This Healthy Orange Chicken and broccoli recipe turns your favorite takeout dish into a wholesome, easy meal. Crispy chicken pieces are coated in a sticky and sweet homemade orange sauce that’s just as delicious as anything you’d order from a restaurant!
Why You’ll Love This Homemade Orange Chicken
- All-In-One Meal. This orange chicken recipe is the easiest and most delicious all-in-one meal! Thanks to the chicken, veggies, and orange sauce, the dish contains protein, fiber, and numerous vitamins and minerals (same with this Sheet Pan Shrimp and Broccoli). If you want a side dish, Instant Pot Brown Rice is easy and quick.
- REAL Orange Flavor. As with this classic Orange Chicken, the secret to the best orange chicken is in the sauce! Instead of orange chicken with orange marmalade and brown sugar, this orange chicken sauce is made of a few wholesome ingredients. The most important ingredient is real orange juice and orange zest.
- Healthy. Just like my Crockpot Orange Chicken, this orange chicken is better tasting, better for you, and less expensive than orange chicken from [insert your Chinese takeout chain here]. Like many of my other healthy fast food makeovers (like Teriyaki Beef Stir Fry), this recipe keeps the spirit of the dish, but delivers it in a more wholesome way.
- Tastes Like the Real Thing. You’ll find the signature orange chicken sauce and orange chicken crispy coating, but the chicken is baked and not fried.
How to Make Healthy Orange Chicken
For the Crispy Baked Chicken
- Chicken Breasts. Because we’re baking the chicken instead of frying it, this orange chicken is good for you. After it’s baked, the chicken becomes the perfect combination of crispy outside and moist and tender inside. I used boneless skinless chicken breasts, but you could also try this as an orange chicken thighs recipe.
- Panko Breadcrumbs. The best way to help crisp up the chicken without frying it. They also absorb the sauce, giving the chicken pieces their hallmark sticky texture.
- Green Onions. One of my favorite additions to stir fry recipes. They add balance to the sweetness of the sauce and give freshness and color to the dish.
For the Homemade Orange Chicken Sauce
- Orange Zest + Juice. The key to our fresh, bright orange flavor. The best part: both of these ingredients can come from the same orange (winning!).
- Honey. As with other sticky, Asian-inspired dishes (like Sesame Chicken), I used honey instead of granulated sugar or brown sugar.
- Soy Sauce. A star ingredient in almost every stir fry recipe. Soy sauce brings a savory, salty complement to the sweetness of the orange and honey.
- Ginger + Garlic. The Asian flavor dream team!
- Cornstarch + Water. Creates a cornstarch slurry to help thicken the sauce.
- Red Pepper Flakes. Orange chicken is not spicy on its own, so I threw in red pepper flakes for some heat. Add as much or as little as you want to reach your desired level of spiciness.
- Prep the Broccoli. Toss it with oil and spices, then add it to a baking sheet.
- Prep the Chicken. Toss it with breadcrumbs before adding it to the sheet pan.
- Bake. Bake at 400 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes, flipping halfway through.
- Make the Sauce. Boil until it’s deliciously thick and sticky.
- Put It All Together. Coat the chicken in the sauce. Serve with broccoli and ENJOY!
- To Store. Place leftover orange chicken in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- To Reheat. To help the chicken recrisp, rewarm this recipe on a baking sheet in the oven at 350 degrees F until hot. In a pinch, you can also reheat it in the microwave.
- To Freeze. Store orange chicken in an airtight freezer-safe storage container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating. The chicken may not be as crispy once thawed, but it will still taste delicious.
Meal Prep Tip
If you want to make extra broccoli, it can be chopped up to 2 days in advance or fully roasted 1 day in advance; this lightening-fast Roasted Frozen Broccoli is great to make a day ahead then reheat in the oven towards the end of the chicken’s baking time.
What to Serve with Healthy Orange Chicken
- Vegetables. Like my Crockpot Beef and Broccoli recipe, this orange chicken includes a moderate portion of broccoli for each serving, so you could also include additional Oven Roasted Vegetables for a larger serving. Red peppers, sugar snap peas, water chestnuts (I use these in my Teriyaki Chicken Stir Fry), Roasted Carrots, or Roasted Mushrooms would be delicious.
- Rice. We love serving this baked orange chicken recipe (and this Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken) over a bed of brown rice, white rice, or quinoa. For a low-carb option, Cauliflower Fried Rice would also be tasty.
- Salad. Try serving your orange chicken with a salad like this Ramen Salad or Asian Cucumber Salad.
Recommended Tools to Make This Recipe
- Baking Sheets. These are heavy-duty and will last for years to come.
- Small Whisk. Ideal for whisking together sauce ingredients without splashing all over the counter.
- Nonslip Cutting Board. Great for chopping, and it’s easy to clean if you are cutting meat for any of my healthy chicken recipes.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Make the Homemade Sauce. You can buy orange chicken sauce, but it’s generally full of added preservatives and sugar. Once you experience the fresh flavor of orange chicken sauce from scratch, you’ll never want to use the bottled kind again.
- Use What You Have. Only have chicken thighs on hand? You can swap those here! They may take a little longer to cook than the breasts, but they’ll taste scrumptious. You can also omit the broccoli and swap in another veggie if you prefer. See my ideas above.
- Don’t Overcook the Chicken. The key to chicken pieces with juicy insides and crispy outsides is cook time. The times listed in this recipe are perfect for the size of chicken pieces that I recommend. If you overcook your chicken pieces, they can become tough and chewy.
Healthy Orange Chicken
FOR THE BROCCOLI:
FOR THE CHICKEN:
FOR THE SAUCE:
- Zest of 1 medium orange about 2 tablespoons
- ½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice from the same 1 medium orange
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- 2 cloves minced garlic about 2 teaspoons
- ¼ cup water
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes to taste
- Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat oven to 400°F. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
- Prepare the broccoli: place the broccoli on the baking sheet. Drizzle with the oil and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Toss to coat, then spread into an even layer on one side of the sheet pan.
- Prepare the chicken: Place breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper into a large ziptop bag. Shake a little to combine. Add the chicken pieces, seal, then shake to coat the chicken evenly. Place the chicken pieces in a single layer on the open side of the baking sheet.
- Bake for 10 minutes, then remove the pan from the oven and turn the chicken pieces over. Return the pan to the oven and bake for 5 to 10 additional minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. When a piece of chicken is cut, the juices should run clear.
- While the chicken cooks, prepare the sauce: In a medium saucepan (one large enough to hold the sauce and the chicken), whisk together the orange zest, orange juice, honey, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic. In a small bowl, whisk together the water and corn starch, until it is very smooth. Add to the saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook until the sauce is thickened and reduced, about 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the red pepper flakes. Taste (be careful; it will be hot!) and adjust the seasoning as desired.
- Add the baked chicken to the pot and stir to coat with the sauce. If the broccoli is not yet as crisp as you would like, spread it out over the surface of the entire pan (including the open side where you were previously roasting the chicken) and return it to the oven until it is as baked as you like (I left it in for about 3 more minutes). Stir the green onions into the pot with the chicken. Serve hot with the roasted broccoli and rice.
- TO STORE: Place leftover orange chicken in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- TO REHEAT: To help the chicken recrisp, rewarm this dish on a baking sheet in the oven at 350°F until hot. In a pinch, you can also reheat it in the microwave.
- TO FREEZE: Store orange chicken in an airtight freezer-safe storage container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating. The chicken may not be as crispy once thawed, but it will still taste delicious.
- On 3/12/20 recipe was updated to reduce cornstarch to 2 tablespoons based on feedback that the sauce became too thick; if you like a super duper thick sauce, feel free to use the original 3 tablespoons.
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