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Gluten-free Lighter Orange Beef and Broccoli is healthier but just as delicious as the restaurant version!

Lighter Orange Beef and Broccoli | iowagirleats.com

Howdy everyone, I hope you had a great weekend!

We enjoyed a wonderful Easter on what ended up being a beautiful, summery Sunday. There was rain in the forecast all week, but not a drop fell in the end. Instead we were treated to sunshine and high 70s!


In addition to being excited to celebrate my boy’s first Easter, I was pumped to spend the weekend with my little brother who was in town from Denver, and my Mom’s best friend who was in from Ohio (whom I didn’t get a single picture of – love you, Linda!) I see both of them way way less than I’d like so it was great to have an entire weekend together!


After church on Sunday we parked it on my parent’s back deck and enjoyed my Mom’s Crock Pot Breakfast Casserole with fresh fruit for brunch. This casserole is such a winner, you guys. Everyone raves whenever she makes it.


A little while later my brother and sister-in-law arrived with the kids, who had themselves a good ol’ Easter egg hunt in the backyard. They searched high and low in trees and rhubarb bushes (yes, THOSE rhubarb bushes!) for eggs filled with goodies.


Lincoln was content to sit on the grass and watch. It was his first time touching the green stuff – I think he liked it?! I can’t wait until next year when he can join in the fun.


A warm, family and friend-filled Easter is a happy Easter!


Afterwards we had lunch at my Mom’s beautifully set table, complete with Easter baskets at all our places. I don’t care how old you are – baskets filled with delicious and fun stuff never gets old.


I was really looking forward to the feast, though! Party Potatoes, green beans, Amana ham, and my Kale and Wild Rice Salad with Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette.


A couple people asked how we adapted the Party Potatoes to be gluten free – Linda made homemade cream of chicken soup (here’s a good recipe >>) using gluten-free flour. Unfortunately corn flakes are not gluten free, so my Mom made a small batch of the potatoes for me without the topping. I’ll admit I missed the crunch, but other than that they were indistinguishable from the original recipe.


Grandma’s Holiday Salad was also in abundance, of course. It is a holiday afterall!


Afterwards everyone slipped into a food/wine/candy coma, including this monkey.


And these apes. ;)


Anyway, I’m excited to bring you a quick and easy take out fake out recipe today – Lighter Orange Beef and Broccoli!

I think I’ve told you before that Ben’s and my favorite Chinese joint from way back in the day, who had THE BEST ORANGE BEEF EVER, switched owners a few years ago and all their awesome recipes, including our favorite one for crispy orange beef, went with ’em. I hate when that happens! Since then we’ve been on the hunt for a copycat recipe to make at home but all the ones we’ve tried have been too greasy, too orangey, too…just not the same.

That being said, last week I got an orange beef craving so I decided to conquer this bad boy once and for all. The recipe had to be perfectly orangey – not overwhelming or underwhelmingly so – and NOT deep fat fried. I mean don’t get me wrong, crispy, deep fried beef is the bees knees but it’s just not practical for me to deep fry at home.

The good news is that orange beef doesn’t have to be deep fat fried to be fantastic. Stir frying in 1 Tablespoon oil – total – gives the beef a mouthwatering taste and texture that I know you’ll love.

Lighter Orange Beef and Broccoli | iowagirleats.com

Swapping deep fat frying for stir frying was the easy part. The sauce is what I really needed to master, so I made this dish 3 times in 5 days to make sure I really nailed it. The result is killer. Perfectly orangey, not too sweet, not too heavy – as Goldilocks would say, it’s just right!

Lighter Orange Beef and Broccoli | iowagirleats.com

Start with da beef! You’ll need 1-1/2lb flank or sirloin steak cut very thin and against the grain – almost shaved, if you can swing it. I bought a big flank steak then sliced it in half, and then sliced each half into…slices.


Pop the beef into a big ziplock bag then add 1 Tablespoon each cornstarch and soy sauce or gluten-free Tamari. Seal the top then squish to coat the beef as evenly as you can.


Pop the beef into the fridge to marinate for 20 minutes or so. Meanwhile, it’s sauce time!


In a bowl combine 2 teaspoons orange zest with a bevy of orange-sauce-inspired ingredients like orange juice, of course, chicken broth (just trust me,) soy sauce or gluten-free Tamari, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger, sugar, red chili pepper flakes, and sesame oil.

A note on orange juice: I’m recommending that you use pre-made orange juice (like Simply Orange) or juice made from concentrate in this recipe vs fresh-squeezed, and here’s why. The orange I buy today will taste different tomorrow, and the next day and the day after that. Furthermore, the oranges I buy here in Iowa are probably going to taste different than the oranges you might buy in Florida, for instance. The only way to make sure this recipe turns out tasting the same for both of us is to use pre-made juice, which is carefully blended to always taste the same, similar to how wine companies take careful measures to make sure their cabernet always tastes like their cabernet. 

Already long story short – use fresh squeezed if you desire (I have with this recipe and it still tasted great!) but just know that fresh oranges vary in sweetness and sourness levels depending on age and location.


Aaaaanway, add 2 teaspoons cornstarch, which will help thicken up the sauce, then set it aside.


Time took cook! Heat a large wok or nonstick skillet over high heat then add 4 cups broccoli florets and 1/4 cup water then stir fry until the broccoli is crisp-tender, 3-4 minutes. Remove the broccoli to a plate then set aside. Broccoli isn’t necessarily typical in crispy orange beef, but I like it…so I added it!


Next heat 1 Tablespoon grapeseed or vegetable oil in the wok then add half the beef in one even layer. Let it sit undisturbed for 30 seconds before flipping and cooking quickly on the other side. The thinner the beef, then faster it will cook. Make sure not to overcook the beef or else it can turn tough. Remove to a plate then repeat with the remaining beef, and then add that to the plate.


Add the sauce to the skillet then let it bubble for 5 minutes, or until thickened and reduced, then add the beef and broccoli back in.


Toss to warm everything back up, then you’re done!


Scoop the orange beef and broccoli over cooked rice and serve.

Lighter Orange Beef and Broccoli | iowagirleats.com

Lighter Orange Beef and Broccoli


Gluten-free Lighter Orange Beef and Broccoli is healthier but just as delicious as the restaurant version!


serves 4

  • 1-1/2lb flank or sirloin steak cut very thin (shaved if you can!)
  • 1/4 cup + 1 Tablespoons soy sauce or gluten-free Tamari, divided
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch, divided
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup orange juice (for best results use pre-made or from concentrate, not fresh)
  • 2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
  • 4 cups broccoli florets
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 Tablespoon grapeseed or vegetable oil
  • cooked rice, for serving


  1. Add steak to a large ziplock bag then add 1 Tablespoon each soy sauce or Tamari and cornstarch. Seal then squish to evenly coat and then place in the refrigerator to marinate for 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, combine remaining 1/4 cup soy sauce or Tamari and remaining 1 Tablespoon cornstarch with chicken broth, orange juice, rice vinegar, sugar, orange zest, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, and red chili pepper flakes then set aside.
  3. Heat a large wok or nonstick skillet over high heat then add broccoli and water. Stir fry until broccoli is crisp tender, 3-4 minutes then remove to a plate and set aside.
  4. Heat oil in wok then add half the marinated beef in one layer. Do not disturb for 30 seconds, or until bottom is golden brown. Flip slices then saute until second side is golden brown. This should go very quickly if your beef is cut thin enough. Also, don't overcook the beef or it can turn tough. Remove to a plate then cook remaining beef and then add to plate.
  5. Add the sauce to the wok then cook until thickened and reduced, about 5 minutes. Add cooked beef and broccoli back into the wok then scoop over cooked rice when warmed through.

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.

Lighter Orange Beef and Broccoli | iowagirleats.com

Luuuuscious! Perfectly orangey and much healthier than the deep fried restaurant version. By the way, I have made this recipe with chicken and it’s just as delish. Either way, you can’t go wrong. Enjoy!

Lighter Orange Beef and Broccoli | iowagirleats.com