General Tso’s Chicken

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The most requested Chinese take out menu option is General Tso’s chicken in America. A breaded chicken recipe that is sweet with a thick sauce, this recipe is easy to make and the whole family will love it.

We’ve been recreating our favorite Chinese take out dishes around here lately and we’re not complaining. Kung Pao chicken, teriyaki chicken, and this General Tso’s chicken are Chinese inspired dishes that are a must add to your meal plan. Don’t forget our Asian inspired chicken wings for an appetizer too!

closeup of a plate of general tos's chicken with green onion

What is General Tso’s chicken?

It’s an American Chinese takeout dish that is made with breaded chicken thigh (or chicken breast) pieces that is then fried to create a crunchy chicken bite. It is then tossed in a sauce with sweet and tangy flavors made of ginger, garlic, and staple Chinese sauce ingredients.

Try an authentic General Tso’s Chicken Recipe.

Is General Tso’s Chicken Spicy?

Some people like a nice kick in their sauce, and if this is you, be sure to add in chili pepper, chili paste or red pepper flakes for some heat. If you’ve ever ordered General Tso’s chicken from a restaurant you may have noticed that there is a pepper symbol on the left of the title. This lets you know that it can be a spicy dish, which you can easily tell them you don’t want your chicken spicy (which I do).

a plate of general tso's chicken and rice on a table

Is General Tso’s Chicken gluten free?

When made at home, general tso’s is gluten free if you don’t add flour. This recipe is gluten free since we are using corn starch and no flour for frying the chicken.

General Tso’s Sauce Ingredients

  • soy sauce
  • Hoisin sauce
  • rice wine vinegar (or sherry)
  • water
  • ginger paste (or fresh grated ginger)
  • fresh minced garlic
  • brown sugar & granulated sugar
  • red pepper flakes (for heat, if desired)
  • sesame oil
  • onion powder
  • cornstarch (to thicken the sauce)

How To Make General Tso’s Chicken

To make this chicken we’re first going to coat the chicken.

  • Mix up the dry ingredients for the chicken coating, then toss with the bite size chicken thigh pieces.
flour and seasonings in a glass bowl on a table
floured chicken pieces in a glass bowl
  • Let the chicken sit for 5-10 minutes before frying it in batches until it’s golden brown. This will help the coating stick to the chicken. The chicken should be cooked through during frying since you’ll just warm it in the sauce at the end.
pieces of chicken in a frying pan

You could also deep fry the chicken if you’d like in a deep fryer.

  • Place the fried chicken wire rack with paper towels underneath to catch oil drips. This will help the chicken keep its crispy coating.
  • Then mix up the sauce in a bowl.
general tso's sauce in a bowl with a whisk
  • Mix the sauce ingredients together and cook in the skillet. This is going to take about 5 minutes to thicken. Watch it closely and mix often so that it doesn’t burn as it thickens.
  • Then add the chicken into the skillet and toss gently to heat through.
fried chicken in sauce in a pan

What to serve with General Tso’s Chicken

Typically this chicken is served over a bed of white rice and a side of steamed broccoli. We also love to add freshly chopped chives or scallions and sesame seeds as a garnish.

Green beans and roasted asparagus would also make great side vegetables to serve with this chicken recipe.

overhead view of a plate of general tso's chicken and rice
overhead view of a plate of general tso's chicken and rice

General Tso’s Chicken

5 from 4 votes
The most requested Chinese take out menu option in America is General Tso's chicken. An easy meal to make, it's a recipe with lightly coated chicken in a thick, sweet sauce.
Servings 6
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients
 

For the chicken:

  • 2 to 2 1/2 pounds boneless chicken thighs trimmed and cut in bite size pieces
  • 3/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ginger
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • oil for frying sesame oil or vegetable oil

For the sauce:

  • ¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar*
  • 3/4 cup water**
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more for extra spice)
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ginger paste
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder

Instructions
 

  • Place the chicken pieces in a medium bowl.
  • Mix the cornstarch, salt, ginger, garlic powder and pepper in a small bowl. Then add this to the chicken and mix well to combine, completely covering the chicken. Allow the chicken to rest for at least 5 minutes while the oil heats.
  • Add a ½ inch of oil to a frying pan and warm it over medium high heat.
  • When the oil is hot, in 2 batches, shake the excess flour off of the chicken and fry chicken until the outside is golden brown and the chicken is cooked through (165ºF). Remove the chicken from the frying pan and place on a wire rack (with paper towels underneath) so that it stays crisp. Repeat with the second batch of chicken.
  • Wipe out the pan you fried the chicken in and allow it to cool off slightly.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together sauce ingredients.
  • Pour the sauce into the frying pan and place over medium-high heat. Cook and stir until the sauce is thickened, about 5 minutes. Watch it closely so it doesn't burn. Once it starts to thicken it will thicken quickly.
  • Add in the chicken. Toss to coat and heat through.
  • Serve over rice and garnish with green onions and sesame seeds if desired.
  • Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Notes

*There are different strengths of vinegar. The bottle should read diluted to 4.1% acidity.
**You can also use chicken broth in place of water, but if you do, I recommend unsalted chicken broth.
Use boneless skinless chicken breast or thighs in this recipe.
Refer to the article above for more tips and tricks.
The calories shown are based on the recipe serving 6, with 1 serving being ⅙ of the recipe. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the calories shown are just an estimate. **We are not dietitians and recommend you seek a nutritionist for exact nutritional information. The information in the nutrition box are calculated through a program and there is room for error. If you need an accurate count, I recommend running the ingredients through your favorite nutrition calculator.**

Nutrition

Calories: 561kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 32g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 14g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 185mg | Sodium: 985mg | Potassium: 441mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 248IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 31mg | Iron: 2mg
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Chinese
Calories 561
Keyword chicken dinner, chinese cuisine, easy dinner recipe, fried chicken, stiry fry

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About Julie Clark

I'm Julie Clark, CEO and recipe developer of Tastes of Lizzy T. With my B.A. in Education and over 30 years of cooking and baking, I want to teach YOU the best of our family recipes.

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Janet
3 years ago

5 stars
Just made this recipe and I love it! Tasty, quick, and easy! A new favorite!

Cristina
1 year ago

What kind of oil do you use to fry the chicken?