Skinny Orange Chicken
Skinny Orange Chicken combines all of the flavors from your favorite takeout dish in a healthier version. Made with sauteed chicken instead of fried, this meal leaves you feeling satisfied not stuffed.
Orange Chicken is one of those popular dishes that you can find at just about any Chinese restaurant. It usually involves fried pieces of chicken in a syrupy orange sauce. When we order Chinese food, we almost always include Orange Chicken. While we love this dish, we’re always left feeling super full and partially regretting ordering takeout at all. Because of this, I’m always on the hunt for healthier versions of restaurant food that I can make at home.
I’ve tried a few different recipes for orange chicken and while none have been bad, they just didn’t wow us enough to make again. When I found this recipe several years ago, we were wow’d. It is the most authentic to takeout orange chicken. The chicken is sauteed rather than fried, so it’s much healthier than the restaurant counterpart. The sauce is remarkably similar to a restaurant orange chicken sauce. My oldest begs me to make this recipe because she loves it so much.
Over time I’ve tweaked the original recipe slightly. As with most recipes like this, such as this Bourbon Chicken, I either reduce the amount of meat or increase the amount of sauce because we like to have extra sauce for the rice.
The original recipe calls for white pepper. The first time I made this, I didn’t have white pepper, so I just used black pepper, and it tasted great. The second time, I had bought some white pepper for another recipe, so I used it. Bob and I immediately realized the flavor was off, so much so that we couldn’t really eat it. I thought it was because I used a different type of orange for the orange juice (I like to freshly squeeze the orange juice for this recipe). It wasn’t until later that night when it was really bugging me, I ended up sniffing the white pepper – it smelled like a barnyard. I ended up googling it, and sometimes white pepper can have a barnyard smell– so odd! I will never use white pepper again.
The original recipe is served over quinoa. We like it over Jasmine rice or plain white rice. I’ve made all of these changes to my recipe below.
Gluten Free Option
Since having to eliminate gluten 18 months ago, I can no longer eat Chinese takeout, so having this recipe has been the only way for me to enjoy Orange Chicken. This recipe is naturally gluten free as long as you choose soy sauce that is gluten free. As with any allergy or food intolerance/sensitivity, please check the labels of your ingredients. My bottle of rice wine vinegar says “gluten free,” but some brands may contain gluten due to cross contamination.
Want more Asian food recipes to make at home?
For the chicken:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cut into bite sized pieces)
- salt and pepper
For the sauce:
- 3 garlic cloves (minced)
- 1/2 cup orange juice (freshly squeezed from 2 – 3 large oranges or store bought)
- 1/2 cup honey (or more to taste)
- 1/3 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- zest of one orange
- pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
- sliced green onions
- toasted sesame seeds
- If using fresh oranges for the orange juice, zest one orange first, the cut it in half to prepare it to be juiced.
- In a medium bowl, combine orange sauce ingredients and whisk together. Set aside.
- Add olive oil to a skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Season chicken generously with salt and pepper, then add chicken to the hot skillet. Saute chicken, stirring occasionally, until chicken is starting to brown and is almost cooked through, about 5 to 7 minutes.
- Add the orange sauce to the skillet and bring to a boil. Allow to boil for 1-2 minutes, then reduce heat to a simmer until chicken is completely cooked through. Serve immediately.