Skip the takeout and make this Healthy Orange Chicken instead! Made with a sweet and tangy citrus sauce and lean chicken breast, this recipe for homemade orange chicken allows you to enjoy a takeout favorite without the excess calories and sodium.
From dishes like Hunan Beef to Moo Goo Gai Pan to Healthy Orange Chicken, I love recreating restaurant favorites to enjoy at home. Not only does it fill our meal rotation with flavorful favorite dishes, but helps to save money and eat more nutritious meals.
Reasons to Love Homemade Orange Chicken
- Simple recipe with complex flavors. Made with tender chicken that is glazed in an orange chicken sauce made with garlic, ginger, soy, and orange juice, this orange chicken is bright and refreshing yet balanced with earthy, bold flavors and a bit of spice.
- Ready in under 30 minutes. This Healthy Orange Chicken is ready in just over 20 minutes using just a handful of simple ingredients, making this quick and easy flavor-packed recipe one of my all-time favorite healthy 30-minute meals.
- Better for you! By preparing Orange Chicken at home, you get to be in charge of the quality of ingredients. That means you can easily make a healthy version of orange chicken that is much lower in fat, sodium, and preservatives, than takeout. Not to mention, this Healthy Orange Chicken is so much fresher tasting.
- Adult AND kid-friendly recipe. This recipe for healthier orange chicken is sweet enough that the kids love it, yet complex enough in flavors, that it still pleases the more sophisticated palates.
Notes on Ingredients in Orange Chicken
- Chicken: While this recipe works with either boneless, skinless chicken thighs or chicken breasts, using chicken breast will keep this recipe lower in fat and every bit as delicious.
- Fresh Oranges: This recipe calls for both orange zest and orange juice. To use the ingredients to their fullest, zest the orange and then juice it. Otherwise, use any refrigerated orange juice you have on hand.
- Rice Wine Vinegar: If you don't happen to have rice vinegar on hand, you can use rice vinegar or mirin. Even distilled vinegar will work. Just don't replace it with strong vinegar such as balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, or apple cider vinegar.
- Soy Sauce: Use low-sodium soy sauce to control the level of sodium in the orange chicken.
- Brown Sugar: Adding a bit of brown sugar will help to enhance the sweetness of the orange chicken sauce. Feel free to replace the brown sugar with honey if desired.
- Fresh Ginger: For the best flavor, use peeled grated gingerroot, not ground ginger. Pro Tip: You can store leftover peeled ginger in a freezer-safe bag in the freezer for up to 3 months. Grate the ginger directly from the freezer for future recipes.
- Oil: Use an oil with a high smoking point such as canola, avocado, peanut, or coconut oil.
- Cornstarch: Cornstarch is used to thicken the sauce and help it coat the chicken. If needed or desired, use tapioca starch in place of cornstarch.
- Gluten-Free Modifications: To keep this dish free from gluten, use Tamari sauce in place of the soy sauce.
- Corn-Free Modifications: If you need this Orange Chicken to be free from corn, use tapioca starch in place of the corn starch.
- Add Spice: Feel free to add up to ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes to the orange sauce to add some kick to the final dish.
- Instant Pot Orange Chicken: Try my recipe for Instant Pot Orange Chicken for a hands-off version of this healthy orange chicken.
How to Make Orange Chicken
The following tips are provided to help you achieve perfect results. You will find the detailed instructions in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Step One: Prepare the Orange Chicken Sauce. Because this recipe for orange chicken comes together so quickly, it is best to prepare the sauce before browning the chicken.
Step Two: Sear Chicken. Searing the chicken in a VERY small amount of oil will help to give this dish texture but significantly lower the fat.
Step Three: Thicken Sauce. Whisk the prepared orange sauce together again just to ensure it is fully incorporated and then add it to the same skillet you browned the chicken in. Bring this mixture to a boil, stirring constantly, to help thicken the sauce.
Step Four: Finish Cooking the Chicken. Once the sauce comes to a boil, reduce the heat, add the seared chicken back to the pan, and cook until the chicken is fully cooked through and coated with the orange sauce.
This Healthy Orange Chicken is fabulous when paired with Instant Pot White Rice or Instant Pot Brown Rice. To keep the carbs on the lower end, you may opt to pair this chicken over cauliflower rice or in lettuce cups. For a fun spin on take-out at home, pair Orange Chicken with Baked Vegetable Egg Rolls and a side of Stir-Fried Bok Choy.
How to Store Orange Chicken
- Refrigerate: Allow leftover orange chicken to cool slightly and then store in a sealed container for 3-4 days in the fridge.
- Freeze: You can also freeze the leftover Orange Chicken for up to 3 months in a freezer-safe container.
- Reheat: If needed, allow the orange chicken to thaw overnight in the refrigerator, and then warm it in a skillet over medium-low heat.
More Easy Copycat Asian-Inspired Recipes
- Vegetable Potstickers
- Hunan Chicken
- Easy Fried Rice
- Thai Noodles
- Stir-Fried Chicken and Bok Choy
- Homemade Ramen
If you enjoyed this Copycat Orange Chicken, I would love for you to leave a comment and review below.
Healthy Orange Chicken
- 1 large orange zested
- ½ cup orange juice from about 1 large orange
- ¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar or honey
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger root grated
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 bunch of green onions chopped (optional)
- In a small bowl, combine the juice, zest, soy sauce, sugar, garlic, vinegar, ginger, and cornstarch together and whisk until the sugar and cornstarch are fully dissolved.
- In a large non-stick frying pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Once a drop of water sizzles in the oil, add the chicken to the pan. Allow the chicken to saute until browned on each side for about 3-4 minutes, and then remove the chicken from the skillet and place it onto a large plate.
- Add the sauce to the skillet and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Once bubbling, turn the heat to medium-low and return the chicken back to the pan. Simmer the chicken in the sauce for about 3-5 minutes.
- Serve the chicken with the sauce over steamed rice or quinoa and garnish with green onion slices if desired.