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The Best Crispy Paleo Orange Chicken (keto-friendly!)

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Sweet, citrusy, and much better than Chinese takeout, this Paleo Orange Chicken will be your new favorite not-so-guilty pleasure! This low carb orange chicken recipe comes together quickly and is perfect for a weeknight dinner the whole family will love! At 7.7g net carbs, it’s perfect for the paleo diet or keto diet, and is gluten-free!

Overhead shot of Paleo Orange Chicken in a white bowl.

This post was originally published on December 11th, 2021.

❤️ Why you will love this Paleo Orange Chicken Recipe

  • It’s easy to make! This is one of my favorite dishes to make throughout the week. The steps are: batter and fry the chicken, make the sauce and drizzle it over the chicken. I’d recommend making a vegetable side dish like broccoli or cauliflower rice to complement it, or if you’re not on the paleo diet, jasmine rice would also be perfect.
  • SO much flavor! The sticky orange sauce is much better than the real thing, and you can even enjoy it over fish or grilled chicken. I did a little experiment when brainstorming how to cook Orange Chicken keto-style, and ordered orange chicken from my local Chinese delivery. The sauce was horrendous! Somewhere along the lines of Fanta orange syrup. Making your own healthy orange sauce is, by far, the way to go, whether you’re on a keto diet or not.
  • There is no gluten and minimal carbs: The crispy crust consists of coconut flour, egg, and almond flour that gets toasted for an extra crunch. No plain flour here! The carbs come to 7.7g net carbs per portion. Winner, winner, chicken dinner.
  • Simple ingredients: The ingredients for this paleo orange chicken are whole foods, naturally good for you.
  • It’s family-friendly. There is no extra spice in this paleo Chinese orange chicken recipe, the chilis that you see pictured are just an optional garnish. The sauce is sticky, tangy, and sweet. Kids love Chinese food! It’s the perfect weeknight meal and sure to be on your regular rotation.

🗝️ Key ingredients for this Homemade Orange Chicken Recipe

  • Nut flours: I used both coconut and almond flour in this recipe. I firstly coated the chicken in the coconut flour (along with egg wash), and then toasted the almond flour to make it crunchier before dipping the chicken in it for a second coating. I’ve tried using just coconut flour but found that it completely absorbed the sesame oil when frying and I didn’t want to keep adding more sesame oil. The almond flour creates a barrier so the oil isn’t as absorbed.
  • Egg: I used an egg to support the batter, as you do with regular fried chicken or chicken nuggets. It helps the almond flour “breadcrumbs” to stick better to the chicken.
  • Chicken: Chicken breasts cut into small 1″ pieces are ideal for this recipe. You want the pieces to be small so that it cooks all the way through. Boneless skinless chicken thighs are a great alternative.
  • Orange: Yes, there is real orange in here! I added 1/4 cup of orange juice plus orange zest. The total carbs from the orange in the whole recipe come to around 7g net carbs, split between 4 portions.
  • Sweetener: I used Nkd Living’s Stevia & Erythritol blend (affiliate), which is a 1:1, sugar: sweetener blend.
  • Coconut aminos: I love coconut aminos. This ingredient is kind of like soy sauce, with less salt and a little more sweetness. It tastes great in this recipe.
  • Sesame oil: I fried the chicken in sesame oil because the flavor really adds to the dish. I tend to use sesame oil in all of my Chinese cooking. It’s traditionally quite common in Chinese, Japanese and Korean cuisine.
  • Herbs & Spices: The rest of the flavor comes from fresh ginger & fresh garlic, plus Chinese 5 spice, salt, and pepper. Optionally, you could add 1/2 tsp of chili powder to the coconut flour if you like a little heat, or sprinkles some red pepper flakes into the sauce.
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🥣 How to make this Healthy Orange Chicken Recipe

Marinate the Chicken

  1. Finely dice the chicken breasts into 1-inch pieces.
  2. Place all of the marinade ingredients into a bowl or ziplock (including the chicken) and marinate it for at least 30 minutes (optional but recommended).
Marinating chicken and a wooden spoon.

Bread and fry the chicken:

  1. In a large skillet on the stove over medium heat, add the almond flour and toast it until golden, about 5 minutes. Once toasted, remove it from the pan and place it into a large bowl.
  2. In another bowl, mix the coconut flour, salt, pepper, and chili powder (if using) together.
  3. In the 3rd bowl add the eggs and almond milk. Whisk them together until they are well combined.
  4. Wipe out the large pan (if there is any excess almond flour) and begin to heat up the sesame oil over medium high heat.
  5. With a fork, pierce one piece of chicken. Coat chicken pieces in coconut flour first covering them completely, then coat them with the egg mixture, before a final coating of the almond flour.

6. Place chicken into the hot oil in a single layer and allow it to cook, flipping over after 5 minutes, and remove when the entire coating is golden. Repeat for the rest of the chicken.

Breaded chicken cooking in oil in a pan.

7. Place the cooked juicy chicken pieces on a paper towel-lined plate or dish.

Cooked chicken pieces on a paper towel.

ORANGE SAUCE:

  1. Heat the sesame oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add the ginger, garlic, and orange zest and sauté for 2-3 minutes, until fragrant and the garlic is beginning to turn golden brown.
Orange zest and ginger sauteeing in a pot.

3. Mix in the coconut aminos, orange juice, and sweetener, and stir until the sweetener is dissolved.

4. Sprinkle Xanthan gum over the sauce and whisk until it dissolves and the sauce is thick.

Xanthan gum in a pot of orange sauce with a blue and wooden spoon.

TO SERVE:

  1. Pour the sweet orange sauce over the crispy chicken after plating, instead of mixing it all together. This helps to keep the crispy coating intact.
  2. Serve paleo orange chicken with riced broccoli, riced cauliflower, or green beans, and garnish with green onions, fresh chilis, and/or toasted sesame seeds. If you’re not on a paleo or keto diet, you can also serve it with white rice, brown rice, or wild rice.
Pouring orange sauce over chicken pieces.

🪄 Tips for cooking Keto Orange Chicken

  • Marinate: Marinating the chicken isn’t necessary to make paleo orange chicken but it does add so much more flavor! I usually prep the chicken and marinade in the morning and let them sit in the fridge until it’s time to cook.
  • Small pieces of chicken: Make sure to cut your chicken pieces up small so that they cook through and aren’t pink at the end.
  • Golden chicken pieces: The paleo orange chicken is cooked when the coating on the outside turns golden brown. To double-check that it’s cooked, slice the thickest piece of cooked chicken down the middle and check for doneness. Add any back to the oil if you think they’re under-cooked.
  • Store any remaining chicken in a sealed container for up to 4 days. Store the chicken and the sauce separately.
  • Reheat paleo orange chicken in a microwave or an oven until piping hot. I don’t recommend reheating the chicken pieces in a pan as the coating may fall apart. The best way is to reheat it in the oven as they get nice and crispy again, and reheat the delicious sauce separately in a pot on the stove or a ramekin in the oven.

🐼 Is Panda Express Orange Chicken keto-friendly?

No, it’s not. In fact, it has 49g of net carbs per portion according to their website. That is over double the recommended 20g net carb per day for the keto diet to be successful.

🍊 Can I eat oranges during keto?

One whole orange has 13g of net carbs so I would say that is off-limits, however, cooking with orange juice and zest spreads the carbs out to all portions, like in this keto orange chicken recipe, essentially splitting one orange between 4 people.

Will eating an orange kick me out of ketosis?

Eating a single orange will not kick you out of ketosis, however, you’ll need to stick to very low carb or zero carb foods the rest of the day like cheese, eggs, and meat so that you don’t go over your carb limit.

❓ Is orange chicken high in carbs?

Regular orange chicken either from a takeaway or homemade tends to have all-purpose flour-coated chicken and lots of sugar in the orange sauce, both of which are very high in carbs and not keto-friendly or paleo friendly.

Side shot of Paleo Orange Chicken in a white bowl.

😋 More paleo keto dinner recipes you will love

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Overhead shot of paleo orange chicken in a white bowl.

📖 Paleo Orange Chicken Recipe

Yield: 4 people
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Sweet, citrusy, and much better than Chinese takeout, this Paleo Orange Chicken will be your new favorite not-so-guilty pleasure! This low-carb orange chicken recipe comes together quickly and is perfect for a weeknight dinner the whole family will love! At 7.7g net carbs, it's perfect for the paleo diet or keto diet, and is gluten-free!

Ingredients

Marinade:

  • 1/2 cup coconut aminos
  • 1 tsp garlic granules or powder
  • 1 tsp Chinese 5 spice
  • 1 tsp ginger, minced
  • 2 lbs chicken breast, diced into small 1" pieces

Coating:

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder, optional

Orange sauce:

  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 inch piece ginger, minced
  • 2 tbsp orange zest, I used the zest from 1 orange
  • 4 tbsp coconut aminos, 1/4 cup
  • 4 tbsp orange juice , 1/4 cup, I used the juice from 1 orange
  • 1.5 tbsp sweetener of choice *see notes
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum

Oil for frying:

  • 1/4 cup sesame oil

Instructions

Marinated Chicken

  1. Finely dine the chicken to 1 inch pieces.
  2. Place all of the marinade ingredients into a bowl or ziplock (including the chicken) and marinate it for at least 30 minutes (optional but recommended). Marinating chicken and a wooden spoon.

Fried Chicken Pieces:

  1. In a large pan on the stove over medium heat, add the almond flour and toast it until golden, about 5 minutes. Once toasted, remove it from the pan and place it into a bowl. Wooden spoon mixing almond flour in a black pan.
  2. In another bowl, mix the coconut flour, salt, pepper, and chili powder (if using) together.
  3. In the 3rd bowl add the eggs and almond milk. Whisk them together until they are well combined.
  4. Wipe out the large pan (if there is any excess almond flour) and begin to heat up the sesame oil over medium-high heat.
  5. With a fork, pierce one piece of chicken. Dip it into the coconut flour first coating it completely, then coat it with the egg mixture, before a final coating of the almond flour. Dipping chicken in coconut flour.
  6. Place it into the hot oil and allow it to cook, flipping over after 5 minutes, and remove when the entire coating is golden. Repeat for the rest of the chicken. Breaded chicken cooking in oil in a pan.
  7. Place the cooked chicken pieces on a paper towel-lined plate or dish. Cooked chicken pieces on a paper towel.

Orange Sauce:

  1. Heat the sesame oil up in a small pot over medium heat.
  2. Add the ginger, garlic, and orange zest and sauté for 2-3 minutes, until fragrant and the garlic is beginning to turn golden brown. Orange zest and ginger sauteeing in a pot.
  3. Mix in the coconut aminos, orange juice, and sweetener, and stir until the sweetener is dissolved. Pouring orange juice into a silver pot.
  4. Sprinkle Xanthan gum over the sauce and whisk until it dissolves and the sauce is thick. Xanthan gum in a pot of orange sauce with a blue and wooden spoon.

To Serve:

  1. Pour the sauce over the orange chicken after plating, instead of mixing it all together. This helps to keep the crispy coating intact. Pouring orange sauce over chicken pieces.
  2. Serve with riced broccoli or cauliflower, and garnish with spring onions, fresh chilis, and/or toasted sesame seeds.

Notes

  1. Sweetener: I used Nkd Livings's stevia erythritol blend which has a 1:1 sugar ratio.
  2. Marinate: Marinating the chicken isn't necessary but it does add so much more flavor! I usually prep the chicken and marinade in the morning and let them sit in the fridge until it's time to cook.
  3. Small pieces of chicken: Make sure to cut your chicken pieces up small so that they cook through and aren't pink at the end.
  4. Golden chicken pieces: The chicken is cooked when the coating on the outside turns golden brown. To double-check that it's cooked, slice the thickest piece of cooked chicken down the middle and check for doneness. Add any back to the oil if you think they're under-cooked.
  5. Store any remaining chicken in a sealed container for up to 4 days. Store the chicken and the sauce separately.
  6. Reheat in a microwave or an oven until piping hot. I don't recommend reheating the chicken pieces in a pan as the coating may fall apart. The best way is to reheat it in the oven as they get nice and crispy again, and reheat the delicious sauce separately in a pot on the stove or a ramekin in the oven.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1 serving
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 501Total Fat: 25.9gSaturated Fat: 3.4gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 227mgSodium: 192mgCarbohydrates: 10.6gNet Carbohydrates: 7.7gFiber: 2.9gSugar: 2.1gProtein: 53.3g

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2 Comments

    1. Thanks, Dad! You actually ate this exact bowl sometime last year =] I’ll have to make it again for you guys.

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