Easy Healthy Orange Chicken
This 30-Minute Orange Chicken is healthy, full of protein, and absolutely scrumptious.
No messy breading, frying, or excess oiling is going to happen here.
What is happening: tender, mouthwatering pieces of chicken breast smothered with a deliciously bright and citrusy orange-soy-brown sugar sauce that is awesome over fluffy rice
Just because a dish takes only 30 minutes or less does not mean it has to be frozen pizza. (Though sometimes it means just that…only not today.)
Most busy weekdays, we go for healthyish meals at home that are nutritious yet tasty enough that the entire family is satisfied. No matter how healthy, it’s gotta be delicious.
It’s also got to happen on the double, pronto. Because time, like money, does not grow on trees. Is that asking too much? We can and will do this.
One Pan Technique for Healthy Orange Chicken
Skip the messy batter and frying oil; there’s no need for all that with this healthy orange chicken recipe. The best thing about recreating this popular takeout dish at home? You get all the flavor, without the not-so-healthy side effects.
No need to heat up the oven, either. Just grab your favorite pan and watch the transformation.
- Use an extra large nonstick sauté pan, which minimizes the amount of oil needed and makes cleanup a breeze. Our sauté pan is the daily workhorse of our kitchen.
- Heat the oil until it’s very hot, as oil that’s not hot enough will not brown your chicken nicely.
- As a rule of thumb, always remove excess moisture from your meats prior to cooking. Paper towels are perfect for the job. If you sauté pieces of chicken that contain excess moisture, the chicken will end up more steamed than browned.
- Always cook pieces of meat in a single layer — do not overcrowd the pan, or that undesired steaming thing will happen. Here’s where you’ll be so glad you have an extra large pan.
- Once chicken is browned, transfer it to your serving dish. Using the same pan, you’ll heat up the easy orange sauce for just 30 seconds.
- Once the sauce is thickened, add back the browned chicken. Stir to coat, and bingo!
What to serve with Orange Chicken
- Perfect Instant Pot Brown Rice is our rice of choice, as we love the toothsome goodness of well made brown rice. Since we’re being healthy, might as well rise to the occasion.
- Lo Mein Noodles is a super easy meal prep solution, just like this orange chicken. Both can be made in advance or in larger batches for extra dinners.
- Asian Sticky Rice is a family favorite of ours, as it’s meal-prep friendly and tastes amazing. Our easy homemade version is naturally healthier than takeout.
common questions and answers
We recommend boneless, skinless chicken thighs for cooking orange chicken, as dark meat yields more tender results and is generally more forgiving if you accidentally overcook it. If you use chicken breast, take care not to overcook.
Absolutely. This orange chicken recipe is ideal for meal prep, as it can be made in advance in larger batches and keeps well in the fridge. No batter/frying means no worries about anything getting soggy.
There are various types of Asian rice vinegar. Some Chinese varieties are darker in color, while others are light-colored, referred to as white rice vinegar. Asian white rice vinegar is made from fermented rice and adds tangy-umami flavors to your dish. It’s less acidic than typical Western style vinegars.
More to Cook and Eat
- Orange Chicken Recipe (How to Get it Crispy!) – this is our extra crispy version of orange chicken; the family loves it!
- Chicken Shawarma Recipe – homemade chicken shawarma is healthy and robust in flavor. It’s easier than you thought.
- Grilled Teriyaki Chicken (+The Best Teriyaki Sauce) – this one’s been handed down through generations. Dare we say, it’s so much better than any restaurant version! Try it for yourself and see if you agree.
How to make super easy thai fried rice
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Healthy Orange Chicken
- 2 tsp freshly grated orange zest
- ½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice, approximately 2 medium oranges
- ⅓ cup brown sugar, tightly packed
- 2 TB Asian white rice vinegar
- 3 TB Tamari*
- 2 tsp Sriracha
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp cornstarch, fully dissolved in 1 TB water
- 2 tsp olive or canola oil
- 1 ½ lbs boneless/skinless chicken thighs, chicken breast can be used, though dark meat yields more tender results
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- 2 stalks scallions, thinly sliced
- Optional: Cooked rice for serving
- Prep the Sauce: In a bowl, whisk together the orange zest, orange juice, brown sugar, rice vinegar, soy sauce, Sriracha, ginger, garlic powder, and dissolved cornstarch. Whisk until there are no white streaks left from the cornstarch.
- Cook Chicken: Towel dry the pieces of chicken, as it's important to remove excess moisture for even browning. Cut into bite-size pieces. In a large nonstick pan, heat oil over high heat until hot. Add chicken and kosher salt. Cook and stir until chicken is just cooked through, about 2 minutes. Transfer cooked chicken to a bowl and cover to keep warm.
- Heat Sauce: In now-empty pan, add the orange sauce mixture. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened, 30 seconds. Return the cooked chicken back to pan, along with any accumulated juices. Toss to coat chicken.
- Serve: Serve immediately over cooked rice. Sprinkle with scallions for garnish and extra Sriracha sauce on the side, if desired. Leftovers can be covered and refrigerated for several days.