Chinese takeout is one of my favorite comfort foods. Since we like to stick to a budget, over the years I have found some great recipes for making restaurant-worthy takeout at home (see the Beef with Broccoli recipe in my cookbook, Pressure Cooker Cookbook for Beginners, as a great example). Today I’m sharing a recipe that I’ve been making for my family for years, but have just never put pen to paper to get it onto the blog for some reason. That changes today with my recipe for Lighter Orange Chicken! Truly a family favorite (it has a regular spot on our quick and easy dinner rotation), this is a super light version of takeout orange chicken. Pan sautéed instead of breaded and fried, it still has a delicious sweet and orangy flavor, with a lot less guilt. I usually serve it with rice, but you can serve it with brown rice or additional veggies if you want to make it even healthier. One of the best things about this dinner is how quickly it’s on the table. The cook time is under 20 minutes total! It truly ticks all the boxes: it’s crave-worthy delicious, lighter, quick to make, and budget-friendly with its simple list of ingredients.
How to customize this better-than takeout light orange chicken
You can customize this recipe with different veggies to your taste. Zucchini is one we do with this chicken every so often, and it makes for a great change-up. This recipe is delicious with beef as well. I recommend a tender cut (like top sirloin) for the beef variation, and you don’t need to cook the beef for as long as you do the chicken. Want a little spice? Kick the heat up a notch by adding some crushed red pepper flakes.
How to make our family-favorite Lighter Orange Chicken recipe
I’ve got the full light orange chicken recipe at the end of this post (feel free to scroll if you’re ready to get cooking), but here are some step-by-step photos along with some of my cooking tips.
Start with 1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken breasts and cut them into bite-sized cubes. Place the chicken cubes in a medium-sized bowl. Set aside 1 tablespoon of the chopped green onions (to be used later for garnish), then add the recipe’s remaining green onions to the bowl with the chicken along with minced garlic and salt. Toss it all together until well mixed.
Heat a tablespoon of sesame oil in a wok or large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken mixture and sauté until the chicken is cooked through (about 10 minutes).
While the chicken is cooking, whisk 1/2 cup of freshly squeezed orange juice (approximately the juice of one large navel orange), 1/4 cup of light soy sauce, 2 tablespoons of cornstarch, and orange zest together in a small bowl. Add the juice mixture along with chopped bell pepper and snow peas to the skillet.
Ingredient tip: Make sure to remove the strings from your snow peas during your ingredient prep. Click here for a quick tutorial on how to do that.
Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently for 3 minutes, or until the sauce thickens and the vegetables are crisp-tender.
Serve the lighter orange chicken with rice or vegetables and garnish with the reserved green onions.
So quick, so easy, so delicious, and low on the guilt! Here’s our family-favorite Lighter Orange Chicken recipe. Please take a moment to leave a rating if you love it as much as we do!
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized cubes
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1/4 cup light soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 1 green bell pepper, seeded and cubed
- 6 ounces snow peas, strings removed
- Place chicken cubes in a medium-sized bowl. Set aside 1 tablespoon of the chopped green onions (to be used later for garnish), then add the remaining green onions to the bowl with the chicken along with the minced garlic and salt. Toss together until well mixed.
- Heat sesame oil in a wok or large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken mixture and sauté until chicken is cooked through (about 10 minutes).
- While the chicken is cooking, whisk the orange juice, soy sauce, cornstarch, and orange zest together in a small bowl.
- Add the juice mixture, bell pepper, and snow peas to the skillet and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently for 3 minutes, or until the sauce thickens and the vegetables are crisp-tender.
- Serve with rice or vegetables and garnish with reserved green onions.
This recipe is delicious with beef as well. I recommend a tender cut, like top sirloin.