Lighter Orange Chicken


Do you love Chinese take out but dread all the calories that comes with it? Do you crave all those delicious flavors it has but try to avoid making it too often just because you don’t want to eat a fried meal too frequently? I know I often fit into that category which is why I love to lighten up those take out favorites.

Lighter Orange Chicken | Cooking Classy

One of my favorite Chinese recipes (American Chinese, I’m sure) is this Orange Chicken recipe I posted last year. It is unbelievably good, but it’s fried so I only make it every now and then.

Since it at the top of my list I decided to make a lighter version of it so I could make it a regular in my home and not have to feel guilty about all the frying (don’t get me wrong, definitely try the fried version too, I just believe in keeping a balanced diet.

So, maybe I’d just recommend every other time making the fried, more traditional recipe then rotate with this lighter version). I adapted this recipe from that fried Orange Chicken so you won’t really even noticed a whole lot of difference. They have very similar flavors, this one just doesn’t have the fried coating.

Lighter Orange Chicken | Cooking Classy

I was so happy to see that my entire family loved this, myself included of course. As I was taking pictures my kids and I kept eating pieces of this chicken, we just couldn’t wait because it’s so irresistibly delicious.

It is covered with plenty of sauce which is loaded with a vibrant, fresh orange flavor. It uses about half the sweetener as the traditional, and I also substitute some honey for the sugar for a healthier alternative.

And the 1 1/2 Tbsp oil in this recipe vs of few cups for frying is definitely a calorie reduction. It is definitely a recipe you’ll want to make time and time again. And why not? It’s ready in 25 minutes!

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Lighter Orange Chicken

All the flavors of Chinese orange chicken without the added fat and mess of deep frying! It's packed with fresh orange flavor and sure to satisfy those take-out cravings.

Servings: 4
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes


  • 1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts , diced into small 1-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp canola oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic , minced
  • 2 tsp orange zest
  • 1/3 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 Tbsp honey
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp granulted sugar
  • 3/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp dried ginger
  • 2 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp Sriracha hot sauce (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • Chopped green onions and sesame seeds , for serving


  1. Heat a wok over moderately high heat. Add canola oil and once hot add chicken and season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook chicken, tossing occasionally, until it has cooked through, about 5 - 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate, leaving the little bit of remaining oil behind. Reduce burner to medium heat and return skillet to heat. Add garlic and saute 30 seconds. Remove from heat. Add in orange juice, 1/4 cup of the chicken broth, the orange zest, soy sauce, honey, sugar, onion powder, ginger, vinegar and Sriracha. Season with salt and pepper to taste and return to heat. In a small bowl stir together cornstarch with remaining 2 Tbsp chicken broth until well blended. Pour mixture into wok, cook and stir constantly until sauce bubbles and has thickened well. Remove from heat and toss chicken in sauce mixture.
  2. Serve warm with white or brown rice and top with green onions and sesame seeds.
  3. Recipe Source: Cooking Classy, adapted from my Chinese Orange Chicken
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: Orange Chicken
Author: Jaclyn
Lighter Orange Chicken | Cooking ClassyLighter Orange Chicken | Cooking ClassyLighter Orange Chicken | Cooking ClassyLighter Orange Chicken | Cooking ClassyLighter Orange Chicken | Cooking Classy


  • Cathy: Could I substitute coconut oil for the canola oil? I would love to make this for my family. June 30, 2014 at 11:16am Reply

    • Jaclyn: I wouldn’t recommend it for this recipe. I hope you love it though! July 1, 2014 at 3:01pm Reply

      • Joan: Why not coconut oil? It is MUCH healthier than canola oil, which besides being a heavily GMO crop, breaks down when heated.

        Otherwise, great looking recipe, although I would grate or mince ginger into it. I always have ginger roots in the freezer. July 26, 2014 at 1:49pm Reply

    • Tania: I’ve made the regular version of this recipe several times and always use coconut oil. I don’t even have canola oil. It turns out perfectly! I fry up a big pan of veggies with it oo, yummy. November 18, 2016 at 5:01pm Reply

  • Ika: During my visits to the States, I always loved the orange chicken at Panda Express.

    I’ve been a fan of the site for a while now and came across this recipe.
    I have to say… Man did we love this!!!
    I regret the fact I made it for two.. I wish I had more:)

    Thanks for sharing, our evening just starts perfectly!

    grtz from Belgium! June 25, 2014 at 11:42am Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks for your feedback Ika! I’m so glad you liked it! June 25, 2014 at 2:03pm Reply

  • Norma | allspice and nutmeg: I love how you lightened up a favorite. Yum! June 8, 2014 at 6:55pm Reply

  • Chloe @ foodlikecake: Yum! June 8, 2014 at 4:38pm Reply

  • Matt Robinson: I cringe when my older son wants to get the orange chicken from Panda Express. So unhealthy! So I love this recipe and I’m pretty sure he would too! June 7, 2014 at 10:01pm Reply

  • Melissa @ Bless this Mess: This looks soooo good! Thanks girl! June 7, 2014 at 1:47pm Reply

  • Natasha of I love the idea of a lighter orange chicken. It’s one of those foods that I get fierce cravings for, but it is a little guilty ;). Thanks so much for sharing! Pinning :) June 7, 2014 at 10:38am Reply

  • Laura (Tutti Dolci): Orange chicken is the best, love your lighter version! June 7, 2014 at 10:33am Reply

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