Uncovering the Truth: Is Sesame Chicken Gluten Free?

According to Dr. James, gastroenterologist, “Sesame chicken is generally gluten-free.” 

As someone who loves Asian food, I was thrilled to learn that sesame chicken (1) is usually safe…

… for people with gluten sensitivity.

This flavorful appetizer typically combines…

… chicken, egg, cornstarch, sesame seeds, sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar and…

… honey – none of which contain gluten.

While cross-contamination is possible if dredged in flour before frying, when…

… made properly, sesame chicken’s sweet and savory flavors make for a delicious gluten-free meal.

Keep reading to find out more about sesame chicken!


Is sesame chicken gluten free?

Yes, sesame chicken can be gluten-free if prepared with gluten-free ingredients

Sesame chicken made with gluten-free soy sauce and other suitable ingredients…

… can provide a delicious gluten-free option.

Is the Chicken Itself Gluten-Free?

YouTube video
Credits: One Lovely Life

When developing a recipe for gluten-free (2) sesame chicken, the first key question… 

…many folks ask is – can chicken be considered gluten-free? The answer is a resounding YES! 

As anyone who’s ever cooked chicken knows, it’s one of the most beloved and versatile proteins around.

Made up of essential amino acids and easy to prepare, chicken does not contain a trace of gluten.

Gluten is a protein composite found in specific grains like wheat, barley, and rye.

Since chickens don’t eat wheat or barley as part of their natural diets, their meat contains zero gluten.

Skinless, boneless chicken breasts and thighs are therefore perfectly suitable… 

…as the high-protein foundation for a gluten-free sesame chicken dish.

What about Breading and Sauce?

is sesame chicken gluten free 2

While the chicken alone is an obvious gluten-free choice, extra care must be taken… 

…with the breading and classic sesame sauce often used in sesame chicken preparations.

Most breadcrumbs and panko products found on grocery shelves contain wheat as their primary grain ingredient.

Wheat naturally contains gluten, so these breadings are off-limits.

Similarly, traditional sesame chicken sauces rely heavily on soy sauce as a key flavor booster.

However, soy sauce is produced through a fermentation process involving soybeans, wheat, and salt.

That means even naturally brewed soy sauces will introduce gluten into the finished dish.

To work around these issues, you’ll need gluten-free alternatives for breading… 

…the chicken pieces as well as reconstituting the signature sesame sauce.

With some ingredient adjustments and know-how, it’s totally possible to develop a version… 

…of the takeout classic that even gluten-sensitive folks can enjoy.

How to Make Gluten Free Sesame Chicken

is sesame chicken gluten free 3

Making tasty gluten free sesame chicken at home is easy to do! 

With a few simple substitutions, you can enjoy the crispy chicken and flavorful sauce… 

…just like your favorite takeout, but in a gluten free way.

Gluten Free Breading

To get that crispy coating without using wheat flour, try these gluten free breading options:

  • Use a gluten free flour blend made with rice flour, tapioca starch and potato starch for dredging the chicken. Bob’s Red Mill or King Arthur flour blends work perfectly. The chicken comes out with a light, crispy crust.
  • Crushed gluten free crackers like Mary’s Gone Crackers made from rice and quinoa make an easy gluten free breadcrumb replacement. Pulse them in the food processor into fine crumbs.
  • For super crispy chicken, dredge in almond flour seasoned with paprika and garlic powder before coating with egg and gluten free breadcrumbs. The almond flour seals in the juices.

Gluten Free Sauce

An aromatic sauce pulls it all together. Make it gluten free by:

  • Using coconut aminos instead of soy sauce adds a depth of flavor without gluten or soy. Tamari works too.
  • Thicken the sauce slightly with arrowroot powder instead of cornstarch. Arrowroot prevents clumping.
  • Infuse the sauce with fresh ginger, garlic, sesame oil and rice vinegar for that restaurant taste. A touch of honey balances it out.
  • For a spicy kick, add red pepper flakes. They provide a subtle heat without overpowering the other flavors.

Serve the saucy chicken with rice or riced cauliflower.

Top with toasted sesame seeds and scallions for an extra pop of flavor and crunch.

With these simple tweaks, you can enjoy takeout-style sesame chicken gluten free!

Cooking Method

Getting that perfectly crispy gluten free breaded chicken is simple:

  • After dredging the chicken in the gluten free flour blend, really coat it well in the egg wash and then press into the breadcrumb mixture. Use your hands to pack on the crumbs thickly.
  • Pan fry the chicken in batches in vegetable oil on medium-high heat. Don’t overcrowd the pan. Cook a few pieces at a time for even browning.
  • Fry until the coating is crispy and golden brown. Flip halfway through. The chicken is done when it reaches 165°F internal temperature.
  • Toss the crispy gluten free chicken pieces into the prepared sesame sauce. The sauce will coat the chicken for finger-lickin’ flavor.

Tips for Best Results

is sesame chicken gluten free 4

Follow these tips for the perfect gluten free sesame chicken every time:

  • Use an abundance of breadcrumbs to coat each piece of chicken. Really press them into the chicken so they adhere. This gives you that ultra crispy texture you want.
  • Fry in smaller batches. Crowding the pan steams the chicken instead of crisping.
  • Don’t let it sit! Serve the chicken right away before the gluten free coating loses its crunch.
  • Use boneless thighs for more tender, juicy chicken that holds up well in the sauce. Coat them the same way you would chicken breasts.

With a few simple tweaks, you can make restaurant-quality gluten free sesame chicken… 

…at home that’s even better than takeout!

Frequently Asked Questions

What ingredients are needed for a gluten free sesame chicken recipe?

A basic gluten free sesame chicken recipe usually includes boneless skinless chicken breasts or chicken thighs, vegetable oil, gluten free soy sauce or coconut aminos, honey sesame, sauce ingredients like gluten free orange, brown sugar, corn starch, red pepper, red pepper flakes, garlic cloves, minced garlic, black pepper, and toasted sesame oil.

Gluten free flour and tapioca starch can be used to coat the chicken if it is fried.

Stir frying the chicken coated in the sauce over medium high heat is a common prep method.

How do you make honey sesame chicken?

To make honey sesame chicken, first cook chicken tenders or chicken coated in… 

…vegetable oil over medium high heat.

Add the chicken to a stir fry or sheet pan.

In a separate bowl, combine honey, sesame, gluten free orange, soy sauce… 

…or coconut aminos, brown sugar, corn starch, garlic cloves, black pepper to make a sauce.

Pour the sauce over the cooked chicken and mix until fully coated.

Serve over brown rice or enjoy as a dairy free and soy free meal.

What are some variations on sesame chicken?

In addition to traditional sesame chicken, gluten free orange chicken and…

… crispy sesame chicken are similar tasty options.

For orange chicken, use orange juice instead of soy sauce in the sauce.

For crispy sesame chicken, coat boneless skinless chicken breasts…

… in a mixture of gluten free flour and tapioca starch before frying in vegetable oil…

… over high heat until crispy.

Baked sesame chicken is a healthier variation that eliminates deep frying and pairs well with fried rice.


The verdict is in – sesame chicken can easily be made 100% gluten free at home! 

By using gluten free substitutions for the breading and thickening the sauce… 

…with arrowroot instead of wheat-based cornstarch, you can recreate that crispy, flavorful takeout dish.

Coat the chicken in a flavorful gluten free breading blend, fry until…

… golden brown and crispy, then toss it in a sweet and savory sesame sauce infused…

… with ginger and garlic.

Serve it over rice or cauliflower rice for a complete meal.

With a few simple swaps, the whole family can enjoy this gluten free version.

Try the recipe and let us know how it turns out! 

What’s your favorite takeout food to make it gluten free?


  1. https://kodgav.co.uk/en-gb/blog/are-sesame-seeds-gluten-free#:~:text=While%20they%20remain%20a%20good,gluten%20found%20in%20cereal%20grains.
  2. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/gluten/#:~:text=Gluten%20is%20a%20protein%20naturally,the%20dough%20would%20rip%20easily.

Related Articles

Was this helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!