup (59 ml) water
- ½ cup (118 ml) fresh orange juice
- 1 tbsp fresh orange zest
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp hoisin sauce **See notes
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ¼ cup (50 g) brown sugar
- 2 tbsp red pepper flakes **See notes
- 3 tbsp cornstarch
- Mix the ingredients for the marinade in a medium-sized bowl. Add the chicken and stir well. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- In a small bowl, mix all of the ingredients for the orange sauce and set aside.
- Heat the oil in a large pan and add the three cloves of garlic. Stir fry for about 1 minute. Add the chicken and cook until golden brown.
- Add the sauce to the pan, lower the heat, and simmer for a few minutes until it thickens.
- Serve immediately and garnish with the sesame seeds and/or green onion.
You can substitute hoisin sauce with teriyaki or oyster sauce.
Use your favorite hot chili sauce instead of the red pepper flakes to add spiciness to this dish.
Keywords: Chicken, Main Dish