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This baked gluten free orange chicken tastes just like your favorite Chinese takeout while also being better for you! Chicken is coated in a mixture of arrowroot and rice flour then baked to crispy perfection and tossed in a perfectly sweet and tangy orange sauce.
I have been bursting to share this recipe with y’all! In fact, I think this baked gluten free orange chicken may be one of my favorite recipes we’ve EVER created – and after nearly 8 years that’s saying something! In my pre-gluten free days, I had a real love for Panda Express orange chicken and chow mein, and while we nailed a spaghetti squash chow mein a few years ago, it had been years since I’d gotten to eat anything close to that crispy orange chicken.
Even though we’ve successfully converted many takeout favorites before, like Mongolian Beef and Kung Pao Chicken, this baked gluten free orange chicken was a tall order. We knew we wanted a classic crispy orange chicken, but we wanted to avoid deep-frying it if we could so we could avoid the mess and oil waste. I’m happy to say that we nailed it!
What is the taste of orange chicken?
Because it’s made up of fresh orange juice, coconut sugar, coconut aminos, apple cider vinegar, and red pepper flakes, the orange chicken sauce is equal parts tangy, sweet, and salty, with just a hint of (optional) spice.
What Cut of Chicken Should I Use To Make Orange Chicken?
THIGHS! Always thighs. When it comes to Asian-Inspired dishes, we say that chicken thighs (vs. breasts) are best. Because they have a higher fat content than chicken breasts, they have the magical ability to get nice and crispy on the outside while still staying juicy and delicious on the inside!
Orange Chicken Marinade Ingredients
For this recipe, you’ll start by marinating your chicken, so let’s talk marinade ingredients! Here’s what you’ll need to get this recipe going:
- Egg White – to start, you’ll need 1 egg white.
- Arrowroot Starch – to help the chicken to really crisp, you’ll need 3 tablespoons of arrowroot starch.
- Coconut Aminos – 1 tablespoon of coconut aminos adds a bit of really delicious flavor here.
- Apple Cider Vinegar – 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar brightens everything up!
- Sea Salt – to season, you’ll need a 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt.
Once you’ve marinated your chicken, you’ll create a flour coating on the outside of your chicken, and then bake it! While it’s baking, you’ll make the delicious orange chicken sauce!
How to make baked orange chicken
It’s easier than you think! Here’s what you’ll need to do:
- Prep – preheat the oven to 425°F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, then lightly spray (or brush) it with avocado oil.
- Whisk the Marinade Together – in a large bowl, whisk together the egg white, arrowroot starch, coconut aminos, apple cider vinegar, and salt. Add the chicken to the marinade and toss to coat.
- Combine the Flour Coating Ingredients – in a small bowl, whisk together the arrowroot starch, white rice flour, and sea salt.
- Dredge the Chicken in the Flour Mixture – remove the chicken from the marinade, then dredge in the flour mixture, shake off the excess flour, and lay the chicken on the baking sheet. Lightly spray or brush the chicken with avocado oil.
- Bake – bake the chicken for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, flip the chicken, then bake for an additional 15 minutes, until browned and crisp.
- Make the Sauce – while the chicken is baking, whisk together the water, orange juice, coconut sugar, coconut aminos, apple cider vinegar, and red pepper flakes in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then whisk together 1 tablespoon arrowroot starch with 2 tablespoons water. Pour the arrowroot mixture into the sauce, then bring to a boil. Once the sauce has thickened, remove from heat.
- Coat the Chicken, Garnish, and Enjoy – toss the chicken with the orange sauce, then garnish with white sesame seeds. Serve over white rice or cauliflower rice and enjoy!
Should you bake or fry your orange chicken?
Typically, the only way to get really crispy orange chicken is to fry it, BUT, after some trial and error, we were able to get BAKED gluten free orange chicken that was crisp on the outside and still tender inside. Because we cracked the code, we say that baked orange chicken is best! Here’s what makes this recipe work:
- A coating of half arrowroot starch and half rice flour: we found that regular gluten free flour was too dense to produce a crispy texture, but the combination of arrowroot and rice flour created a light and crispy coating.
- Boneless, skinless chicken thighs: since the chicken needs to bake at a high temperature for a fairly long amount of time to get the coating crisp, we recommend using chicken thighs to avoid drying out the chicken.
- Avocado oil spray: While you can brush the chicken with avocado oil if you’re in a pinch, avocado oil spray is really key in this recipe for making sure that the chicken is evenly coated.
Fed & Fit Tips For The Best Healthy Orange Chicken
Here are a few tips to ensure perfectly crispy orange chicken every single time!
- Use half rice flour + half arrowroot starch – this is the key to crispy chicken, y’all! Don’t go all arrowroot OR all rice flour. Use half and half!
- Use chicken thighs – while the chicken breast has its place, this recipe is all about chicken thighs! Trust us on this one.
- Flip the chicken halfway through – you’ll bake the chicken for 15 minutes, then flip it, and bake it for another 15 minutes. This is key in helping the chicken to get nice and crispy on all sides!
- Don’t overlap the chicken – when laying the chicken on the sheet pan to bake, be sure that none of the pieces are overlapping. In fact, if you need to use more than one sheet pan in order to not overlap, do that!
What to serve with baked orange chicken?
We love this gluten free orange chicken alongside white or brown rice (or cauliflower rice for low carb) and a green veggie like broccoli or green beans. If you’d like a veggie, some simple steamed broccoli or snow peas work great here!
Make-Ahead and Storage Orange Chicken
While this recipe really is best right out of the oven, it’ll store just fine too! We recommend storing the chicken separate from the sauce, though, to keep it from getting soggy in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to enjoy, either microwave the chicken, or lay it back out on a sheet pan to crisp up in a 350°F oven until warmed through, toss it with the orange sauce, and then enjoy!
Just for You
Want more recipes like this?
For the marinade:
For the flour coating:
- Preheat the oven to 425 F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, then lightly spray it with the avocado oil spray, or brush it with half of the avocado oil.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the egg white, arrowroot starch, coconut aminos, apple cider vinegar, and salt. Add the chicken to the marinade and toss to coat.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the arrowroot starch, white rice flour, and sea salt.
- Remove the chicken from the marinade then dredge in the flour mixture, then shake off the excess flour and lay the chicken on the baking sheet. Lightly spray the chicken with avocado oil, or brush it with the remaining oil, then bake for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, flip the chicken then bake for an additional 15 minutes, until browned and crisp.
- While the chicken is baking, whisk together the water, orange juice, coconut sugar, coconut aminos, apple cider vinegar, and red pepper flakes in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then whisk together 1 tablespoon arrowroot starch with 2 tablespoons water. Pour the arrowroot mixture into the sauce, then bring to a boil. Once the sauce has thickened, remove from heat.
- Toss the chicken with the orange sauce then garnish with white sesame seeds. Serve over white rice or cauliflower rice and enjoy!