Panda Express should be exceptionally nervous right now. This sheet pan Healthy Orange Chicken and broccoli just bested its signature entrée.

Healthy orange chicken with rice and broccoli on a blue plate

Classic orange chicken is an Americanized Chinese fast food classic that consists of cubed pieces of chicken breasts that are breaded and deep fried, then coated in a sweet, sticky orange sauce.

While orange has its diehard fans (including my husband), it can be cloyingly sweet. The fast food variety certainly isn’t winning any nutritional awards.

But if you place a plate of today’s healthy orange chicken recipe near me? I promise there won’t be any leftovers!

It’s better tasting, better for you, and less expensive than orange chicken from [insert your Chinese takeout chain here].

This skinny orange chicken is also quick and easy to put together. You won’t regret ditching the delivery and making this homemade version instead.

One of the best healthy recipes for the entire family on a plate with broccoli

In place of the OMG what did I just do?? feelings of regret you may have experienced upon hitting the bottom of a white cardboard delivery container, you’ll feel great eating a monster portion of this lightened-up recipe tonight.

In the unlikely event of leftovers, you’ll want to do it again tomorrow too.

Like many of my other healthy fast food make overs (this Teriyaki Beef Stir Fry being the most recent favorite), this recipe keeps the spirit of the dish, but delivers it in a more wholesome way.

You’ll find the signature orange chicken sauce and orange chicken crispy coating, but the chicken is baked and not fried.

And since we’re heating up the oven and need a side dish to serve with our homemade orange chicken anyway, why not take a note from this Sheet Pan Shrimp and Broccoli and throw a head of broccoli onto the sheet pan alongside the chicken as it bakes?

Cooking the chicken and broccoli side by side is a dynamite two-for-one approach that this household plans to revisit on many a busy weeknight to come (I also enjoy using broccoli for this Crockpot Beef and Broccoli).

Secret to the BEST Healthy Orange Chicken

Just like in Bourbon Chicken, the secret to the best orange chicken is in the sauce!

Instead of orange chicken with orange marmalade and brown sugar (which is essentially two rounds of sugar), this orange chicken sauce is made of a few wholesome ingredients. I based it loosely off of my equally healthy and delicious Crockpot Orange Chicken.

The most important ingredient is real orange juice and orange zest.

You simply cannot beat the taste of fresh orange. It makes the chicken taste like the citrusy, sweet (but not too sweet), and delightfully sticky fast food favorite, only better.

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.

One of the best healthy chicken breast recipes served on a plate with rice and broccoli

How to Make Orange Chicken from Scratch

Ready for Panda Express orange chicken taste, with fewer calories and without the mess of a deep fryer? Here’s what you need.

The Ingredients

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. Whole wheat Panko crumbs are 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. In lieu of using refined sugar n this recipe, I added honey. It gives the orange sauce its trademark sweetness while keeping the recipe on the healthy side.
  • 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.

The Directions

Add the broccoli to a greased baking sheet, topping it with the oil, salt, and pepper. Toss to coat, then spread into an even layer, moving it over to one side of the baking sheet.

orange chicken with breadcrumbs on a baking sheet

Toss the chicken with the breadcrumbs, then add the chicken pieces in a single layer on the baking sheet next to the broccoli.

takeout orange chicken covered in breadcrumbs on a baking sheet

Bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees F, then flip over the pieces of chicken. Return the pan to the oven and bake for 5 to 10 additional minutes, until chicken is cooked through.

As the chicken bakes, prepare the sauce: Whisk the sauce ingredients together in a saucepan, then add the slurry. Boil until the sauce has thickened, then stir in the red pepper flakes.

Add the chicken and green onions to sauce, stirring to coat. Serve hot with the broccoli and rice. ENJOY!

More Sides to Serve with Orange Chicken

  • Vegetables. This recipe includes a moderate portion of broccoli for each serving, so you could also include additional roasted vegetables for a larger serving. Red peppers, sugar snap peas, or mushrooms would be delicious.
  • Rice. We love serving this baked orange chicken recipe over a bed of brown rice or quinoa. For a low-carb option, cauliflower rice would also be tasty.
  • Salad. Try serving your leftover orange chicken on top of a green salad, like this Ramen Salad. 

Make Ahead and Storage Tips

  • To Make Ahead. Cut the chicken into pieces, and chop all vegetables up to 1 day in advance. Store each in a separate container in the refrigerator for healthy orange chicken meal prep.
    • 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.
  • 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.

More Homemade Healthy Asian Chicken Recipes

orang chicken at home recipe with broccoli on a plate

Recommended Tools to Make Healthy Orange Chicken

Swap the takeout menu for your trusty sheet pan, pick up your chopsticks (or a fork, I won’t judge!), and let this healthy orange chicken and broccoli be your weeknight winner.

If you try this tasty orange chicken recipe, please leave a comment to let me know how it goes. Your comments and ratings really help my blog and are so helpful to other readers too!

Healthy orange chicken with rice and broccoli on a blue plate

Healthy Orange Chicken

4.88 from 32 votes
This healthy orange chicken is baked and not fried. The sweet, sticky orange sauce tastes like Panda Express orange chicken but is so much better for you!

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 25 mins
Total: 40 mins

Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients
  

FOR THE BROCCOLI:

  • 1 medium head broccoli cut into florets (about 4 cups florets)
  • 1 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

FOR THE CHICKEN:

  • 1/3 cup whole wheat Panko breadcrumbs
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into 1-inch pieces (about 2 small/medium breasts)
  • ¼ cup chopped green onions

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

Instructions
 

  • Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees 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.

Notes

  • 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 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. 
  • 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.

Nutrition

Serving: 1(of 4); without riceCalories: 309kcalCarbohydrates: 30gProtein: 28gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 73mgPotassium: 811mgFiber: 3gSugar: 13gVitamin A: 775IUVitamin C: 104mgCalcium: 73mgIron: 2mg

Join today and start saving your favorite recipes

Create an account to easily save your favorite projects and tutorials.

Register

Did you try this recipe?

I want to see!

Follow @wellplated on Instagram, snap a photo, and tag it #wellplated. I love to know what you are making!

Share this Article

Pin

This post contains some affiliate links, which means that I make a small commission off items you purchase at no additional cost to you.

You May Also Like

Free Email Series
5 Secrets for Cooking Tasty and Healthy
My secrets for making wholesome meals you'll WANT to eat.

Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

Learn more about Erin

Leave a Comment

Did you make this recipe?

Don't forget to leave a review!

Your email address will not be published.

Recipe Rating




81 Comments

Leave a comment

  1. I fixed this to serve one person, and it is delicious. If you’re adjusting as I did, watch the ginger, reducing it and the cornstarch to a half teaspoon; it can overwhelm. Including a half cup of steamed rice, WeightWatchers assigns this only 4 points.5 stars

  2. I haven’t made this yet, but in the pictures it looks like there are sesame seeds sprinkled on top. However, in the recipe there is no mention of them. Am I seeing things or was this an oversight?

    1. Beverly, the sesame seeds are more decorative, but you can definitely add them if you like! It’s up to you :)

      1. I’ve made this 3 times in the past few months. Delicious! Using dried ginger instead of fresh, so only used 1/4 teaspoon.5 stars

        1. I am so so pleased to hear it Stephanie! Thank you for sharing this lovely review and the dried ginger tip!

  3. I made this last night and my husband ate all the chicken!  He usually does not go back for seconds- but  he thought it was amazing. Erin, you do a great job and thank you for sharing your talents- please keep it up and know u are appreciated. 
    Tonight is white bean chicken chili in slow cooker. 

    Thank you! 5 stars

  4. Love Chinese food and this dish can be easily changed with substitutions like shrimp and pineapple chunks with snowpeas and carrots or beef tips and mushrooms for a easy twist on dinner night after night Half a can of cut green beans and some petite tomatoes completed the beef version is a great toss in5 stars

  5. I liked the taste but also had trouble with the sauce. It became very thick and sticky as soon as I added the cornstarch/ water mixture. Too thick to stir the chicken into. I was able to thin with more water but maybe check the recipe.

    1. Hi Sherrie! I’m sorry to hear that you had trouble with the sauce. Next time, you could try using only 2 tablespoons to see if that helps. I’m happy you still enjoyed the flavors!

  6. I absolutely loved this, as did my family! Definitely adjust to less cornstarch though. 3 Tablespoons turned my sauce into a cement paste, so I used teriyaki from the fridge instead. I’m looking forward to trying it again.5 stars

    1. Thank you for sharing this kind review, Caitlin! I’m so pleased that this was a hit for you and your family!

  7. Erin, I made this dish tonight. Though I thought I had ginger in some form, I did not. It was still so tasty, and my husband loved it! The chicken was very tender, too! Thank you for posting another wonderful recipe!5 stars

  8. We made the orange chicken tonight. It was a hit. We will be making this again soon. Thanks for the great recipe.5 stars

  9. This recipe was very tasty. Based on other reviews, I would reduce the cornstarch to 1.5 tablespoons. I also added a little time under the broiler to crisp up the chicken.5 stars

    1. I’m so happy that you enjoyed the recipe, Christina! Thank you for sharing this kind review!

  10. Thank you, thank you!! I never thought I could enjoy vegetables so much until I found you. Now I can’t wait for your next recipe.

    Your zucchini and cabbage recipes have been wonderful. The zucchini sticks great. Can’t wait to try the orange chicken.

    Thank you for making life fun and enjoyable.5 stars

  11. I love healthier homemade alternatives to meals that our boys love, and Th is is definitely one of them!

  12. Erin!  This was amazing!  Kurt absolutely loved it and now that his favorite Stir Crazy restaurant is defunct, this is going to be a regular feature in our house!  The sauce was so flavorful, I will likely double it next time!  Thanks for a great recipe!5 stars

  13. Looks delicious, gonna try this tonight for dinner. will keep updated, how my hubby and kids gonna enjoy it. Thanks, Erin your recipes are just awesome.5 stars

  14. Yum! I love sheet pan dinners because they are perfect for those busy weeknights. I especially love how the home-made sauce is simple, yet delicious. I have had your Crock Pot Beef and Broccoli on rotation for weeks now, so this recipe will be a nice addition to shake things up. Thank you!5 stars

    1. I’m so excited that you’ve enjoyed both recipes, Natalie! Thank you for sharing this kind review!

  15. Hey Erin, made this Orange Chicken for my Husband & Mother tonight. It was really good. Since we tend to like things a little sweeter I added about a tablespoon of sugar ? to the sauce. Oranges this time of year lack the juices so the fresh OJ took 2 oranges. I toasted about 2/3 cup of raw cashews with the veggies and chicken. I replaced 1-1/4 cups of zucchini and 3/4 cup (aloha) red/orange pepper for 2 cups of broccoli. So the 3 veggies were good in it. Things were starting to get cold when making the sauce so I used 1/8 teaspoon of garlic powder instead of fresh garlic. Thanks for the recipe. I see I’ll need to start making the sauce before putting the veggies and chicken in the oven. Then I can start cooking the sauce while they’re baking. I look forward to making this again!5 stars

  16. This was a great recipe! Easy & amazing flavour! My family loved it! Husband and teenage son went back for seconds!  No leftovers! Can’t wait to try your other recipes! 5 stars

  17. Hey Erin! Being a chicken lover I have tried so many dishes including Indian Butter chicken, but this Orange Chicken recipe is completely new to me. I will definitely try this at home during this lockdown period and have it with my family. Thank you for the recipe God bless you.5 stars

  18. Loved it! I doubled the quantities for two 2lbs of chicken thighs instead of breasts. I used teriyaki sauce because I didn’t have soy sauce, and added only 1.5 tbsp instead of 2. It was delicious!! Thank you for a great recipe!5 stars

  19. This was such a delicious and simple way to make a healthier version of Asian inspired takeout! Will make again!5 stars

  20. I made this tonight and really enjoyed it! I added some garlic powder and onion powder into the bread crumbs, which was great. I also whisked one egg and dredged the chicken in it before putting it into the breadcrumbs so it would stick better. My fiancé ate the orange I got by accident ? so I did without the zest and it was fine! I forgot to add the pinch of red pepper flakes but added some sirracha on at the end. I found the broccoli to cook a bit faster than I wanted, but 400° was perfect for the chicken. I used 1.5 lbs of chicken tenders (diced) and therefore doubled the sauce. It was excellent. I served it with a side of fried rice with fresh egg – I took a shortcut from Trader Joe’s and used their vegetarian frozen fried rice. Thanks Erin5 stars

  21. My sauce turned out wayyyyy too tart and almost inedible. I followed the recipe exactly, accept used ginger powder instead of ginger. We were thinking maybe the recipe calls for way too much zest? .. Do you have any advice on what I could have done incorrect?

    1. I’m sorry that this recipe didn’t turn out as you hoped, Rebecca. Did you use the amount of ginger called for in the recipe? When swapping ground ginger for fresh ginger, you’ll want to lessen the amount used. This could’ve impacted the flavor of the sauce a bit. I hope it goes better next time if you decide to try it again!

  22. This meal was super fresh and light. The orange flavor was evident and I loved it. My husband said how much he loved it multiple times.5 stars

  23. This recipe turned out amazing! I wasn’t sure if Panko crumbs were gluten free so I used crushed Rice Chex instead, which worked perfectly. Loved the use of orange zest and fresh squeezed orange juice. The sauce was so flavorful and so fresh. Definitely will make again!5 stars

  24. I’ve made this recipe several times. A real winner that pleases even the picky eaters. As do some other commenters, I add seasoning to the breadcrumbs. I double the sauce, add a little rice vinegar for extra tang, and add a dash of sesame oil at the end. I found that the orange zest introduced too bitter a flavor when I used it, so now I leave it out. This is in our permanent rotation.5 stars

  25. This was quite good and really easy. I did notice a bit of bitterness which I think was the orange zest. I will add a bit less next time. I am on the Noom diet and having trouble cooking interesting things. This fit in very well, as did your recipe for Baked Chicken Parmesan. Thanks!5 stars

  26. OMG! So good! I used a cara cara orange, because it’s what I had. Hubby said it needs to go on our regular rotation. It is the perfect recipe for someone trying to limit take out food. Thank you!!!5 stars

  27. Very, very orangey. I would halve the orange juice, orange zest and honey, and double the soy sauce. Also had to add about a 1/2 cup of water to the sauce because it was so thick, so reducing the cornstarch is something I would also do. Probably wouldn’t make again.3 stars

    1. I’m sorry that this dish wasn’t to your tastes, Alice. I (and many other readers) have enjoyed it, so I truly wish it would’ve been a hit for you too!

  28. This tasted incredible! I served it with Broccolini and Jasmine Rice. The perfect accompaniments. I will definitely be making this again. Time to searchout more recipes from well plated ~ Thanks Erin!5 stars

  29. 2 tablespoons of orange zest is too much. It destroyed the flavor. I tried 2 teaspoons zest and it taste better. But this is a healthier alternative recipe of orange chicken compared to Chinese take out/delivery.3 stars

    1. Hi Ashton! I stopped including sodium info because it can vary so much depending upon what products you used, and I found a lot of conflicting info online, so ultimately I didn’t feel comfortable publishing it because sometimes it wasn’t even in the ballpark. If you’d like to calculate it yourself, there are lots of free tools online (myfitnesspal.com is popular). I hope that helps!

  30. I thought this recipe was great. Will be making again…I love the flavors and how smaller pieces of broccoli were almost crispy. I added some soy, chili and hoisin sauce but probably not necessary and red pepper slices right on top of the broccoli. Toasted almond or sesame seeds would be awesome here. Comes together pretty fast too. Frozen rice from Trader Joe’s a no brainer on that end from the microwave. Makes me want to explore more sheet pan cooking.5 stars

  31. This was delicious! I’m not someone who is very comfortable in the kitchen, but this recipe was clear, easy to follow, and my entire family (incl. toddlers) loved it. I took a leap of faith and made a triple batch the first time, and am glad I did.

    The first orange chicken recipe that I found called for frying the meat in 3 inches of oil (!)….I was so glad to find this healthy, oil-free version.5 stars

  32. I can’t believe I just made orange chicken and broccoli! So good. Served with cauliflower rice. I doubled the recipe. No problems. Used the readers suggestion of the egg whites. I had spicy honey so I used that instead of the red pepper flakes. ONLY thing I would add is toasted sesame seeds but I don’t want to wait for them to toast so I am diving in. Erin, I always love your recipes!5 stars

  33. I misread the recipe and put in a tablespoon of garlic, tried to compensate with more honey, but the sauce tasted bitter and of too much ginger. I have to try this again as I obviously did something wrong. I have never had a problem with one of your recipes, so this must be user error.

  34. Hi Danielle, I’m so sorry this recipe didn’t turn out well for you. I (and other readers) had great success with this dish, so I really wish it would’ve been a hit for you too! Next time, you could try reducing the amount of cornstarch, if you want it less thick.