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I don’t know about you, but I absolutely LOVE homemade, healthy Chinese food!
Yes, I emphasize the word ‘healthy.’ Just because it’s homemade doesn’t mean it’s healthy.
Oh yeah, and just because you’re searching for “low-calorie Chinese food recipes” or “light Chinese recipes” doesn’t necessarily make them healthy either.
It’s all about choosing the right Chinese foods that are nutrient-dense!
I know, the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Chinese food is probably the stir-fried noodles, rice, and the heavy amount of MSG that is often liberally added to most Chinese takeouts.
While there is nothing wrong with enjoying your favorite Chinese dishes every now and then, it is important to be aware of the unhealthy aspects of many popular recipes. Excessive amounts of sodium, unhealthy fats and processed ingredients can make even the most delicious meal detrimental to your health if you consume it on a regular basis.
Best Healthy Chinese Recipes
Eating Chinese food doesn’t have to be greasy and unhealthy. In fact, there are plenty of healthy Chinese recipes that are just as delicious as their greasy counterparts.
Fortunately, there are plenty of healthy homemade Chinese recipes that use whole, unprocessed ingredients and are free of unhealthy additives.
These recipes are not only good for your health, but they also taste great leaving you to feel fully satisfied. It’s the perfect healthy lunch idea or meal prep that you can keep eating over and over again without getting tired!
Before you explore our favorite healthy Chinese food recipes, here are some questions that many people often ask about Chinese food.
What are the healthiest Chinese dishes?
Raised in a traditional Chinese household where health is paramount, I’ve inherited a deep appreciation for nourishing cuisine. Here’s my perspective on the healthiest Chinese dishes:
- Steamed Vegetables with Tofu: A dish rich in protein and low in added fats.
- Moo Goo Gai Pan: This stir-fry blends chicken with a medley of vegetables, all lightly sauced.
- Shrimp with Broccoli: A combination that delivers lean protein from shrimp and vital nutrients from broccoli.
- Steamed Fish with Ginger and Scallions: A heart-friendly choice accentuated by aromatic herbs, it’s a testament to wellness.
- Chinese Vegetable Soup: A wholesome broth infused with bok choy, mushrooms, and tofu, brimming with essential vitamins and minerals.
What Chinese food has the least calories?
The caloric content of Chinese food can vary widely based on the ingredients used and the preparation method.
However, in general, dishes that are steamed or boiled and lack heavy sauces tend to be lower in calories compared to those that are fried or coated in sugary sauces.
Some of my favorite Chinese dishes that are typically lower in calories include:
- Steamed Vegetables: Vegetables that are steamed without additional sauces or oils.
- Clear Broth Soups: Such as egg drop soup or hot and sour soup (without added fats).
- Steamed Tofu: Especially when it’s not served with a heavy sauce.
- Steamed or Boiled Seafood: Dishes like steamed fish with ginger and scallions.
- Shrimp with Lobster Sauce: Typically contains shrimp, ground pork, and a light sauce.
- Moo Goo Gai Pan: A lightly sautéed dish with chicken and vegetables in a clear sauce.
- Chicken with Snow Peas or Broccoli: When lightly stir-fried without a heavy sauce.
- Steamed Dumplings: Compared to their fried counterparts, steamed dumplings usually have fewer calories, though the fillings can change this.
How can you make Chinese takeaway healthier?
Making Chinese takeaway healthier involves mindful choices.
You can choose steamed or grilled items instead of fried options, which reduces unnecessary fats.
Opt for clear broth soups like hot and sour or egg drop over creamy ones.
Make a lifestyle change and turn to brown rice as it offers more fiber than white or fried rice.
I warn you that some “healthy” dishes aren’t really healthy due to the type of sauce they use. Beware of dishes with heavy, sugary sauces; if possible, request sauces on the side to control the amount.
Prioritize vegetable-rich dishes, as they provide essential nutrients and are often lower in calories.
On top of that, dishes with lean proteins like chicken or tofu are good choices. Finally, be conscious of portion sizes to prevent overconsumption.
Here are 15 of the best healthy Chinese recipes that make delicious and nutritious alternatives to those greasy takeouts loaded with heavy MSG.
1. Healthy Szechuan Shrimp Stir Fry
With only 290 calories per serving, this tasty Szechuan Shrimp Stir Fry Dish will leave you feeling guilt-free and satisfied.
The recipe uses healthy ingredients such as reduced-sodium soy sauce, fresh shrimp, broccoli, bell peppers, and mushrooms stir-fried in a homemade sauce that is not only delicious but also low in sodium.
With 38g of protein per serving, this recipe will not only leave you feeling full but will also give you a good dose of energy-boosting nutrients.
2. Gluten-Free General Tso’s Chicken
One of the most popular Chinese recipes, General Tso’s Chicken is often loaded with unhealthy ingredients such as sugar, cornstarch, and MSG. General Tso’s is typically made by deep-frying breaded chicken in a sweet and sticky sauce.
This lighter version happens to be gluten-free, dairy-free, and paleo, which is perfect for those of you who have any dietary restrictions!
A few healthy ingredients in this delightful recipe call for boneless skinless chicken breasts diced into bit-sized pieces, arrowroot starch, avocado oil, and sesame oil served with delicious cauliflower rice. This recipe is not only healthier but also tastier than the restaurant version and can be made in just 22 minutes. We guarantee that once you serve this dish to your family, they will never want takeout again!
3. Lighter Version Kung Pao Chicken
Can’t get enough of chicken? Well, if you are a fan of Kung Pao Chicken, then this recipe was made for you.
To avoid the load on carbs, you can easily swap out the noodles with zucchini noodles or any other type of veggie spiral noodles. This recipe also uses chicken breast, a leaner and healthier alternative to dark meat, which is often used in Kung Pao chicken recipes. In addition, the recipe calls for fresh ginger and garlic, two ingredients that not only give the dish its flavor but also offer many health benefits.
Just under 300 calories, it is sure to please not only your taste buds but also your waistline.
4. Almost No Carb Egg Drop Soup
If you’re looking for Keto recipes, then you’ll fall in love with this Egg Drop soup!
It’s a totally delicious and satisfying soup that is perfect for those on a low-carb diet, especially those of you who are concerned about diabetes.
This recipe uses only a few ingredients such as chicken broth, eggs, a tbsp of your choice of lighter soy sauce, fresh ginger, sesame oil, and garlic salt. Top it with red pepper flakes or sriracha sauce if you’re looking for an extra bit of spice. Oh yeah, don’t forget to sprinkle those chopped green onions for added flavor!
That’s it! As mentioned, this soup is not only low in carbs but is also super easy and quick to make. It’s also perfect if you’re looking for simple vegetarian meals.
In less than 15 minutes, you can have a close to a zero-carb soup that will leave you feeling good.
5. Chicken and Broccoli Sti Fry
Chicken and Broccoli Stir Fry is usually one of the relatively “healthier” alternatives people turn to when they’re stuck with takeout, so it’s not as bad as the other choices on the menu. However, we’re still unsure of what ingredients they put in these takeout versions, so it’s just best to make this dish yourself at home.
This recipe by Eat The Gains uses ingredients such as coconut aminos, sesame oil, and an optional substrate of cauliflower rice over white rice. Not only is this recipe packed with protein from the chicken and high in fiber from the broccoli, but it’s also low in carbs and incredibly flavorful.
When you’re busy and on the go, then this dish is perfect to put together on nights when you don’t have a lot of time to cook.
6. Beef and Chinese Greens Stir Fry
If you’re a beef lover, then you’ll adore this recipe. Packed with protein and nutrients, this dish is perfect for a quick and healthy meal. If this doesn’t meet your standard definition of comfort food, then we don’t know what does!
Another Paleo-friendly recipe, this dish uses ingredients such as beef flank steak, Chinese greens, garlic, ginger, and sesame seeds. Top it with veggies like broccoli, carrot, and whatever else you please.
Indeed another flavorful piece to add to your recipe repertoire, this stir-fry is great when you’re wanting something savory and filling but don’t want the extra grease that often comes with Chinese takeout.
7. Instant Pot Whole30 Chicken Cashew
If you love cashews and instant pot meals as much as we do, then this Chinese Instant Pot Chicken Cashew recipe won’t disappoint.
Made with ingredients such as chicken breast (or thigh), cashews, coconut aminos, avocado oil, minced garlic, ginger, and green onions, this dish will turn out to be one of your favorites.
Serve this cashew chicken over cauliflower rice or zucchini noodles for a low-carb and healthier meal. You can also add in other veggies like broccoli, carrots, or peppers to make it even more nutrient-dense.
8. Homemade Sweet and Sour Pork
No one can deny that sweet and sour pork is one of the deadliest but most pleasantly delicious Chinese dishes out there. The sticky, sweet, and sour sauce often used in takeout restaurants are loaded with sugar and calories, making it one of the worst choices on the menu.
However, you can make a healthier version of this dish at home with just a few simple swaps. This recipe uses pork tenderloin (opt for lean if you can), pineapple, rice vinegar, canola oil, your choice of a lighter soy sauce, and a touch of honey to recreate that same sticky sweet and sour sauce we all know and love.
Pair it with some steamed veggies or cauliflower rice instead of white rice, and you’ve got yourself a delicious and healthy meal that will make your taste buds very happy.
9. Healthy Chinese Lemon Chicken
Better than Asian takeout, this lemon chicken recipe is moist, tender, and full of flavor.
What’s great about this dish is that it uses ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen such as chicken breasts, low-sodium soy sauce, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, and apple cider vinegar.
You can also switch up the veggies depending on what’s in season or what you have on hand. This recipe doesn’t include vegetables but you can easily add your favorite ones like broccoli and carrots. Feel free to use green beans, snow peas, or any other veggie you can think of. Adding any veggie and better than none.
10. Healthy Chinese Vegetable Lo Mein
For Meatless Mondays, you can consider cranking up the delicious and healthy Chinese vegetable lo mein!
This lo mein recipe couldn’t be easier or more delicious, and it’s much healthier for you too since it uses whole wheat noodles and is packed with nutritious vegetables. You can use any type of noodles you like such as soba, or even spaghetti, just make sure they’re whole grain.
As for the veggies, this recipe calls for Bella mushroom, bell peppers, and snow peas but you can really add whatever vegetables you have on hand.
11. Lighter Chicken Lo Mein
This list wouldn’t be complete without a classic chicken lo mein recipe!
This dish is so popular because it’s delicious, easy to make, and can be customized with a lot of healthy veggies, chicken, and eggs. The best part about this dish is it contains low salt sauce and low-calorie noodles, which is perfect for those health-conscious individuals.
Great for a quick weekday lunch or brunch recipe, this dish will not disappoint if you’re a fan of Chinese lo mein!
12. Healthy Orange Sesame Chicken
If you love stopping by Panda Express for orange chicken then you’re going to love this homemade healthy version even better!
Make sure to use tamari instead of soy sauce to keep this dish gluten-free, and fresh oranges for that authentic citrus flavor. You can also use frozen orange juice concentrate if you don’t have any fresh oranges on hand.
Easily swap the white rice for brown rice or cauliflower rice to make it a healthier meal. If you’re more of a noodles type of person, then pair it with your favorite healthy noodles!
This recipe also uses less oil than most restaurant versions and the sauce is made with all-natural ingredients like honey and fresh ginger.
You can also add in extra veggies like broccoli, peppers, or carrots to amp up the nutritional value even more.
13. Gluten-Free Crystal Steamed Dumplings
Looking for a fun and unique appetizer to make for your snack or appetizer? Then you need to check out these gluten-free crystal dumplings!
They may look a little bit different than your traditional dumplings, but they’re just as delicious and make for a great conversation starter.
These dumplings are also healthier since they’re steamed instead of fried. In addition to that, the dough is made of Bob’s Red Mill’s potato starch a tapioca flour, which are both gluten-free. It’s perfect for your vegetarian days as they are filled with tofu and veggies. Lastly, they also make the perfect meal prep snack because you can easily freeze them!
14. Low Carb Naked Wonton Soup
This Keto Naked Wonton Soup recipe is both light and healthy, while still being filling and satisfying.
This low-carb bone broth wonton soup is perfect for those following a ketogenic diet or people who are just looking to cut down on carbs. The “naked” wontons are simply without the wonton wrappers, filled with juicy pork shrimp meatballs, making them super light but high in protein.
You can also add pack this soup with healthy veggies like mushrooms, bok choy, and carrots if you want to up your vegetable intake for the day!
15. Whole30 Chinese Eggplant and Pork
This Whole30, paleo, and gluten-free dish is one of the best weeknight meals for those who are looking for a healthier alternative to greasy eggplant.
Made with lean ground pork and combined with delicious garlic sauce, this Chinese eggplant dish will leave your tummy happy and satisfied.
You can pair this with brown rice or cauliflower rice, which in our opinion is better than white rice. Plus, it’s so tasty, you’ll agree it’s way better than Chinese takeout.
If you’re not a fan of eggplant, you can easily swap it out for chicken, shrimp, or zucchini noodles. So whether you’re looking for a Whole30, paleo, or gluten-free recipe, this dish won’t disappoint you or your family members.
Concluding Words: The Best Healthy Chinese Dishes
So there you have it, our 15 favorite healthy Chinese recipes! We hope you’ll enjoy trying out these dishes and that they’ll help you to cut down on greasy Chinese takeout. As always, feel free to experiment with the ingredients and add in whatever you like or have on hand.
Share this article with your friends and family if you found it helpful! And if you have any favorite healthy Chinese recipes of your own, be sure to let us know in the comments below.