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Sesame Chicken with Quinoa

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You will love this lighter Sesame Chicken with Quinoa recipe — just a simple saute served over flavorful quinoa.

Healthier Sesame Chicken Recipe |

I have learned this year that any sort of conferences or events that food bloggers attend are a pretty much guaranteed 24/7 gourmet food fest. I’m totally not exaggerating. I’m now about three days into my time in Chicago and already — I’m stuffed!!! And there are still four full days to go! :)

At least I can find a little comfort in the fact that I planned ahead this time and head a pretty healthy week of meals before I left Kansas City. And this Sesame Chicken with Quinoa was definitely one of the highlights! (And yes, that’s the quinioa from my How To Cook Quinoa post. If you’re new to cooking this grain, be sure to check out the step-by-step tutorial for how to whip up a quick and easy batch!)

Healthier Sesame Chicken Recipe |

I know that people tend to go bonkers over a good sesame chicken dish. I definitely love that sweet and sesame-y sauce. But I have to be honest — the heavy deep-fried batter has never really been my thing.

So for a “lighter” sesame chicken, I decided to simply saute some chicken breasts and then serve them with a healthier sauce that has been sweetened with honey. And then instead of brown or white rice, I served it over some yummy quinoa.

And people!!! The result was so good!

Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but I have to say that I think I loved this one even more than the original. It was full of flavor, simple to make, not overly sweet, and definitely not deep-fried. I would probably typically throw in a few more veggies into the saute, but for a classic sesame chicken recipe, I just served this with some fresh green onions from my CSA.

Definitely a dish I can feel much better about enjoying…and even having seconds. ;)

Hope you all enjoy it!

Lighter Sesame Chicken with Quinoa |

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Sesame Chicken with Quinoa

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 8 reviews
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 2-4 servings 1x


Traditional sesame chicken goes lighter with this simple saute, and is served over flavorful quinoa.


  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tsp. toasted sesame seeds

Quinoa Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 2 cups chicken broth


To Make The Lighter Sesame Chicken:

  1. Season chicken breasts generously on both sides with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken and saute for about 4-6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through.
  3. While chicken is cooking, whisk together the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, honey, garlic, ginger, and cornstarch until combined. When the chicken is cooked through, add the green onions and soy sauce mixture to the pan and stir immediately to coat the chicken. The sauce will thicken quickly. Stir in sesame oil, then remove from heat and serve over cooked quinoa (instructions below), sprinkled with sesame seeds.

To Make The Quinoa:

  1. You can see my step-by-step photo tutorial for how to cook quinoa here.

Healthier Sesame Chicken Recipe |

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104 comments on “Sesame Chicken with Quinoa”

  1. The fried chicken in sesame chicken has never really appealed to me, either, but your sauteed version look fantastic! I hope you’re having a great time in Chicago.

  2. I love absolutely everything about this. My favorite flavors!

  3. I LOVE everything sesame related. I am thinking that I should try making this with either seitan or tempeh to make a vegetarian version.

  4. I love this! The fried version has never been my thing either. Have fun in Chicago! Wish I was there :)

  5. I’m excited to try this recipe this week. It looks simple, easy, and delicious! Thanks for the quinoa tips!

  6. I love this! Sesame chicken is one of my go-to orders, so I’d LOVE to make a lighter version at home!

  7. Looks tasty! When does the sesame oil go in? Does it go in the sauce mixture or is it what the sesame seeds are tossed in prior to going on the chicken? Just checking. Hope I didn’t miss it!

  8. I absolutely love this idea, Ali – I seriously wish I’d had the ingredients on hand to make it for dinner tonight! The photos are gorgeous too.

  9. So fresh, easy and pretty! I love this! Have fun in Chicago!

  10. Yes please, this looks fabulous!

  11. This is right up my alley!!! Wish I was stuffing my face with you in Chicago!

  12. This looks like exactly what I want to make on a weeknight! Lovely dish!

  13. Oooh, this looks so good, Ali! It’s going on my menu next week!

  14. Love this sesame chicken, looks so good!

  15. I love sesame chicken, but I always wish it was a little lighter (and that there were a lot more veggies!) I can’t wait to try this! Enjoy eating your way through Chicago!

  16. This looks yummy! I love sesame, and that you substituted quinoa for the rice.

  17. Looks DELISH and healthy. I would love to attend one of these bloggers event..looking forward for something in SF. Have fun

  18. Wow, this looks really yummy! Ill be sure to try it! I love the photos also, i am trying to take photos like that for my baking blog! :)

  19. Oh Ali, this dish is perfection. I adore sesame chicken! I always come to you when I want some lighter fare for dinner. Have fun in Chicago! I’m going there next month. I love it!

  20. This looks mouthwatering, my husband would just love this dish :)

  21. This was so easy to make and equally delicious! I’ll definitely be making it again and again.

  22. Made this tonight & added some steamed veggies, absolutely delicious! Definitely will make again!

  23. Made this tonight and I loved that it was easy and delicious. My family wanted more sauce so next time I’ll double or triple depending on the amount of chicken.

  24. I love the idea of substituting the quinoa for the rice!

  25. Made this tonight and it was so good! I used coconut oil instead of olive oil and raw organic honey instead of regular honey.

  26. This came out great. Didn’t quite read the entire recipe so I cooked it in the sesame oil as we’ll. still came out amazing.

  27. Is Quinoa gluten free

  28. Made this tonight and it was awesome! So much better than take out, and healthier. I just realized I forgot the sesame oil and it was still delicious! Thanks for sharing :)

  29. Can I use your picture of Sesame Chicken for a school project on China and food

  30. Is it possible to not use the ginger? I’ve never worked with ginger before, and it’s quite hard to find in our area. Kind of a ridiculous question, I know. But it sounds delicious. Trying it tonight!

    • Hi Amanda!

      Yep, you can make this without ginger. But it is one of the primary flavors, so I REALLY recommend adding it if you can find some. :)


  31. This dish is AMAZING and so easy to make and put together. Wonderful flavor while still be pretty health conscious!!! Saying my husband loves it is an understatement. Our 3 year gobbles it up too! I use 5 chicken breasts and double the sauce!!! GREAT recipe it is a staple in our dinner menu and family that visit Love it as well! Thank you thank you thank you!!!
    Victoria, BC Canada :D

  32. Ali,

    This was a great recipe. Even though I didn’t have any sesame oil or ginger (I will buy them both for next time), my husband said this meal had a restaurant-like quality and that I should make it again! I cooked the quinoa with unsalted vegetable broth, because that is what I had, and I really liked the flavor. In a nutshell, we loved it!

  33.  Made this for my employers, wow! The boys were doing a ‘dine and dash’ around the kitchen island before I could get it to the table! A huge success with everyone requesting it again soon.

  34. Looks easy and delicious. Look forward to trying it. Thank you!

  35. Hi :) this dish is so yum, I made it for lunch and making extra to take for work. Is this diet friendly? I want to have it regulary as it tastes so good but I’m worried it might not be diet friendly as I’m trying to lose some weight. I only eat it for lunch. Thanks please let me know. 

    • Thanks Denita, we’re so happy you enjoyed it! While we feel like this is a healthy dish, we unfortunately aren’t sure of the nutrition facts/amount of calories. We currently are not publishing nutrition facts on the site, as the nutrition calculators available are not 100% accurate, and we never want to publish anything that might be misleading. However, a lot of our readers love the My Fitness Pal nutrition calculator, so feel free to try that for an estimate. We hope that helps!

  36. I made this tonight and added some extra veggies (red pepper, broccoli and cauliflower). It was delicious!! So glad I have leftovers for tomorrow. I’ll definitely be making this again (and again)!

  37. Oh I’m gonna make this next week! It looks so fresh and jummy, can’t wait!

  38. I just made this I substituted the low sodium soy sauce for low sodium Worcestershire sauce which is only 45g sodium very very low compared to low sodium soy sauce also I got the sugar free no calorie no carb rice vinegar it taste good a lil too much vinegar for me so next time I’m going to use a bit less also I used tapioca flour instead of corn starch herd it’s healthier. But instead of one teaspoon you need 2  teaspoons for it to thicken. Hope if any one was looking for a bit healthier recipe that this helps I was looking for root flour but I couldn’t find it I herd that’s healthier than tapioca starch. Thanx for the lovely recipe

  39. This meal was so easy and it tasted great! I didn’t have honey so I used a sweet rice cooking wine and instead of quinoa I mixed the glazed chicken with cooked rice noodles and steamed broccoli.

  40. Made this for dinner tonight and it was delicious!! Kids and husband approved!

  41. Needed a quick, healthy meal without having to shop. This delicious dish checked all three boxes.

  42. We loved this recipe. I chopped some candied ginger because I needed to use it up. This is a handy recipe because it uses staples from our pantry and fridge, so I can make it anytime. I also like how easy it would be to double the sauce and throw in lots of vegetables I may have. Thank u so much for the compliments I received on the meal.

  43. This was delicious – simple and will definitely be making again. I used my wok to saute the chicken, and I found that helpful! Served it with quinoa cooked like you recommended and roasted green beans (400 degrees, with sesame oil, soy sauce, and garlic salt for 20 minutes).

  44. Def a keeper very yummy thanks

  45. I made this recipe with only a couple differences. Rather than powdered ginger, which I have and use frequently, I had some fresh ginger, so I used 1 tablespoon of grated fresh instead of the 1 tsp of powdered. I also have quinoa, but I had been eating it for a week in a Mexican soup I had made, so I decided to have riced cauliflower instead., which lowered the calories even more for this recipe. As you can see, my tweaks were only subtly different, so I don’t believe I changed the recipe at all. With that in mind, this was absolutely delicious, and I’ll definitely make it again and again! Thanks for posting.

  46. Easy and delicious! It has become a staple in our house , thank you

  47. I like this recipe. It took me longer to cook the chicken through then suggested in the recipe. Be careful to use only the amount of sesame oil listed in the recipe because it could be too strong otherwise. The taste is perfect, not too tart and not too sweet. This would pair great with stir fried bok choy, wish I’d thought if that before I finished.

  48. Made this for the first time tonight and my family loved it! Used the instapot to make the quinoa and didn’t use chicken broth, just water. The chicken was tender and flavorful! Will definitely make this again.

  49. Super yummy! We added peas as a topping to our seasame chicken bowl, delicious!