General Tso’s Chicken is the popular American-Chinese Restaurant food we love to takeout! It’s the sweet coated, deep-fried chicken pieces similar to sesame or orange chicken only a tad spicy! This General Tso’s Chicken Recipe is so easy to make and Better-than-Takeout!
General Tso’s Chicken
General Tso’s Chicken is one of my favorite Chinese foods to order! Sesame Chicken and Lo Mein noodles are among the others I’d instantly order off a Chinese menu because how can you resist sweet and sticky chicken or chow mein? Many General Tso’s Chicken recipes can be complicated and some call for special sauces you’re likely to only find at an Asian store, but not this recipe! All you need are simple pantry ingredients and soy sauce is the only Asian condiment you’ll need, so skip the hoisin sauce!
My breading calls for flour but cornstarch can be easily swapped out, as I have for this General Tso’s Chicken. The process is broken down into 2 simple steps, breading the chicken and then thickening the sauce with the chicken. I can’t get over how simple the ingredients are for the sauce which is why it out beats all the others! I mean how could you go wrong with sugar, water, vinegar, salt, and soy sauce? Do they not call for easy ingredients? No fancy Asian sauces and similar to Japanese chicken the flavors here are so Takeout-style!
Best over steamed rice or a side of Chicken Lo Mein this General Tso’s chicken is even easier than my Orange Chicken Recipe because you’re seriously using the simplest ingredients to throw it together! Garnish with sesame seeds or green onions and serve with steamed broccoli for a complete Chinese Takeout Dinner, only homemade!
How To Make General Tso’s Chicken:
General Tso's Chicken
- 12" frying pan
- 4 chicken breasts (cubed)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour (or cornstarch)
- 1 tsp paprika
- 2 tsp garlic salt
- 1 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup white distilled vinegar
- 1 tsp salt
- 6 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp red chili pepper flakes (optional)
How To Make General Tso's Chicken:
- Coat the chicken pieces in the breading and fry in 3/4 cup of oil. Cook in batches.
- Combine the sauce ingredients and pour over all the fried chicken pieces. Bring to a boil and then simmer uncovered for 12 minutes or until sauce thickens.
- Quick Meat Tenderizer: Add 1 tsp of baking soda and 2 tsp of vinegar to the chicken and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Then proceed with the recipe. This tenderizes the meat!
- Crockpot Instructions: Transfer the fried chicken to a crockpot and pour the sauce over. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on High for 4 hours.
- Oven-Baked Instructions: Place the fried chicken into a baking dish and pour the sauce over. Bake at 350°F for 45 minutes.
- Handy Tip: Place a colander of broccoli florets right on top of the pot when simmering the chicken in sauce. You'll have steamed broccoli in 7 minutes to serve as a side!
- Spicy: Add 1 teaspoon of red chili flakes for an extra kick. Spices like fresh ginger or garlic can enhance the flavors too.
Nutrition per serving
What does General Tso Chicken mean?
This chicken dish is named after a Chinese military general by the name of Zuo Zongtang but isn’t really connected with the dish itself. Perhaps Chinese Restaurants named the chicken dish General Tso’s Chicken to set a Chinese mood at an Asian eatery. because the dish does go by different names.
Some variant names include; General Tso Chicken, General Tsao’s chicken, General Tao’s chicken, General T’s Chicken, General Ching’s chicken, T.S.O. Chicken, and General Jong’s Chicken.
What’s the difference between General Tso’s Chicken and Sesame Chicken?
The main difference is the heat! General Tso’s Chicken is spicier and more orange in color than Sesame Chicken. Sesame chicken is more savory, brown, and salty and typically covered in sesame seeds once garnished. Although General Tso’s Chicken is a little spicy it is much sweeter than Sesame chicken, which balances out the flavors quite well. I do not find this dish too spicy unless you eat the whole red chili pepper found in the sauce at times (depending on the Chinese Restaurant.)
Is General Tso’s Chicken Spicy?
I do not find this dish too spicy unless you eat the whole red chili pepper found in the sauce at times (depending on the Chinese Restaurant.) The sweetness definitely overpowers the heat.
How to Make Crispy Chicken Batter?
Deep-fried chicken is the key to crispy chicken and a good breading or batter. Some Asian places use tempura batter, and I’ve found flour or cornstarch to work well in Chicken recipes like this since the thick sauce covers the fried chicken. Fry the coated chicken pieces in a lot of oil to crisp up the chicken and make sure the breading is dredged into the chicken well. Sometimes partially wet or dipped chicken pieces coat better in breading.
Can I make it gluten-free?
Yes! This can be gluten-free just substitute cornstarch for the flour.
How to make General Tso’s Chicken in a slow-cooker?
To make this in the crockpot, place the fried chicken pieces into the slow cooker. Pour sauce over chicken and keep on low for 6-8 hours or on High for 2-4 hours. I do recommend to slightly simmer the sauce to thicken it.
Can I Bake General Tso’s Chicken?
Yes! Just transfer your fried chicken pieces to a baking dish and pour the sauce over the chicken. Bake at 350°F for 45 minutes. The sauce will be runnier using the crockpot or oven version unless cooked slowly for several hours. I recommend simmering the sauce until it thickens before adding.
What is General Tso’s Chicken?
General Tso’s Chicken is a sweet and spicy chicken dish popular in Chinese-American Restaurants. Deep-fried chicken pieces are coated in a sweet sauce with a kick of heat from chili pepper flakes. More orange in color than Sesame chicken it does sometimes have whole dried chili peppers right in the sticky sauce at some takeout locations. It’s not as savory in flavor as Sesame chicken but sweeter and often seen served with a side of steamed broccoli, as seen in some Chinese Takeout Restaurants. Sesame chicken is also known to be covered in lots of sesame seeds whereas General Tso’s is often seen without.
Making homemade General Tso’s Chicken is easy so, don’t be discouraged by any complicated recipes that you’ve come across. Homemade is healthier and can save you lots of money in the long run.
This battered chicken dish is typically coated with a sauce and served with a side dish of steamed broccoli or charred bell peppers.
How to Prepare General Tso’s Chicken?
Making a General Tso’s Chicken Recipe at home is so easy! Follow these steps to achieve a 5-star Asian chicken dish at home!
- Make your breading! Season your flour with spices and set aside. (Can use cornstarch for a crispy breading.)
- Cube your chicken into 1-inch chunks, then toss the chicken into flour or a corn starch breading.
- Fry and cook your chicken in batches until golden brown. The chicken will continue to cook in the sauce later.
- Remove the chicken pieces from the pan.
- Now is the time to saute veggies like onion chunks or sweet bell peppers or even fresh garlic, ginger and red chili pepper flakes. Sear veggies until charred looking over high heat for 2-3 minutes.
- Remove veggies and add the chicken and sauce. Bring to a boil and simmer over medium heat until sauce reduces in size and thickens (about 12 minutes.)
- The chicken will be coated in a glossy sweet sauce. Serve over rice and the charred veggies (if using.)
Broccoli Side: place a colander of broccoli florets onto the simmering pot of General Tso’s Chicken. Remove after 7 minutes and you’ll have a side of steamed broccoli!
Spices: Intensify the sauce with dried or fresh garlic and ginger.
What is Sesame Chicken?
Sesame chicken is more savory and salty than the orange General Tso’s Chicken. It is darker and less spicy than General Tso’s Chicken and is commonly seen with sesame seeds.
Tips for the Best General Tso’s Chicken Recipe:
- Place a colander of broccoli florets right on top of the pot when simmering the chicken in sauce. You’ll have steamed broccoli in 7 minutes to serve as a side!
- Prepare all the ingredients ahead of time since this chicken recipe comes together quickly!
- Add more spice, like ginger or garlic, and even more red chili pepper flakes or omit completely it’ll still be good!
- Soy Sauce is salty, so watch that sodium or use low-sodium soy sauce! If you over-salted your Tso’s add more sugar it’s the trick to balance out the sodium!
- Tenderize your chicken breasts with my quick meat-tenderizer or use chicken thighs instead. Chicken thighs are more juicer so if you don’t tenderize your chicken breasts use thighs otherwise your chicken can be dry.
- Use a non-stick pan for the breading to keep intact with the chicken.
- This sauce doesn’t have a cornstarch slurry so it needs to be reduced or evaporated with the chicken pieces to get sticky and thick.