BEST Healthy Gluten Free Orange Chicken Recipe

The most delicious, healthy, gluten-free orange chicken recipe I’ve ever tasted! The chicken is dipped in tapioca flour, egg, and almond flour. Then it’s pan-seared, not deep-fried, to be soft and juicy on the inside and crispy on the outside. The sweet & tangy orange sauce is infused with flavor from fresh orange juice, ginger, garlic, and rice vinegar.

The Best healthy gluten-free orange chicken recipe for juicy, pan-seared chicken w/ almond flour, fresh orange juice, honey, ginger, rice vinegar, & garlic

I’ve eaten a lot of orange chicken over my lifetime, and this is hands down the most delicious and satisfying healthy gluten-free orange chicken recipe I’ve ever tasted! The chicken is dipped in tapioca flour, egg, and almond flour. Then it’s pan-seared, not deep-fried, to be soft and juicy on the inside and crispy on the outside. 

Words do not adequately describe the incredibly sweet and tangy orange flavor in my naturally sweet orange sauce. It’s made without brown sugar but is naturally sweetened with honey. My easy recipe for the orange chicken sauce is infused with flavor from fresh orange juice, ginger, garlic, and rice vinegar. The chicken is made gluten-free by being dipped in tapioca flour, an egg wash, and seasoned almond flour. Then it’s quickly pan-seared, not deep fried, in olive oil, which makes it crispy on the outside and juicy and tender on the inside. 

You do not have to settle for restaurant orange chicken that is dry, overly battered, deep fried, and heartburn-inducing. You will feel so proud of yourself for making such an impressive dish with this easy, healthy orange chicken recipe. In my opinion, this homemade version rivals the best Chinese orange chicken in Chinese restaurants or general Tso’s chicken.

YouTube video

Why You’ll Love This Homemade Orange Chicken Recipe

  • You only need a few simple ingredients.
  • It is super easy to make for an impressive result.
  • The flavor-rich ingredients make it taste amazing!
  • All the ingredients are easily digestible for a gentle tummy.

Ingredients & Substitutions

Here is everything you need to make the best-tasting healthy gluten free orange chicken recipe:

Orange Juice: You can use fresh-squeezed orange juice or substitute with store-bought orange juice. If you want a different citrus flavor, consider using tangerine or mandarin juice.

Rice Vinegar: You can substitute rice vinegar with apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar.

Honey: If you prefer a vegan option, you can substitute honey with maple syrup, agave nectar, or brown rice syrup.*

Tapioca Flour: To make it grain-free, you can use arrowroot powder or cornstarch as a substitute for tapioca flour.*

Soy Sauce: If you need a gluten-free soy sauce alternative, use tamari or coconut aminos for a soy-free option.

Garlic: Use garlic powder as a substitute for fresh garlic cloves. Use 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder for each clove.

Ginger: If you don’t have fresh ginger, you can use ground ginger as a substitute. Use 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger for each teaspoon of fresh ginger.

Chicken: You can use boneless skinless chicken breast, chicken thighs, or chicken tenders.

Tapioca Flour: Substitute tapioca flour with potato starch, cornstarch, or arrowroot starch.*

Almond Flour: If you need a nut-free alternative, you can use gluten-free breadcrumbs or ground sunflower seeds to substitute almond flour.*

Eggs: To make it vegan, you can use a flax or chia egg as a binding agent. To make one flax or chia egg, mix 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed or chia seeds with 2.5 tablespoons of water, and let it sit for a few minutes until it thickens.*

Green Onion: If you don’t have green onions, you can use chives or finely chopped red onion for a similar garnish.

Orange Zest: If you don’t have an orange on hand for zest for the tangy orange sauce, you can use lemon or lime zest for a citrusy twist.*

Light Olive Oil: You can substitute another oil suitable for high heat, including avocado oil or olive oil.

*I have not tested these substitutions and can not endorse the result.

How to Make My Healthy Orange Chicken Recipe

Step 1: Prepare the Orange Sauce

Zest the skin of one orange for a total of 2 tablespoons of orange zest. Then juice the zested orange and one additional orange for a total of 2/3 cup of fresh orange juice. 

In a bowl, whisk together the orange juice, rice vinegar, honey, 1 tablespoon of orange zest, soy sauce, tapioca flour, minced garlic, grated ginger, salt, and pepper. Ensure the tapioca flour is fully dissolved. Set the sauce aside.

Adding wet ingredients to muffin batter.
Mixing cranberries into muffin batter.

Step 2: Coat the Chicken

Cut your chicken into bite-sized pieces.

You will need three bowls to coat the chicken. 

In the first bowl, add the tapioca flour. In the second bowl, add two eggs and whisk until blended. In the third bowl, combine the almond flour, salt, and pepper and mix.

Drop a handful of chicken pieces into the tapioca flour mixture, ensuring they are evenly coated.

Next, dip the coated chicken pieces into the beaten eggs and let any excess drip off.

Finally, coat the chicken pieces in the almond flour mixture, pressing the coating onto the chicken to adhere.

Then, place the coated chicken pieces on a sheet.

Adding wet ingredients to muffin batter.
Mixing cranberries into muffin batter.
Adding wet ingredients to muffin batter.
Mixing cranberries into muffin batter.

Step 3: Cook the Chicken

Heat a large skillet or frying pan over medium-high heat and add enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan.

Once the oil is hot, add the coated chicken pieces in a single layer, making sure not to overcrowd the pan. You may need to cook them in batches.

Cook the chicken for about 3-4 minutes on each side or until they are golden brown and cooked through. The internal temperature should reach 165°F (74°C). I highly recommend using a meat thermometer to check each piece before you remove it from the pan. Remove the cooked chicken pieces and set them on a plate to rest.

Adding wet ingredients to muffin batter.
Mixing cranberries into muffin batter.
Adding wet ingredients to muffin batter.
Mixing cranberries into muffin batter.

Step 4: Thicken the Orange Sauce

In the same skillet, reduce the heat to medium-low and add the prepared orange sauce. Stir constantly and simmer for about 5-7 minutes until the sauce thickens.

Return the cooked chicken to the skillet with the thickened orange sauce. Stir to coat the chicken evenly with the sauce. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes until the chicken is heated through and coated in the sauce.

Adding wet ingredients to muffin batter.
Mixing cranberries into muffin batter.

Step 5: Serve & Enjoy!

Transfer the gluten-free orange chicken to a serving platter. Garnish with chopped green onion, additional orange zest, and sesame seeds.

Serve your homemade gluten-free orange chicken with your choice of side, such as steamed rice or vegetables. Drizzle extra sauce over the top if desired, and savor the delicious sweet and tangy flavors!

Pan-Seared Orange Chicken Recipe Notes

Chicken Pieces: You can use boneless, skinless chicken breasts or chicken tenders for this recipe. Cutting them into bite-sized pieces before coating and cooking will make them cook faster and more evenly.

Zesting Citrus: When zesting citrus fruits like oranges, use a fine grater or a microplane to get just the outer colored part (the zest) and avoid the bitter white pith underneath.

Ginger: Fresh ginger adds a vibrant flavor, but you can use ginger powder if that’s what you have on hand. Adjust the quantity to your taste.

Coating the Chicken: If you’re looking for a lower-carb option, consider using a mixture of almond flour and grated Parmesan cheese instead of tapioca and almond flour. Make sure to coat the chicken pieces evenly with the flour mixture. Shake off any excess flour to prevent a heavy coating.

Pan Searing: Pan-searing in olive oil makes the chicken crispy without deep-frying. Use a non-stick skillet or a well-seasoned cast-iron pan for best results. Cook in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan, which can lead to steaming instead of crisping. Ensure the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) to ensure it’s fully cooked. Use a meat thermometer for accuracy.

Orange Sauce: If the sauce isn’t thickening to your desired consistency, you can mix a little more tapioca flour with water and stir it into the sauce while simmering. Allow it to thicken before serving. Adjust the sweetness and tanginess of the sauce to your liking by adding more honey or rice vinegar, respectively.

Garnish: Fresh green onion and additional orange zest not only add flavor but also provide a fresh and vibrant touch to the dish, similar to a restaurant version.

Serving: Serve your gluten-free orange chicken with brown rice, steamed white rice, cauliflower rice, or a side of steamed vegetables for a balanced meal.

Dietary Considerations: Be cautious of food allergies and sensitivities when making substitutions. Double-check ingredient labels to ensure they meet your dietary needs.

Vegan/Vegetarian: If you want a vegetarian or vegan option, consider using tofu or tempeh instead of chicken and substitute honey with a plant-based sweetener.

Serving Suggestions:

Adjust the spice level by adding crushed red pepper flakes or a dash of hot sauce if you prefer a spicy orange sauce. Feel free to add vegetables like bell peppers, snap peas, or broccoli to the dish for added color and nutrition to your homemade orange chicken.

Leftovers:If you have leftover orange chicken, allow it to cool to room temperature before refrigerating. Place it in an airtight container.

Sauce: Store any leftover orange sauce separately in a sealed container. This prevents the chicken from becoming soggy. The sauce can be frozen separately in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to 2-3 months.

Refrigerator Storage: Orange chicken can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.

Reheating: To reheat, you can use the microwave for convenience or reheat it in a pan on the stovetop. If the chicken seems dry after reheating, drizzle a bit of fresh orange sauce over it to moisten it.

Freezing: You can freeze cooked gluten-free orange chicken, but it’s best to freeze it before adding the sauce to maintain the crispy texture. Lay the cooked, cooled chicken pieces on a baking sheet in a single layer, then freeze until solid. Afterward, transfer them to an airtight freezer-safe container or freezer bag with layers of parchment paper in between to prevent sticking. Use within 2-3 months. When you’re ready to enjoy your frozen orange chicken, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight. Reheat in a preheated oven at 350°F (175°C) for about 15-20 minutes, or until heated through. This will help maintain the crispiness. Thaw the sauce in the refrigerator or at room temperature and gently reheat it in a saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently.

Crispiness: Keep in mind that the crispy texture of the chicken may not be the same after freezing and reheating. To help restore some crispiness, you can briefly broil the chicken pieces after reheating.

Sauce Consistency: The sauce might thicken as it cools, especially if it contains tapioca flour. If it’s too thick after reheating, you can add a splash of water or orange juice to achieve your desired consistency.

Can I use chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts?

Yes, you can use boneless, skinless chicken thighs as a substitute for chicken breasts. Thighs tend to be juicier and can add a slightly different flavor to the dish.

What can I use instead of almond flour for coating the chicken?

If you have a nut allergy or prefer an alternative, you can use gluten-free breadcrumbs, crushed rice cakes, or ground sunflower seeds as a substitute for almond flour.

Is there a way to make this dish spicier?

Yes, if you prefer a spicier orange chicken, you can add crushed red pepper flakes to the sauce or sprinkle them over the cooked chicken. You can adjust the amount to suit your heat preference.

Can I make this dish vegetarian or vegan?

Absolutely! You can substitute the chicken with tofu or tempeh for a vegetarian or vegan version. Also, replace honey with a plant-based sweetener, such as maple syrup or agave nectar, to keep it vegan.

What can I serve with gluten-free orange chicken?

You can serve it with steamed rice, cauliflower rice, quinoa, or noodles for a complete meal. Add steamed or stir-fried vegetables like broccoli, bell peppers, or snap peas for extra color and nutrition.

How do I prevent the chicken from getting soggy after adding the sauce?

To maintain the crispy texture of the chicken, consider serving the sauce separately or drizzling it over the chicken just before serving. This way, you can control the sauce-to-chicken ratio and keep it crispy.

Can I use store-bought orange juice for the sauce?

Yes, you can use store-bought orange juice, but fresh-squeezed orange juice can provide a more vibrant and natural citrus flavor. If using store-bought, try to choose 100% pure orange juice without added sugars or artificial flavors.

Can I prepare the sauce in advance and store it separately?

Absolutely! You can make the orange sauce in advance and store it in the refrigerator for a few days. Reheat it gently on the stovetop when ready to serve.

How can I make this dish gluten-free if I don’t have tapioca flour?

If you don’t have tapioca flour, you can use cornstarch or arrowroot powder as a gluten-free alternative for thickening the sauce and coating the chicken.

Is this recipe spicy?

The recipe, as written, is not inherently spicy. However, you can adjust the spice level to your liking by adding red chili flakes, hot sauce, or extra grated ginger if you prefer a spicier version.

The Best healthy gluten-free orange chicken recipe for juicy, pan-seared chicken w/ almond flour, fresh orange juice, honey, ginger, rice vinegar, & garlic

BEST Healthy Gluten Free Orange Chicken Recipe

Gluten-Free diet-friendly recipe
The most delicious, healthy, gluten-free orange chicken recipe I've ever tasted! The chicken is dipped in tapioca flour, egg, and almond flour. Then it's pan-seared, not deep-fried, to be soft and juicy on the inside and crispy on the outside. The sweet & tangy orange sauce is infused with flavor from fresh orange juice, ginger, garlic, and rice vinegar.
5 from 10 votes
Servings 5
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes

Ingredients
  

ORANGE SAUCE:

  • 2/3 cup orange juice
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon tapioca flour
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger or 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

CHICKEN:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour
  • 1-1/2 cups almond flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 12 ounces boneless skinless chicken breasts 3 medium or 2 large (or chicken tenders)

GARNISH: (Optional)

  • 1 green onion stalk
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds

Instructions
 

  • Zest the skin of one orange for a total of 2 tablespoons of orange zest. Then juice the zested orange and one additional orange for a total of 2/3 cup of fresh orange juice.
  • In a bowl, whisk together the orange juice, rice vinegar, honey, 1 tablespoon of orange zest, soy sauce, tapioca flour, minced garlic, grated ginger, salt, and pepper. Ensure the tapioca flour is fully dissolved. Set the sauce aside.
  • Cut your chicken into bite-sized pieces.
  • You will need three bowls to coat the chicken.
  • In the first bowl, add the tapioca flour. In the second bowl, add two eggs and whisk until blended. In the third bowl, combine the almond flour, salt, and pepper and mix.
  • Drop a handful of chicken pieces into the tapioca flour mixture, ensuring they are evenly coated.
  • Next, dip the coated chicken pieces into the beaten eggs and let any excess drip off.
  • Finally, coat the chicken pieces in the almond flour mixture, pressing the coating onto the chicken to adhere.
  • Then, place the coated chicken pieces on a sheet.
  • Heat a large skillet or frying pan over medium-high heat and add enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan.
  • Once the oil is hot, add the coated chicken pieces in a single layer, making sure not to overcrowd the pan. You may need to cook them in batches.
  • Cook the chicken for about 3-4 minutes on each side or until they are golden brown and cooked through. The internal temperature should reach 165°F (74°C). I highly recommend using a meat thermometer to check each piece before you remove it from the pan. Remove the cooked chicken pieces and set them on a plate to rest.
  • In the same skillet, reduce the heat to medium-low and add the prepared orange sauce. Stir constantly and simmer for about 5-7 minutes until the sauce thickens.
  • Return the cooked chicken to the skillet with the thickened orange sauce. Stir to coat the chicken evenly with the sauce. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes until the chicken is heated through and coated in the sauce.
  • Transfer the gluten-free orange chicken to a serving platter. Garnish with chopped green onion, additional orange zest, and sesame seeds.
  • Serve your homemade gluten-free orange chicken with your choice of side, such as steamed rice or vegetables. Drizzle extra sauce over the top if desired, and savor the delicious sweet and tangy flavors!

Video

YouTube video

Nutrition

Calories: 288kcalCarbohydrates: 26gProtein: 19gFat: 13gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0.01gCholesterol: 91mgSodium: 1586mgPotassium: 330mgFiber: 3gSugar: 15gVitamin A: 185IUVitamin C: 19mgCalcium: 72mgIron: 2mg
Keyword almond flour, chicken, chinese, honey, naturally sweetened, orange, pan seared, rice vinegar
Did you make this recipe?Please let me know in the comments below how it turned out 🙂

10 Comments

    1. We love this orange better than Panda’s Express’s version, too! 🙂 Thank you for the review!

5 from 10 votes (5 ratings without comment)

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