Love takeout food, but hate the way it makes you feel? This recipe for Healthier Sesame Chicken is easy to make at home and lighter than the average American Chinese restaurant takeout!
(This recipe for Healthier Sesame Chicken was originally posted in August 2008, but was updated with new photos in 2019).
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.
But I never feel good in the morning. I wake up wondering why I had to eat that last scallion pancake or shovel in that last bite of lo mein.
I vow I'll never do it again. But then I do. Because it feels worth it in the moment.
But this? This make-at-home healthier sesame chicken is a lot lighter than the typical deep fried dish. But it's still dripping in delicious sauce and still tastes wonderfully indulgent.
❤️ Why you'll love this recipe
You'll love this recipe for so many reasons! It's such an easy dish to make for a weeknight dinner and much lighter than traditional fried sesame chicken.
But it's still packed with flavor and it's very likely your whole family will love it and request it over and over.
You can serve it in so many different ways to suit your family's tastes. I like serving the chicken with rice and broccoli, but you can really serve with any grain and any vegetable.
This dish requires pretty simple ingredients and are easy enough for any home chef to obtain. I'm showing you how to make it with rice and broccoli, but feel free to swap out with another grain or vegetable.
Here's everything you need (be sure to view the recipe card at the bottom of this post for ingredient amounts and full recipe instructions):
- Brown rice
- Salt and pepper
- Soy sauce: I use regular soy sauce, but you can use low-sodium if you want
- Sesame seeds
- Sesame oil
- Garlic, minced
- Large egg whites
- Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- Vegetable oil (or oil of your choice)
- Scallions, thinly sliced
- Red pepper flakes: for topping (optional)
🍗 How to make healthier sesame chicken
Besides being healthier than the typical versions of restaurant sesame chicken, the other great thing about this homemade 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.
Then, in a large mixing bowl whisk together the egg whites and cornstarch and toss the chicken in it with salt and black pepper.
Toss until the chicken is well coated in the cornstarch mixture. This will help your pieces of chicken get a fabulous crispy coating.
Heat vegetable oil heat in a large skillet and add chicken pieces. Cook it for about 8 minutes, until it's nice and golden brown. Add in the sauce and green onions and toss the chicken to coat in the sauce.
In the meantime, you'll want to cook your broccoli. I simply 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.
I was thrilled with this lighter version of sesame chicken! Yes, it's a lot lighter and healthier than what you get in American Chinese restaurants, but I promise it's just as tasty!
It doesn't feel heavy and oily like takeout so often does, thanks to the fact that there's no deep frying.
And the sauce is SO good with fabulous sesame flavor! There's really nothing better than eating up that rice with extra sauce.
⏲️ How to store leftovers
This recipe makes enough to serve 4, but if you have leftovers, they're easy to store! Just keep them in an airtight container in the fridge. When stored properly, they should keep fresh for 2-3 days.
And this healthier sesame chicken makes a great take-to-work lunch!
💡 More ways to serve
If you're not a fan of rice and broccoli or if you are looking for more ideas to switch things up, here are some other rice and grains that would be delicious with sesame chicken:
- Cauliflower rice
- Green pepper and red peppers
- Sugar snap peas
- Green beans
- Stir fry veggie mix
If you want even more flavor in the dish, you can add sambal oelek, spicy peppers, or fresh ginger. You can also drizzle on a little soy sauce at the end if you want.
🥘 Can I use chicken thighs?
You can! Chicken breasts are a bit healthier than chicken thighs, but you can easily replace the breasts with thighs in this dish.
❓ Can I use a cornstarch alternative?
Of course! If you're not a fan of cornstarch, you can use arrowroot powder, tapioca flour, xanthan gum, or rice flour.
🛢️ Can I use a vegetable oil alternative?
If you don't want to use canola oil or another vegetable oil for cooking your chicken, you can definitely use a different oil. Coconut oil, peanut oil, avocado oil, and olive oil will all work well.
🥡 More make-at-home takeout recipes
Here are some more of my favorite recipes that make for great takeout, but are also super easy to make at home... Often in healthier, lighter ways!
- Thai Beef Basil with Coconut Rice
- Bacon Cheeseburger Salad
- BBQ Chicken Pizza
- Chicken Avocado Burritos
- Vegetable Fried Brown Rice
- Chicken Pad Thai
- Corn Tortilla Quesadillas
I hope you enjoy this delicious, healthier take on sesame chicken. It's become a staple in my house for when I need a quick, light, and delicious weeknight meal!
Add it to your easy recipes arsenal to make your busy nights delicious.
What traditional takeout food do you like to make at home? Do you turn it into a healthier meal?
Lighter Sesame Chicken
- 1 cup brown rice
- 2 cups water
- 1 ¾ tsp salt, divided
- ¼ cup honey
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp sesame seeds
- 1 ½ tsp sesame oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 large egg whites
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2-inch chunks
- ¼ tsp pepper
- 1 ½ Tbsp vegetable oil
- 4 scallions, thinly sliced
- 1 head broccoli, cut into florets
- Red pepper flakes, for topping (optional)
- In a medium saucepan, combine rice, water, and ½ 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.
- In a small bowl, combine honey, soy sauce, sesame seeds, sesame oil and garlic and stir together.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together egg whites and cornstarch. Add in cubed chicken ¼ tsp salt, and pepper and toss to completely coat chicken.
- 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.
- Add the sauce and scallions to the skillet and toss to make sure the chicken is coated with the sauce.
- 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.
- 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 adapted from Martha Stewart