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better than take-out orange chicken

Better Than Orange Chicken made with fresh ingredients for healthier version of your favorite Chinese take-out.

Who doesn’t love greasy, fattening, Chinese take-out, every now and then? I know when I was in college, I loved going down the street after class and getting take-out because I was too lazy to cook. I know, horrible, isn’t it? It’s even worse that I’m actually Asian — Taiwanese/Chinese to be exact! Such a disgrace, haha

At least I’m not like that today. I try to avoid Chinese take-out as much as possible, mainly because of how unhealthy it is, but also because I grew up on traditional Chinese food so Chinese take-out to me was watered down and bland. It’s what Americans see as Chinese food, and to be honest, kind of makes me sad that Americans know Chinese food as the Chinese take-out menu on their refrigerator. Chinese food is so much more than that!

Funny as I say that, I’m writing an entry on orange chicken — the most typical Chinese take-out food. Well, believe it or not, orange chicken can be healthy. The recipe below is using sautéed chicken (not fried!) and a sauce with fresh ingredients. The no-fry chicken alone cuts down so many calories. The flavor is still the same, even better (which is why this is called “better than take out”), actually. It’s sweet and has a little bit of heat. The sauce is thick and gooey and with the chicken, it’s absolutely phenomenal over white rice. There’s so much extra sauce that you’ll be able to use it as sauce over plain white rice for another meal (at least I had a lot of sauce leftover, you might not depending on how much chicken you use).

better than take-out orange chicken
Recipe type: Main Entree
Cuisine: Chinese
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
  • 2 lbs. chicken breasts or thighs or tenderloins, cut into 1.5 inch cubes
  • 1½ cup of water
  • ¼ orange juice
  • ⅓ cup rice vinegar
  • 2½ tbsp. low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. grated orange zest (it'll be about 2 oranges)
  • ½ tsp. ginger root, minced
  • ½ tsp. garlic, minced
  • ¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 tbsp. corn starch
  • 2 cups of white rice (I cooked mine in my rice cooker, but you can cook it however you prepare your rice)
  • Chopped green onions for garnish (optional)
  1. In a large skillet, cook your chicken, browning them on each side. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  2. While the chicken is cooking, in a saucepot, bring the water, orange juice, soy sauce and rice vinegar to a simmer over medium heat.
  3. Add in the orange zest, ginger, garlic, and crushed red pepper and bring to a boil.
  4. Turn the heat down and let the sauce simmer for a few minutes while you make the cornstarch mixture.
  5. Combine the cornstarch with ¼ cup of water and mix together.
  6. Turn the heat up on the sauce and slowly pour in the cornstarch mixture while stirring at the same time. The sauce will thicken almost instantly. Turn off the heat.
  7. In the skillet with your chicken, turn on the heat to low and add the sauce mixture to coat the chicken.
  8. Serve over white rice with generous amounts of sauce.
  9. Add green onions on top, if you'd like.
For paleo: use regular vinegar for the rice vinegar, coconut aminos for the soy sauce, arrowroot powder for the cornstarch, and omit rice when serving.

Source: adapted from The Noshery



  1. 09/21/2011 at 3:25 pm

    mm mm mmm! looks so good; definitely going to have to try this out soon!

    • Julie Chiou
      09/21/2011 at 3:43 pm

      :) i hope you enjoy it as much as we did!!

  2. Laura
    05/29/2012 at 8:41 pm

    This recipe is a new favorite! I found that adding 1-2 Tbsp. of sugar was a huge enhancement to the sauce. Not a healthy addition, but well worth the extra calories!

  3. Barbara
    04/19/2013 at 5:17 pm

    I really am liking your recipes, but I also feel it needs a bit of brown sugar, or other sweetener, just too vinegary otherwise.

  4. Michelle
    04/22/2013 at 6:18 pm

    Hi! This looks great! I was wondering what would be a good substitute for ginger root – my sister is allergic :(

    • 04/22/2013 at 8:29 pm

      I honestly would just omit it.

  5. Michelle
    04/22/2013 at 10:05 pm

    Thank you, Julie! :)

  6. Did you use fresh or bottled orange juice?

    • Julie
      03/28/2014 at 10:38 am

      I believe I used bottled

  7. 05/20/2014 at 3:03 pm

    All your pictures are making me crave Chinese SO BAD now :'(

  8. Jess
    04/13/2015 at 4:43 pm

    Great site, just made this orange chicken and it came out wonderful! I added 2 tbsp of monk fruit sweetner at the suggestions of above and it was excellent.

  9. Ping
    12/30/2015 at 4:03 pm

    As a orange chicken connoisseur, add two TBS of honey or 1 TBS of sugar.


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