Better-than-take-out homemade air fryer orange chicken nuggets that are healthy, naturally sweet, gluten free, and paleo. This 15 minute Asian inspired dinner recipe is sure to be a family favorite!
The best healthy air fried orange chicken
Say hello to your new favorite 15 minute dinner recipe! Because this air fryer orange chicken is out of this world delicious. It is naturally sweet, super flavorful, and perfect for families and meal prep.
I’ve been called the air fryer master, so this recipe will not disappoint! And, honestly, I think this is my new favorite air fryer recipe. The chicken nuggets are air fried to perfection, they are super moist, and the orange sauce is so easy to make.
This is certainly the best air fryer orange chicken recipe out there. Other recipes have lots of flour and sugar. Some even call for oyster sauce and chili sauce, which are hard ingredients to find. This air fryer orange chicken only has simple ingredients and it’s healthy!
Whether you are a great cook and a beginner, this recipe is for you. Make this on date night, for family dinner, or for yourself. Everyone will be impressed with your cooking skills!
Why you’ll love this recipe:
- Recipe is ready in under 15 minutes.
- There is no oil in this air fryer recipe.
- Chicken coated in a healthy homemade orange sauce.
- Refined sugar free and sweetened with orange juice.
- This orange chicken is gluten-free, dairy-free, and paleo.
- The chicken nuggets are moist and crisp.
- Only made with natural and simple ingredients.
- Perfect for kids, athletes, and families.
- Easily meal prep this orange chicken for lunches and dinners.
Ingredients in air fryer orange chicken
This air fryer recipe calls for a handful of simple and healthy ingredients. You’ll need chicken breasts, fresh oranges, and a handful of spices. Here is a list of exactly what you’ll need:
- Chicken: Grab 3 skinless and boneless pieces of chicken breast. You’ll need to cut them into bite sized nuggets before air frying.
- Arrowroot Starch: This is what makes the chicken nuggets get crispy in the air fryer without any oil!
healthy orange sauce:
- Arrowroot Starch: You are going to need 1 Tablespoon of arrowroot starch. You can also use cornstarch or tapioca flour.
- Water: To make sure the sauce is lump-free, you need to dissolve to arrowroot powder in cold water first.
- Orange Juice: Juice 2 to 3 oranges or measure out 2/3 cup of store bought fresh orange juice. I recommend using a brand with no added sugar.
- Chicken Broth: You need 1/4 cup of low sodium chicken broth to give this healthy orange sauce the best flavor.
- Soy Sauce: You will also need 1/4 cup of low sodium soy sauce or tamari (if you want to make this orange chicken gluten free).
- Rice Vinegar: A dash of rice vinegar adds flavor and some acidity to this sauce.
- Honey: To naturally sweetened this orange sauce, we will use 2 – 3 Tablespoons of honey. There are no added refined sugars in this recipe.
- Garlic: 2 cloves is the perfect amount.
- Ginger: There is something incredible about freshly grated ginger. It adds the best flavor to this paleo orange sauce.
- Orange Zest: The star of the show! Add in orange zest for the most natural and best orange flavor.
- Salt and Pepper: Add and adjust based on your taste.
Kitchen tools you’ll need
This air fryer orange chicken recipe comes together in under 15 minutes with these few kitchen tools:
- Air Fryer
- Mixing Bowl
- Sauce Pot
- Stirring utensil
- Measuring Tools: 1 teaspoon, 1 Tablespoon and 1/4 cup.
How to make air fryer orange chicken
You are going to love how easy this air fryer orange chicken recipe is to make. It only takes 15 minutes and is sure to be a crowd favorite. Here are step-by-step instructions:
Start by preheating your air fryer to 360°F and spraying it with non-stick spray.
Next, in a large mixing bowl, toss the bite-sized chicken pieces with arrowroot starch. Once the air fryer is heated, spray with cooking spray and add the chicken to the basket. Make sure the pieces are spaced out and NOT overlapping. If your air fryer is small, do this in two batches.
Air fry for 8 – 10 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the internal temperature has reached 165°F.
Meanwhile, while the chicken is cooking, zest one orange and dissolve the arrowroot starch in the cold water. Set them each to the side.
Then, heat a small saucepan over medium-high heat and add the fresh orange juice, chicken broth, low sodium soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey, garlic, and ginger. Bring sauce to a quick boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium-low and whisk in the arrowroot starch water. Add in the orange zest and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes, making sure to continually whisk until the sauce has thickened. Carefully taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings to your liking.
Finally, Then add the cooked chicken nuggets into the pot with the orange sauce. Gently toss to coat and remove from heat.
Serve your paleo orange chicken warm on a bed of white or brown rice and a side of your favorite vegetable.
Ingredient substitutions suggestions
I love this recipe as is, but if you want to customize them to your preferences, be my guest! Here is a list of my recommended ingredient substitutions to help you out.
- Fresh orange juice: If you are out of fresh orange juice, you can use a store-bought one just try to buy one that has zero added sugar.
- Rice vinegar: You can substitute rice vinegar with white wine vinegar one-for-one.
- Fresh ginger: You can use 1 tsp of dried ginger powder.
- Chicken broth: You can use vegetable broth instead.
- Honey: You can use coconut sugar, light brown sugar, or even maple syrup.
- Arrowroot starch: Feel free to use tapioca flour or cornstarch instead.
Frequently Asked Questions
What makes this recipe healthy?
The term “healthy” is relative to each person, but I consider this gluten free orange chicken to be very healthy and good for you. First, it is refined sugar free since the sauce is sweetened with fresh oranges and a dash of honey. Second, there is no added oil. Third, it is high in protein. Fourth it only uses simple, fresh, and good ingredients that will leave you feeling nourishing and full.
Can I use chicken thighs?
Yes, you can use chicken thigh instead of chicken breast. To do this, reduce the air frying time by 2 minutes until the center of the chicken reaches 165°F.
Why is my air fryer chicken dry?
Air fryer chicken can be dry if overcooked, so make sure you feel an eye on it. I also recommend letting the chicken sit for 5 minutes before cutting into it so that the juices lock in and it remains super juicy.
Can I make it in the oven?
Yes! If you don’t have an air fryer, you can easily bake this healthy orange chicken in the oven. Follow all of the steps in the recipe, but instead of air frying, bake the chicken bites at 400 for 15 – 22 minutes or until completely cooked through.
Is it paleo?
Yes, this orange chicken is paleo. That means that there is no gluten and no dairy in this recipe.
What to serve with healthy orange chicken?
You can serve so many things with orange chicken! Personally, I love serving it on a bed of brown or white rice with a side of steamed or roasted broccoli. You can also pair this air fryer orange chicken with green beans, roasted cauliflower, sugar snap peas, or green peas.
How to store and reheat leftovers
Storing: Place leftovers into individual airtight containers and store them in the refrigerator for 3 – 4 days.
Reheating: Microwave in a safe container for 30 – 90 seconds until warm.
If you loved this recipe, try these dinner recipes next!
- Air Fryer Teriyaki Chicken
- Teriyaki Salmon Buddha Bowl
- 15-Minute Chicken Pad Thai
- Healthy Teriyaki Turkey Meatballs
Did you make this recipe?
If you make this recipe, be sure to comment and rate it down below. Also, don’t forget to tag me @healthfulblondie on Instagram and use the hashtag #healthfulblondie so I can see your delicious creation and share it with my followers!
Air Fryer Orange Chicken
- 3 chicken breasts, skinless and boneless, cut into bite-size pieces
- 1 ½ Tbsp arrowroot starch
- 1 Tbsp arrowroot starch
- 3 Tbsp of COLD water
- ⅔ cup orange juice, about 2 – 3 oranges
- ¼ cup low sodium chicken broth
- ¼ cup low sodium soy sauce, or tamari if gluten-free
- 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
- 2 – 3 Tbsp honey
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp fresh ginger, finely grated
- 1 Tbsp orange zest, about 1 large orange
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat your air fryer to 360°F.
- In a large mixing bowl, toss the bite-sized pieces of chicken with arrowroot starch.
- Once the air fryer is heated, spray with cooking spray and add the chicken to the basket. Make sure the pieces are spaced out and NOT overlapping. If your air fryer is small, do this in two batches.
- Air fry for 8 – 10 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the internal temperature has reached 165°F.
- While the chicken is cooking, zest one orange and dissolve the arrowroot starch in the cold water. Set them each to the side.
- Then heat a small saucepan over medium-high heat and add the fresh orange juice, chicken broth, low sodium soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey, garlic, and ginger. Bring sauce to a quick boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium-low and whisk in the arrowroot starch water. Add in the orange zest and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes, making sure to continually whisk until the sauce has thickened. Carefully taste the sauce and adjust seasonings to your liking.
- Then add the cooked chicken nuggets into the pot with the orange sauce. Gently toss to coat and remove from heat.
- Serve warm on a bed of rice and a side of your favorite vegetable.
Recipe by Tati Chermayeff / Healthful Blondie + Photos by The Travel Palate
I only recommend products I absolutely love and use myself. In full disclosure, by purchasing a product I recommend, I may receive a small compensation. Thank you for supporting Healthful Blondie!
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