Sweet and tangy healthy orange chicken that’s better than takeout! The chicken is coated, baked, and tossed in the best orange chicken sauce! Because the ingredients are simple and fresh, this is a paleo orange chicken recipe that’s totally gluten free. The perfect family-friendly weeknight dish!
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that this is quite possibly my most favorite weeknight dinner recipe to make. It’s got all the components of a winner winner chicken dinner—incredibly flavorful, easy to make, made with fresh and healthy ingredients, includes the most perfect sweet and tangy orange sauce, and the kids love it!
If you’re a fan of Panda Express orange chicken, this recipe is everything you’ve been craving. There’s no frying, no mess, and it cooks up in under 30 minutes! You simply coat the chicken in the flour mixture, baked it, and toss the crispy chicken pieces in the best orange chicken sauce on the planet.
And bonus! Need a recipe that’s allergy friendly? This is a paleo orange chicken recipe that’s completely gluten free and dairy free. The coating is completely nut free too! If you need to make some substitutions, I’ve detailed everything for you below. Let’s get to cooking!
What You’ll Need to Make Healthy Orange Chicken
There are just a few simple ingredients you’ll need to make this healthy orange chicken recipe. The ingredients are fresh, healthy, and super flavorful. Here’s what you’ll need:
For the Chicken:
- Coconut aminos
- Apple cider vinegar
- Sea salt
- Chicken thighs
- Cassava flour
- Arrowroot flour
- Avocado oil spray
- Sliced green onions or sesame seeds
For the Orange Sauce Recipe:
- Fresh orange juice
- Coconut aminos
- Coconut sugar
- Unseasoned rice vinegar
- Garlic powder
- Ground ginger
- Red pepper flakes (optional for kick)
- Arrowroot flour
How to Make Healthy Orange Chicken
The best part about this healthy orange chicken recipe is that it’s incredibly easy to make. No frying or standing over oil. Just prep your chicken, bake it, and toss it in the sauce! Here’s how to make it in five easy steps:
- Prepare your pan. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray it with avocado oil.
- Prepare the chicken. In a large bowl, whisk the egg, coconut aminos, apple cider vinegar, and sea salt. Add the chicken to the marinade. In a separate bowl, whisk together the cassava flour, arrowroot flour, and sea salt. Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade and dredge them in the flour mixture. Place the chicken pieces on the baking sheet.
- Bake the chicken. Spray the chicken liberally with avocado oil. Bake for 15 minutes. Flip each piece over and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Make the sauce. Add all of the ingredients for the sauce except for the arrowroot and water to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Mix the arrowroot and water together, then add it to the sauce. Simmer until the sauce thickens.
- Toss and serve. Toss the chicken with the orange sauce. Serve over rice or cauliflower rice, and garnish with green onions and sesame seeds.
The Secret to Perfectly Baked and Crisp Chicken
The secret to perfectly baked and crisp orange chicken is two fold. First, you must liberally spray the chicken pieces with avocado oil on the pan. Because the chicken pieces are coated in flour, an avocado oil spray is the best way to get a sufficient and even coating. While you can brush avocado oil on, I highly recommend purchasing the cooking spray when you’re picking up the rest of the ingredients for the recipe.
Second, you must flip the chicken pieces halfway through cooking. The chicken will become a gorgeous golden color and crisp more evenly when you flip the pieces halfway through. This is best done with a set of stainless steel tongs.
The Best Orange Chicken Sauce Recipe
This orange chicken sauce recipe is my favorite stir fry sauce because it’s the perfect balance of sweet, tangy, and savory. If you love that Panda Express orange chicken goodness—this sauce is everything you’ve been craving! The ingredients are simple and healthy, and it makes for the best healthy orange chicken that tastes better than takeout!
Because the sauce cooks up quickly, you can easily make this while the chicken is cooking, or you can make it ahead of time and store it in the fridge for up to a week. This orange chicken sauce recipe is also easy to double if you’ve got a bigger family. Use it as a stir fry sauce, or toss it with chicken, beef, shrimp, or roasted cauliflower.
Paleo Orange Chicken
Because the ingredients are simple and fresh, this is a paleo orange chicken recipe that’s completely gluten free and dairy free. The chicken is coated in a mixture of cassava flour and arrowroot flour, which gives is a nice crispy texture.
If you’re new to cassava flour, it’s derived from ground, dehydrated cassava root. It’s what I use in my paleo chicken tenders recipe because it’s texture, appearance, and flavor profile are similar to that of white flour. My favorite brand is Otto’s Cassava Flour. The good news is, cassava flour is now available at most grocery stores. I highly recommend grabbing a bag—try my Paleo Banana Muffins or my Paleo Pumpkin Muffins with Cinnamon Streusel! You’ll love the texture!
Storage and Serving
I love to serve this healthy orange chicken recipe over rice or cauliflower rice. The sweet and tanginess of the chicken combined with sticky rice is a match made in heaven! You can also serve it over vegetables, like my rainbow roasted sheet pan vegetables. Sprinkle with a little sliced green onion or sesame seeds as garnish.
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. If you plan on making this recipe for meal prep and want to freeze it, bake the chicken and store in the freezer in airtight silicone bags for up to 4 months. Do not toss the chicken with the orange sauce before storing. You can reheat the chicken in the oven at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes, then toss it with the orange sauce before serving.
You can make the orange chicken sauce up to a week in advance. If you do this, store it in an airtight glass container in the refrigerator. Then, reheat it in a saucepan for a few minutes until warm before tossing it with the chicken.
Can I Make Substitutions?
Sure can! However, this is where I make that special note that you won’t get the same consistent results if you vary from the original recipe. But, if you find yourself short, here’s a few swaps you can make:
- Coconut aminos: Coconut aminos is a delicious alternative to soy sauce that is gluten free and soy free. It’s made from the sap of the coconut palm. You can swap this for soy sauce, however, because it has less sodium than soy sauce, reduce the sea salt to 1/2 teaspoon in the flour mixture.
- Cassava flour: You can swap this for rice flour or an all-purpose gluten free flour.
- Avocado spray: Use avocado oil brushed on top of the chicken pieces.
Healthy Orange Chicken Tips and Tricks
- I HIGHLY recommend using chicken thighs for this when making this healthy orange chicken recipe. They stay moist and get nice and crisp when baked.
- When coating the chicken pieces, make sure to sufficiently shake off the excess flour so it doesn’t coat the pan and burn.
- The secret to this recipe is the avocado oil spray. Make sure to liberally spray both the pan and the chicken pieces. While you can brush on avocado oil, the spray will coat the pieces more evenly and they’ll get crisp and golden.
- You can make the orange chicken sauce recipe while the chicken is baking or up to a week beforehand!
- If you make the sauce ahead of time, reheat it in a saucepan for a few minutes until warm before tossing it with the chicken.
What I Love About This Healthy Orange Chicken Recipe
- This recipe makes incredibly flavorful sweet and citrusy healthy orange chicken. It’s even better than takeout!
- Baking the chicken means cooking is hands off. No frying required, and no big mess!
- This healthy orange chicken recipe is easy to make. Bake, make the sauce, and toss it together!
- You can make the orange chicken sauce recipe up to a week in advance and keep it in the fridge.
- This recipe is a paleo orange chicken recipe that’s completely gluten free and dairy free! The coating is completely nut free.
Stocking the Pantry
I personally use Thrive Market for most of my pantry needs because it saves me some cash—especially when it comes to commonly used items like cassava flour and coconut aminos. For a complete list of my recommend pantry items and what I use in my home, check out my Baking and Cooking Resources Page.
Other Recipes You’ll Love
- Orange Chicken Sauce Recipe
- Paleo Chicken Tenders
- Egg Roll in A Bowl
- Healthy Chicken Broccoli Casserole
- Sheet Pan Chicken, Broccoli, and Sweet Potatoes with Garlic Herb Aioli
- 1 egg, whisked
- 1 tablespoon coconut aminos
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
- ½ cup cassava flour
- ½ cup arrowroot flour
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- Avocado oil spray*
- Sliced green onions or sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)
- 1 recipe for Orange Chicken Sauce
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spray or brush the parchment paper with avocado oil.
- In a large bowl, whisk the egg, coconut aminos, apple cider vinegar, and sea salt. Add the chicken to the marinade and toss to coat.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the cassava flour, arrowroot flour, and sea salt.
- Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade and dredge them in the flour mixture. Gently shake off the excess flour and place the chicken on a baking sheet.
- Liberally spray the top of the chicken with avocado oil until evenly coated. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and flip each piece over and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown.
- While the chicken is baking, prepare the orange sauce.
- Toss the chicken with the orange sauce in a large bowl.
- Garnish with thinly sliced green onions or sesame seeds. Serve over rice or cauliflower rice and enjoy!
- While you can use either chicken breasts or thighs, thighs work much better in this recipe as they stay moist and crisp up easily.
- Liberally spray both the pan and chicken with avocado oil. This will allow the chicken to get nice and golden when baking. If you don’t have avocado oil spray, brush the pan and chicken with avocado oil.
What did you think about this healthy orange chicken recipe? I’d LOVE to hear from you—please come back and let me know in the comments below!
Recipe by: Noelle Tarr / Coconuts and Kettlebells | Photography by: Casey Colodny / The Mindful Hapa and Noelle Tarr