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

5
  • Yield: 4 servings
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Course: Main
  • Cuisine: Chinese
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.

Nutrition Information

Yield: 4 servings, Amount per serving: calories

All images and text © for Dinner, then Dessert, Inc.

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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. This looks so tempting! Thanks for explaining the reasons for the ingredients – I know for some recipes I tend to substitute, but if I know why sesame seeds are in there, I’m much more likely to use them!

  2. General Tso’s Chicken is one of those dishes that I love, but I always feel guilty about! The restaurant versions are so over the top with the breading (as you mention) that the guilt follows me for hours. LOL But your version looks like I can leave my guilt at the door. :o)

  3. Made this weekend and I did not find it to taste very good. I think the vinegar took over. We are used to a much more sweeter version. I will try again maybe just trying to tweak it to our liking. Thank you though. Always willing to try something new.

    1. So sorry, this comment got snared in the spam filter somehow! Did you use rice vinegar? It has a much more muted flavor than most vinegars? If it was still overpowering I would say cut it in half. Hope the second try is more in line with the version you all love 🙂

      1. Hi Sabrina. I had the same issue as Danielle above, as I thought the rice vinegar was a little overpowering (I’m not sure if it was the brand I used?), but I cut the vinegar in half as you suggested the second time and it was spot on! Thanks a bunch! Loved it! 🙂

          1. Yea I just got making this and I’m eating it right now and yea the next time I’m gonna have to cut back on the rice vinegar. Still really good though

  4. This seems like a really good recipe to try. I love Chinese food and I get it delivered to my house all the time. However, I am not the best cook in the world and this might be a good a little difficult for me.

  5. This is mine and my husbands absolute favorite new meal!! It tastes exactly like a meal from PF Changs or Pei Wei. The only adjustments I made were I used a small mount of flour instead of cornstarch when cooking the chicken. Also, I added a dash of sesame oil when cooking the chicken just to add a little more Asian flavor. Making it again tonight!

  6. I made this on Monday night for dinner, and my husband asked if we could make it again. Kids loved it, ticks from all around. Thanks for such and easy recipe to follow. Makes use of those ingredients sitting in my cupboard.

  7. There are 2 different measurements for corn starch, is the second measurement listed the one you use when mixing with the sauces?

    1. Sorry for the confusion – the quarter cup is the one you toss with the chicken and the tablespoon goes in the sauce.

  8. I made this tonight for dinner. It was the first time that I have attempted to make General Tso’s chicken and without question, this was the right one to try. My husband and I both thought it was delicious. For some crunch, I did add some sliced water chestnuts in with the ginger, garlic and chili flakes. The next time I make this, (and there will be a next time,) I will double the sauce… might even add some pineapple chunks for fun. Thank you for posting this easy and tasty recipe…so yummy.

  9. This General Tsos Chicken recipe sounds and looks so delicious. I am glad that you told us about why substitutions do not work because we like to substitute when we are missing an ingredient. Thank you for this and your other recipes.

  10. I LOVE this recipe! This is my second time making this and we absolutely love it. Great recipe, so easy and so similar to take out!! thank you!!

  11. I’m always looking for Chinese takeout recipes because I live in a small town with no good takeout. Most of the time I have really unimpressive results.
    I made this one, and it was delicious!!
    I had read the comments to see what others who made it said, and I have to say I didn’t have any problems with the vinegar flavor – but I like vinegary foods. I accidentally added too much ginger (I have the squeeze-tube kind because we don’t use ginger quickly) but it didn’t ruin the flavor, it was just a bit too much ginger for my liking. My husband was absolutely delighted with the mistake, but next time I’ll just add a little less.
    As I was cooking the chicken I wasn’t pleased with how it didn’t turn golden, like when you use flour. But once the sauce was added, I had forgotten about it because it tasted so good.
    Awesome recipe! We’ll definitely make this again.

  12. This recipe will be regularly used in my household!! Everyone loved it!! Already asked when will I make it again. Delicious! Made exact to recipe, all ingredients as suggested….even the sesame seeds! ? Thanks for sharing this amazing recipe.

    1. You’re so welcome! I know how hard it is to please everyone in the house so I take that as a huge compliment! Thanks for coming back to let me know!

  13. Sabrina,

    Thank you so much for this truly amazing recipe for General Tso Chicken. It’s so incredibly delicious and pretty easy to make. Waaayyy better than what you’ll get with takeout.

    I just always hate cleaning chicken thighs, what a pain, but definitely worth it as much more moist and better flavor than chicken breast.

    I just backed off the added sugar and was still delicious.

    Can’t wait to try more of your recipes!

  14. I’ve made this several with the last batch I used wings (like buffalo wings) it turned out amazing. Definately better than most restaurants.

  15. So I have ground ginger that I was considering subbing for the minced ginger. What do you think? I’m also not sure on the amount of ground ginger. Any info? If not I totally understand. I just have ground ginger already on hand so I’m trying to use it. Thanks!

    1. I prefer using minced but if you’re going to substitute, use 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger in place of 1 tablespoon of minced that the recipe calls for.

      1. Thanks so much for the information. I ended up buying a piece of ginger to mince for this recipe. Not entirely sure what I’m doing but I’m hoping I can just use a peeler to get off the outside “skin” of the ginger and chop the rest into very small pieces. ?

  16. Wow this was AMAZING! I ended up tripling the batch because I had 3lbs of chicken, but because I wasn’t prepared for that, I did run out of rice vinegar and used a little white wine vinegar and I did have to use a little ground ginger but it was still awesome!! The sauce was so thick and sticky it absolutely tasted just like our local Chinese place. Thank you so much for this. Will be making again!!

    1. Awesome! Sounds like you adjusted on the fly pretty well 😉 Thank you so much for coming back to let me know how much you enjoyed it!

  17. My son and I made this tonight and loved it! He’s a college student who gets the take out version almost all the time, and he said this was perfect!

  18. We used chicken breasts instead of thighs and didn’t have ginger. We also used 1/4th tsp of crushed red pepper flakes instead of chilli flakes. OMG SOOOOO GOOD! Hubby and I are huge Chinese food fans and avoid buffets (though love them) for financial and health reasons (I’m trying to lose weight).

    This recipe is seriously so good!!! Only thing I would recommend for people like me who follow directions to a ‘T’ is more clarification. Our observations were: how much oil for frying (we don’t pan fry often), and didn’t know we had to take the chicken out of the pan to cook the garlic adding the chicken later until reading the directions again.

    Awesome recipe though!!!!!!

  19. Made this, as well as Crab Rangoon, and Pork egg Rolls. The nearest restaurant is over 35 minutes away. This is just like delivery, we loved it!

  20. Hi, what am I doing wrong? The first time I made this it was amazing. But since then I’ve been having problems with the sauce becoming too gelatinous. Am I keeping the pan too hot? Or maybe letting the sauce thicken too long? Thanks!

    1. Yes, my guess is letting it thicken too long. Try either cutting back on time or cutting back on cornstarch. The only time I have sauce do that is when too much cornstarch is added. Are you changing out any of the ingredients?

  21. This was delicious. However, I had a lot of chicken so I tripled the sauce recipe. I think next time I will hold back on the pepper flakes. I put in a little less than a tsp. A little too spicy for my liking. Otherwise, the sauce was incredible. I had it over rice and broccoli.

    1. Yay! You can definitely adjust for your taste next time. Thank you so much for taking the time to come back and let me know how much you loved it!

  22. Here’s my attempt at this recipe. Pretty good. The family liked it. The only concern I had was getty the chicken done. Wasnt sure how long to fry it?

    1. So happy to hear your family liked it! For frying, you’re just looking for the chicken to get crispy. Depending on your heat, it would need to fry around 3-4 minutes. Hope this helps!

    1. So glad you loved it! Sorry I don’t have the nutritional facts for recipes on the site but I know there are a lot of free resources on the internet from when I’ve cooked for clients with low calorie diets.

  23. Made this recipe tonight and received nothing but compliments, can’t wait to try another, Asian foods are my families favorite. I plan on cooking my way thru your blog.

  24. I don’t usually comment on recipes, but this turned out perfectly! It has the perfect consistency of take-out Chinese, and great flavor. A good recipe that doesn’t require a ton of unusual ingredients or much time.

  25. Ive literally been obsessing over making chinese take out at home. Your recipes are amazing!! Thanks!! ?

  26. Made this and it was gobbled up by my family. Need to figure out how to make it sweeter and the sauce thinner. But overall…. excellent and super easy to make!

    1. That dish goes very quickly in my house too 🙂 To make the sauce thinner you could use less cornstarch or add water to make it the consistency you’re looking for. As far as the sweetness, I would suggest adding sugar to taste. You can also try my Orange Peel Chicken. It has a much sweeter taste. //dinnerthendessert.com/orange-peel-chicken/

  27. I don’t understand this:

    Add the chicken to a pan with the oil and fry until crispy.
    Drain all but a tablespoon of the oil and add the chili flakes, ginger and garlic.
    Add in the chicken* and toss, then add in the sauce.

    *But isn’t the chicken already in the pan? Are we supposed to drain the oil and take the chicken out and then put it back in?

    1. So sorry for the confusion. I updated the recipe to show that before draining the oil, you’ll want to remove the chicken from the pan as well. Hope this helps. Enjoy!

  28. Every year we get Chinese take-out in honor of my Dad’s birthday. He passed away in 2009. This year we’re making your General Tso’s Chicken and couldn’t be happier!

  29. I made this last night for dinner and it was delicious. I prefer chicken breasts over thighs and used them instead. Not breading the chicken, I am sure reduced the calorie count but did nothing to reduce the flavor. I will cut back a little on the rice vinegar as it was a little too prominent, but overall this was easy and quick to make. It is definitely on my list of go to dinner ideas!! I am glad I found it.

    Rating: 5
  30. Made last night for dinner for me and the boyfriend. I swear he swallowed it and didn’t chew at all lol . But we both loved it and thought was delicious . I love cooking and trying new things and this dish is one of my faves to order when we order out. The chicken was crispy , crunchy and cut into small pieces just like I like it 🙂 thanks for the recipe , I will be making again. I also added in some broccoli . Sadly no 2nds so he was disappointed lol

    Rating: 5
    1. Love it!! So glad you both enjoyed it (though suggest he chew next time, lol)! It’s fun to get out of our comfort zone for meals at times and try something new.

  31. I made this for dinner last night and it is FREAKIN’ good!In fact, it is better than a lot of restaurants!I will definitely make this again and again!

    Rating: 5
  32. SO excited to have found your blog. Just made this and it was amazing!! I do feel a bit ashamed because I did use substitutions. I was out of my usual Asian pantry items, but really wanted this, so I made my own hoisin sauce and used 3 Tb Apple cider vinegar with 3/4 tsp sugar to replace the Rice Vinegar. I also had to leave out the sesame seeds. I also found that when I let the sauce sit with the cornstarch for a while (I left it in the fridge overnight because I prepped the sauce and made the chicken the next day) it thickened better for me than when I made the sauce and chicken on the same day (I actually made this 2 days in a row haha!).Even with the modifications I made, I was SO happy with the result! I can’t thank you enough! I made it with a favorite Chow Mein recipe from another website, but I just saw you have one on this website, so I definitely have to try it! Of course I’m excited to make this recipe with the Rice Vinegar and Sesame seeds, because I’m sure it will be even better, but I’m still easily giving this 5 stars. THANK YOU for sharing!

    Rating: 5
    1. You totally made my day! I’m so glad you made it and then came back to tell me about it! I look forward to seeing you around the site!

  33. Thank you very much for this recipe. It was amazing !!! My sauce was darker than shown On the picture But everybody loved it ??

  34. This recipe was delicious, easy to prepare, and healthy! Thank you. The only thing I did differently was to add a bit of fresh orange zest. The entire family loved this meal and I’ll definitely make it again!

    Rating: 5
  35. Hi there! I’m making this dish for class and I was wondering what you meant by oil for frying. Is that deep frying or more of a stir fry and how much?

    1. Sorry if it was confusing! I usually add about 2 tablespoons of oil for frying, you may need more or less depending on how big your pan is. It’s more of a stir fry. Hope this helps!

  36. My Husband made this and we loved it. He is big in to different Asian foods. We really enjoyed the balance. It isn’t too sweet and the rice vinegar gives a pleasant kick. We had to use ground ginger because it was what we had on hand. A quick google search said to use 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger to 1 tablespoon of fresh minced and that worked really well. I’m not sure how it could be much better so I look forward to trying this with fresh minced ginger.

    Rating: 5
  37. I’m not used to using chicken thighs. What’s the difference between using thighs as opposed to breasts? I tried General Tso’s for the first time a few days ago, and I’m ready for more. ?

    1. Chicken thighs have a higher fat content so the meat stays really moist while cooking. I think it has a deeper flavor to it also and I tend to use thighs for most of my recipes.

  38. Made this for dinner it was amazing, wonderfully delicious, crunchy full of robust flavor omg.  I double the recipe to have left overs and I tweaked the sugar content needed less than what was called for.  So I double it called for 6 tablespoons I cut it to 4 tablespoons was great not to sweet. I wanted to taste Chile, garlic, ginger, soy sauce mission accomplished. 

    Rating: 5
  39. Fabulous recipe and easy as pie to follow, did all my prep work first so that I could just man the wok and let it stay super hot. I only had dark soy and added a couple splashes of fish sauce. Awesome!

    Rating: 5
  40. Your recipe sounds delicious and easy. My question is I love general tso chicken but always order not spicy because my stomach doesn’t like it lol, would I delete the red pepper and the hoisin sauce ? Thanks can’t wait to make this.

    1. You can either omit the red chili flakes or at least cut the amount used in half. Hope you enjoy it!

  41. I made this last night. In hindsight, I know that I cooked the chicken longer than I should have because I had no idea how long to cook it so better safe than sorry. You said in the recipe ‘fry until crispy’ and mine was literally crispy on the inside as well. Can you provide a range of time that would be safe for 1 inch chunks just to give an idea?My biggest problem was that it was very. VERY dark (almost black). I can’t understand how the sauce is orangy in your pictures with ingredients like hoisin and soy sauces. I read all the comments above and no one is questioning that part and for the life of me, I can’t figure out what I’ve done wrong.

      1. Thanks for the timing. I’ve made this a couple more times since my initial question but everytime it comes out black due to the hoisin and soy sauces. I can’t figure out how yours is orange…any ideas?

  42. Made this last night for dinner and it was absolutely delicious. I doubled the sauce and changed some of the measurements but definitely a keeper for my recipe box.

    Rating: 5
  43. I am a 25 yo man who just graduated college and I can say that I have had a lot of chinese food in the past 4 years. Being broke and still in love with chinese food, I decided to try out this recipe, slightly skeptical that it would be any good because of my past experiences trying to make asian cuisine.I have to say, without a doubt this is as good if not better than what I have had at some of the restaurants in town. Thank you for posting the recipe, it is GREAT!

    Rating: 5
  44. I made this, and remember in the commentary there was mention of sesame seeds. After going shopping for all the ingredients and serving the dish. I then remembered there was meant to be the seeds, but there were not on the ingredients list. 😉

  45. This was pretty good and I’m sure it will be even better once I have the exact ingredients as you advised. It had the good full bodied flavors of the Chinese herbs and spices and wasn’t bland or watery like so many other Chinese food recipes I’ve tried by folks with food blogs. And the sauce was satisfyingly sticky.

    I substituted ground ginger for the fresh, and used that other vinegar you mentioned, which I shall not name. But your recipe was excellent even with my slight alterations.

    The only thing I would do differently is add more garlic, but that is a personal taste preference.

  46. I tried this last night! Took the advice of some others and only used half the serving of rice vinegar also added a bit of sesame oil with my vegetable oil when frying the chicken. My chicken came out darker than the pictures due to the soy sauce amount. Definitely a good recipe! Will just use less soy sauce next time.

  47. My family really enjoys general tso’s chicken. Can this dish be made with beef?Also, I absolutely love your recipes. You make me want to cook.

    Rating: 5
  48. I made this last night. It was very good and easy. I browned the garlic,the temp was a bit high, and thought I had lost it, but it was very good. I used a bit more red pepper than was called for but I like a bit of heat. An easy recipe that tolerates slight modification well.

  49. FIrst time fixing this recipe…I used Crushed Red Pepper, Ground Ginger & Garlic Powder-ingredientsI had on hand. No hoisin sauce…Delicious!!

    Rating: 5
  50. I like this recipe it was really good and super easy thank you for posting it. Personally, I enjoy pineapple on my General Tso’s chicken so I added some pineapple juice and a little extra cornstarch. but it was good even before that. I would recommend this recipe. thank you for posting it.

  51. This taste Exactly like take out!!!!!!! My family loved it. I omitted the chili flakes, because the children do not like spicy, and it was still very satisfying.

    Rating: 5
  52. Look up a recipe for tempura batter with corn starch, flour, and egg instead of following their cornstarch directions. Plain cornstarch does not work. The sauce is great. I cooked it separately in a saucepan so I could toss and coat the chicken lightly

  53. I made this last night and it was absolutely delicious! I added some red bell pepper. I’ve been looking for an easy tasty recipe and am so glad to have found this one. Thank you for sharing! My whole family loved it.

  54. Hi! I’ve been eyeballing this recipe for a while now and I finally plan on making it! However, I was curious if you’d recommend using jarred ginger? I would hate to buy fresh ginger and have it go to waste… unless you have a suggestion for storing it? I am so excited to try it!

    1. I’ve never used the jar ginger because we always keep fresh ginger around. If you decide to try fresh, you can always peel, mince or grate the unused portion and freeze it in a freezer bag to use for later recipes as to not have any go to waste. It’ll last up to 6 months in stored properly. I hope you enjoy the recipe!

    1. Changing it or omitting it will change the flavor of this dish. Knowing that, you can substitute allspice, cinnamon or nutmeg.

  55. Alterations… I used chicken breast tenders and I used chicken stock in place of the water. I also doubled the sauce to have enough for the rice. Everything thing else is exact. It was spicy, but not overly if you like spice. Would definitely make again!

  56. This is a short cut, and not the true Chinese restaurant way of doing it. I manage a Chinese restaurant and kitchen for many years. The first thing chefs do is make a cornstarch slurry in which they dip the chicken into and fry ahead of time. If you pay close attention as to how they do the chicken, they go into a fridge and pull out chicken that is already pre cooked without the brown sauce seasoning. Now, the second thing that the chefs have on hand is a bowl with a corn starch slurry. This is used with all of their dark and light sauce dishes. When the meat and vegetables are put in the pan with heat, the ad the dark sauce, then the corn starch slurry and cook. As the heat rises the corn starch slurry thickens and mixes with the sauce and sticks to the sauce and vegetables. That is how it get sticky and how everything adheres to the vegetables after being cooked. Once it is cooked completely, there should be very little runny sauce on the plate. Watch the chefs next time you order at your local Chinese restaurant. Watch when they take their ladle and dip it in a pan of white slurry. This is the corn starch slurry used in cooking. Chinese are all about prep. They prep most everything before cooking. They even do prep work during slow times. Everything is cut, pre cooked, etc. before making the dinner. I hope this clears everything about how Chinese dinners are really made. I have the recipe for their sweet and sour sauce they used when serving their sweet and sour chicken if you like.

    Thank you

  57. I made this last night. I followed the recipe as is. The only different thing I did was double the sauce. It turned out incredible! Everyone loved it. Thank you!

  58. General’s chicken quite good,but your not telling us how you get the classic color orange.Please Please share this information in the coloring of the chicken . In restaurants the generals chicken is orange has you have showing in your picture. Do you use food coloring please let us know . Thank You Tree

    1. No secrets here. I used exactly what is in the recipe card. It could be that our coloring differs because of the brands we used are different than yours??

  59. Hi, Sabrina. This recipe looks delicious! Is this version spicy at all? And if so what ingredients make it so? I love spicy food and would love to make this with an extra spicy flair.

    1. It does have a slightly spicy kick to it but if you’d like more, you can add more ginger and red chili flakes to increase the spiciness. Enjoy!

  60. I’ve always been a little Chinese cooking illiterate. However, this recipe was really easy and turned out amazing. I will make it again for sure.

    Rating: 5
  61. This recipe was straight ?. To say it tastes like the takeout would be an insult, it’s 1000 times better.

    Thanks so much!!! Its going into my favorites book.