Healthier Orange Chicken — Stop calling for takeout or going to the mall food court and make this HEALTHIER orange chicken at home in less than 10 minutes!! EASY, authentic, and so INCREDIBLE that you’ll never miss the fat and calories!!
Healthy Orange Chicken Recipe
If I’m walking by the food court in the mall and if I can snag a free sample of Panda Express orange chicken, I do a little happy dance inside. But I don’t order it because I know it’s greasy and loaded with calories and fat that I don’t need.
Enter: this homemade, healthier, not fried version of orange chicken that’s made in one skillet and ready in 10 minutes. No fuss, hassle-free, and perfect for busy weeknights.
The skinny orange chicken is ridiculously tender, juicy, and full of orange flavor. When I say ridiculously tender, I mean it just melts in your mouth. You’d swear it was fried but it’s not.
Ingredients in Healthy Orange Chicken
To make the healthy orange chicken sauce and chicken, you’ll need:
- Chicken breasts
- Toasted sesame oil
- Olive oil
- Freshly squeezed orange juice
- Lite soy sauce
- Green onions
How to Make Healthy Orange Chicken
This really is such an easy orange chicken recipe! Here’s a quick overview of the cooking process:
- To a large skillet, add the freshly squeezed orange juice, soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, olive oil, and boneless skinless chicken breast pieces that have been dredged in cornstarch (it’s the secret ingredient).
- Cook until the chicken is done. It will take less than 10 minutes!
- Dig in to this better-than-takeout copycat orange chicken alongside your favorite rice.
What to Serve with Orange Chicken
You can serve your favorite Asian-inspired sides with this skinny orange chicken. Here are some serving suggestions:
- Better-Than-Takeout Fried Rice (omit the chicken in the fried rice)
- Low-carb cauliflower rice (you can buy pre-made packets at the grocery store)
- Fresh spring rolls
- Crunchy peanut salad
- Sheet pan ginger vegetables (omit chicken)
- Mango teriyaki salad
Can I Use a Cornstarch Alternative?
A few readers have asked about using arrowroot powder or another cornstarch alternative in this recipe. I’ve only made this recipe as written, so I can’t say for sure if arrowroot or another substitute will give you the same results.
Can I Use Chicken Thighs?
Most likely, yes. However, I’ve only made this orange chicken recipe using chicken breasts.
How Much Orange Juice Is Needed for This Recipe?
You’ll need the juice of two large oranges, which is equal to roughly 3/4 cup bottled orange juice. However because this is such a critical element of the recipe, I recommend juicing the oranges yourself versus using bottled juice.
Can This Recipe Be Made in Advance?
Yes! It’s best fresh from the skillet, but you can divide the chicken into meal prep container and reheat throughout the week if desired.
If at all possible, reheat the chicken in a lightly oiled skillet. I try to avoid microwaving leftover chicken because it winds up being tough and dry, but do what’s best for you.
Tips for Cooking the Chicken with Cornstarch
Cornstarch thickens any liquids or sauces it comes into contact with. In this recipe, it helps the orange chicken sauce tighten up and cling to the chicken as if it had been fried and then coated in a sugar-laded orange sauce, but we’re not frying anything today.
Cornstarch is a kitchen magician in many regards, but there are some pitfalls. If you’re not careful you can have a gloppy mess in a hurry.
My tips for avoiding that include:
- Cook over medium heat.
- Flip the chicken and stir the pan sauce that coats the chicken nearly constantly.
- If at any time your sauce is tightening and thickening up faster than you’d like because the chicken isn’t quite cooked through, simply add more orange juice.
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Healthier Orange Chicken
Stop calling for takeout or going to the mall food court and make this HEALTHIER orange chicken at home in less than 10 minutes!! EASY, authentic, and so INCREDIBLE that you’ll never miss the fat and calories!!
- 1.25 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast, diced into bite-sized pieces
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 large oranges, juiced; plus more orange juice if necessary
- 1/3 cup lite soy sauce
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 tablespoon green onions, diced into thin rounds
- To a large bowl or ziptop plastic bag, add the chicken, cornstarch, and toss or shake the bag to coat the chicken evenly; set aside.
- To a large skillet, add the oils, orange juice, soy sauce, honey, and the chicken pieces but not any excess cornstarch that's at the bottom of your bowl or bag.
- Turn the heat to medium, and cook until chicken is done and cooked through; flip chicken and stir pan sauce that's forming nearly constantly. Tip - If at any time your sauce is tightening or thickening up too much before the chicken has cooked through, simply add additional orange juice to thin it and keep stirring.
- Evenly garnish with green onions and serve immediately.
- Extra chicken will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 4 months.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 451Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 96mgSodium: 1012mgCarbohydrates: 41gFiber: 2gSugar: 24gProtein: 38g
More Asian Chicken Recipes:
ALL OF MY ASIAN-INSPIRED RECIPES!
Slow Cooker Orange Chicken – The easiest orange chicken ever because your slow cooker does all the work!! Super juicy, tender, and coated with a sweet-yet-tangy orange glaze that’s irresistible!!
15-Minute Orange Chili Chicken and Broccoli – The orange chili sauce is spicy, tangy, and sweet all in one!! The PERFECT sauce to jazz up chicken and broccoli! A FAST and EASY dinner with great Asian FLAVOR!!
Chinese Sweet and Sour Chicken — This sweet and sour chicken recipe takes just 15 minutes to make and tastes way better than takeout. Perfect for a weeknight dinner!
Sheet Pan Ginger Orange Chicken and Vegetables – Fast, EASY, HEALTHY, and loaded with great orange ginger flavor!! A DELISH one-pan meal with zero cleanup that’s perfect for busy weeknights!!
Mandarin Chicken Stir Fry — An EASY Asian stir fry with tender chicken, juicy oranges, and veggies!! Skip takeout and make this ONE skillet recipe that’s ready in 15 minutes and perfect for busy weeknights!!
This is great recipes
I enjoyed the idea of this recipe, but unfortunately feel as though I failed somehow in the execution?
I’ve read back through your step-by-step instructions, reviewed the tips for cooking the chicken in the sauce, and double checked that I correctly measured each sauce ingredient. It seems like coating 1.25lbs of chicken in a whole 1/2C of cornstarch was maybe just TOO much cornstarch? My sauce became thick and gloppy in less than a minute while cooking over medium heat. I had some additional orange juice at the ready, and slowly streamed it in as the chicken cooked. I ended up having to add at least an additional whole cup of OJ, if not a bit more. That threw off the balance of the other sauce ingredients, so I also added about 1/4 C of additional soy sauce to try to both balance the flavor and thin out the sauce. In the end, the sauce was quite pale in color and looked more like a chicken gravy. If I had it to do over, I’d lightly season the chicken cubes – but not coat them in cornstarch – and would then cook them in the sauce. I’d then thicken the sauce right at the end with a small amount of cornstarch slurry. Based on my description, can you tell if I missed any steps or neglected to do something? I really wanted this to work. :-(
Cooking with corn starch can take some practice to avoid things tightening up quickly or overly so.I am thinking that with perhaps a bit less corn starch, stove heat, different pan, hard to say, that this wouldn’t be as prone to happening since it can take a bit of patience and a learning curve. If you just lightly season the chicken and skip the CS, while fine, it lacks that “breaded” and fried-taste that fast food orange chicken recipes tend to have so for me that wouldn’t be a great option IF I wanted to recreate one of those dishes. I would say use 2 to 4 tbsp of cornstarch, try again, keep the heat way down, add a little extra OJ from the get go. Thanks for trying the recipe.
How much OJ would you suggest to sub for juice squeezed from oranges in recipe?
I would say about 3/4 cup, give or take. However because this is such a critical element of the recipe, I would just use real oranges/OJ.
Another amazing recipe from you! Thank you! I love Chinese food but hate how it makes me feel after. This gives me that same great taste of orange chicken without the awful food coma. And I know exactly what’s it! Thank you!Do you think I could substitute lemons for oranges to make lemon chicken?
Thanks for the 5 star review and glad you loved this! I agree about the food coma, I feel the same many times if I don’t make it myself.
Yes you could definitely do this as lemon chicken – I think it would be a great! Because lemon is naturally more tart you may want to do a percentage of the lemon juice as orange juice to just cut that back a bit.
Hi I made the recipe as is but didn’t understand as to why we coat the chicken with the cornstarch first because the moment I put it in the orange juice mixture all the cornstarch came off. I felt my sauce thickened too much because of the cornstarch. I think next time I will add the cornstarch later as to how thick I want my sauce. Otherwise the taste was good. I also did add a bit of sriracha for a spicy kick.
Cornstarch will make the chicken crispier; and it doesn’t all come off, at least not for me. But you can experiment with the recipe and see how it works best for you.
Approximately how much juice is needed?
Can you use organize no pulp OJ f you don’t have fresh oranges to squeeze?
is this done in a cast iron skillet? or what kind of skillet?
I use this one https://rstyle.me/+O2aAvHPvP9V9w7ahWgoFVg
Can you make this with breaded chicken? Or would I have to fry it first?
Well the point of this recipe is that it’s sort of tastes like breaded chicken, without breading it. That’s where the corn starch comes in. Give this recipe a try and I think that you’ll really enjoy it.
If you want to start doctoring with the recipe, then you’ll have to experiment, and since I haven’t tried it on my own, I can’t give you feedback or suggestions.
Can arrowroot powder be used instead of cornstarch?
I have only made with cornstarch so I can’t say.
Thank you for this delicious recipe! We love asian food but hubby has diabetes and we try to stay away from fried foods. I used 3 oranges for a smoothe sauce and added garlic and ginger. Loved it and soooo much healthier!
I am glad you loved it and that it worked well for your husband’s needs and yes, much healthier than fried!
a dish I love and miss because it’s usually loaded with things that aren’t that great for you, so love having some of the same flavors in a dish where the ingredients are actually known and much healthier, much appreciated
Easy to make and uncomplicated is just how I love my meals and this orange chicken was pure satisfaction and very healthy indeed!
Yum! This is the perfect alternative to the deep fried take out! I love healthy modifications as you can make them much more often without any guilt (and I don’t like dealing with all that leftover oil from deep frying anyway).
Great point, leftover fryer oil, gross and I don’t want to deal with that either!
This is a perfect healthier option and honestly was soooo tasty!
Oh man! This is soooo good! Can’t wait to try it asap!
Thanks and yes so good!
This looks amazing! I’m a sucker for orange chicken, but never make it at home because I don’t need a ton of deep-fried food in my fridge. This looks totally doable though, and I love that it’s on the healthier side. Adding it to my “to-make” list!
It is definitely do-able, and delicious!