Healthy Orange Chicken
Healthy Orange Chicken is one of those recipes you want in your back pocket for days when you need something on the table fast and you’d prefer it to be healthy, satisfying and totally delicious. This easy dish is a Panda Express copycat recipe with crispy chicken in a sweet and tangy orange sauce. My version tastes just as good as the restaurant version, but is healthier and so simple to make at home!
Made this for my husband one night and needless to say it’s on the menu again this week. Thank you, it was very easy and most of all delicious!!— Alisha
Get ready to enjoy Chinese takeout in the comfort of your own home with no deep frying required. This healthier orange chicken stir fry recipe is made with lean chicken breast and a sweet and tangy orange sauce. Better than takeout, this makes for a perfect weeknight dinner recipe that can be ready in just 30 minutes!
If you love the taste of Panda Express Orange Chicken with that delicious orange chicken sauce, you are in for a real treat! I set out to make a copycat recipe that is easy and a bit healthier, but also rivals my favorite restaurant version. I totally nailed it because this is one of the best meals I’ve made in my kitchen in a very long time. Once I started eating, I absolutely could not stop!
Everything we love about this dish
- Quick. This recipe is ready in less than 30 minutes making it perfect for weeknight dinners!
- Easy. All you have to do is coat the chicken in cornstarch, make the sauce, and then cook everything in one skillet! It’s incredibly simple to throw together.
- Versatile. Serve this alone, with vegetables or (my personal favorite) over a steaming pile of white or brown rice. So good!
- Family-friendly. All ages LOVE this Asian recipe. Kids and adults always come back for seconds!
- Better than the original. Move over Panda Express! We’ve slashed the calories by more than half and amped up the flavor by making this our own. It’s delicious!
This is just a general list of the ingredients you need for this orange chicken recipe. Be sure to scroll down to the recipe card for the full measurements.
- Eggs. Two beaten eggs coat the chicken and help it fry up extra crispy.
- Cornstarch. There is no flour needed in this recipe. The cornstarch gives the chicken a nice crispy outside layer and helps the sauce thicken as it cooks.
- Salt & pepper. Added to the coating of the chicken for maximum flavor.
- Chicken breasts. Four boneless skinless chicken breasts are needed for this recipe. This cut of meat is lean and I usually have it on hand. Boneless, skinless chicken thighs would be a great substitute.
- Soy sauce. Provides a salty, sweet, umami (savory), and even a slight bitter flavor that’s classic in this dish. Coconut aminos or tamari are great substitutes for soy sauce whenever you are wanting to keep a recipe gluten-free and low in sodium.
- Brown sugar. A small amount to sweeten the orange sauce.
- White vinegar. Adds acidity to the sauce and gives it a zing of flavor. Rice vinegar is a great substitute.
- Orange juice + zest. For that classic orange flavor, you’ll need orange juice and zest from fresh oranges.
- Garlic. Adds delicious aromatic flavor to the orange chicken.
- Oil. For cooking the chicken. We like to use either olive oil or avocado oil for this recipe. Canola oil or vegetable oil may also be used.
- Green onions. Optional to garnish for freshness and color.
How to make this recipe
Making this easy orange chicken recipe at home is not only healthier than takeout, it’s also way faster than waiting for delivery. This meal comes together super quick! Here’s the simple method:
- Coat the chicken. In a medium bowl, combine eggs, cornstarch and salt & pepper. Mix well. Add the bite-size pieces of chicken and toss until each piece is fully coated. Set aside.
- Make the sauce. In a separate medium bowl, combine soy sauce, brown sugar, white or rice vinegar, the zest and juice of 1 orange, minced garlic and tablespoon of cornstarch. Whisk until the cornstarch has dissolved.
- Cook the chicken. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken pieces in a single layer (do this in multiple batches, if needed) and cook for 2 minutes per side, or until browned. Transfer the chicken to a paper towel lined plate and cover.
- Add the sauce. When all of the chicken is cooked, add it back to the skillet along with the orange sauce mixture. Cook over medium heat until the chicken pieces are fully cooked through, about 5-7 minutes. Serve immediately over rice! Top with green onions and orange zest. If you like a bit of spice, add a dash of red pepper flakes. Enjoy!
We love this easy orange chicken served over a bed of steamed rice. You can use any rice you have available. You could even use cauliflower rice for a low carb option. This dish is also delicious served over noodles, on a bed of steamed broccoli, or with stir-fry veggies. The options are endless!
Oven Baked Instructions
Another way to make this recipe lighter and lower in fat and calories is to make it in your oven. Spread the breaded chicken on a large, greased baking sheet. Bake at 375°F for 10 minutes, or until done. Then broil (watch very carefully) for another 2-3 minutes to brown the chicken. Prepare the the sauce in a skillet and add the baked chicken to coat in sauce.
Frequently asked questions
Is orange chicken a traditional Chinese recipe?
No, this dish is not traditionally found in China. It is a popular meal to order at Chinese restaurants in North America, but it is most definitely not an authentic recipe. Supposedly, it was invented by the popular restaurant chain Panda Express which serves up pseudo-Chinese food for an American palate and is in no way authentic Chinese cuisine.
What is the difference between General Tso chicken and orange chicken?
These two dishes are very similar. Both involve chicken that is breaded and fried and coated in a sauce. However, General Tso chicken has a spicy red sauce that is chili based, while orange chicken has a sweeter tangy orange based sauce. General Tso’s chicken is actually the most popular take out dish in America according to NBC news and GrubHub. Orange chicken is #8 on the list.
Is orange chicken healthy?
Orange chicken is not the healthiest dinner choice because it’s fried and the sauce contains sugar. However, it isn’t deep-fried, so that’s a win. To make it healthier:
- Use low-sodium soy sauce.
- Decrease the amount of brown sugar by half.
- Reduce the amount of oil you use by half, although you may not achieve perfectly crispy chicken if you go this route.
Storage & reheating instructions
Copycat takeout orange chicken is best eaten fresh. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat in an oven-safe baking dish, in an oven preheated to 350 degrees until warmed through. You can also reheat it in a skillet on the stove or in an air fryer.
This dish may be frozen for up to 6 months in a freezer safe bag or container. If you freeze the chicken with the sauce, the best way to reheat it in the oven.
If you try this recipe, let me know! Leave a comment and if your family loves it as much as mine does, be sure to give it a five star ⭐️ rating! Also, tag @kimscravings on Instagram with a picture of your creation. It’s so fun to see what you’re cooking! Be sure to subscribe to our mailing list to receive more healthy delicious recipes straight to your inbox.
Easy Orange Chicken
- 2 large eggs , beaten
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts , cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons white or rice vinegar
- 1 medium orange , juiced and zested
- 2 cloves garlic , minced
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 4 tablespoons olive oil or avocado oil
- 1/4 cup sliced green onions for garnish, optional
- 1 tablespoon orange zest for garnish, optional
- In a medium bowl, combine the egg, 3 tablespoons cornstarch, salt and pepper. Mix well. Add the chicken and toss until each piece is fully coated. Set aside.
- In a separate medium bowl, combine the soy sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, orange juice and zest, garlic and 1 tablespoon cornstarch. Whisk until cornstarch has dissolved.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken in a single layer (do this in multiple batches, if needed) and cook for 2 minutes per side, or until browned. Transfer the chicken to a paper towel lined plate and cover.
- Once all of the chicken is cooked, add it back to the skillet, along with the orange sauce. Cook over medium heat until the chicken pieces are fully cooked through, 5-7 minutes.
- Serve immediately over white rice. Top with green onions and orange zest.
- Oven directions: Spread the prepared chicken on a large, greased baking sheet. Bake at 375°F for 10 minutes, or until done. Then broil (watch very carefully) for another 2-3 minutes to brown the chicken. Prepare the the sauce in a skillet and add the baked chicken to coat in sauce.
- To make healthier: Use low-sodium soy sauce. Decrease the amount of brown sugar by half. Reduce the amount of oil you use by half, although you may not achieve perfectly crispy chicken if you go this route.
- Storage Instructions: Orange chicken will keep for up to 5 days in the fridge. It is best reheated in the oven, in a skillet on the stove or in the air fryer. The texture will not be as nice if it is microwaved. It may be frozen for up to 6 months. If you freeze it with the sauce added to the chicken, the best way to reheat it is in the oven.