General Tso’s Chicken

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General Tso’s Chicken is a favorite Chinese food takeout choice that is sweet and slightly spicy with a kick from garlic and ginger.

General Tso's Chicken is a favorite Chinese food takeout choice that is sweet and slightly spicy with a kick from garlic and ginger.

General Tso’s Chicken was one of my favorite college days late night Chinese food delivery orders. The spicier, zestier less popular cousin to the ever popular Orange Chicken, General Tso’s Chicken is a fantastic option when you’re looking to change up your Chinese food routine.

General Tso’s Chicken can sometimes have recipes that are really complicated and with many different breading steps. I eliminated them going to a simple cornstarch coating, but you can definitely do a thicker typical breading if you would like, like I did in my Orange Chicken recipe. Also, the addition of the hoisin sauce may seem small and you may want to skip it because it isn’t a normal pantry item unless you are used to doing Asian cooking, but the flavor is that specific General Tso’s Chicken flavor that you’ll miss without it.

Looking for some other Chinese food takeout options for dinner? Well aside from the long list of Panda Express menu items on the site, here is a list of delicious meals waiting to be made!

General Tso Chicken Recipe

Some quick notes about the ingredients in the recipe:

  • It can be tempting to swap out items, like white wine vinegar for rice vinegar. Every time you make a substitution it is going to taste less like what you remember ordering out. Rice vinegar is a pretty inexpensive vinegar in the grocery store and an amazing flavor boost for salads as well as many Asian recipes. You won’t regret the purchase.
  • Hoisin sauce is one of my favorite (and I really mean favorite) Asian pantry item. It has an awesome depth of flavor and is sometimes referred to as Asian BBQ sauce. You’ll immediately recognize the flavor when you try it and the one bottle will make many delicious dishes. Don’t skip it.
  • Sesame seeds, you may see me using them as a garnish on a lot of my Asian dishes, this is because presentation counts. I know you probably think “oh man I’m just tired and ready to eat the second I am done cooking” but believe me when I tell you that a little sprinkling of sesame seeds, chopped chives or even red chili pepper will instantly add flair to your meal.

How to make General Tso's Chicken

Recipe

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General Tso's Chicken

4.85 from 110 votes
  • Yield: 4 servings
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Course: Main
  • Cuisine: Chinese
  • Author: Sabrina Snyder
General Tso's Chicken is a favorite Chinese food takeout choice that is sweet and slightly spicy with a kick from garlic and ginger.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound chicken thighs cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • oil for frying
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • For the Sauce:
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

Instructions

Note: click on times in the instructions to start a kitchen timer while cooking.

  1. Toss the chicken thighs with the quarter cup of cornstarch and let sit while you mix the sauce ingredients.
  2. Add the rice vinegar, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, water, sugar and tablespoon of cornstarch in a small bowl and whisk together.
  3. Add the chicken to a pan with the oil and fry until crispy.
  4. Remove chicken from the pan and drain all but a tablespoon of the oil and add the chili flakes, ginger and garlic.

  5. Cook until you smell the garlic (about 30 seconds).

  6. Add in the chicken and toss, then add in the sauce.
  7. Stir for about 30 seconds until thickened.

  8. Serve immediately.

Recipe Video

Nutrition Information

Yield: 4 servings, Amount per serving: 90 calories, Calories: 90g, Carbohydrates: 20g, Protein: 1g, Sodium: 792mg, Potassium: 28mg, Sugar: 9g, Vitamin A: 75g, Vitamin C: 0.5g, Calcium: 5g, Iron: 0.3g

All images and text © for Dinner, then Dessert.

Keyword: Easy General Tso's Chicken
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General Gau's Chicken Recipe

General Tso's Chicken recipe is a favorite Chinese food takeout choice that is sweet and slightly spicy with a kick from garlic and ginger.
General Tso's Chicken is a favorite Chinese food takeout choice that is sweet and slightly spicy with a kick from garlic and ginger.
General Tso's Chicken is a favorite Chinese food takeout choice that is sweet and slightly spicy with a kick from garlic and ginger.

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Comments

  1. My husband big fan of poulet général tao!
    Your recipe is really simple and very goooood taste!!
    I made adjustment according with my taste.
    It came out super delicious!
    For sure, this will be my keeper?

  2. This was very good but I wish the recipe called out for a specific measurement of oil for frying, or directions such as “Use enough oil to cover the chicken”. Also the approximate time that it takes to fry the chicken. (If anyone can answer these two questions, I would appreciate it!) I did not use enough oil and ended up adding more, but my chicken did not ever become brown and crispy. That said, it still turned out well and I will definitely make it again. Thank you for sharing.

    1. I use a cast iron pan and fill it about halfway (covers half the chicken roughly) cook each side aprox. 3-4 mins per side (turn once the side in oil gets brown). Hope that helps.

    2. Note: I know this is all a lot of info, but I wanted to be thorough. I also don’t mean to come off as condescending, if it happens to seem that way at all; I just can’t predict everyones knowledge/skill/comfort levels. Apologies all around.

      For the time question:

      Boneless cubed or chunked chicken shouldn’t take very long. Usually a few minutes per side. Or just a few minutes all together, if deep frying, since the chicken will be submerged.

      Like, if I deep fry whole boneless chicken breasts (don’t really like dark meat, but thigh meat can’t be too different in this method of cooking) it takes around 6 to 8mins tops, at around 350 degrees, depending in the thickness of the chicken. If you cut, or pound, the pieces flatter, or just use smaller breasts, the time gets pushed closer to 6mins because of the increased surface area and/or thinner/smaller meat.

      It’s been a while, but if I make breast nuggets, which is closer to the application here, I think it usually takes 4 to 5 minutes, depending on the size of the chunks, because of the total 360 degree surface area.

      Pan frying would/should double those times. Around those times I mentioned for deep frying, but per side, depending on how small the chicken is cut.

      And, really, always best to test a piece if you’re uncomfortable for any reason. It’s better to be safe than sorry/waste. Just (carefully) pick a piece out and (carefully) cut it open. For whole pieces of chicken, cut into the thickest part or employ a thermometer.

      Overall I’m willing to guess this recipes approach going into this is “when it’s crispy, it’s done,” or something. It really isn’t the greatest approach to be so vague when you don’t know the person reading the recipes skill/comfort levels. Salmonella, or just the texture of biting into raw chicken, really sucks.

      As for the oil question:

      I’m imagining the answer is dependant on the vessel you’re using to fry.

      Take a wok. A wok would pool the oil at the bottom, and may not need as much as you’d use in a skillet. The oil would also get hotter, sooner, because of the more centered point of heat contact. You’d also likely move the chicken (in smaller amounts) more in a wok, leading the hot oil to be basted over the chicken, crisping and cooking the chicken faster -closer to deep frying. But I don’t have much wok experience, so don’t quote me on any of that. Just seems logical, I guess.

      Since a skillet doesn’t allow for that sort of pooling (or movement), you’ll likely need more oil, depending on size, and time depending on thickness/material of the skillet. More on why vessel size matters a little later.

      But you’ll probably always be doing the “per side” method in a skillet, otherwise you’ll just be splashing hot oil around like a maniac; which I already mentioned will increase time.

      Should you deep fry the pieces, the question kind of gets voided out; in this method you should always have enough oil in there to cover the chicken. But the recipe seems to want you to use 1 pan for the whole meal, so I’m guessing it’s asking for a skillet or wok.

      I’d still probably deep fry the chicken, personally, even if it means a few extra things to cleanup. Sure the abundance of oil (that you can reuse for a while, for anyone worried about wasting expensive oil) takes a bit longer to heat up to proper temp, but the overall cook afterwards becomes ridiculously stress free as long as the temperature of the oil is right.

      Two things about getting things crispy, no matter how you’re frying:

      Temperature matters. You want the oil to be hot enough, or else any kind of coating is just going to soak the oil in and make whatever you’re cooking soggy.

      The basics of frying is that once the food hits the oil, the very outer coating should cook pretty much immediately, sealing in most of the moisture being released by the food inside. This way, the meat steams itself in its’s own juices, without being at all oily. The cooked coating creates a barrier to the oil, allowing just the heat of the oil to do the rest of the cooking.

      That’s how things end up being too greasy at, say, restaurants. If they don’t let the oil get hot enough again in between batches, the food suffers for it immensely. Recently I had the worst calamari I’ve ever had at a restaurant, and I’m certain this was why. It was greasy (sopping with oil) and chewy (overcooked). It was clear the oil wasn’t hot enough and they may have increased the cook time to compensate -the oil soaked into the breading, while the squid eventually overcooked. It also didn’t help that it took 25mins to get an order of Calamari that should have taken just a few minutes, tops.

      Thats also why we don’t deep fry meats without a coating. The outside would cook instantly and the water escaping the insides would dry the meat out. It would also be a frothy, sputtering, oil geyser. An outer coating helps retain moistness. In the case of fried turkey on Thanksgiving, which doesn’t get an outter coating, the brine everyone should be putting the turkey through prior to dunking it in hot oil helps the meat retain moisture. This is also why most fried chicken recipes ask for a brines/marinades, even though there is a coating.

      Additionally, and this pretty much depends on the size of which vessel you use, if you overcrowd whatever vessel you use with too much stuff, the overabundance of water escaping the food as it cooks will steam all the surrounding food, rather than letting it fry the outside, and nothing will crisp well before being overcooked. Overcrowding also drops the temperature of the oil by a lot (putting anything into oil lowers the temperature a bit, for a time. It’s unavoidable.), leading to many of the issues mentioned above.

      If you happened to do this in your cook, next time consider frying in smaller batches to ensure this doesn’t happen. It takes longer, but the results should be better. Just be sure you take the time to let the oil come back up to temperature before more food goes into it, to retain consistency and quality.

      What it sounds like happened, based on what you said above, is you heated the oil, started to fry the chicken, saw it wasn’t enough oil, then added more. The chicken had already forced the temperature of the oil down, then the extra added (room temp) oil forced the oil temp down more, making it hard for the chicken to crisp up. The chicken/coating probably absorbed more oil, because it wasn’t hot enough to properly crisp, even though the chicken did eventually cooked through.

      1. I just realized I needed to clarify something:

        When I said “time depending on thickness/material of the skillet.” where I talked about the oil, I meant the time it will take to bring the oil up to temperature, not the cook time.

  3. Recipe came out great. My partner and I both enjoyed it served with sticky white rice. My only suggestion for making it, would be to add a bit more sugar (maybe another tablespoon or 2) and more crushed red pepper. Also, if you like the texture of the chicken to be a bit more crunchy, fry it just a bit longer. Overall great recipe!

  4. It’s Sunday and all Chinese/Asian restaurants are closed where I live. Tried this recipe out and it was AMAZING! Thank you!

  5. Loved it. So easy for someone very busy to make!

    I cook with most of these ingredients so it was easy to make

    I made a couple changes:
    I used apple cider vinegar instead of rice vinegar
    I used dry ginger instead of fresh

    It came out WONDERFUL! I don’t have to order Chinese food anymore- I’ll pair this with my home made lo mein 🙂

    Thank you!!

  6. Loved how this recipe turned out and how easy it is to just do a one step batter on the chicken. I used 2 lbs of chicken, added steamed broccoli in with the sauce at the final step, and tripled the sauce to make plenty for 6-8 servings!

    1. There’s not really an alternative other than making your own. I don’t have a recipe but I’m sure you could find one online to use as a substitute. Good luck!

  7. I have made this multiple times and it has become a favorite in our house. I add cut up red peppers when I add the garlic, ginger, and pepper flakes. Absolutely delicious!!!!

  8. Are you able to use chicken breast instead of thighs?
    I only ask cause trying to use up chicken breast we got from Costco , and love general Tso’s chicken .

    1. I only use chicken breasts in chicken applications (except wings, of course) because I’ve never liked dark meat, and still can’t convince myself to. It’s a texture thing. It’ll be fine.

      People love to go on and on about how thighs are more juicy, blah blah, but I’ve made a lot of chicken and have never come out the other side with dry breasts unless something went disastrously wrong. You just have to know/be comfortable with how to cook it.

      If you’re at all worried about it going in, brine the breasts a bit before cooking. It’ll help retain moisture while frying.

  9. This was a great sauce recipe. I had never made general tso’s sauce before and did a lot of googling. There are so many recipes out there with very little in common. I whipped up this one and one with a tomato sauce base and this won by far. I used gardein chicken chunks, pickled ginger and served with steamed broccoli and yakisoba.

  10. Thank you for sharing your recipe. Didnt have rice vinegar so we used spple cider vinegar instead. Still tasted good. Again, thanks!

  11. I don’t care what anyone says… this recipe is bomb ?. I’m pretty sure if you followed the recipe it’s spot on to general Tso. The chicken wasn’t super crispy but 95% of general Tsos take out isn’t. I doubled the recipe and added more pepper flakes , steamed up some broccoli, and white rice . Even my mother said it’s better then take out! This is delicious I would definitely recommend and will make again

        1. If I’m reading the situation right, I had this issue for a long time, because I live in something of a blackhole for anything good.

          Where I’m stuck at the moment, we only have a 2 small supermarkets and Walmart , and this Walmart sucks. Bad. It doesn’t have really anything useful at all. I ultimately had to start going about a hour away, to one of the closest decent sized cities, to find most of my ingredients for things (funny enough, at their Walmart, which is still better than nothing), including hoisin sauce and rice vinegar.

          It sucks to have to go to such lengths, but I try to rationalize it this way (or else I’d go nuts): these things are pretty much pantry items. It makes having to go so far out of the way to get them just slightly less bothersome, because I don’t really have to do it *that* often.

  12. I made this tonight , and it’s sooo good! I knew I didn’t want it to sweet but a little more spicy, so I didn’t add as much sugar to the sauce, and added a few more chilies and some Serrano peppers. I also think I’ll cut the chicken to smaller bit size pieces. It turned out super good AND my husband approved ! Thanks so much for this recipe!

  13. I had only one problem with this recipe: It wasn’t specific enough about frying the chicken. I’m new to wok cooking and I’ve made several stir fries. So when I saw “fry” the chicken, I didn’t know whether you meant stir fry or deep fry, and there was no quantity of oil specified. Turns out I didn’t use enough (and that wasn’t my only mistake). Despite my neophyte blunders, the sauce was delicious! (My wife thought it was a little sweet.) Bit I wouldn’t change a thing!

    1. You can definitely use it and bake until crispy, but you will want to add some cornstarch to the sauce to thicken it since the popcorn chicken won’t have the flour/cornstarch coating the regular chicken has. Let me know how it turns out!

    1. So sorry it didn’t meet your tastes. I’d love to hear if you alter it in the future, perhaps with a less strong vinegar that might taste better for you.

  14. This my first time trying a Pinterest recipe, I’ve pinned many but this was my first time actually making a recipe. It was delicious and way better than any takeout I’ve had. My daughter is very picky and she loved it. It was really, really good!! This will go into dinner rotation.

    1. Made this for my family a few weeks ago and everyone loved it. Even my picky non meat eating 4 yr old! She loved it so much she requested it for dinner again today! Do you happen to have a crockpot version?

      1. So glad you all enjoyed it! I know how hard it is to please everyone especially when they’re picky. I don’t have a crockpot version yet but I’ll add it to my list to test. Stay tuned.

  15. Did not turn out like General Taos! Chicken did not get crispy! Yes I deep fried it! Never browned? The sauce thickens up nicely and coats the chicken well but is too sweet. It’s ok but not General Taos. ISO another recipe! Thanks

  16. The best I had. Followed the recipe to the letter. Browned chicken in 3/4 inch of oil . Then put on paper towels. Had oven preheated to 300 let cook a little longer to make sure internet yep was good. Cooked sauce then added chicken yum

  17. the crispy chicken part came out great…the sauce sucked big time, to much vinegar, tasted nothing like the order out Chinese. i will look else where for the sauce….dont bother here.

  18. Tried the recipe as is before reading the comments. It was good, but definitely agree that it was too much rice vinegar. I also have to say that the chicken was no longer crispy crunchy after the sauce was added, which was disappointing. Not sure what to do with that.
    BUT. I was still so impressed with the initial results, that I tried again today. Didn’t have any more chicken left but I used tofu! It was unbelievably good. I used 1 tbsp rice vinegar and 1tbsp mirin. Fantastic!

  19. There was quite a bit of prep work to this recipe, but it came together fast and tasted really, really good. Short on rice so I served the chicken over rice for our son and we ate it over rice noodles. My picky son, went back for seconds. My wife says to keep the recipe. I liked it too. Thank you for sharing your recipe Sabrina.

  20. Made this and it was delicious. It’s my first time and my children were impress. Surprise myself.

    The ginger and vinegar was key and brought out the flavor.

    Thanks for your wonderful recipe

  21. My husband and I made this last night together I thought it was amazing . I didn’t really measure anything Button up to the ingredients listed as is. Just want to thank you for posting the recipe. We loved it!

  22. The flavour was good, but I didn’t get the crispy coating or colour that is typical of General Tso’s chicken. Are you supposed to actually deep fry the chicken in the oil? I put just a few tablespoons of oil and the cornstarch just stuck to the bottom. My chicken turned out looking just like a stir-fry chicken rather than a coated, crisp chicken. Any suggestions?

    1. To get the crispy coating, you need to fry the chicken. You want to have the chicken floating in the oil, about 3 inches. Hope this helps!

    2. Just cover the bottom of the pan with sesame seed oil. I didn’t have sesame seed so I used grape seed oil. Make sure to only just cover the bottom or it will be soggy. Coat the chicken with cornstarch in a ziplock bag like it says and let sit. I cooked the chicken on medium heat turning occasionally. Let sit and cook in between watching closely. Cook till desired crispness. This takes about 20 minutes. I served over rice. Excellent recipe.

  23. Tried this recipe – with a few tweaks in the recipe it came out perfect! After reading up on many reviews, I decided to do a combination of all. Instead of 3 tbsp of vinegar, I did 2. Instead of 1/2 a tbsp of red chili flakes, I did 1 tbsp (keep in mind this does make it a tad more spicy so you will have to sprinkle more sugar on your entree when cooking after the sauce is added). I don’t know if this makes a difference but I also used less sodium soy sauce and ate this with rice and broccoli. Overall, loved this recipe, thank you!

  24. Decided to try doing this instead of buying some and I’m SLIGHTLY disappointed… the chicken was crispy and delicious and the sauce worked perfectly but the ginger (maybe vinegar too?) was so overpowering it really ruined it for me. It may be because I didn’t add as much chili flakes. I also made the mistake of pouring all my sauce on my rice so there was no relief! Next time I make this I’ll definitely add a lot less ginger and add more chili flake! Other than the ginger it was a great recipe!