Jump to Recipe

Lighter Sesame Chicken

Love Chinese food, but hate the way it makes you feel? This recipe for Lighter Sesame Chicken is easy to make at home and healthier than the average Chinese takeout!

(This recipe for Lighter Sesame Chicken was originally posted in August 2008, but was updated with new photos in 2019).

Overhead view of a white bowl of sesame chicken and broccoli over rice in a white bowl with chopsticks on a marble surface with a second bowl in the background and recipe title at top

Chinese food is one of my (many) weaknesses. There’s just nothing better than sitting on the couch and digging into those cartons filled with greasy goodness. Or going to the local sketchy Chinese restaurant with your friends at 1 a.m. when you leave the bars. But then, you never feel good in the morning, do you? You wake up wondering why you had to eat that last scallion pancake or shovel in that last bite of lo mein. You vow you’ll never do it again. But then you do. Because it feels worth it in the moment.

I wanted something to cure my Chinese food craving without feeling the need to spend an extra few hours at the gym, so I turned to Martha Stewart. And I found a recipe for a lighter, healthier version of sesame chicken. Who doesn’t love those little fried balls of chicken, dripping in sauce? Of course, Martha’s version isn’t deep fried, but I trusted it would at least be delicious. I made a few alterations to the original recipe, including making a lot more sauce, and ended up with a delicious sesame chicken that’s so much healthier than the original!

LIGHTER SESAME CHICKEN RECIPE

Besides being healthier than the typical restaurant version, the other great thing about this homemade sesame chicken is how easy it is to prepare. You’ll start by cooking your rice. And while that’s cooking, you’ll make the sesame chicken sauce, which consists of honey, soy sauce, sesame seeds, sesame oil, and garlic.

Overhead closeup view of sesame chicken sauce in a white bowl

Then, in a large mixing bowl whisk together the egg whites and cornstarch and toss the chicken in it with salt and pepper. Heat vegetable oil heat in a large skillet and add chicken. Cook it for about 8 minutes, until it’s nice and golden. Add in the sauce and scallions and toss the chicken to coat in the sauce.

Collage showing process for making sesame chicken, including chicken in egg white and cornstarch mixture, chicken tossed in egg white and cornstarch mixture, and sesame chicken in sauce and scallions in skillet
In the meantime, you’ll want to cook your broccoli. I only like to put mine in boiling water for a couple minutes as I love it nice and crispy. And just like that, you’re ready to put everything together and dig in. Make sure if you have any extra sauce, you drizzle it over the chicken. Also, top with red pepper flakes if you like a little kick.
Overhead view of white bowl of sesame chicken and broccoli over brown rice with chopsticks on a marble surface with second bowl and glass of white wine in background
I was thrilled with this lighter version of sesame chicken! Yes, it’s a lot lighter and healthier than what you get in Chinese restaurants, but I promise it’s just as tasty! Maybe even tastier? It doesn’t feel heavy and oily like takeout so often does. And the sauce is SO good! Like I said, I made a lot more than the original recipe called for because there’s nothing better than eating up that rice with extra sauce.

Landscape view of white bowl of sesame chicken and broccoli over rice with chopsticks over top on marble surface with glass of white wine in background
Obviously brown rice is healthier than white… And the fresh broccoli adds a bit more nutrition.

Also? I definitely use any excuse to eat with chopsticks.  Especially when I’m at home since it’s good practice for when I’m out in public (potentially making a fool of myself eating rice with chopsticks). Anyway, I love these pretty ones I got from Chinatown in Chicago.
Overhead view of a white bowl of sesame chicken and broccoli over rice in a white bowl with chopsticks on a marble surface with a second bowl in the background

And now that I mentioned scallion pancakes, I desperately want to make my own. Dp you think there’s a lighter version of those?? If I keep this up, all I’ll need are those little white cartons to store it all in.

Oh and really, there is nothing better than eating this
sesame chicken while watching the Olympics in Beijing. So you better make it fast!

If you’re looking for more traditional takeout dishes that you can easily make at home, check out my recipes for Thai Beef Basil with Coconut Rice and Chicken Pad Thai. I also can’t wait to try this Sweet and Sour Chicken from Chef Savvy.

Lighter Sesame Chicken
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
30 mins
 

Love Chinese food, but hate the way it makes you feel? This recipe for Lighter Sesame Chicken is easy to make at home and healthier than the average Chinese takeout!

Course: Entree
Cuisine: American, Chinese, Eclectic
Keyword: Chicken, Dinner, Easy
Servings: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 3/4 tsp salt, divided
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into florets
  • Red pepper flakes, for topping (optional)
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine rice, water, and 1/2 tsp salt. Let mixture come to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and cover. Let simmer until all the water has been absorbed and the rice is nice and fluffy, about 15-20 minutes. 

  2. In a small bowl, combine honey, soy sauce, sesame seeds, sesame oil and garlic and stir together.

  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together egg whites and cornstarch. Add in cubed chicken 1/4 tsp salt, and pepper and toss to completely coat chicken.

  4. In a large skillet, heat vegetable oil over medium heat and add the chicken. Cook for about 8 minutes, until it’s cooked through and golden.

  5. Add the sauce and scallions to the skillet and toss to make sure the chicken is coated with the sauce.

  6. While chicken is cooking, heat a large pot of water and remaining tsp salt until boiling. Add broccoli florets to pot and cook uncovered for 2-3 minutes until bright green and tender. Drain into a colander. 

  7. Serve chicken and broccoli over rice. Make sure to pour on any sauce left in the pan and sprinkle with red pepper flakes, if desired.

Recipe Notes


Lighter Sesame Chicken -- Love Chinese food, but hate the way it makes you feel? This recipe for Lighter Sesame Chicken is easy to make at home and healthier than the average Chinese takeout! | wearenotmartha.com #sesamechicken #chicken #chinesefood #healthyrecipes

14 Responses to "Lighter Sesame Chicken"

  1. transienttravels says:

    This post is bookmarked so that I can make this- it looks awesome. I always want to find ways to make Chinese food healthy and it always ends up being so boring.

  2. Sara says:

    first falafel, now scallion pancakes. we can do it!

    that chicken looks fabulous. i think i may give it a shot!

  3. Poonam says:

    You are right! Perfect time to eat chinese food. Looks nice!

  4. Cathy - wheresmydamnanswer says:

    What a great post – I love this lighter version – I make chinese at home but am always looking for ways to lighten it up. Of course your timing could not be better!!

  5. TKTC says:

    I have a PB&J for lunch. And now I don't think that's going to cut it.

  6. Pam says:

    This looks delicious and fairly easy to make. For some reason Chinese food has always intimidated me… this recipe makes me think I can do it. Thanks!

  7. Katelin says:

    this looks so tasty. i definitely want to try and make it.

  8. Raquelle says:

    This looks really good. I’m definitely going to make this.

    Scallion pancakes! Yes! I love those.

  9. Kevin says:

    That sesame chicken looks really good.

  10. Raquelle says:

    I made the sesame chicken and it was delicious. I added peapods to the broccoli and only dredged the chicken in flour to make it easier. It was yummy!

    I get so many meal ideas from your blog. It’s awesome.

  11. Corald says:

    This is a fantastic recipe – made two different sauces one with hot red pepper flakes and regular for the other two in the house – fabulous!!! Thanks so much!

  12. […] “fast food” theme, I made Lighter Sesame Chicken from We Are Not Martha (recipe can be found here). This is one of my favorite Chinese dishes but I rarely, if ever, eat it anymore because of how it […]

  13. Julie says:

    I’ve made this one a few times now and it is better every time! I also add some red pepper flakes to mine and it’s spectacular!

  14. Hae says:

    currently stuffing my face with the sesame chicken while I type this. Took your advice, made more sauce and put a little bit of hot sauce because I enjoy not being able to feel my tongue. Deliciousness!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *