If you’re looking for a healthy Asian chicken recipe that’s low in sodium and perfect to serve to babies, this skillet orange sesame chicken with vegetables is for you! You’ll learn how to cook chicken for your baby so it’s moist and easy to eat.
I asked on Instagram what Asian dishes you would like for me to recreate? Orange sesame chicken was one of the top requests!
Whenever I come across orange chicken, I’m immediately taken back to my college years. After church, we often went to the mall to eat as it was spacious enough to host a whole bunch of us and there was something for everyone. And let’s not forget, it was affordable for us poor students.
Americanized Chinese fast food (ahem Panda Express) always hit the spot for me, and my plate was never without the breaded, deep fried chicken coated in that glorious sweet, sticky orange sauce.
Unfortunately, take-out orange sesame chicken is loaded with sugar and sodium - two ingredients to watch out for when serving to babies.
Enter this low sodium chicken recipe that you CAN enjoy with your baby and the rest of the family! I don’t have time to make separate meals just for the baby and something tells me you don’t either.
Now, I’ll be upfront and tell you that this does NOT taste like the traditional orange chicken. It's not fried and drenched in sauce. However, I tried my best to make it as flavorful as possible while cutting back significantly on the use of soy sauce and eliminating added sugar completely.
Chicken breast - This is my go-to since I always have some in the freezer. Thigh meat will actually be more flavorful and tender so go for it if that's what you have on hand! And if you want to go vegetarian, try tofu! Just be sure to press it to remove as much liquid as possible.
Vegetables - while I used bok choy and red bell pepper, you really can use whatever you wish or have on hand - carrots, broccoli, zucchini...
Chicken broth - to add flavor and soften the chicken and the vegetables
Sesame seeds - if your baby hasn't been introduced to this yet, be sure to start with a very small amount (¼ teaspoon or so) as it is one of the top most common allergens.
For the low sodium orange sauce:
Orange - Fresh really works best. After squeezing out all the juice, go ahead and eat the membranes as that’s where the fiber is at. My toddler actually loves sharing them with me.
Coconut aminos - It has roughly half the sodium as compared to regular soy sauce so it's a great substitute, IF there is no coconut allergy. If there is, then use low-sodium soy sauce. One tablespoon is for the entire dish and your baby will consume a very small portion at a time so it will be fine.
Use it to make this teriyaki sauce as well!
Apple cider vinegar - I prefer this over the rice vinegar as it helps balance the sweet and tart flavor in this orange sauce. But you can use rice vinegar if that’s what you have on hand.
Ginger and garlic - make sure to use fresh ginger rather than ground
How to Cook this baby-friendly chicken dish
Traditionally, orange chicken is crispy, which is not a safe texture for babies. We want the chicken to be tender. To achieve this:
- First cook the chicken in a skillet.
- Add the vegetables into the same pot, scraping the browned chicken bits from the bottom of the pan. That’s flavor! Add broth and simmer, COVERED. This will allow the chicken and vegetables to soften.
3. All that’s left is to add the sauce and cook, stirring, until thickened.
If able, I highly recommend making this at least an hour before enjoying to allow for the orange notes to mellow out and the flavors to meld.
Serving Suggestions for Babies
Finely chop the chicken and vegetables. I like to use kitchen shears. Fold into scoopable foods, like cooked lentils, rice, mashed avocado, etc. At this point, you can serve as is with a spoon (aff link). Be sure to scoop up some of the sauce to provide moisture to the mixture.
You can also shape into balls to make it easier for your baby to eat with their hands. Remember, less is more so don’t fill your baby’s plate with too much food. You can always serve more if your baby seems interested.
I love to serve this dish with this mixed grains rice. It's such a great way to introduce a variety of grains and legumes to your baby in one meal!
Store in the fridge for 3-5 days. I recommend reheating in a skillet over low heat with a splash of water to help loosen the sauce.
You can also freeze for up to 3 months. Here’s an in-depth post on how to store leftovers safely.
More baby-friendly chicken recipes
- Instant pot Korean chicken and potatoes
- Southwestern yogurt marinated chicken
- Low sodium moo goo gai pan
- One pot curried chicken and curry couscous
Orange Sesame Chicken with Vegetables
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 pound chicken breast, cut to bite-sized pieces
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 2 red bell peppers, roughly chopped
- 1 bunch of bok choy, roughly chopped
- ½ cup low sodium chicken broth
- sesame seeds
- ⅓ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 1 tablespoon coconut aminos
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- Optional: 1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey (NOT for babies under 1)
- Heat 1 tablespoon sesame oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook until almost fully cooked, about 4-5 minutes.
- Add the vegetables, scraping the browned chicken bits from the bottom of the pan and stirring into the vegetables. Add ½ cup broth to pan. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10 minutes. This will ensure the vegetables and chicken will get tender.
- In a bowl, combine all the ingredients for the sauce.
- Give the sauce a good stir to break up any cornstarch clumps and add to the skillet. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Cook for 5-8 minutes, until sauce has thickened slightly.
- Garnish with as much or as little sesame seeds as you wish. Enjoy with rice, noodles, any cooked grains or lentils.