This Crispy Paleo Orange Chicken recipe is bright, sweet, tangy and so flavorful. Crispy fried chicken is coated with a gluten-free sticky orange sauce for a delicious meal that’s ready in under an hour. It’s AIP-friendly, grain-free, and soy-free.
This homemade orange chicken is my second paleo and AIP-friendly take on the classic American-Chinese dish, because it’s such a nostalgic comfort food for me!
Unlike the Panda Express original, this healthier gluten-free orange chicken recipe is also soy-free and refined sugar-free. It doesn’t include a coating with eggs, wheat flour or cornstarch either!
Instead, an eggless batter made with grain, nut, and gluten free flours is used to pan-fry orange-flavored chicken. The crispy chicken bites are then tossed in a sweet and tangy, gluten-free sticky orange sauce. You can easily make this an AIP orange chicken meal by omitting the chili flakes and optional sesame seeds.
If you want the same delicious flavors in this recipe but only have 20 minutes to make dinner, check out my quick and easy Gluten Free Orange Chicken!
What you’ll need to make this Paleo Crispy Chicken in Orange Sauce
Gluten-Free Batter for Crispy Orange Chicken
- boneless, skinless chicken breasts – or boneless, skinless chicken thighs if you prefer
- sea salt and orange zest – to season the chicken. Using the orange zest directly on the chicken really amps up this dish’s bright, citrusy flavor. You’ll want to ensure you only get the outermost layer of the orange and not the pith/white part or the dish will be very bitter!
- cassava flour and arrowroot starch – these grain and nut free flours make this a gluten-free batter for frying the chicken. The additional light coating with arrowroot starch encourages an extra crispy crust. I have not tried substituting the arrowroot starch with tapioca starch.
- garlic powder – to add some flavor to the wet gluten-free orange chicken batter.
- carbonated water – newly opened or freshly carbonated water is key to this eggless batter’s aeration and helps create a light, crispy coating. Ensure the water is fizzy, with visible bubbles. (Refer to video).
- avocado oil – or substitute with coconut oil
Gluten-free Sticky Orange Sauce
- orange juice – infuses its natural, unrefined sweetness. Use freshly squeezed orange juice for the best taste; you’ll need about 3 oranges. If using store-bought orange juice, ensure there are no added sugars or other preservatives.
- orange zest – for its citrusy tanginess, the zest and orange juice are key to any orange sauce for natural flavoring.
- coconut aminos – a gluten and soy-free alternative to soy sauce, used to provide an umami flavor.
- apple cider vinegar – together with the coconut aminos, these ingredients create the acidity and tanginess that’s characteristic of orange sauce. You can substitute with rice wine vinegar (not AIP-compliant) or omit it, but the sauce won’t have the same tangy flavor.
- fresh garlic and ginger – the aromatics of this dish that add a lovely depth of flavor to the orange sauce
- honey – to sweeten and provide the characteristic stickiness of this orange chicken sauce. Replace with another unrefined sugar like maple syrup.
- chili flakes – for a bit of sweet, spicy heat. Substitute with red pepper flakes. Omit for AIP.
- green onions and toasted sesame seeds – optional, for garnishing. Omit sesame seeds for AIP.
How to Make One-Pan Paleo Orange Chicken
Step 1: Season the chicken
Cube the boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs into bite-sized pieces and season with salt and orange zest.
Step 2: Batter the chicken
- Next, make the gluten-free, egg-free chicken batter.
- Add chicken pieces into the liquid batter and mix well.
- Then, work in batches and lightly dredge or coat the chicken in arrowroot starch. Shake off excess.
- Use more arrowroot starch if needed.
Tip: To prevent clumping, spread coated chicken pieces on a parchment-lined sheet pan until ready to fry.
Step 3: Fry the chicken then remove from pan
Pan-fry chicken until golden brown on all sides. Remove from skillet and set aside.
Step 3: Make the Orange Sauce
- To a bowl, add liquid ingredients and orange zest. Whisk to combine.
- Sauté aromatics over medium heat in the skillet.
- Next, add orange liquid mixture to pan and bring to a boil.
Step 4: Finally, return chicken to skillet and let sauce thicken
Tips for Making this Orange Chicken Easy
- Skip the liquid gluten-free orange chicken batter to make this recipe quicker.
- Simply season with salt and orange zest, then lightly dredge in arrowroot starch.
- The arrowroot starch will still provide a quick and easy, nice crisp.
- This dish is best served hot, immediately.
- The chicken will begin to lose some of its crispiness once it starts to cool. If you don’t plan on serving it right away, I recommend reheating it on the stove.
What to Serve with this Paleo Orange Chicken
Make a complete paleo and AIP chicken dinner by adding some sides to serve with this crispy and sticky Orange Chicken:
- Vegetables – like broccoli, carrots, bok choy, water chestnuts, cabbage, mushrooms, zucchini, mustard greens, and cauliflower.
- Add vegetables and cook directly in the skillet for a complete one-pan meal in sticky orange sauce.
- Or, drizzle extra sauce on steamed, stir-fried or roasted vegetables.
- Grain-free sides/alternatives – like cauliflower or broccoli rice, sweet potato glass noodles, cassava noodles or other veggie noodles.
Crispy Paleo Orange Chicken FAQs
Can I make this Sticky Orange Sauce with a different meat?
I think this sauce would also taste great with cubed pork chops or thin slices of beef steak. Keep in mind the cooking times will vary, and always ensure meats are cooked properly.
Can I substitute the orange?
This recipe wouldn’t be Orange Chicken without the orange ingredients of course. If you’re looking for a paleo and AIP chicken dinner without the citrus notes, try this Sheet Pan Paleo Sweet and Sour Chicken and Vegetables.
Can I make any other substitutions?
Refer to the Ingredients section of the post for my recommendations.
How do I store this Egg-free Paleo Orange Chicken?
This dish is best fresh. However, if you have leftovers, store them in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days. For best results, reheat in an air fryer or on the stovetop for the chicken to regain some crisp.
Can I freeze this dish?
I don’t recommend freezing this dish.
Here’s some more Gluten-free, Paleo and AIP Chicken Dinner Recipes you’ll love:
- Homemade Chicken Nuggets
- Gluten Free Chicken Piccata (AIP, Paleo)
- Crispy and Juicy Air Fryer Chicken Breast
- AIP Chicken Noodle Stir Fry
- Easy One-Pan Roasted Chicken with Vegetables
- Mango Lime BBQ Chicken
If you loved this Paleo Crispy Orange Chicken I would appreciate it if you would give it a rating and review. Be sure to snap a picture of the finished product and share it with me on Instagram by tagging @healmedelicious and using the hashtag #healmedelicious.Print