Gluten Free Better-Than-Takeout Sesame Chicken

Despite my efforts to keep the food we eat around here reasonably healthy, we do love us some Chinese takeout. We order from the same place every time, and it is delicious.

But oh, so full of sodium and undesirable ingredients I can’t even pronounce!

Plus, my sister can’t eat it. Disaster wouldn’t even begin to describe what would happen to her. More like hospitalization.

Sesame chicken is one of my favorite Chinese dishes. Surely I can take an existing recipe for sesame chicken and make it gluten and MSG-free?

I was sure as heck gonna try.

I’ve mentioned the gluten free soy and teriyaki sauces I use before. They’re made by San-J, and are seriously better than the regular versions. I don’t buy anything else.

The base recipe came from Gotta give props for the delicious starting point!

But I didn’t have a few ingredients her recipe called for (brown sugar and fresh ginger among them), so I made substitutions and omissions to make it work for me. I also don’t like deep frying in a huge vat of oil (that’s another discussion), so that needed to be changed.

chicken pieces fry in a deep pan on their way to becoming sesame chicken.

chicken pieces fry in a deep pan on their way to becoming sesame chicken.

finished pieces of fried chicken

finished pieces of fried chicken

The end result looked good. I thought it was delicious. My toddler voted “yes” just by eating it – ok, good start. I couldn’t wait to see what Mike thought about it.

He said this sesame chicken is better than our beloved China takeout.

I was absolutely beaming with pride at this. Can’t lie here, folks.

So now I confidently bring you my gluten free, no MSG added sesame chicken! I daresay it is healthy, at least compared to what you’d eat out of the little white box. And my sister can eat it and live to see another day.


Gluten Free Better-Than-Takeout Sesame Chicken

recipe adapted from‘s Sesame Chickenย 

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cups cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup gluten free all-purpose flour (I use Better Batter brand)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • about 2 cups of oil for frying
  • sesame seeds and chopped scallions for garnish
  • 4 cups hot, cooked white rice for serving

for the sauce:

  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup tamari (gluten free soy sauce)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 5 tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated or minced

Cube the chicken into bite-sized pieces and set aside.

To make the sauce, combine the first 6 ingredients plus 1 tablespoon sesame oil in a bowl and whisk. Make sure you break up any clumps of cornstarch. Set this aside for now.

In a small saucepan, heat the remaining tablespoon of sesame oil on medium high (be careful not to burn it!). Add the ground ginger, red pepper flakes and minced garlic and cook for about a minute.

Pour in the soy/cornstarch mixture and heat just to a boil, whisking constantly. Turn heat to medium and continue cooking and stirring often, until sauce has thickened and coats a spoon, 15-20 minutes. Cover and remove to a back burner on lowest heat setting. I’d suggest you complete the sauce cooking before moving on to the chicken so you don’t overcook the sauce.

Mix together the cornstarch, flour and baking powder on a large plate, and whisk the egg whites in a small bowl.

Working a few pieces at a time, dip the chicken in the egg and then roll them around in the cornstarch mixture. Set these on a clean plate and repeat until you’ve coated all pieces.

In a large, deep pan, heat the oil (enough for about a 1/2″ layer) to shimmering. Add half the chicken (they should begin frying immediately – if they don’t, the oil isn’t hot enough) and fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Lower heat to medium-high, flip pieces over and cook another minute or two until crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper-towel lined plate. Repeat with the second half of the chicken.

Toss chicken in the sauce immediately before serving over white rice, garnished with sesame seeds and chopped scallions.

I suggest storing the leftover sauce and chicken separately so the chicken doesn’t get soggy. Also, the sauce gelatinizes in the fridge – make sure you stir it good before heating it in the microwave, and check it every 10 seconds or so, or you’ll have a mess to clean up!


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