Homemade General Tso’s chicken features golden and crispy chicken bits drenched in a thick glossy sauce that balances sweet, tangy, and spicy flavors.
It tastes exactly like the Panda Express takeout favorite, minus all the additives and laundry list of ingredients.
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What is General Tso’s chicken?
General Tso’s chicken is a staple dish in Chinese American cuisine. It features battered and fried crispy chicken pieces tossed in a rich-flavored sweet-spicy sticky sauce. You can also make it vegetarian by using cauliflower instead.
Why you’ll love this recipe
- Better than takeout. Like honey walnut shrimp, making this dish at home is certainly healthier, more budget-friendly, and definitely more delicious.
- Crispy chicken bites. The flour and cornstarch coating provides maximum crispiness, even when the chicken is drenched in the sweet-spicy sauce.
- Perfect with rice and noodles. Once you have made the crispy chicken, you can serve it with noodles or plain rice for an easy dinner or lunch. You could even have it after some egg drop soup just to be fancy.
Like most general Tso’s chicken recipes, this one is easy to customize, and you can adjust the heat level to suit your preferences!
Like any Asian dish, this one calls for a few Asian cooking staples too. Here’s everything you’ll need for the crispy fried chicken and the delicious sweet-spicy sauce.
- Chicken. Skinless and boneless chicken breast cut into 1-inch cubes.
- Flour. To dredge the chicken before frying it.
- Cornstarch. Mixing cornstarch with flour yields a crispier and lighter coating for the chicken.
- Eggs. Room-temperature beaten eggs to help the flour mixture stick to the chicken.
- Salt and pepper. To taste.
- Oil. Any cooking oil with a high smoke point will work.
For the general Tso’s sauce:
- Honey. Give the sauce a sweet flavor and a sticky finish.
- Brown sugar. To deepen the sweet flavor of the sauce.
- Soy sauce. To enrich the sauce with the umami flavor.
- Hoisin sauce. It imparts a salty, tangy, and sweet flavor and further deepens the taste of the sauce.
- Red wine vinegar. Rice vinegar will work too.
- Chili sauce. To add some heat. You can adjust the amount of chili sauce you use depending on how spicy you want the dish to be.
- Water. If you have chicken or vegetable broth, you can use that too.
- Cornstarch. To thicken the sauce and give it a glossy sheen.
How to make general Tso’s chicken
Making this American Chinese dish is easy if you follow the instructions. Here is the step-by-step process of making General Tso’s chicken.
Step 1 – Fry the chicken
In one bowl, whisk together the eggs and salt, and pepper. In another bowl, mix flour with cornstarch. Dip the chicken pieces in the egg mixture first and then dredge them in the flour mixture.
Heat oil in a deep frying pan. Once hot, add the chicken in batches and fry for around 5 minutes until golden brown.
Step 2 – Cook the sauce
Start cooking the sauce by adding all ingredients to a saucepan except the cornstarch and a tablespoon of water. Bring the sauce to a simmer. Mix the cornstarch with the remaining water and add the slurry to the sauce.
Bring the sauce to a boil. Keep stirring the sauce until it thickens.
Step 3 – Toss the chicken with sauce and serve
Pour the sauce over the fried chicken bits. Garnish with chopped green onion and sesame seeds, and serve.
What does General Tso’s chicken taste like?
The flavor of this popular Chinese American dish is rather complex. It is a combination of sweet, savory, tangy, and mildly spicy flavors. It is similar to Hunan chicken, except the latter isn’t battered or deep-fried beforehand.
Tips to make the best recipe
- Prep your workspace. You will need to be moving fast for this recipe. Have all ingredients at hand to make sure you don’t forget anything.
- Adjust the flavor of the sauce. Give the sauce a try to make sure it is well-balanced. If you are using low-sodium soy sauce, you may need to add some salt to the sauce too (we often do this when we make our lettuce wraps!).
- Don’t let the chicken pieces stick to each other. Aside from frying the chicken in small batches, it is also important to spread the chicken pieces apart to ensure they don’t stick to each other.
- Serve immediately. For the crispiest chicken bites, serve the dish immediately. The sauce makes the chicken less crispy as the dish sits around longer.
To store. Transfer leftover chicken into an airtight container and refrigerate it for up to 3 days.
To freeze. You can freeze General Tso’s chicken for up to 3 months.
More Asian stir fry recipes to try
- Black pepper Angus steak
- Hunan shrimp
- Empress chicken
- Peanut butter chicken
- Black pepper chicken
- Hunan beef
- Pad see ew
Frequently asked questions
To bring back the crispiness of the fried chicken, reheat it in the oven preheated to 350F degrees. Reheat the chicken bites for around 10 minutes covered and for 5 minutes uncovered.
You can also reheat General Tso’s chicken on the stove and air fryer. Reheating it in the microwave is not recommended, as the chicken will turn out soggy.
General Tso’s chicken is only mildly hot. The sweet and tangy flavors are more prominent in this dish.
You can use skinless and boneless chicken thighs for cooking this dish. Note that chicken thighs are higher in calories and fat.
No, this recipe is not gluten-free, as it contains all-purpose flour. Soy sauce and hoisin sauce also contain gluten. To make this dish gluten-free, substitute these ingredients with their gluten-free alternatives.
If you want to reduce the added oil, feel free to bake the battered chicken pieces instead of frying them. Simply bake them in the oven at 200C/400F for 20 minutes, flipping halfway through.
General Tso’s chicken recipes typically contain around 272 calories per serving.
General Tso’s Chicken
- In one bowl, mix together the eggs, salt, and pepper. In a shallow bowl, combine the cornstarch and flour and mix until combined.
- Dip the chicken in the egg mixture, followed by the flour mixture, until all the chicken is used up.
- Add 2-3 inches of oil into a large pot. Once it reaches 350F, add a single layer of chicken and fry for 4-5 minutes or until golden brown. Repeat the process until all the chicken is fried up.
- Make the sauce by adding all the ingredients, except cornstarch and one tablespoon of water, into a small saucepan. Bring it to a simmer. Whisk the cornstarch with the remaining tablespoon of water.
- Pour the cornstarch slurry into the sauce and bring it to a boil while stirring for 1-2 minutes until it thickens.
- Toss the sauce over the chicken and sprinkle with green onions and sesame seeds.
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