Since I saw an orange chicken post on Instagram a couple of months ago, I have been on a quest to find the best Paleo Orange Chicken recipe. Crispy, slightly sweet (without refined sweeteners, of course) and extra Orangey. Note: If you’re a long time reader and feel like you’re having a Deja vu right now, you’re not. This is an updated post to give new options for flour as well as a better format and Whole30 directions.
Not ANOTHER Orange Chicken Recipe
While I have seen many iterations in the last few weeks (you know that phenomenon when you get a new car and then suddenly you see the same car EVERYWHERE? That’s the deal with orange chicken for me!) they all either had an ingredient I couldn’t have or when I tried the recipe, it was a fail with the fam for one reason or another. Many were too soggy. Others had a thickener that created a “stretchy” sauce. Then there was the step of tossing the chicken with the sauce before serving. In theory great, and with typically oil fried version, it may work but with a thin layer of flour, the crispness quickly disappeared so I had to rethink that and the quest continued.
The Holy Grail of Crispy Chicken!
I have found two keys to make really crispy chicken.
- The types of flour used
- Not using a binder for the flour
Opening my pantry and pulling out cassava flour to go along with the tapioca flour I had used in the past was a goldmine find. It has a texture most similar to wheat flour and the tapioca helps it stick. In working with clients, however, I have realized that this is not an easily accessible flour due to cost. So for those not doing strict Paleo, or those doing Whole30, you can use potato starch. It’s easier to find and is about a third of the price.
I then decided to skip the marinating step I had tried in the past and finally, I didn’t use any sort of binder for the flour. I just did a simple shake in the seasoned flour blend and that was that. It’s much easier than getting my hands all goopy with the egg/flour method. After a quick fry in coconut oil, I soon had a batch of super crispy chicken ready to be sauced but not until serving time. P.S. You can use this technique and leave out the ginger for amazing fried chicken nuggets, tenders or whole chicken breasts.
Paleo Orange Chicken Sauce
Many recipes call for ginger and a few other ingredients. I decided to bump up the orange factor and leave out the ginger that kept showing up in recipes (mainly because it’s one of the almost 50 things I cannot have on my elimination diet) and add lots of orange zest and orange essential oil**. Orange to the Nth and totally compliant with my crazy elimination diet!
What Seasonings Are in the Breading
To make this compliant with my elimination diet, I just used Magic Salt but when I’m able to eat ginger, I add ginger powder to the mix as well. The recipe below has the individual ingredients for Magic Salt measured out. To sub, use 1 tablespoon in place of the granulated garlic, black pepper and salt in the breading ingredients.
What to Serve with Paleo Orange Chicken
For a while, I made garlic broccoli separately and then put the orange sauce on everything. I finally realized this is adding a lot of work when it all ends up having the same sauce so I added garlic to the orange sauce and added steamed broccoli to get sauced with the chicken in each bowl. Feel free to serve over rice (regular or cauliflower) to make it a heartier meal as well.
How to Make Paleo Orange Chicken Whole30 Friendly
This recipe is 98% Whole30 already! The only change necessary is to omit the coconut sugar. Instead, use 2/3 cup of coconut aminos and boil over medium heat for 5 minutes before adding the remaining sauce ingredients. Coconut aminos are naturally sweet. Boiling for 5 minutes will evaporate out some of the water and intensify the sweetness. You can do this whether you are currently doing a round of Whole30 or not to avoid added sweeteners. Oh and of course, use cauliflower rice instead of regular rice.
The Best Paleo Orange ChickenCourse: Main CourseCuisine: Asian Inspired
- The Sauce
2/3 cup orange juice
zest of one orange (about 1 tbsp)
3 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp coconut sugar or to taste
1/2 cup coconut aminos
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp minced ginger, optional
2 tbsp tapioca flour mixed with 2 tbsp water
12 or more drops of orange essential oil or orange extract
- Crispy Chicken
2 lbs chicken breast cut into 1/2” cubes
2 tsps salt
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup cassava flour or potato starch
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp ginger powder, optional
Coconut Oil for Frying
- The Other Stuff, optional
1 pound steamed broccoli
4 servings of steamed rice (cauliflower or regular)
- Whisk all the ingredients for the sauce except the tapioca starch and water in a medium saucepan and place over medium high heat.
- Bring to a boil then slowly add the tapioca/water mixture a little at a time stirring in between additions. When it begins to coat the spoon stop and turn the heat down to low.
- Toss the chicken pieces with salt.
- Place all the dry ingredients in a bag and shake the chicken around in it to coat. Remove and place on a cooling rack set over a baking sheet to make sure extra flour is discarded.
- Melt a couple tablespoons in a skillet and heat until shimmering. Carefully add the chicken in a single layer ( you will need to do 2-3 batches so you don’t crowd it).
- After a minute or two, toss the chicken around and let it cook until all sides are browned. Cut open the biggest piece and if it’s white you’re good to go. Place in low oven to keep warm while you fry the other chicken pieces.
- Don’t want to fry? Bake the chicken on a well oiled pan and spray the pieces with aerosol coconut oil before placing in the oven. Bake at 400 degrees for 5-8 minutes or until the biggest piece is white all the way through.
- Serve the freshly steamed broccoli and crispy chicken on top of rice and liberally spoon the sauce over all then serve extra sauce on the side.
- **Only use essential oils that are labeled as therapeutic or supplemental quality. My choice is Young Living. Don’t know about Young Living? Essential oils are a vital party of healthy living and you can find out more about my journey on this page.
- *Updated April 2022 for more accessible ingredients, better format and Whole30 option.
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