Sweet and tangy healthy orange chicken that’s better than takeout! The chicken is coated, baked, and tossed in the best homemade orange chicken sauce! 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!
Simple + Healthy Ingredients
There are just a few simple ingredients you’ll need to make this 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:
- 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 Baked Orange Chicken
The best part about this 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:
- Prep. Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray it with avocado oil.
- Make the Marinate. 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.
- Dredge the Chicken. 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. 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.
- 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 Crispy Baked Orange Chicken
- 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
- 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 Homemade Orange Chicken Sauce
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—this sauce is everything you’ve been craving! The ingredients include fresh orange juice, a little coconut sugar, and coconut aminos for the perfect balance of flavor!
Because the sauce cooks up quickly, you can easily make this while the chicken is cooking or make it ahead of time and store it in the fridge for up to a week. Double the recipe and use it as a stir fry sauce, or toss it with chicken, beef, shrimp, or roasted cauliflower!
What is Cassava Flour?
Cassava is a nutty-flavored, starchy root vegetable or tuber. Cassava flour is derived from ground, dehydrated cassava root. It’s a great substitute for white flour because it has a very similar texture and flavor.
In this recipe, I used a combination of cassava flour and arrowroot flour, because it gives the chicken a lovely golden texture when baked! Because it’s a paleo flour, this recipe makes paleo orange chicken, too!
My favorite brand is Otto’s Cassava Flour. Cassava flour is now available at most grocery stores. I highly recommend grabbing a bag—use it to try my Paleo Banana Muffins or Paleo Chicken Tenders too. You’ll love the texture!
Need to swap this for something else? Just use rice flour or an all-purpose gluten free flour blend!
I love to serve healthy orange chicken 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 roasted vegetables, like my rainbow roasted sheet pan vegetables. Sprinkle with a little sliced green onion or sesame seeds as garnish.
Storage and Freezing Info
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. For other alternatives to coconut aminos, check out these coconut aminos substitutes.
- Cassava flour: Swap this for rice flour or an all-purpose gluten free flour blend.
- Arrowroot flour: Swap this for tapioca flour.
- Avocado spray: Use avocado oil brushed on top of the chicken pieces.
Baking Tips + Tricks
- I HIGHLY recommend using chicken thighs for this recipe. They stay moist and get nice and crisp when baked.
- When coating the chicken pieces, 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.
- 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.
- For a healthy orange chicken meal for the family, serve over rice, cauliflower rice, or any roasted vegetable!
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
- 1 ¼ teaspoon sea salt, divided
- 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
- ½ cup cassava flour or rice flour
- ½ cup arrowroot flour
- Avocado oil spray*
- Sliced green onions or sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)
- 1 recipe for Orange Chicken Sauce
- Prep: Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spray or brush the parchment paper with avocado oil.
- Make the Marinade: In a large bowl, whisk the egg, coconut aminos, apple cider vinegar, and 1/4 teaspoon of the sea salt. Add the chicken to the marinade and toss to coat.
- Dredge the Chicken: In a medium bowl, whisk together the cassava flour, arrowroot flour, and the remaining 1 teaspoon 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.
- Bake: 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.
- Prepare the Sauce: While the chicken is baking, prepare the orange sauce.
- Serve: 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.
- You’ll need 2-3 baking pans for this recipe depending on size.
- 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