General Tso’s Chicken is saucy, juicy, and crispy with a thick sweet, and spicy sauce. Make it all in one dish in the comfort of your home.
Chinese food is one of my favorite types of food, and General Tso’s chicken never disappoints. I like how crunchy it is, with a hint of sweetness and spice. When we want Asian food but don’t have time to go to a restaurant, I’ve started cooking this recipe at home. It was a great hit with both children and adults (as long as they don’t mind a little bit of spice)
What is General Tso’s Chicken
General Tso’s chicken is a Chinese-American dish of fried chicken pieces tossed in a tangy sauce. This dish is similar to sesame or orange chicken, but this sauce has a little bit of spice or heat behind it.
Typically, rice is served with this dish. My rice of choice is basmati, but you can use any rice that you prefer. If you are wanting to make a full-spread Chinese meal, I would suggest chow mien noodles and ginger snap peas.
Ingredients and Variations
- Chicken I like to use boneless skinless chicken breasts, but you can use boneless skinless chicken thighs. It really depends on your preference and what you have on hand.
- Sauce Hoisin sauce, chicken broth, and cornstarch are what make the sauce for this Chinese food favorite.
- Spices The spices are where you can really customize it to how you would like it. You can add additional chili peppers for more heat, or you can cut the heat in half or quarter for less spice. It all depends on how you like your spice. As well, ginger and garlic add a lot of great flavor to this dish as well. You can play around with the garlic and ginger by adding more or less to your taste preference.
How to make General Tso’s chicken
This recipe comes together quickly in just a few steps.
The sauce is simple to make with a few pantry ingredients: rice vinegar, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, water, sugar, oil, ginger, garlic, and cornstarch to help thicken the sauce. Add all the ingredients to a bowl and combine.
How to prepare the chicken
Sometimes General Tso’s chicken can seem a little bit intimidating. It is very easy to make, and you will never have to call for takeout again, unless, of course, you want to. Follow these steps and you will be amazed at how easy it is.
- Cut chicken into 1-inch-sized cubes. Toss the chicken into the corn starch.
- Cook your chicken until golden brown on all sides. I find cooking them in small batches helps you get a nice even color.
- Remove the chicken from the pan or wok.
- Sauté garlic, ginger, and chili flakes in a pan.
- Bring the sauce to a low simmer before adding the chicken.
- Toss the chicken, making sure to evenly coat each piece. Serve with rice or chow mien noodles as desired.
Tips for Successful General Tso’s Chicken
- Prepare ahead of time. This recipe can move kind of quickly, so I like to have everything prepped ahead of time so you can add it right when you need it.
- Add desired spice and add more or less spice depending on your preference.
- Ginger and garlic For this recipe, I use fresh ginger and garlic. Sometimes it’s tempting to use powdered ginger or garlic for convenience’s sake, but this recipe is best when using fresh ginger and garlic.
- Soy sauce with Low sodium is best because it has a lower salt content and it makes it easier to control the saltiness in your recipe, and since you are adding another salty ingredient, hoisin, you want to keep an eye on the salt level.
- Don’t overcrowd the pan As I mentioned, you don’t want to add all the chicken at once; you want to add it in small batches if you don’t want the chicken to sauté more and you don’t get the golden-brown coloring you are looking for.
- Serve immediately I find if this dish has any amount of time, the chicken starts to go soggy, so once it is hot, serve it.
What’s the difference between General Tso’s chicken and Orange chicken?
- At a quick glance, you might think these two dishes are the same. They are both chickens, they both have a sticky sauce, and they both have a sweet and sour type flavor. However, they do have some differences to keep in mind.
- When it comes to orange chicken, it doesn’t generally have a spicy component, whereas General Tso’s chicken is commonly quite spicy as one of the key ingredients is chili flakes.
- The most important difference between orange and General Tso’s chicken is the addition of orange juice and orange zest in the orange chicken. General Tso’s chicken has the addition of hoisin. It gives a smoky tangy flavor. Some have said it is similar to barbecue sauce. Overall, both dishes have a sweet and sour flavor profile.
- When you first look at both dishes, they do look similar; the cubes of crispy chicken and the sticky sauce are dark in color. The difference in appearance is that orange chicken is generally a lighter color due to using orange juice and not having the hoisin sauce like General Tso’s chicken.
General Tso’s Chicken
- 1 Pan
- 1 wok optional
- 2 pounds chicken breast or thighs cut into 1 inch pieces
- ½ cup cornstarch
- ½ cup oil for frying
- 2 tbsp ginger minced
- 1 tsp chili flakes you can reduce this if want it less spicy
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 6 tbsp rice vinegar
- 6 tbsp soy sauce low sodium
- 4 tbsp hoisin sauce
- ½ cup water
- 6 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- Cut chicken into 1-inch cubes. Toss each piece with cornstarch. Set aside.
- In a separate dish, combine all the ingredients for your sauce together.
- Preheat a non-stick skillet or wok with oil. Cook each chicken piece until all the sides are golden brown. Remove the chicken from the pan. Leave about 1 tbsp of oil in the pan for cooking.
- Add the garlic, ginger and pepper flakes. Sautee for about 30 seconds.
- Add the sauce to the skillet and bring it to a simmer then add the chicken and toss to coat. Serve right away!