Asian cuisine is full of amazing and delicious recipes. But as most of them use soy sauce and breading, many people that have gluten sensitivity or intolerance might not be able to enjoy these dishes.
For those of you that don’t tolerate well gluten or want to make healthier versions of their favorite Chinese take-out, we present our gluten-free chicken nuggets with a Chinese-style orange sauce recipe.
This gluten-free orange chicken is almost indistinguishable from your favorite Chinese takeout – without the gluten!
What Cut of Chicken Do You Need?
For most Asian-inspired dishes that require chicken, it is recommended that you use the thighs as opposed to the breast. This is because the thighs have more fat than the chicken breasts, which allows them to get all crispy on the outside and retain moisture on the inside.
Cooking the Chicken
You have two options: you can either bake it or fry it. Authentic Chinese recipes usually deep fry the meat, but if we’re going for the healthy option, baking it is.
Baking means that your chicken will absorb less oil, and is also a less messy way of cooking. No grease stains, no paper sheets to absorb the oil after cooking, no logistics regarding the disposal of your fried oil because you heard somewhere that it’s bad for the environment, etc.
You can also use an Air Fryer to make these gluten-free chicken nuggets with Chinese-style orange sauce.
You might think that baking will make your chicken less crispy, but with some neat tricks, you can still enjoy that crunchy bite. The key is the coating. While we are avoiding regular breading, everything corn-based is basically gluten-free. Corn flakes, for example, are a safe bet. But to be sure that there are no traces of gluten whatsoever, check for gluten-free options.
Rice flour and arrowroot are also great options you can use for breading.
To give your chicken that wonderful tangy flavor and tender texture, you can marinate your chicken for 15 minutes to 1 hour. Unlike other cuts of meat, chicken marinates very easily, so we recommend not leaving it for too much in the marinade.
Marinating, or just dipping the chicken in the marinade before baking gives the meat more juiciness without adding any fat.
For the orange sauce, you can swap the sugar for honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, or any other natural sweetener you like. While you can use orange juice from the box, we recommend using fresh-squeezed orange juice to cut out the sugar completely.
Storage and reheating
- You can store your orange sauce in your fridge and keep it for 3 – 5 days in a sealed container.
- You can also keep your sauce in an airtight container and leave it in your freezer for 3 months.
- The sauce can easily be reheated in your microwave if you leave it for 2 minutes on high or reheat. At first, the sauce will be waterier, but it will regain its thicker consistency when it cools.
What You’ll Need
For the Marinade
- 1 egg white
- 1 tablespoon coconut aminos
- 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
For the Sauce
- 3/4 cup (6 fluid ounces) pulp- less squeezed orange juice
- 3/4 cup (6 fluid ounces) chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons (18 g) gluten-free flour blend (or try an equal amount of sweet white rice flour)
- 3 tablespoons (63 g) honey/sugar (you can use more or less to suit your taste. You can substitute it with maple syrup or agave nectar instead).
- 1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces) tamari, gluten-free soy sauce, or coconut amino
- 2 tablespoons (1 fluid ounce) unseasoned rice vinegar (or white balsamic or white wine vinegar)
- 1 tablespoon of vinegar (white vinegar or seasoned rice vinegar)
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon chili powder (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 tablespoon Sesame Oil (optional)
For the Chicken
- 1 1/2 pounds skinless boneless chicken thighs
- 1 1/2 cups gluten-free panko-style bread crumbs (or gluten-free corn flakes coarsely grounded, tapioca flour)
- sesame seeds
- cooked white or brown rice
- chopped scallions
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Put a baking sheet with parchment paper on your baking pan.
- Add your orange juice, chicken stock and flour in a deep saucepan over a medium fire and whisk continuously to make sure there are no flour clumps.
- Now you add your tamari sauce, rice vinegar, garlic powder, chili powder, ground ginger, and sugar/honey.
- Mix after you have added each of your spices.
- Wisk continuously in your saucepan while over medium-high heat. Continue mixing until the mixture begins to simmer.
- Continue whisking until the mixture for around 5-6 minutes and has started to have a thinker, ketchup-like consistency.
- Take the sauce from the heat and pour it into a large heat-safe bowl. Let the sauce cool down.
- At this step, you can opt to create a separate marinade, or use half of the orange sauce to dip your chicken into it.
- Cut your chicken into 1-inch cubes.
- Put half of the orange sauce or your marinade in a medium-size bowl.
- Throw in your raw, cubed chicken.
- In a different bowl, prepare your breading. Add your slightly grounded corn flakes, or mix tapioca flour with arrowroot and rice flour.
- You can marinate your chicken for a bit longer, or if you are pressed for time, just dip the chicken pieces, one at a time in the sauce and then roll them in the breading to create an even coating.
- Now place your breaded chicken nuggets on the baking sheet with a 1/2-inch distance between them.
- Now place your baking tray in the preheated oven and leave your chicken nuggets to bake for about 15 minutes. Take out the tray when the nuggets have acquired a uniform golden-brown color.
- Wait for them to cool a bit and then toss them in the rest of the orange sauce.
- Sprinkle some sesame seeds over and serve over rice, garnished with scallions.
This gluten-free chicken nuggets with a Chinese-style orange sauce recipe is easy and is done in no time. In just 15 minutes, you can have yourself a healthy and filling Asian dish that is kind to your gluten-sensitive gut.