Sesame Orange Chicken

These easy make-ahead sesame orange chicken thighs are bursting with great citrus flavor and are so quick to make! Cook these babies in your slow cooker for nice, tender, juicy orange chicken that beats takeout! And this is a freezer friendly dump-style meal and couldn’t be simpler to prepare!

Sesame Orange Chicken thighs on a bed of rice, on plate with oranges in background.

Sesame Orange Chicken

Just a quick dish for you today.  This is my Sesame Orange Chicken, or as my 5-yr-old calls it, “Orange Says Me Chicken”!

It’s a fast “dump-and-freeze” meal with very little prep.  And it cooks all day in the slow cooker, so it is basically hands off.  I love these kinds of meals!!  🙂

Plus, it’s made with many of the things that I already keep in my pantry, so no need to go on an extra shopping trip just to make this one.  This Sesame Orange Chicken freezer meal is an homage to a classic Chinese take-out dish, but without the take-out hassle of having to leave your house, and without the take-out price!  I’m all for staying home and cooking in my pajamas…

The chicken kind of marinates as it freezes and then again as it thaws, so it gets a great juicy orange flavor.  But not too much punch, because the honey barbecue sauce keeps it grounded.

Sesame Orange Chicken Plated

You can go spicy on this orange chicken by altering the amount of red pepper flakes you add in.  I leave them out completely, as my family cannot handle the heat.  Of any kind.  My husband tells me that I must have burned off all my taste buds years ago.  (Might have been that time I ate a full raw habanero pepper on a dare…)

At any rate, you can customize the heat to your liking!  Apparently my taste buds are not to be trusted…

You can use boneless, skinless chicken breasts, but I really prefer the chicken thighs on this one.  The higher fat content helps them to stay juicy as they cook.  But my kids aren’t huge fans of the darker meat, so sometimes we have to compromise.  *sigh* The things I do for my kids, right?  (totally just kidding)

We usually serve this Sesame Orange Chicken recipe over rice, but it is great over noodles, too!  If you like extra sauce, double the ingredients (other than the chicken) so there will be plenty to go around.

Sesame Orange Chicken Overhead

Sesame Orange Chicken Plated

Sesame Orange Chicken

Servings: 8 servings
Course: Freezer Meal Recipes
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 6 hours
Total Time: 6 hours 5 minutes
Or "Orange Says Me Chicken" as my daughter calls it.  Either way, it's a delicious twist on Chinese takeout, without the takeout hassle or the takeout price!
4.4 from 18 votes
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In freezer bag:

  • 4 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 cup honey barbecue sauce
  • 1 cup orange marmalade
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon ginger minced or finely grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes optional

Additional ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds


To freeze:

  • Place first seven ingredients into gallon-size freezer bag.  Remove as much air as possible and seal tightly.  Knead gently to mix.  Lay flat to freeze.

To make:

  • Remove bag from freezer and let thaw overnight in refrigerator. 
  • Dump contents of bag into slow cooker, and cook on low for 4-6 hours until chicken is cooked through.
  • Stir 2 tablespoons cornstarch into 2 tablespoons cold water in small glass or bowl.  Add to slow cooker.
  • Cover and cook on high for 30 minutes until sauce thickens.
  • Serve over rice or noodles.  Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds to garnish.


Serving: 8servings | Calories: 642kcal | Carbohydrates: 69g | Protein: 57g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 277mg | Sodium: 1048mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 62g
Did You Make This Recipe?Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Facebook @MakeAheadMealMom!

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  1. Wow, this does look good! Do you think I could also use regular barbecue sauce? Not sure I could find some with honey in Germany.

    1. It might – the one questionable variable is the cornstarch. It doesn’t always freeze well. But I think the worst that would happen is the sauce would be thin and maybe a little runny instead of thick. It would certainly be worth trying a small amount to see what happens! (If you do, please let me know how it turns out!!) You can absolutely use chicken breasts instead of thighs! You may want to reduce your cooking time if you use breasts – my slow cooker runs hot, so I never let chicken breast meals go for more than 3-4 hours on low or else they will tend to be really dry because they don’t have all the fat like thighs do.

  2. What is the brake down for the Optavia meal plans for these 6 freezer green and lean freezer meals? I see they are listed for lean and green meals. I don’t see how many proteins, greens, condiments it includes per serving.I am new to the program and looking for recipes.

    1. That is a very good question! I’m totally new to the program as well and not well-versed yet on all the details for lean and green meals. My coach told me this was a lean and green meal that she uses, and she put the meals together for this meal plan. As I learn more and gain more experience I will try to go back and update the recipes with Lean & Green guidelines so they are easier to use with the program.

  3. Instead of using my crockpot (which tends to cook on high heat no matter what) I used my instant pot. Cooked the chicken in about 20-30 minutes. I say “about” because there was some user error and I didn’t have the lid on properly the first time. Looking forward to trying again in the near future!

4.39 from 18 votes (18 ratings without comment)

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