Lightened Up Orange Chicken

This Lightened Up Orange Chicken is made with no refined sugar yet still has those classic Chinese takeout vibes that you love! It is an insanely easy weeknight dinner and I promise you won’t ever need takeout again! 

Growing up in the South, we lived in a very rural area. Basically, you had to drive at least 15 minutes to make it into the main town. So, needless to say, takeout was never really on our agenda. 

Much to my dismay, of course, especially considering how much TV I watched where the women would eat takeout while crying over a break-up. Instead, I had like, boxed hamburger helper. Not the same, y’all. Just not the same. 

I do have a wonderful memory of getting takeout though – it was the first Autumn I was with Benjamin. We got Chinese take-out (I lived in an apartment in the middle of town now – yay!) and we watched You’ve Got Mail. It was lovely and super stereotypical and perfect. We now have that date every single Fall – it’s one I look forward too!

Aaaaand now, I won’t even need take-out thanks to this Lightened Up Orange Chicken! Score!

Why This Lightened Up Orange Chicken is Better Than Take-Out: 

First off, I love making dinners like this at home because you can control the amount of salt and sugar that you put into it! 

With this orange chicken, it has absolutely no refined sugar! Woo-hoo! The main sweet component in this dish is: honey! All natural, super sweet and delicious. It also helps to give the chicken a naturally sticky element to it. 

If you’re worried about the sodium levels, I would suggest using low-sodium soy sauce OR coconut aminos! 

This dish is also SO fresh. It has fresh garlic, fresh ginger as well as orange juice and orange zest. Each of these elements help blend the savory + sweetness. 

The cornstarch helps coat the chicken naturally, keeps it super moist and the sauce is just so sticky delicious you will want to eat it by the spoonful! 

Load it all in a bowl paired with buttery rice and sauteed broccoli and you’re all set for a cozy night in! So let’s get into how to make it already!

Ingredients You Need: 

  • chicken breast 
  • orange juice + orange zest 
  • low sodium soy sauce 
  • rice wine vinegar 
  • fresh garlic + ginger 
  • avocado oil 
  • honey
  • cornstarch
  • chicken stock 
  • red pepper flakes 
  • salt and pepper to taste 
  • green onions for garnish 
  • broccoli 
  • white rice 

How to Make Lightened Up Orange Chicken 

Let’s get into how to make this delicious dish! 

First, dice the chicken breast into small bite size chunks. You’ll need about 1.5 lbs of chicken breast. Place these chunks into a small ziploc bag and add 2 tbsp of cornstarch as well as about ¼ tsp of salt. Seal the bag and then toss to make sure they are all equally coated. Set them aside as you warm up the pan. 

In a large saute pan, add about 3-4 tbsp of avocado oil (can sub olive oil) and let it heat up on medium heat. Once hot, add in the chicken. 

Cook for 6-8 minutes until fully cooked through, flipping using tongs halfway through. It should look like this: 

While the chicken is cooking, quickly whisk together the marinade/orange sauce. Mix together the orange juice, honey, orange zest, low sodium soy sauce, ginger, garlic, rice wine vinegar and red pepper flakes. 

Remove from the pan with the tongs, set on a plate and set it aside. Deglaze the pan with chicken stock (as there will be bits of cooked chicken, cornstarch etc.) at the bottom of the pan and whisk. Add in the orange sauce that you just made and whisk together to combine. 

Just FYI – your oven eye should be on medium low heat right now – you want you to let the sauce get pretty hot and almost come to a boil and then let it simmer. 

Continually stir for about 5-7 minutes. If you want to quicken the process, add in about 2 tsp of cornstarch and whisk it in. This should thicken it pretty quickly! 

Once thickened, add back in the chicken. Combine with the sauce. Let sit for several minutes so that the chicken can get warmed back up. 

And then you’re ready to eat up! If desired, prepare some rice and sauteed broccoli! I used this rice and it was SO easy and delicious. For the broccoli, I just added some oil to a pan and added the broccoli florets. Add salt, pepper and cook for 5 minutes or so, flipping occasionally. 

Load the bowl up with the rice (which you should absolutely mix with some butter and salt for extra flavor).

Add in the broccoli. 

Last but not least, the orange chicken! Garnish with sesame seeds, thinly sliced green onions and some red pepper flakes if you want it spicier!

I absolutely love how sticky-sweet and savory this orange chicken is! Hope you guys eat it while watching your favorite rom-com. Xo 

Did you enjoy this recipe? Here are a few others you might like: 

Chicken Pesto Quinoa Bowl 

Buffalo Chicken Super Bowls 

Healthy Pad Thai with Zucchini Noodles 

Thank you so much for following along here, friends! Want to see more? Be sure to follow ourbalancedbowl on Instagram and tag me with your photo if you end up making a recipe! You can also post a photo of your recipe to the Our Balanced Bowl Facebook page! I always love to see your re-creations! If you do make a recipe, it would make my whole day if you were to rate and comment so I can get your feedback! Lots of love! – Haylie

5 from 2 votes
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Lightened Up Orange Chicken

This Lightened Up Orange Chicken is made with no refined sugar yet still has those classic Chinese takeout vibes that you love! It is an insanely easy weeknight dinner and I promise you won’t ever need takeout again! 

Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Chinese
Keyword easy orange chicken, healthier orange chicken, healthy orange chicken, homemade chinese takeout, homemade orange chicken, light orange chicken, sticky orange chicken, sweet and sour chicken
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 2 people
Author Haylie

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs chicken breast, diced into bite size chunks
  • broccoli and white rice for serving

Orange Sauce/Marinade

  • 3 tbsp avocado oil
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/3 cup raw honey
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp orange zest
  • 3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp fresh (or ground) ginger
  • 3 cloves finely minced garlic
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (more if you like it spicy - omit if you don't like spicy!)
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch (divided)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Garnishes

  • sesame seeds, green onions, more red pepper flakes

Instructions

  1. First, dice the chicken breast into small bite size chunks. Place chicken pieces into a small ziploc bag and add 2 tbsp of cornstarch as well as about ¼ tsp of salt. Seal the bag and then toss to make sure they are all equally coated. Set aside.

  2. In a large saute pan, add about 3-4 tbsp of avocado oil (can sub olive oil) and let it heat up on medium heat. Once hot, add in the chicken. 

  3. Cook for 6-8 minutes and flip halfway using tongs.

  4. While the chicken is cooking, mix together your sauce. Combine the orange juice, honey, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, orange zest, ginger, garlic and red pepper flakes. Whisk together to combine. Set aside.

  5. Once the chicken is done, remove from the pan, set it on a plate and put it aside.

  6. De-glaze the pan with about 1/4-1/3 cup of chicken broth. Your oven eye should be on low/medium heat. Whisk until the cornstarch/chicken bits have incorporated.

  7. To the same pan, add the orange sauce and whisk. to combine. Let the sauce get hot, almost come to a boil and then reduce the heat to let it simmer. Add about 2 tsp of cornstarch to help thicken the sauce. Whisk continually for 5 minutes or so OR until thickened.

  8. Once thickened, add back in the chicken. Combine with the sauce. Let sit in the pan on low heat for several minutes so that the chicken can get warmed back up. Taste the sauce and add salt or pepper to taste. If desired, for more spice, add more red pepper flakes.

  9. Garnish the orange chicken with chopped green onions, sesame seeds or red pepper flakes. Serve with white rice and sauteed broccoli. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

For the broccoli, I simpy diced about 1 head of broccoli into florets. I added these to a pan with oil and seasoned generously with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Let cook, stirring occasionally, on medium heat for about 5-7 minutes. 

Prepare the rice according to package instructions. For busy nights, I also like to get the bag of rice that is ready in 90 seconds! #dontjudge. Add 1 tbsp of butter and a pinch of salt to the rice once cooked. YUM!

4 comments / Add your comment below

  1. 5 stars
    Homemade takeaways is always so much better anyway! Plus, you get to enjoy in your cozy clothes and not having to fuss over driving to pick it up 😉 Annnnd, there’s always wine, especially on the weekend! This orange chicken looks super good, Haylie! Love the pairing with broccoli – one of my faves! Happy weekend! Also, do you deliver 😉 ?

  2. 5 stars
    Haha, Haylie! I’m feeling you with the hamburger helper! I grew up in a little village that was twenty minutes to any kind of civilization. I could go anywhere I could walk!

    This orange chicken looks so flavorful and delicious! So much better than take out! And your photos are so stunning!

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