This delicious and super easy gluten free orange chicken is dairy free, refined sugar free, and a stir-fried healthier take on a well-known favourite!
20-Minutes To Gluten Free Orange Chicken
Hello September! And just like that, it’s fall. That happened way too quickly wouldn’t you say? I feel like having a baby at the end of June definitely made this summer fly by even faster than usual as most of July we spent in a blissful newborn haze. Now that a new season is beginning it’s time for a quick, easy, delicious dinnertime recipe you’ll love for those busy weeknights.
This gluten free orange chicken is easy to make, much healthier than the restaurant version, and takes just 20-minutes from start to finish.
I skipped the breading and used other ingredients to create a tender, juicy bite of chicken with a nice crispy outside, and the sauce is naturally sweetened and doesn’t have any funky ingredients like the ones you’d find in a store-bought orange chicken sauce.
How To Make Orange Chicken Gluten Free
According to Wikipedia, orange chicken is a North American Chinese dish that is made of chopped, battered, and fried chicken coated in a heavy, thick, and sweet orange-flavoured sauce. Usually the batter contains all-purpose flour which of course, contains gluten. To make a gluten free orange chicken that’s healthier, I decided to skip the flour and the deep-frying and go a different direction with the following:
- Use cornstarch – instead of all-purpose flour I coated the raw chopped chicken pieces in cornstarch, a pure starch made from ground corn flour which is naturally gluten free and still creates a thin, almost undetectable “batter” that helps the chicken crisp up during cooking and stay crispier when coated in the sauce.
- Use gluten free soy sauce – for the gluten free orange chicken sauce I used soy sauce among other ingredients. To keep the sauce gluten free I swapped out regular soy sauce for a gluten free soy sauce. You could also use a gluten free tamari here as well.
- Pan fry with avocado oil – instead of deep frying the chicken, I chose to pan fry with a bit of avocado oil (a wonderful healthy oil!) which is great for pan frying and helps crisp up the gluten free coating to give the chicken an awesome texture sans flour!
Ingredients in the Orange Chicken Sauce:
For a healthier take on the sweet, thick, and sticky sauce I wanted to stick to as many natural ingredients as possible and most importantly avoid adding any refined sugar which is almost always the most prevalent ingredient in a restaurant or store-bought orange chicken sauce. Here’s what you’ll need for the sauce:
- Gluten free soy sauce
- Pure orange juice (no added sugars if using carton, or freshly squeezed juice is great!)
- Orange zest
- Rice vinegar
- Coconut palm sugar
The coconut palm sugar and orange juice add the perfect amount of sweetness to the sauce, and the cornstarch gives it a nice thick consistency to coat the chicken.
How To Make Pan Fried Orange Chicken:
There are a few key steps to making this delicious gluten free orange chicken so it has a great taste and texture. Here’s what you’ll need to do:
- Coat the raw chicken in cornstarch using a large ziplock bag.
- Pan fry the coated chicken for 10 minutes, stirring often, until the chicken is nicely browned and crispy.
- Remove the chicken from pan and add sauce to the pan.
- Simmer the sauce at medium heat until thickened and bubbly.
- Add the chicken back to the pan and toss with the sauce to coat.
- Serve immediately.
The key is to cook and brown the chicken first, then combine the crispy cooked chicken with the sauce and serve right away while hot.
My hubby is a huge fan of all things deep fried and saucy (haha, he might not be happy I said that but it’s accurate!). He loved this gluten free orange chicken so much that after he ate it he told me it should be part of our weekly meal rotation. For him to say that about my healthier, gluten free version of a battered and fried favourite is a win in my books!
Are you a fan of orange chicken? Tell me about in the comments and be sure to pin the photo below the recipe to save this one for later!
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Have a great day,
Christal // NITK