5-Spice Chicken with Vegetable Stir-Fry (Paleo, Gluten-free, Low-Carb)

This Paleo Chinese 5-Spice Chicken Stir-Fry with Vegetables is the quickest and easiest way to get a nutritious meal on the table in under 30 minutes. My homemade chicken stir-fry sauce makes this a healthy alternative to Chinese Take-Out!

5-Spice Chicken & Vegetable Stir-Fry with homemade chicken stir-fry sauce in a skillet with a kitchen cloth

Chinese Chicken Stir-fry – the perfect solution for whenever you really feel like popping into your fave Chinese restaurant but just can’t stand the idea of getting dressed and presentable. Which happens a lot to some people. Other people. Not me, obviously.

Why you will love this Chinese 5-Spice Chicken recipe:

There’s something magical about takeout, right? Something that makes us believe it’s impossible to make at home, especially if you’re someone who generally does not cook all that often.

But trust me, not only can you totally pull off restaurant-style takeout recipes at home, but you can also make them SO much healthier.

In this case,  healthier means:

  • Paleo
  • Gluten-free
  • Low-Carb
  • Dairy-free
  • Clean eating – approved

close-up of a bowl of Chinese 5-Spice Chicken served over rice and sprinkled with sesame seeds

The sweet and sticky stir-fry sauce coats the chicken and veggies really well and is to die for. You will literally fight over who gets the residue sauce in the pan.

We are using some cornstarch (or arrowroot powder) in order to make the slurry base for our Chinese stir-fry sauce. This step is key whenever you want to thicken up a sauce without unpleasant lumps of starchiness.

Your ingredients are going to be introduced based on their individual cooking times. Our goal is to maintain the bite that keeps this meal fresh and interesting to the palate. Overcooked, mushy vegetables in a stir-fry is a complete no-no.

overhead shot of Chinese 5-Spice Chicken in a black skillet

Let’s talk about the veggies: I used bell peppers, carrots, and broccoli for mine but there’s nothing stopping you from using just peppers and onions, or toss in some baby asparagus or baby corn if that’s all you have on hand!

What is Chinese Five Spice anyway?

Now let’s move on to the mysterious ‘Chinese Five Spice’, shall we? I absolutely love the warmth of this spice blend and the depth of flavor it lends to dishes.

It is basically a mix of star anise, cloves, Sichuan peppercorn, fennel seeds, and cinnamon. Five-spice powder comes with a bunch of health benefits thanks to the various anti-inflammatory spices and can help to improve body immunity.

However, pregnant women should not overdo it and avoid it altogether in early pregnancy. In Chinese cooking, five-spice powder is mainly used in braised dishes or roasted meat especially pork, lamb, beef or fish.

You should be able to find it at your grocery store but you can also make it yourself using this recipe.

I usually have all the ingredients needed for the five-spice recipe and make a fresh batch in small quantities using a mortar and pestle. Please remember that five-spice is very potent, so don’t go too crazy when adding it.

overhead shot of 5-Spice Chicken & Vegetable Stir-Fry served over jasmine rice on a grey plate

How to make Chinese 5-Spice Chicken Stir-Fry with Vegetables – Step by step

This stir-fry recipe is super straightforward. The only thing that’s important when making a stir-fry is the timing and prep.

Stir-fries cook very quickly. Have everything chopped and ready before you start your Chinese cook-off and you’ll get much better results and have a way more relaxed cooking experience. Because trust me, making carrot ribbons while frantically shaking a pan with already dry looking chicken is only entertaining for those watching.

overhead shot of a skillet with Chinese 5-Spice Chicken being stirred with a wooden spoon

First, we prepare the sauce:

Step 1 – 6: In a medium bowl, whisk together all the sauce ingredients (soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey, cornstarch, ginger) and stir until well combined and smooth.

picture collage demonstrating how to mix the perfect healthy paleo Chinese Stir-fry sauce

Prepare the chicken:

Step 7 – Cut the chicken into even-sized small cubes. Cut the chicken breasts in slices, then cut each slices lengthwise into long stripes and then cut crosswise into dice.

Step 8 & 9– Add chicken, five-spice, and salt in a bowl. Using a spoon or your hands, combine to coat chicken with spices.

picture collage demonstrating how to chop and season chicken for Chinese 5-Spice Chicken recipe

Prepare the veggies:

Step 10 – Make carrot ribbons using a vegetable peeler. Tip: I prefer a Y-peeler as it makes it easy to cut long, even strips of the carrots. You will have a leftover piece when you’re through that you can eat or chop and freeze to use in soups or stews. 

Step 11Cut bell peppers into strips, then cut these strips in half.

Step 12 – Cut broccolini into smaller florets.

photo collage demonstrating how to chop veggies for making a Paleo Chinese Chicken Stir-fry

Make the stir-fry:

Step 13 – Once everything is prepped, heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over high heat. When oil is hot, add chicken and cook for 3-4 minutes.  It’s ok if chicken is still slightly pink because it will finish cooking later. Remove from skillet.

Step 14 – Add another 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Add veggies and stir fry for about 5 minutes. They should still be a bit crispy, so pay attention not to overcook them.

Step 15 – Put chicken back into the skillet and add the stir-fry sauce. Cook for 1 minute, stirring, until sauce thicken and chicken is cooked through.

picture collage demonstrating how to fry fry chicken breast and veggies separately when making stir-fry

How to serve Chinese Five-Spice Chicken Stir-fry:

I like to serve this with jasmine rice and a sprinkle of sesame seeds. To keep things low-carb/paleo serve your 5-Spice Chicken over cauliflower rice or zoodles. Other great garnishes are scallions and a bit of crushed red pepper for spice. Enjoy!

Tips for making Chinese Five-Spice Chicken Stir-Fry:

  • Five-spice powder can be found in most grocery stores. It’s a mix of star anise, cloves, cinnamon, black pepper and fennel seeds.
  • If you want to eat this with rice, start heating the cooking water just before prepping the ingredients so that rice and chicken are ready at the same time.
  • To make this Whole30-approved, skip the rice vinegar and the honey and add some date paste (blended soaked dates) to the sauce for sweetness. Use coconut aminos instead of soy sauce.

overhead shot of Paleo Chinese Restaurant-Style 5-Spice Chicken in a black skillet

Variations on this recipe:

  • You can make this recipe with de-boned chicken thighs instead of chicken breast.
  • Choose whichever veggies YOU want in your chicken stir-fry.  Feel free to toss in some edamame, asparagus, snow peas, baby corn or a bit of shredded cabbage.  Just make sure they’re all sliced or chopped equally in size before you begin cooking.
  • If you want to add some heat to your chicken stir-fry, add some crushed red pepper flakes.
5-Spice Chicken & Vegetable Stir-Fry with homemade chicken stir-fry sauce in a skillet with a kitchen cloth
5 from 6 votes
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5-Spice Chicken & Vegetable Stir-Fry

This Paleo Chinese 5-Spice Chicken Stir-Fry with Vegetables is the quickest and easiest way to get a nutritious meal on the table in under 30 minutes. My homemade chicken stir-fry sauce makes this a healthy alternative to Chinese Take-Out dinners!

Course Main Course
Cuisine Asian, Chinese
Keyword 5-Spice Chicken, Paleo chicken stir-fry, Paleo Chinese chicken
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 340 kcal
Author Marie

Ingredients

For the chicken

  • 1.5 lbs chicken breast (about 2 breasts)
  • 1 tsp Chinese five-spice powder see notes
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

For the veggies

  • 1 yellow bell pepper any color would work
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 bunch baby broccoli or half a small broccoli head
  • 4 tsp olive oil divided
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds

For the sauce

  • 3 tbsp soy sauce tamari for GF, coconut aminos for Paleo
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch or arrowroot
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger minced

Instructions

Prepare chicken:

  1. Cut the chicken into even-sized small cubes. Cut the chicken breasts in slices, then cut each slices lengthwise into long stripes and then cut crosswise into dice.

  2. Add chicken, five-spice and salt in a bowl. Using a spoon or your hands, combine to coat chicken with spices.

Prepare veggies:

  1. Cut bell peppers into strips, then cut these strips in half. Make carrot ribbons using a vegetable peeler and cut broccolini into smaller florets.

Prepare sauce:

  1.  In a medium bowl, whisk together sauce ingredients.

Make stir-fry:

  1. Once everything is ready, heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over high heat. When oil is hot, add chicken and cook for 3-4 minutes. It’s ok if chicken is still slightly pink because it will finish cooking later. Remove from skillet. 

  2. Add another 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Add veggies and stir fry for about 5 minutes. They should still be crispy, so pay attention not to overcook them.

  3. Put chicken back into the skillet and add sauce. Cook for 1 minute, stirring, until sauce thickens and chicken is cooked through.

  4. Serve immediately with jasmine rice and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Recipe Notes

Tips

  • Five-spice powder can be found in most grocery stores. It's a mix of star anise, cloves, cinnamon, black pepper and fennel seeds.
  • If you want to eat this with rice, start heating the cooking water just before prepping the ingredients so that rice and chicken are ready at the same time.
  • To keep things low-carb/paleo serve your 5-Spice Chicken over cauliflower rice or zoodles.
  • To make this Whole30-approved, skip the rice vinegar and the honey and add some date paste (blended soaked dates) to the sauce for sweetness. Use coconut aminos instead of soy sauce. 

Variations 

  • You can make this recipe with de-boned chicken thighs instead of chicken breast.
  • Choose whichever veggies YOU want in your chicken stir-fry.  Feel free to toss in some edamame, asparagus, snow peas, baby corn or a bit of shredded cabbage.  Just make sure they’re all sliced or chopped equally in size before you begin cooking.
  • If you want to add some heat to your chicken stir-fry, add some crushed red pepper flakes.
Nutrition Facts
5-Spice Chicken & Vegetable Stir-Fry
Amount Per Serving (1 /4th)
Calories 340 Calories from Fat 81
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 9g 14%
Saturated Fat 1g 5%
Cholesterol 108mg 36%
Sodium 1109mg 46%
Potassium 795mg 23%
Total Carbohydrates 24g 8%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Sugars 18g
Protein 38g 76%
Vitamin A 53.2%
Vitamin C 70.6%
Calcium 3.6%
Iron 9.7%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

If you tried this Healthy Chinese 5-Spice Chicken Recipe, don’t forget to rate the recipe below and let me know how it went in the comments – I love hearing from you! You can also follow me on InstagramPinterest and Facebook for more deliciousness and behind-the-scenes!

More healthy Asian recipes you will love:

UPDATE NOTE: This post was originally published in August 2014 and republished in October 2019 with an updated recipe, new photos and more tips.

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17 Comments
  1. Yum! This sounds simply wonderful.

    I have been to Vietnam three times, all on a cruise ship, and it’s a country I’ve really enjoyed. I did not want to go the first time, because I had a negative impression left over from our Vietnam war era. But to my surprise I discovered a really wonderful country. The places we saw are all thriving, and the people are very enterprising and industrious (the same qualities I’ve seen in the Vietnamese people who come to the US. We’ve been to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Da Nang, Nha Trang,and Haiphong. The last was accessed from our stop at HaLong Bay, an amazing UNESCO world heritage site which is a must-see. I’m also a big fan of Vietnamese food, and Thai food is right up there with it. While you are at it, Thailand is a wonderful country to visit. A friend and i spent almost 2 months in Bangkok, which was a very special time. Singapore is another great place to visit, as is Malaysia. The country I want to see a lot more of is Indonesia – I love the people and the food. You’ve really got your work cut out for you to do such a food trip, even if you don’t grossly overeat. 🙂

  2. I finally got around to making this and it was a hit for both of us. I served it over stir-fried cauliflower rice, which turned out to be a great idea because it allowed us to have beer with our dinner. 🙂 The one we had was 61 by Dogfish Head, which is an IPA brewed with Syrah grape must (it’s not as bitter as your usual IPA). Perfect accompaniment. Thanks for another great recipe.

  3. Oh wow! This is really delicious! I enjoy the complexity of five spice. Thanks for the inspiration. An excellent, warming dish for a cold Canadian night!

  4. I am a huge fan of homemade healthy stir-fries and I actually even have a 5-Spice mix in my pantry! Will definitely try this one!

  5. Thank you for an absolutely amazing dinner. We had it with udon noodles. I’ve also added snow peas, cauliflower and a Chinese stir fry mix. Even both my kids loved it

  6. Wow this looks sooo delicious. I love the flavors and veggies and colors. It’s so healthy bright and tasty. I must make this soon.

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