Crispy bites of chicken are tossed with a sweet, spicy, tangy sauce in this homemade General Tso’s Chicken recipe. Skip the takeout and make this Chinese food favorite at home tonight!
Crispy, sweet, savory, and a little bit spicy, this recipe for General Tso’s Chicken is just like the dish you order at your local take-out spot.
Lightly breaded and fried dark meat chicken is covered in a thick and flavorful General Tso’s sauce that’s easy to make right on the stovetop. You’ll be enjoying this Chinese food favorite in less time than it takes for delivery!
If you like this recipe, you are going to love my Orange Chicken recipe too. It’s just like Panda Express!
See all of my restaurant copycat recipes, and find your favorites.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Healthier Takeout– General Tso’s chicken isn’t a particularly “healthy” recipe, but it is made with ingredients you can see and understand, and you can control the amount of salt and sugar added if you need to. We’re crisping the chicken in just a small amount of oil too, so there’s no need to deep fry it (unless you want to – I’ll tell you how to do it both ways!)
- Budget Friendly – It is so much cheaper to make your own Chinese chicken than it is to order out. You can feed the entire family for less than a combo meal.
- Fast and Easy Recipe – This chicken dinner will be ready in less than a half-hour, so don’t let the ingredient list intimidate you at all. Measure everything out first so you’re organized and you’ll be able to easily make this recipe, even on a busy weeknight.
Ingredients In General Tso’s Chicken
Here’s what you need to make this tasty Chinese chicken.
Complete list of ingredients and amounts can be found in the recipe card below.
- Chicken Thighs: Dark meat chicken is the best choice for making General Tso’s. It has lots of flavor and enough fat to keep the meat tender and juicy. Cut boneless, skinless chicken thighs into 1-inch pieces so that they are easy to eat.
- Corn Starch: This thickener is used in many Asian sauces, and it’s also used to coat the chicken so that it will fry up crispy. This recipe uses cornstarch in both ways.
- Oil for Frying: Use a lightly flavored oil such as vegetable or canola. You’ll need ¼ cup of oil to shallow fry the chicken in a skillet.
Ingredients in General Tso Sauce
- Garlic, Ginger, Red Pepper Flakes – These aromatics are cooked in the pan before adding the other General Tso’s sauce ingredients. Use fresh minced garlic and freshly grated ginger for the most flavor. The red pepper flakes add heat, so feel free to leave them out if you don’t want your dish to be spicy.
- Rice Vinegar and Hoisin Sauce: Look for these specialty ingredients in the Asian section of your grocery store. They go a long way to making this homemade recipe taste authentic.
- Soy Sauce: You can use regular soy sauce, a low sodium version, or Tamari if you need this recipe to be gluten-free.
- Toasted Sesame Oil: Don’t skip this ingredient! The nutty flavor of this oil is key to giving the sauce the right flavor.
- Sugar: A bit of sugar balances the salty, sour, and savory flavors here. That’s why General Tso’s chicken is so good – it has the perfect flavor balance.
- Water and Cornstarch: These are added to make this sauce the perfect consistency.
How To Make General Tso’s Chicken
- Mix the Sauce Ingredients: Add all of the sauce ingredients (rice vinegar, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, water, sesame oil, sugar, and cornstarch) to a jar or a bowl and stir to combine. Set the sauce aside for later.
- Bread Chicken: In a large bowl or a Ziploc bag, toss the chicken with the ⅓ cup of corn starch until well coated, then shake off the excess (I use a colander to do this, but you can also just pick up each piece with your hands).
- Fry Chicken: Heat the cooking oil over medium-high heat. When it’s ready, drop the chicken pieces in and cook on all sides until it’s lightly golden and crispy. Use an instant-read thermometer to make sure that the chicken is cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F/74°C.
- Start General Tso Sauce: Remove the cooked chicken from the pan to a plate and set it aside. Discard most of the oil from the pan, and add the garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes (if using). Sautee the aromatics for just 30 seconds.
- Finish the Dish: Quickly add the sauce mixture to the pan (you don’t want to burn the garlic!) and bring it to a simmer. Stir constantly until the sauce thickens. Add the chicken back to the pan and toss to coat with the sauce. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and green onion before serving.
If you want the chicken to be extra crispy, fry it in 1 inch of oil rather than just ¼ cup. You will want the oil to be at 350°F/180°C, and you should fry the chicken for 3 minutes, or until cooked through.
- Chicken Breast can be used to make General Tso’s Chicken, but the meat will be dryer. Chicken thighs are more traditional for this recipe.
- If you like this sauce, but don’t want to make this whole recipe, just make the sauce using my General Tso Sauce recipe. You can dip air fryer chicken tenders into it for an easy meal or snack!
- Burnt garlic or ginger will ruin the sauce, so be sure that you’re ready to pour in the rest of the ingredients to stop them from overcooking.
General Tso’s Chicken is best when you serve it immediately after cooking it. It can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days, but it will never be as crispy as it was when it was fresh.
What To Serve With General Tso’s Chicken
I love to serve this saucy chicken with Jasmine Rice and steamed broccoli. It’s the perfect meal!
You can also serve it with your favorite style of rice or grain, and other veggies that you enjoy.
For a healthier option, try a side salad with a tasty Asian salad dressing.
When I order this dish at a restaurant, it’s typically medium-spicy. When you make General Tso’s at home, you can control the amount of spice! Add red pepper flakes if you like heat, and leave them out if you don’t. You can always add a bit of Sriracha sauce to at the table to add extra spice too.
This chicken dish was named for Tso Tsung-t’ang, a well-known nineteenth-century Chinese general from the Hunan Province. It’s said that this spicy chicken was his favorite.
If you’re having trouble finding this ingredient, apple cider vinegar is a good enough substitute. Check out your local Asian grocery if you want to stock up on authentic oils, vinegars, and seasonings for next time.
See? It’s pretty easy to make General Tso’s Chicken from scratch! Now you can have a Chinese food night whenever the mood strikes. Be sure to Pin the recipe and save it for later.
- Large mixing bowl or gallon Ziploc bag
- 1 ½ pounds chicken thighs cut into 1 inch pieces, see note 1
- ⅓ cup cornstarch aka cornflour
- ¼ cup canola oil or vegetable oil, for frying
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons grated ginger fresh or jarred, not powdered
- 1 teaspoon red chilli flakes optional
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds for garnish
- 1 tablespoon chopped green onion for garnish
For the Sauce:
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 4 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- ½ cup water
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch aka cornflour
- In a large bowl or a Ziploc bag, toss the chicken with the corn starch until well coated, then shake off the excess (I use a colander to do this).
- In a jar or a medium bowl, combine the sauce ingredients and set aside.
- Over medium high heat, heat oil. When it’s hot, drop the chicken and cook until lightly golden and crispy (keep turning the chicken to crisp up as many sides as possible) Cook for 3-4 minutes in total, or until the chicken is fully cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F/74°C. Remove onto a plate and set aside.
- Discard the oil, leaving 1 tablespoon in the pan. Add garlic and ginger (and chili flakes if using) and saute for 30 seconds.
- Add the sauce mixture, bring to a simmer and stir occasionally until it’s thickened. Toss the chicken in the sauce to coat, garnish with toasted sesame seeds and green onion and serve immediately over rice.
- Chicken breast can be used in place of chicken thighs, but it’s dryer and will be different than what is typically served at Chinese restaurants.
- This chicken is best served immediately when it’s crispy. The longer it sits, the coating will get soft and eventually soggy.
- For even crispier chicken, fry in 1 inch of oil that has been heated to around 350°F/180°C for 2-3 minutes.
- To Store: General Tso’s Chicken is best when you serve it immediately after cooking it. It can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days, but it will never be as crispy as it was when it was fresh.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.
© Little Sunny Kitchen