General Tso’s Chicken

4 servings
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

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

If you love the sweet and tangy flavors of General Tso’s Chicken, you’re going to relish the flavors of Garlic Hunan Beef, the tanginess of PF Chang’s Orange Peel Chicken, and the Spicy Tangerine Beef with Carrot Ribbons.

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 that can be found at Chinese restaurants and is a favorite late night Chinese takeout. 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.

Other General Tso’s Chicken recipes can sometimes have cooking directions that are really complicated and with many different breading steps. These are all eliminated by going to a simple cornstarch coating. You can definitely do a thicker typical breading if you would like, like what is done in our 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.

When you’re ready to serve your chicken, you’ll want to make sure you have plenty of white rice, brown rice, or a noodle dish, like Chow Mein

How to Make General Tso’s Chicken

This is such an easy dish to make, and is so flavorful, your family will want you to make it time and time again! Check it out! 

  • Step One: Coat chicken in the cornstarch mixture. Let each piece of chicken sit while you make the sauce. 
  • Step Two: Mix the sauce together and set to the side to thicken while you cook the chicken and get a crispy coating. 
  • Step Three: Fry the chicken in batches in a deep skillet on medium-high heat until they are golden brown on all sides. Set to the side in a colander or other strainer and place that on paper towel to collect the dripping oil. Don’t put the crispy chicken directly on paper towel or it will get too soggy. 
  • Step Four: With most of the oil drained from the pan, put in the fresh ginger and garlic and pepper flakes and cook on medium heat until fragrant. 
  • Step Five: Finally, add in the chicken pieces and then the sauce mixture. Mix together until it’s steaming hot. Then serve hot with steamed broccoli. Enjoy! 

More Chinese Chicken Dinners

Frequently Asked Questions

Who was General Tso and why is this chicken named after him?

The legend says that there was an actual General from Hunan Province in China who was well known as a general and military leader. An immigrant from China created the dish in New York in the 1950’s where it was popularized and spread across Chinese restaurants around the USA. He named the dish in honor of that famous general.

What does General Tso’s Chicken taste like?

As a Chinese-American dish, General Tso’s Chicken is prepared by frying chicken and coating it with a sweet and salty glaze made from brown sugar, garlic, soy sauce, and pepper flakes. The tang of ginger and Hoisin sauce in our recipe is irresistible and delicious! 

What is the difference between Orange Chicken and General Tso’s Chicken?

General Tso’s Chicken and Orange Chicken are both distinct Chinese stir fries that offer unique flavors. General Tso’s Chicken is made with golden fried chicken pieces in a sweet, salty, and sticky sauce, which has added savory flavors from soy sauce, chili flakes, and Hoisin sauce. Orange chicken is characterized by its sweet flavor and orange zest. 

General Tso Chicken Recipe

Key Ingredients in General Tso’s Chicken

Everything can easily be found at your local grocery store or Asian market. 

  • Chicken: We’re using boneless, skinless chicken thighs in the recipe. But you can use skinless chicken breasts,  or even chicken tenders. 
  • Rice Vinegar: 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. Rice wine vinegar works too. 
  • Hoisin Sauce: This is a staple Asian pantry item. It has an awesome depth of flavor and is sometimes referred to as Asian BBQ sauce. This fermented soybean-based sauce is traditionally made with Chinese five spice blend for a distinctive flavor beloved by many. 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: Presentation counts. A little sprinkling of sesame seeds, chopped chives or even red chili pepper will instantly add flair to your meal.
  • Sugar: You can use any kind of sugar. We are using brown sugar in our recipe. 
  • Oil: You can use vegetable oil, peanut oil, or canola oil for deep frying your chicken. You can also add a tablespoon of sesame oil while frying for extra flavor. 

Substitutions for General Tso’s Chicken

  • Rice Vinegar: It can be tempting to swap out items, like white vinegar or white wine vinegar for rice vinegar. Every time you make a substitution it is going to taste less like what you remember ordering out.
  • Hoisin Sauce: This distinctive semi-sweet sauce shouldn’t be substituted, for best taste. However, if it simply cannot be found, you can get a similar flavor with plum sauce, tamari sauce, or garlic teriyaki. 
  • Cornstarch: This thickener can be substituted with arrowroot powder, tapioca starch, or wheat flour.
  • Pepper Flakes: If the chili is too spicy, you can easily keep it out without compromising flavor. If you would like more spice, just add double the chili flakes, or substitute with Sriracha which is a spicy sauce.

Air Fryer General Tso’s Chicken

  • Step One: You can easily cook the chicken in the air fryer. This is actually a great way to cook the chicken to a perfect crisp while working on another dish for the meal. Using this method, prepare the chicken by coating in the cornstarch. In a single layer in the air fryer, spray the top with a light coat of cooking oil and cook on 400ºF for 8 minutes. Set a time and flip the chicken over at the 4 minute mark to cook both sides. Cook in batches to ensure a crispy chicken. 
  • Step Two: While the chicken cooks, modify the recipe only in frying the garlic and ginger and pepper flakes and then adding in the already made sauce. Stir it up and let it thicken and get nice and hot. 
  • Step Three: Once the chicken is done cooking, you can add it directly to the sauce and serve hot! 

More Yummy Chicken Recipes

How to Store General Tso’s Chicken 

  • Serve: Serve hot and don’t keep the chicken out for more than two hours. 
  • Store: Store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Reheat on the stove. 
  • Freeze: This is a great meal to freeze. Store extras in the freezer for up to 6 months in an airtight container. Thaw overnight when ready and reheat until completely hot. 
How to make General Tso's Chicken

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General Tso’s Chicken

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


For the Chicken

  • 1 pound chicken thighs , cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • vegetable oil , for frying

For the Sauce

To Finish

  • 1 tablespoon ginger , minced
  • 2 cloves garlic , minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes


  • Toss the chicken thighs with the quarter cup of cornstarch and let sit while you mix the sauce ingredients.
  • Add the rice vinegar, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, water, sugar and tablespoon of cornstarch in a small bowl and whisk together.
  • Add the chicken to a pan with the oil and fry until crispy.
  • Remove chicken from the pan and drain all but a tablespoon of the oil. Next, add in the chili flakes, ginger and garlic.
  • Cook the aromatics until fragrant (about 30 seconds).
  • Add in the chicken and toss, then add in the sauce.
  • Stir for about 30 seconds, or until thickened.
  • Serve immediately over rice or noodles.



Calories: 90kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 1g | Sodium: 792mg | Potassium: 28mg | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 75IU | Vitamin C: 0.5mg | Calcium: 5mg | Iron: 0.3mg
bowl of General Tso’s Chicken Pin 1

Photos used in a previous version of this post:

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.

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.


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  1. Never got the chicken crispy unfortunately, but it was still super tasty! Flavor was delicious! Think next time I’m gonna put my chicken in the fridge to dry out more before I either try the 100% cornstarch or a cornstarch flour mixture. Followed the recipe to a T aside from substituting rice wine vinegar (ran out :/) with apple cider vinegar and was still great. Also tossed some more red pepper flakes ontop, as well as some toasted sesame ontop and green onions to garnish. Served over steamed jasmine rice. My husband ate it all and requested it again tomorrow night lol.

  2. Didn’t care for the flavor. It was good, but it didn’t taste like the General Tso that is typical of Chinese restaurants.

  3. Hello, i am about to try your General tso recipe and I need 14 servings, the automated scaling telles me that for 3,5 pounds chicken tighs I will need 10.5 tablespoons of each of the following:rice vinegar, soy sauce and sugar. Does this seem right?
    Thank you for your recipe, it looks easy, I hope it truly is!
    Looking forward to discovering more of your recipes.
    Be well,

    1. I saw this online for a replacement haven’t tried though. For 1 tsp. fresh or ground ginger, substitute 1 tsp. ground allspice, ground cinnamon, ground mace, or ground nutmeg. Will taste a little different but still great.

  4. I need help lol! Our stores sell Hoisin sauce and General Tso’s “dipping and grilling sauce,” which one should I use? I love the sweetness from Tso chicken! Also frying oil? Vegetable or maybe olive?

      1. Coming from someone who has made this recipe several times since I came across it a few years ago, I disagree. If recipe is followed, the general Tso’s chicken comes out delicious, moist, and flavorful. Thanks for a loved recipe!

  5. Made this for dinner tonight and it was delicious! I made fried rice with it as well. I will definitely be making this again and looking forward to checking out more of you recipes.

    1. This was quite tasty! Thank you for the recipe 🙂

      I was wondering – is there a way to have more sauce for it (I like to mix it in the rice) that wouldn’t dilute the flavour at all?

  6. I LOVE your Chinese recipes, but this one was a miss for me. It tasted so heavy on the rice vinegar/ soy sauce and I feel like it needed more sweetness or savory flavors. I used all the same brands of ingredients, so I can’t figure it out- maybe didn’t do enough pepper or ginger? I added more hoisin to leftovers and I liked it a lot more. I may have to try it again, doubling the hoisin. General tsos is always my takeout order!

  7. Made this for my daughter’s birthday and everyone loved it. Now I’m going to make it for my mom’s birthday at her request as this meal is delicious! ?

  8. Made this for my daughter’s birthday and everyone loved it. Now I’m going to make it for my mom’s birthday at her request as this meal is delicious! ?

  9. Delicious recipe! Definitely worth trying if you are a fan of General Tso anything – I made it with tofu and it was great. Definitely going into my meal rotations. Thank you for sharing!

  10. how do you get the sauce to be red? And the chicken to be crispy?
    And how do you do it without making a huge mess and tons of dishes?
    I keep attempting this recipe and I don’t think it has ever turned out right.. 🙁

  11. This recipe is easy, delicious and has has amazing flavors. I made this for the first time last night and we all voted it was better than our local Chinese restaurant! So much delicious flavor! It’s a recipe I’ll be making again and again.

    1. Fry 3 or 4 pieces at a time, fry each piece for 14 minutes, turning each piece about halfway through until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Hope this helps!

  12. I had to make some adjustments for a lack of ingredients (chicken breast instead of thigh, a peanut butter based hoisin mock-up, less ginger) but even then, this chicken absolutely slaps. It’s the easiest and most accessible ingredient-wise General Tso’s recipe I’ve seen, and I’m absolutely going to be making it again.

  13. Okay…my boyfriend and I are college students who love Chinese food, but definitely can’t afford to be eating takeout all the time. We made this on a whim one night, expecting it to be just good enough to satisfy a craving, but it was AMAZING! We literally make it every single week now. This is also the recipe that helped me get over my fear of frying foods. I know it sounds silly, but it always freaked me out! Now I can very comfortably do this all the time. We do double or sometimes even triple the sauce so we have plenty for our rice. We’ve adjusted it a bit over time where we add a little less rice vinegar than needed, but it’s good no matter what! Definitely make sure you heat the sauce enough…seems like several people ate just the watery start of the sauce and obviously disliked it. It has to heat up and simmer for the cornstarch and everything to thicken; then you’ll have a really lovely, thick sauce! Cannot rave enough about how good this is – it’s also very easy and cheap once you have all the staples in your cabinet. We pretty much always have everything for the sauce, and only occasionally have to buy some chicken. I know I’m just rambling on, but I really wanted to let you know how much my roommates and I love this. 🙂

  14. Thanks for sharing such experience and knowledge about cooking with us. Its in valuable. And the recipes are always to die for. Im ftom western mew york. Next to buffalo. I only eat at one Chinese place which is about 30 minutes away. The serve a recipe called chicken with five flavor sauce. I have looked extensively online but can’t find it anyone. It comes with pork fried rice. The chicken is similar to general tsos . it is sticky like honey and a sauce that is mild to medium hotness. It has a slight tint of red to the sauce. The other ingredients I can’t seem to identify. It comes with vegetables like carrots, mushrooms, broccoli, mini corn, water chestnuts, green bell peppers, onions. I was wondering if you had any idea about what all is in the recipe. Its definitely the sauce that makes the whole think delicious. I would love to recreate as I have never seen it on any other Chinese menu. Thanks in advance

    1. Have you tried Oyster sauce as the missing ingredient? Seriously delicious with a nice bold but not fishy flavor. I use it to make some drool worthy garlic noodles.

  15. Wow. Where have you been all my life! Or at least the last 5 years…. I love food. My body loves it too much. I have gone keto with great results, but had to give up sooo much goodness. PANDA Express was one if those. Do you have a keto version of some of these? How would one count carbs when substituting swerve for the sugars?

  16. My husband and I really love this recipe! I do modify it and used ground meat (I’ve done both chicken and pork) instead of thigh pieces for ease of meal prep, but its a hit every time! Double the recipe for lunches for both of us all week. I’ve done the orange chicken too and love it as well. Thank you!

  17. Love this recipe – even my picky eaters!! So easy to make – really quick for week day dinners
    I add pineapple and peppers to the sauce – so yummy!
    I wanted to add that the protein calculation for this recipe is definitely wrong – for every ounce of chicken its 10 grams of protein – so depending – please adjust

  18. My whole family of picky eaters gobble this dinner up every time I make it. I often use cubed pork chops instead of chicken tho. I’ve also used baked chicken with the sauce. Cannot recommend enough.

  19. I live outside of the USA and can’t find a place that does good “American Chinese” takeout anywhere. Made this last night and it has satisfied my craving for Chinese takeout. Thank you!

  20. So simple and so yummy. Some alterations:
    -used extra virgin olive oil to shallow fry the chicken, then let it finish cooking in a 375F degree oven.
    -Forgot to get sesame seeds so I added a tiny splash of toasted sesame oil at the end
    -Served over organic jasmine white rice with veggies (broccoli, red pepper, mushrooms)
    -used microplane to grate/get paste from ginger and garlic

    Any suggestions on a gluten-free hoison sauce?

    Thank you!

  21. I make this all the time. Def a family favorite! I like to double the sauce and use half the hots so it’s not too spicy.

  22. I just can’t say enough about how delicious this recipe is! I was recently became gluten intolerant (at age 62) and was missing my favorite take out meal, that is- until I made your General Tso’s chicken. My first time frying in oil and using cornstarch to coat the chicken was simple when following your directions . Thank you so much! I can’t wait to try your other recipes

  23. Love this. Thank you for sharing this recipe. Have made it twice now and will be making it for a long time. so good!!!!

  24. Thank you for sharing this recipe. My entire family loved it, and with picky kids, that’s saying quite a lot. My husband insists that I write down the recipe so we can have it “exactly” the same next time, while my oldest insists that I make it the next time we have friends over. Again, thanks!

    1. Trust me, I get the whole “picky eater” situation. I’m so happy to hear that this one makes everyone happy!

  25. This was easy and ridiculously good. I haven’t found one recipe that isn’t five stars from Dinner then Dessert. I literally go out of my way to make sure that I review what recipes I make from this site because they are that good. Thanks so much Sabrina!

  26. Delish, and everyone loved it! I doubled the chicken and the sauce and added broccoli. I made sure to brown the chicken on all sides but didn’t cook it quite all the way through since I knew it would cook a little more in the sauce. Was perfect and tender. Thanks for a new winner in our dinner rotation!

  27. My husband and I were really disappointed. The flavors were unbalanced and the sauce lacked the richness one expects from General Tso. It ended up being a huge waste of ingredients. I’m honestly not sure how it got this many 5-star ratings.

    1. Literally the exact thing I was thinking. I know with recipes, we can tweak it to our liking, but from the jump, this recipe had too much rice vinegar added.

      Flavors were definitely unbalanced like you stated.

    2. I so agree! I had to throw it in the trash and was so disappointed. Is it too much vinegar or soy sauce? It had a funky flavor.

    1. we liked this dish!
      However with hoisin and soy sauces, mine was brown…. how do you make your sauce red?
      Thank you!

      1. Different brands have different coloring. I linked the exact brands that I used in the post above but the color isn’t really that important. The flavor is what we’re going for. I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  28. Absolutely wonderful. I’ve made it twice in one week. Family and friends love it!!! Easy recipe to follow.

      1. Love this and your orange chicken!! It immediately got written into our recipe book. I pan fried the chicken in batches and kept warm on a rack in the oven and it turned out PERFECT. The sauce is awesome!

        Question- What would you do to make it slightly more spicy? I like the elevated level of the ingredients without just adding a basic hot sauce. But maybe that would be easiest.

        Can’t wait to try more of your recipes!! Thanks!!

        1. I’m so glad you love it so much. If you want to make it spicier, you could add hot peppers or use a chili-infused oil or the easiest would to add crushed red peppers to the finished dish. Enjoy!

    1. If you want to use a thermometer to track and maintain the temperature of the oil, you’re looking for a steady 350 degrees.

  29. Came out ok. Just wish the time for the frying was more descriptive. But it did come out well. it didn’t add broccoli .