better than take-out orange chicken

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    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

    A healthier version of the Chinese take-out classic!
    Prep Time: 5 mins
    Cook Time: 15 mins
    Total Time: 20 mins
    Servings (adjustable, but please note that results, timing, and cookware may vary when adjusting servings): 6
    Author: Julie Chiou
    5 Hassle-Free Ways to Simplify MealtimeSign up here for all the secrets!


    • 1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts or thighs or tenderloins, cut into cubes
    • 1 1/4 cup water
    • 1/2 cup orange juice
    • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
    • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
    • 2 1/2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
    • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
    • 1/2 teaspoon minced ginger
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
    • 2 tablespoons corn starch
    • 2 cups of white rice
    • Chopped green onions for garnish, optional


    • In a large skillet, cook your chicken, browning them on each side. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
    • While the chicken is cooking, in a saucepot, bring the water, orange juice, soy sauce and rice vinegar, brown sugar to a simmer over medium heat.
    • Add in the orange zest, ginger, garlic, and crushed red pepper and bring to a boil.
    • Turn the heat down and let the sauce simmer for a few minutes while you make the cornstarch mixture.
    • Combine the cornstarch with 1/4 cup of water and mix together.
    • 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.
    • In the skillet with your chicken, turn on the heat to low and add the sauce mixture to coat the chicken.
    • Serve over white rice with generous amounts of sauce.
    • 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.
    Julie Wampler of Table for Two
    Meet The Author: Julie Chiou
    Dinner for Two Cookbook
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    Recipe Rating


  • Elizabeth says:

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

    • Julie Chiou says:

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

  • Laura says:

    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!

  • Barbara says:

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

  • Michelle says:

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

    • Julie says:

      I honestly would just omit it.

  • Michelle says:

    Thank you, Julie! :)

  • Susan L. @ Full Happy Muffin and Mama says:

    Did you use fresh or bottled orange juice?

    • Julie says:

      I believe I used bottled

  • Nash Khan says:

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

  • Jess says:

    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.

  • Ping says:

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

  • Nata says:

    Hello. I just stumbled on your website, and I LOVE the recipes. One question: In the Better Than Take-out Orange Chicken you don’t have the amount of orange juice used. As written, the recipe says “1/4 orange juice.” I assume you mean 1/4 cup of orange juice, rather than the juice from 1/4 of an orange.
    I’m looking forward to making the dish, but I want to know I have the correct ingredients.
    Thank you

    • Julie says:

      Hi, sorry about that. When I converted recipes into a new plugin it must’ve taken the ‘cups’ out. It is 1/4 cup of orange juice :) you are correct!

  • Beverly Yates says:

    This orange chicken recipe has NO SWEETENER. It was so vinegar-y! Surely you must have accidentally left out the brown sugar, or something.

    • Julie says:

      The orange juice itself is the sweetener and the 1 1/2 cups of water should have mellowed out the vinegar. Sorry it didn’t work out for you!

  • Debbie says:

    I’m new to cooking with a instant pot. I enjoyed your instant pot beef and broccoli. Now I see this orange chicken
    and was wondering if it can be used in the instant pot (settings?)
    Thank you for creating these quick, yummy meals.

    • Julie Wampler says:

      I haven’t tried making this in the Instant Pot so I can’t be 100% certain in giving instructions for that.

  • 5 Hassle-Free Ways to Simplify Mealtime