This Keto Orange Chicken is so similar to the orange chicken you ate before keto that I’m sure it will become your go-to orange chicken recipe.
It’s hard not to love the orange chicken you get at Panda Express and similar take-out restaurants. It’s so unfortunate that it’s so bad for you. It’s definitely not low carb. The chicken is breaded in flour and the sauce is laden with sugar.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t ever eat orange chicken again. In fact, this recipe will blow your mind and you’ll be making it all the time after this.
The Best Low-Carb Orange Chicken
There are two components to this craveable Keto Orange Chicken.
- Crispy breading
- Sweet sticky orange sauce
Those are must haves in my opinion. I mean, you can make the chicken without the crispy breading, but it just wouldn’t be the same.
Breading for Orange Chicken is typically made with white wheat flour and that’s not a possibility if you want to make it keto. So how do you get around that?
You don’t have to skip it. That’s what makes this recipe so amazing.
I’m going to let you in on a brilliant thing I learned. It’s the secret to this perfect low-carb orange chicken recipe.
Whey protein isolate
Have you heard of it? Here’s a link to a brand I like on Amazon (note it’s sometimes unavailable, but this will show you exactly what to look for).
Whey protein is a mixture of proteins that are found in whey – the liquid portion of milk when making cheese. It’s turned into a powder and sold in health food stores. There are two different kinds – isolate and concentrate.
You want the isolate version. It might be a bit more expensive. Whey Isolate has less carbs (and usually less added ingredients). It’s also very important that you check the flavor before you buy. You want only UNFLAVORED.
Whey isolate is perfect for breading chicken and shrimp. Because it’s a protein, there is only a very small amount of carbs. And you’ll see that it makes a very nice crispy crunch on the chicken.
I’ve used coconut flour to bread things before and I’ve always been disappointed. It don’t really get crispy and it tends to fall off if there’s a sauce. I personally don’t like it. But this whey protein isolate is like magic.
For this reason I really don’t recommend going with coconut flour, but if you absolutely must, you can.
Sweet Sticky Orange Sauce
This low-carb Orange Chicken has a perfectly sweet and sticky orange sauce. It’s turns out just like the sauce at Panda Express, except without all the sugar.
You might not think it’s possible, but you’ll believe it once you try it.
The ingredients you need for the sauce are:
You can use store bought orange juice for this recipe to keep things easy, or you can squeeze your own. We use 70ml orange juice in this recipe, plus 1 tbsp of the zest of an orange.
You’ll get around that amount of juice from 1 medium orange. if you get a little less or more from your orange, it’s fine. Just use what you have.
If you’re not familiar with liquid aminos, it’s very similar to soy sauce. Soy sauce has a rich taste, while liquid aminos are milder and slightly sweet. That’s perfect for this recipe.
If you don’t have liquid aminos, you can use low-sodium soy sauce or tamari.
Usually I’d use rice vinegar for Orange Chicken sauce, but it has some sugar in it, so instead I’ve used white vinegar. You won’t notice the difference, honestly. It’s just as good.
You will also need a sugar substitute for this sauce. The original is packed with honey, which is what helps it thicken and become so sticky. For this low-carb version of Orange Chicken, I use erythritol.
I prefer erythritol, but you can use whatever sugar substitute you’re comfortable with. Swerve or Xylitol is a good choice. Remember that Xylitol has sugar alcohols and 50% of those carbs count toward the total, so there will be more net carbs if you use it.
I find that 2 tbsp of erithritol is enough sweetness for this recipe. If you like it sweeter, you can always add more after the sauce has come together.
If you’ve never cooked with xanthan gum before, you might be skeptical of adding it. I highly recommend it though because it thickens the sauce, which isn’t something that will happen on its own with this sauce.
I know some people don’t like to use it. If you don’t, the sauce will be quite liquidy.
How to Make Keto Orange Chicken
Breading chicken isn’t my favorite activity. It takes a while to do and it can make a huge mess of the chicken.
I try to set myself up for this activity so I’m fully prepared and make less of a mess.
Set out a large tray. You will place the wet dipped chicken on the tray until you’re ready to fry it.
Get out two medium bowls. You’ll whisk the egg and almond milk in one bowl. Then mix the whey protein isolate, salt and pepper in the other.
Cut the chicken into small pieces. I use boneless skinless chicken for this recipe because it’s more flavorful and juicy, but you can use chicken breast if you like. Just cut it into cubes.
- Bread the chicken
Now you can start the breading process. I save myself time by putting all the chicken into the egg bowl and mixing it up. Then I use one hand to grab the chicken pieces and put them into the “flour” bowl.
Use the other hand to shake the whey protein onto the chicken to coat all sides and then to remove the chicken onto the wire rack.
Repeat until all the chicken is complete. Set the tray aside.
2. Make the sauce
The second step is to begin making the sauce, so it can thicken a bit while you’re frying the chicken.
If you save this step until last, your chicken will get cold and won’t be as crispy by the time the sauce is done.
So get out a sauce pan. Combine all the sauce ingredients, minus the xanthan gum. Let it simmer of medium low heat while you fry the chicken.
3. Fry the chicken
Before starting the frying process, get out a large wire rack and place a paper towel under to catch any drippings.
For frying, you can use several different types of oil: avocado oil, peanut oil, or coconut oil. I personally prefer peanut oil.
Add the oil to a large frying pan or cast iron skillet and heat it until it reaches the right temperature.
The best frying temperature is between 340°F/170°C and 375°F/190°C. Lower cooking temperatures will cause the food to soak up oil, and higher temperatures will burn the food before it’s cooked through.
To make sure your oil stays at the right temperature, I recommend having a thermometer handy that can measure up to 375°F. Check the oil temp between each batch.
When the oil is ready, add the chicken pieces one at a time to the pan so they aren’t touching each other. They need space to fry properly.
Allow them to brown on one side, then flip them and fry again. It takes about 2-3 minutes per side. If the pieces are getting dark too quickly, check the oil temp.
For one pound of chicken, it will take about 3-4 batches to fry all of the chicken.
When it’s done, strain it out with a slotted spoon and place it on the wire rack, until all the batches are done.
4. Toss the chicken with the sauce
The sauce should be cooked down a little, but still quite liquidy. Now is when you should add the xanthan gum and whisk until the sauce is thickened. If will get thicker the longer you cook it, so don’t leave it on the heat too long.
When it’s the right consistency, add the chicken to the pan and toss it in the sauce to coat.
How to Serve Keto Orange Chicken
My favorite way to serve Keto Orange Chicken is with cauliflower rice. The chicken tastes so similar to the original and cauliflower does a good job of mimicking the rice. It’s also a great way to get your veggies in too.
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Keto Orange Chicken
- 1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1 egg
- 2 tbsp almond milk
- 1/2 cup whey protein isolate
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
For the sauce
- 70 ml orange juice juice of 1 medium orange
- 1 tbsp orange zest
- 1/4 cup chicken broth
- 2 tbsp liquid aminos (or low-sodium soy sauce)
- 2 tbsp white vinegar
- 2 tbsp Erythritol
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 piece ginger grated
- 1/2 tsp chili oil optional
- 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
- Set out a large wire rack with a paper towel under it to catch drippings.
- Cut chicken into 1″ pieces. In a medium bowl, whisk egg and almond milk.
- In another bowl, mix together the whey protein, salt, and pepper.
- Dip pieces of chicken into the egg mixture, shack off excess, then coat in the whey protein.
- Set the coated chicken on the rack and repeat until all chicken is coated.
- In a medium saucepan, add all the sauce ingredients, except the xanthan gum. Stir and simmer over medium heat while you cook the chicken.
- Set out another wire rack with a paper towel under it.
- In a large skillet, add an inch of avocado oil and heat to 375F (180°C).
- Add about 10-15 chicken pieces to the frying pan and deep fry for 2-3 minutes until golden. Turn halfway and brown on the other side. Repeat with remaining chicken.
- Once all the chicken is cooked, return to the sauce. It should be somewhat reduced. Add the xanthan gum and whisk until dissolved. The sauce should thicken.
- Add the chicken pieces and toss to coat with sauce.
- Serve with cauliflower rice or another keto side dish.
- If you use store bought orange juice, look for a brand that is 100% oranges, with a low carb count. There should be no more than 10 grams of carbs per 100ml.
- You can substitute the whey protein isolate with coconut flour, but it won’t get as crispy.
- Substituting rice vinegar for white vinegar will add additional carbs.
- You can use any type of sugar substitute you want, but Erythritol adds no additional sugar alcohols (50% of which much be counted as net carbs).
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.