Healthy Orange Chicken | Easier Than You Think!

There’s much to love about Healthy Orange Chicken! The grated ginger, orange zest, and red pepper flakes all make it a beloved classic. This post will show you how to skip the unwanted calories and create your own version, at home!

Healthy Orange Chicken

I don’t think I’ve shared this with you yet, but I love Asian food.  I know…groundbreaking as that may be.  “Wow, did you hear that? Lacey likes another type of food. Shocking.”

And you may also be wondering, “Well Lacey, where are all the Asian cuisine recipes?

I have a few! And am quite proud of my Cauliflower Fried Rice and Spring Roll recipes. Then there’s my famous Stir Fried Beef with Broccoli. But when it all comes down to it, I love to eat Chinese, Japanese, Thai food and the like. I’m just slightly less comfortable with the actual cooking part.

That’s what makes this Easy Orange Chicken so fantastic. Not only quite simple to make but you probably have most, if not all, of the ingredients already. Plus, it’s healthier than the takeout version (very fresh and vibrant)!

So whether you’re a seasoned chef or total beginner, this Healthy Orange Chicken recipe is for you!

Where Did Orange Chicken Come From?

Orange chicken is originally from China and looks quite different from what you might expect. It had no breading (yup, none) and the sauce was mostly made from leftover orange peels cooked with soy sauce, chilis, and garlic. The sauce had a citrusy flavor, but it wasn’t as sweet are your favorite takeaway.

Our American-Chinese restaurants have transformed the recipe, creating a fusion of the East and West. Nowadays when you order orange chicken, you’ll be served breaded pieces drenched in an orange sauce (with some broccoli on the side).

It’s undeniable tempting.

But because I’m dedicated to healthy (and yummy) recipes, I’m returning Orange Chicken closer to it’s original form!

Is Orange Chicken Healthy?

Orange chicken can be healthy if you make it at home. But if you go the takeout route, it begins to look more like an unhealthy comfort food (that crispy fried texture we love is packed with calories). And that’s not the only reason why takeout orange chicken has a whopping 490 calories for a single serving.

Can you guess why? Well, it’s because of all the sugar (19g specifically!) you will find in that famous orange sauce.

But as I always say, there’s a pathways towards healthier versions. Follow me!

Healthy Orange Chicken

What is Orange Chicken Sauce Made Of?

When I make my healthy orange chicken glaze, I use vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, orange zest, and crushed red peppers. My kids absolutely love this flavor! Which is a huge plus because it deters them from requesting the unhealthier takeout version. Which, by the way, typically uses 1/4 cup sugar and another 1/4 cup of brown sugar for the sauce alone. Yep. That’s 1/2 cup of sugar. Pretty much cake for dinner if you ask me!

Do I Use White Or Dark Meat for Orange Chicken?

Most of the time, dark meat – specifically the thigh – is used for orange chicken. But for this recipe I’m using chicken breasts because they are higher in protein, have less fat, and it will keep you full longer!

Healthy Homemade Popcorn Recipe

Healthy Ingredient Swaps

I know everyone has a different definition of healthy. What I may consider clean-eating, might not be the same for you. To help healthy orange chicken accommodate your dietary preferences, here’s a quick swap list you may find useful:

  1. Paleo: As soy sauce isn’t one of the Paleo approved foods, try using Coconut Aminos as a substitute. It’s made of coconut sap and gives you that signature umami flavor- with a WAY lower sodium content (just 90 mg per tsp). You don’t have to worry about switching the thickener because I already use arrowroot starch.
  2. Keto: Where my Keto people at? If you want to use this recipe but lessen the number of carbs, you can try cutting the recipe sauce in half.
Healthy Orange Chicken

What’s A Good Side Dish For Orange Chicken?

There’s nothing more satisfying than eating your orange chicken with stir-fry veggies! My personal favorites are broccoli, bell peppers, and red onion, but you can substitute them with any of your go-to veggie sides. Others that pair with Orange Chicken wonderfully include carrots, peas, cauliflower, and even mushrooms.

How Can I Store My Orange Chicken?

Storing your orange chicken is easy as cooking it up! All you have to do is pack your leftovers in an air-tight food container and pop it in the freezer. Just make sure that the dish has already cooled down before you store it, that way you don’t get any excess moisture build up.

Healthy Orange Chicken

How Do I Reheat My Orange Chicken?

To reheat your orange chicken, first allow it to thaw (if frozen) for around 2-3 hours. Doing so will allow it to reheat better and closer to it’s original form. Then, reheat it in the oven for around 10-12 minutes at 325 degrees. Don’t forget to cover it up with foil!

More Healthy Chicken Recipes

  1. Healthy Oven Roasted Chicken
  2. Healthy Baked Chicken Parmesan
  3. 7 Best Marinades For Juicy Chicken
  4. Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken Meal Prep
  5. Healthy Nashville Hot Chicken
5 from 1 vote
Healthy Orange Chicken
Healthy Orange Chicken
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
30 mins
 

There's much to love about Healthy Orange Chicken! The grated ginger, orange zest, and red pepper flakes all make it a beloved classic. This post will show you how to skip the unwanted calories and create your own version, at home!

Categories: Clean Eating, Easy Dinner, Meal Prep, No Refined Sugar
Difficulty: Easy
Keyword: easy orange chicken
Servings: 4 meals
Calories: 271 kcal
Author: Lacey Baier
Ingredients
For the Chicken:
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb boneless and skinless chicken breast boneless and skinless
  • 1 tsp sea salt, to coat chicken
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper, to coat chicken
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced (for topping)
For the Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. water, divided
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 1/2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp grated orange zest
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp arrowroot starch
Optional
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds for garnish
  • 1 cup brown rice for serving
Instructions
  1. In a mixing bowl, combine 1/2 cup water, orange juice, lemon juice, rice vinegar, soy sauce, orange zest, coconut sugar, and red pepper flakes, and then set this aside while we prep the chicken.

  2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. 

  3. Dice Chicken into 1-inch cubes, and season with salt and pepper.

  4. Once the oil is hot, add the chicken in a single layer into the pan, and cook, without moving, for 2 minutes, and then stir and cook for an additional 2 minutes. 

  5. Then, add minced garlic and minced ginger, and stir-fry until the garlic is fragrant, about a minute.

  6. Now, add the orange sauce to the pan and allow to simmer for 1 to 2 minutes.

  7. In a small mixing bowl, combine arrowroot starch and remaining 2 tbps of water until the starch is dissolved. Add this mixture to the pan, stirring to combine. Cook until the sauce thickens, about 1 minute.

  8. Top chicken with sliced green onions, sesame seeds and serve with brown rice.

Recipe Notes

Nutritional info provided does not include brown rice. Including 1/2 cup steamed brown rice would increase calories by 108 calories, 2 g fiber, and 2.5 g protein.

Nutrition Facts
Healthy Orange Chicken
Amount Per Serving (1 meal)
Calories 271 Calories from Fat 72
% Daily Value*
Fat 8g12%
Saturated Fat 1g5%
Cholesterol 72mg24%
Sodium 1062mg44%
Potassium 539mg15%
Carbohydrates 14g5%
Sugar 7g8%
Protein 31g62%
Vitamin A 195IU4%
Vitamin C 26.6mg32%
Calcium 17mg2%
Iron 0.8mg4%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

 

This post contains affiliate links for products I use regularly and highly recommend.

Lacey Baier

Hey y’all, I’m Lacey Baier and I’m so glad you’re here! I’m a healthy lifestyle influencer and the creator of this clean-eating blog and YouTube channel, A Sweet Pea Chef. My recipes have been published on Food Network, Good Morning America, FoxNews, Tastemade, Fitness Magazine, and much more. I live in Dallas, Texas with my husband and four kiddos. Let’s get started!

30 thoughts on “Healthy Orange Chicken | Easier Than You Think!

  1. 5 stars
    This orange sauce was delicious! Was the chicken meant to be 1.5 lbs total weight? The recipe says 1/2 lbs and it seemed there was enough sauce for more meat.

    I also added some broccoli florets in the last 2 minutes of cooking and it turned out great!

  2. Thank you for posting this great dish, one in a series of delights you’ve shared with me–teriyaki sauce, hollandaise sauce, ice cream. You’re my first “go to”. Simple and great without a lot of standing on my head. Many blessings, Lyn

  3. Its such as you read my mind! You seem to grasp a lot approximately this, such as you wrote the e-book in it or something. I feel that you just could do with some p.c. to force the message house a little bit, however instead of that, this is excellent blog. A fantastic read. I’ll definitely be back.

  4. Lacey,
    This was delicious! My family loved it! I have never used ginger root in cooking before, so that was fun. I used 3 chicken breasts, and brown rice, and it was so good. The orange sauce was awesome! Love your blog, and will be trying another one of your chicken recipes soon!

  5. The orange sauce was a perfect and fresh taste of citrus orange, tangy , not overly sweet, hint of ginger, & the right amount of chili flakes for some zing! This is definitely a keeper! 😛

  6. My cousin shared this website with me and I made the orange chicken…hello..can you say slammin good dinner? I added some bok choy and frozen asian medley veggies and brown rice, and we were happy and stuffed. Thanks!

  7. Hi there! This recipe sounds delish and I was hoping that you might add it to my Easter and Spring Linking Party to share with my readers. If you are interested, you can go here http://bakedbyjoanna.blogspot.com/2011/04/easter-linking-party.html to enter. Thanks!

  8. This dish looks awesome. Quick question though – i live overseas and don’t have access to rice vinegar. What would you suggest as a substitution? Would red wine vinegar work?

    1. Hmmm…I would probably try white wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar and then red wine vinegar (in that order) depending on what’s available to you. I’d love to know what you try and how it turns out. Good luck!

  9. Lacey: I think I want to be your new BFF!! Rob and I seriously MOANED while we eat this delicious, easy to prepare meal. It was just wonderful! Keep up the great work. XOXOXOX

  10. My husband is addicted to chicken. It’s weird. So the “chicken” part of my collected recipe folder is HUGE. This one is going in there. Looks really tasty and pretty healthy which is a bonus!

    1. Haha! My dad was the same way with chicken. Felt like we had chicken for dinner almost every night. Maybe there should be a support group 🙂 I’m glad this recipe gets included in your folder. Thanks for stopping by!

  11. I adore asian food as well but don’t make it as often as I’d like. I think it’s just that, with other ethnic foods, like Italian, I always have an idea of what ingredients I should use to get the taste I want. With Asian foods there is just so much that I don’t know, so I feel like i have no idea where to begin!

    This dish looks delicious though. Orange chicken is a favorite of mine!

    1. Joanne, I totally agree with you. I’ve been using hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil and other similar ingredients for a while, but it’s hard to think how to use them without following someone else’s recipe. Thanks for sharing 🙂

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