Lighter Sesame Chicken


Lighter Sesame Chicken satisfies my craving for Chinese take-out, without all the calories that usually come along with it. Gluten-free, too!

Well hello there, how was your weekend? :)

Besides meeting friends for an impromptu wild Friday night out (oy,) finally watching The Vow on Saturday afternoon (omg what a horribly sad movie, right?!) and witnessing the Hawkeyes get spanked (SPANKED) later that night, there actually isn’t too much to report on from the home front!

The past couple of weeks have been kind of stressful, what with deadlines, projects, presentations, and visualizing a happy ending to a large foodie event I’m involved in a few weeks down the road (details to come,) so I welcomed the chance to zone out and recharge the batts, if you will.

As Luca Spaghetti said in the film Eat, Pray, Love (which I also watched this weekend):

“Americans. You work too hard, you get burned out. You come home and spend the whole weekend in your pajamas in front of the T.V.”

Touche, Signor Spaghetti!

Enough of zee whining though, I got another Take-Out Fake-Out recipe for ya’ today! Lighter Sesame Chicken.

It’s a fact that Sesame Chicken is my all-time favorite Chinese dish. Especially Hy-Vee’s Sesame Chicken, which I ordered then inhaled during every lunch break when I worked there sacking groceries as a 14 and 15 year old.

It was…everything you imagine it to be. The chicken too! All fried, and sugary, and, well, fried, and sugary.

That is to say, while candied chicken tastes good on the tongue, it doesn’t look so good on the hips, which is why I was ecstatic to try a lightened up version from Martha Stewart for dinner last night.

This Sesame Chicken is just sweet enough, and you’ll flip over the faux-battered technique that gives each piece of chicken a nice and delicate crunch. Furthermore, you can make this recipe in under 30 minutes, and I bet you have most, if not all, of the ingredients already on hand. Go check. We’ll wait!

Oh, right, you probably need to see the recipe first…

Start by making the lightly-sweetened sesame chicken sauce. Combine 2-1/2 Tablespoons gluten-free Tamari or soy sauce (dish will not be GF if using soy sauce) and 2 Tablespoons sesame seeds in a bowl.

Then add 1/4 cup honey. Drizzly, thick, and golden yellow.

I used to hate honey, by the way, and suppose I still do in its raw form, but over the past couple of years I’ve discovered just how delish honey can be in anything from sauteed dishes, where it gets nice and caramelized, to drinks, where it provides a naturally sweet flavor. That is to say, I like honey now.

Finally, add 1 minced garlic clove, stir everything up, then set the sauce aside.

Next get to work on zee chicken. Pat dry, then season 2 small chicken breasts (about 12oz) cut into 2″ hunks with salt & pepper.

Add the chicken pieces to 1 egg white whisked with 2 Tablespoons cornstarch in a large bowl, then toss to coat. THIS is the faux-batter I was talking about! It’s amazing how foamy the egg white and cornstarch become almost like tempura batter. So cool.

Time to cook! Heat 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil in a large skillet, then add the battered chicken and cook for 3-4 minutes a side, or until the chicken is golden brown and cooked through.

Turn off the heat, remove the skillet from the burner, then add the pre-made sauce and 2 chopped green onions, and toss everything to combine.

Or use a spatula, lest you fling sizzling, honey-coated sesame seeds all over yourself and the floor. Cough.

Finally add 2 cups steamed broccoli into the skillet, and stir again to combine.

Serve the Lighter Sesame Chicken over cooked brown rice (directions and timing for cooking the rice and broccoli are in the recipe) for a super-satisfying, quick and easy, take-out fake-out dinner!

Lighter Sesame Chicken

Serves 2


Lighter Sesame Chicken satisfies my craving for Chinese take-out, without all the calories that usually come along with it. Gluten-free, too!


  • 1/2 cup brown rice
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 Tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 2 Tablespoons gluten-free Tamari or soy sauce (dish will not be GF if using soy sauce)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 small chicken breasts (12oz), cut into 2" pieces
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 2 cups broccoli florets


  1. Prepare rice according to package directions. Meanwhile, combine honey, sesame seeds, Tamari or soy sauce, and garlic together in a small bowl then set aside. In a separate larger bowl, whisk together egg white and cornstarch until smooth. Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper then add to egg white mixture and toss to evenly coat.
  2. In a small saucepan, steam broccoli until crisp tender then set aside.
  3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, then carefully add chicken. Cook for 3-4 minutes a side, or until cooked through. Turn off heat and remove skillet from burner. Add prepared sauce and green onions then toss to combine. Stir in broccoli, then scoop mixture into bowls over cooked rice.


Slightly adapted from Martha Stewart

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats,

Mmmm, just look at that caramelized honey! This dish comes with all the flavor of sesame chicken, just without the ridiculous amounts of calories and fat.

Sesame seeds are a must in here too, and next time I might go the extra step in toasting them first. I got a big jar at Trader Joe’s (originally for my chewy granola bars.) They aren’t expensive, and are nice to have on hand. Very versatile!

Well…enough on sesame seeds. This dish is a real winner, and definitely satisfied my craving for a sweet Chinese food fix. Hope you’ll give it a try!


WOD: 46 Minute, 5 Mile Treadmill Routine

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


1 2 3
  1. I swear we have a lot of the same food aversions.. I could never eat the canned tomato soup, and something about raw honey irks me too!

    This sounds really good. My brother eats at Panda Express probably 3x per week…I’d love to cook him some take out fake out some day and see how he likes it :D

  2. Amy M 10.22.2012

    Yum! Yesterday some friends and I made six batches of freezer-meal honey sesame chicken… I hope it turns out like this!

    The pictures look really great, btw — did any of your set-up come from your time in Japan?

    • Iowa Girl Eats 10.22.2012

      Yummy, that sounds awesome! The chopsticks actually did come from a 100 yen ($1) store there! :)

  3. Yum! Can’t wait to try this one at home! My brother makes some awesome Asian dishes but he fries his chicken :( It is delish tho!

  4. Matt 10.22.2012

    Wow, Kristin, I definately have to do this in the next few days. Do you also have a take out fake out recipe for Orange-Chicken. When I was younger, I loved orange chicken, but gave up eating it because its so unhealthy!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 10.22.2012

      I actually do! Here you go:

      • Matt 10.22.2012

        Thanks so much for your quick answer! I used the searched your blog for “organge chicken” but unfortunately the “what happens in vegas..”-article did not show up.
        Now I can do orange- and sesame-chicken this week! :D
        Keep up the great work!!!

        • Iowa Girl Eats 10.22.2012

          Oh my gosh, I seriously have to wonder why I used to name posts the way that I did! ;) Hope you enjoy!

  5. Love this. Esp that it serves two.

  6. Looks delicious!

    Do you use local honey? It is supposed to have a ton of great health benefits if you eat honey that is made within 30ish miles of where you live.

  7. Erin 10.22.2012

    We moved away from Iowa four years ago and live where there is no Hy-vee. :( Their sesame chicken was my husbands favorite meal. Can’t wait to make this as a suprise for him. Whenever we are back in the Quad Cities we hit up a Hy-vee to get him some so hopefully this will calm his cravings for a while. Thanks a bunch!

  8. Sarah 10.22.2012

    That looks so delicious and easy!

  9. Julia Jolliff 10.22.2012

    Always on the look out for delicious and easy recipes. We have a favorite Asian restaurant we go to and sesame chicken is our fav! I am love the lighter you said- much easier on the thighs! :) Looks so yummy as always.

  10. Lindsey 10.22.2012

    Looks quick, easy, and delicious! I’m trying it! :)

  11. Sarah 10.22.2012

    This looks delicious! Will try soon. Tonight I have your scalloped potatoes and ham in the oven. LOVE your crockpot spaghetti sauce too. Thanks for all of the great recipes. :)

  12. Rejeana 10.22.2012

    Oooh, this looks good. We, too, are Hy-Vee Chinese fans, so any healthier alternative is appreciated! :)


  13. IndianaAnna 10.22.2012

    I was catching up on blogs right before I was supposed to be making something a lot more complicated for dinner and I was totally not feeling like spending that much time cooking today, so I decided promptly to make this instead! Oh yum, it was so good!! I used about 1.5 times the chicken, but doubled the sauce cuz we love sauce here. I hate broccoli so I just subbed cubed zucchini instead and that worked great. The kids loved it. I will make again!

  14. Christy 10.22.2012

    I bet this would be really good over quinoa too! Looks yummy, can’t wait to try it!

  15. YUM! this looks seriously delish

  16. Kristen 10.22.2012

    Happy to see a lighter version! Moving to my recipe file to try very soon! Thanks

  17. I have to say, I’m loving all of these lightened up take out recipes! Can’t wait to give them a try!

  18. Jill 10.22.2012

    Thanks for the recipe! I LOVE Hy-Vee Sesame Chicken!! I haven’t had it since I moved to the Twin Cities 8+ years ago! My friends & I used to frequent there often when I was in college @ UNI/Allen. It was cheap back then & you could eat what they gave you for several meals! Can’t wait to try your version!

  19. Cher @ Weddicted 10.22.2012

    Looks and sounds so good! Would it work with tofu do you think?

    • Iowa Girl Eats 10.23.2012

      I definitely think it would! (And thanks for the reminder that I have a block in the fridge that I need to use up!)

  20. Amanda 10.22.2012

    Any suggestions for a veggie alternative? Really don’t like broccoli lol

    • I am thinking any combination of onions, bell peppers, carrots, and edamame all sound like promising alternatives. But then again, I am not the expert! ;)

    • Iowa Girl Eats 10.23.2012

      You could use anything you like – asparagus, or bell pepper might be nice!

  21. Leslie 10.22.2012

    I love sesame chicken and I love your take-out fake-out recipes! Can’t wait to try this one.

    Your post reminded me of a funny story. Last time I made your chewy granola bars (LOVE them!), I accidentally added quinoa instead of sesame seeds. They look a little too similar when packaged in the same containers in my pantry. The granola bars tasted a little weird…but we still ate them!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 10.23.2012

      Ah! Haha, you’re right they do looks so similar! Glad they still tasted alright. :)

  22. I must say, it is true that Hy-Vee makes some pretty darn good Chinese food. Before I was a vegetarian, their sesame chicken was by far my favorite Chinese dish. Thank you for sharing this recipe. I think I might try to make it using either tofu or tempeh!

  23. Krystal 10.22.2012

    I must say that I was planning on having cereal for dinner before I saw this post…then I saw this post and immediately started cooking!! It was yummy and SO easy and quick!

  24. Bridget 10.23.2012

    Oo this looks delicious! Autumn has seriously rolled in here in Scotland so the temptation is just to eat seriously stodgy, carby foods to keep nice and toasty! Can’t wait to give this a go instead – comforting food without worrying about my waistlne!
    Love your blog – thanks for sharing

  25. Love sesame chicken! I could always use a lighter version :)

  26. Look yummy! I can’t wait to try this recipe.

  27. This looks delish! Thank you for your creative and easy recipes! I’m adding this to the menu next week! Kids are gonna love it!

  28. Katie 10.23.2012

    This recipe looks crazy good!

  29. Heather 10.23.2012

    This sounds delicious!Can you use shrimp instead of Chicken? If so do you still need to add the egg?

  30. Runt 10.23.2012

    Ughhhh. Just looking at these pictures is making soooo hungry!! I’m a weekly dinner planning girl so this is DEFINITELY going on my dinner list for next week. Thanks!

  31. Runt 10.23.2012

    These pictures IS making me hungry – lol oops, I meant are making me hungry. I am so hungry I can’t think straight! =]

  32. Jess 10.23.2012

    This looks amazing!

  33. Julie 10.23.2012

    This looks so easy and delicious! I am totally going to make this at home this weekend…I always want the Chinese takeout on my way home and do my best to avoid it.

  34. Mary 10.23.2012

    I made this tonight and it was so yummy even my fiancée koved it

  35. Brooke 10.23.2012

    Just made this for dinner…tastes great!

  36. Carrie 10.23.2012

    Just made this for dinner, easy to make and tastes great. Thanks for the recipe!

  37. Lindsay 10.23.2012

    I made this tonight for my family, and they all loved it!! I made it with quinoa instead of rice though. Definitely going to be making this again soon!!

  38. Making this for dinner!

  39. Julie 10.24.2012

    We had this last night for dinner – a winner for both me and my husband. Thanks!

  40. Hannah 10.25.2012

    I made this tonight and oh my goodness, it was the best thing I’ve eaten/made in a long time. The sauce is so simple yet so delicious, and tastes just like something I’d get at my favorite Chinese restaurant. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  41. Rachel 10.27.2012

    Made this tonight and it was great! I added a squirt of sriracha to the sauce and didn’t have any broccoli on hand so we went without, but it is going into the regular rotation! My hubby gave it a “delicious” when he is normally an “its ok” type of guy. :)

  42. […] know I haven’t posted a dinner in ages.  I made this sesame chicken dinner last night, and it was so freaking good.  I also realize that every other dinner I post is […]

  43. Carol S. 10.27.2012

    I just fixed this meal for dinner and they loved it!!! The cornstarch batter was amazing!! Thanks for making dinner easy and healthy tonight :)

  44. […] always love her “Take Out Fake Out” posts and this sesame chicken one is no […]

  45. […] Oh- and something that I have decided to add to my “weekly menu” post is the best thing from our previous week’s menu. Last week it was something that wasn’t even on our menu (whoops!) The roommate had Chinese food one night which reminded L that he was really in the mood for Chinese-style food. So instead of our skillet chicken parm that we planned on making, we used a different Iowa Girl Eats recipe for sesame chicken. […]

  46. Matt 10.28.2012

    We just made it and had it for dinner! IT WAS AWSOME!
    This cornstarch-batter is the killer. We drizzled a little more honey on top when we sat at the table because we measured not enough honey in first place, I think. Then it was a little salty. Or maybe we have to try a different soy sauce brand, we used Kikkoman classic here.

  47. Julie 10.28.2012

    Just made this for dinner and the husband gave this two thumbs up! Thanks for a yummy recipe!

  48. Monica 10.28.2012

    One-pan, easy, tasty…can’t lose! This is definitely a keeper.

  49. Vinnie 10.29.2012

    This is a definite winner… I am going to give this a shot with expectations of a great meal! Thanks for posting and sharing this!

  50. […] Recipe: Iowa Girl Eats […]

1 2 3

Leave a Comment