Homemade General Tso’s Chicken with crispy pan-fried chicken in a sweet, sticky sauce featuring ginger, garlic, soy sauce, dried red chilies and rice wine vinegar. It’s the perfect healthier takeout alternative, kid-friendly, and easy to make.

Some other take-out favorites to imitate include Thai Basil Chicken, Mongolian Beef, and Kung Pao Chicken. is one of my favorites, and so are these PF Chang’s lettuce wraps.

A pan with homemade General Tso's Chicken, garnished with chopped green onion.

General Tso’s Chicken is one of the most popular Chinese restaurant recipes in the US. It’s super easy to make as it’s just battered, fried chicken, served in a yummy sauce. As always, homemade is healthier, fresher and cheaper than takeout. Plus there’s the pride and joy of knowing you can do it just as well!

The recipe for General Tso’s Chicken was invented in Taiwan for some visiting American Navy SEALs in the 1950s. The chef, who had fled there with the republican forces of Chiang Kai-shek during the communist revolution, named the dish after Zuo Zongtang, a famous general from his home province of Hunan. The chef eventually moved to the US and opened a Chinese restaurant that popularized the recipe. 

It’s typical of Hunan cuisine in that it derives its flavor from ginger, garlic, soy sauce, dried red chilies and rice wine vinegar. Also hoisin sauce which incorporates fennel and fermented soybean paste. Brown sugar was added to adapt the dish to the American palate.

How to make General Tso’s Chicken:

Note: If cooking for kids, leave out red pepper flakes and add at end for adults.

  • Prepare the sauce: In a small mixing bowl, whisk together hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, minced garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes and cornstarch. 
  • Prep the breading: In a large ziplock bag, combine cornstarch, flour, salt and pepper. Shake, shake, shake. In a small bowl, whisk egg whites.

A bowl with sauce to coat General Tso's Chicken next to another bowl with cut chicken pieces tossed in egg whites.

  • Bread the chicken: Coat chicken pieces in egg whites, lift and allow to drip off,  then drop into breading bag. Shake till coated.
  • Fry the chicken: Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add half a cup of oil. Once oil is hot, fry the chicken in batches (don’t crowd), 2-3 minutes on each side, until golden brown and cooked through. Remove to a plate. 
  • Add sauce to same pan and simmer until warm and thickened. Toss the chicken in the sauce just before serving.

Pan-fried breaded chicken next to another photo of the chicken coated in sauce for General Tso's.

  • Serve with white or brown rice (or for some Pan-Asian fusion, Kimchi Fried Rice) garnished with green onions and/or sesame seeds. 

Variations:

Vegetarian: Sub extra-firm tofu for chicken. Press excess moisture out of the tofu by putting it between paper towels and putting something heavy like a cast-iron skillet on top, leaving it for a few minutes. Proceed as with the chicken.

Air-Fryer: This recipe is PERFECT for your air fryer! Just preheat to 400 degrees and, after breading, spread chicken pieces evenly so they don’t touch, spray with olive oil, and cook for 15 minutes.

Slow Cooker: Mix the sauce ingredients together. Prepare the chicken the same, but cook on very high heat for only 1 minute on each side, to brown the coating but not cook the chicken through. Spray slow cooker with non stick cooking spray and add chicken, then pour half of the sauce on top. Cook on LOW for 2-3 hours. Stir in the remaining sauce. Garnish with chopped green onions.

Other Popular Asian Inspired Dishes to Explore:

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Recipe

A pan with homemade General Tso's Chicken, garnished with chopped green onion.
Prep 25 mins
Cook 25 mins
Total 50 mins

Ingredients
  

  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/2 cup oil (vegetable or canola oil)

For the sauce:

  • 2/3 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar , packed
  • 3 cloves garlic , minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger , or 1 Tablespoon fresh minced ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes or more, to taste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

Instructions
 

  • Add the sauce ingredients to bowl and whisk well to combine. Set aside.
  • Add cornstarch, flour, and salt and pepper to a large ziplock bag and shake to combine. Whisk egg whites in a separate bowl.
  • Add chicken pieces to the egg whites and toss to coat. Spoon coated chicken pieces into the ziplock bag, allowing excess egg to drip back into the bowl. Shake the bag to coat chicken evenly in the cornstarch mixture. 
  • Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil. Once oil is hot and some of the chicken (it's best to cook the chicken in 2 or 3 batches, so it browns better). Cook the chicken 2-3 minutes on each side, until the coating is golden brown and the chicken is cooked through. Remove to a plate. Repeat until all of the chicken has cooked, and set aside on a plate.
  • Add the sauce to the pan and simmer until warm and thickened. Toss the chicken in the sauce just before serving.
  • Serve with hot cooked white or brown rice. Garnish with chopped green onions.

Notes

Vegetarian: Sub extra-firm tofu for chicken. Press excess moisture out of the tofu by putting it between paper towels and putting something heavy like a cast-iron skillet on top, leaving it for a few minutes. Proceed as with the chicken.
Air-Fryer: This recipe is PERFECT for your air fryer! Just preheat to 400 degrees and, after coating, spread chicken pieces evenly so they don’t touch, spray with olive oil, and cook for 15 minutes.
Slow Cooker: Mix the sauce ingredients together. Prepare the chicken the same, but cook on very high heat for only 1 minute on each side, to brown the coating but not cook the chicken through. Spray slow cooker with non stick cooking spray and add chicken, then pour half of the sauce on top. Cook on LOW for 2-3 hours. Stir in the remaining sauce. Garnish with chopped green onions.

Nutrition

Calories: 556kcalCarbohydrates: 61gProtein: 44gFat: 13gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 110mgSodium: 2480mgPotassium: 809mgFiber: 2gSugar: 24gVitamin A: 125IUVitamin C: 2.9mgCalcium: 44mgIron: 2.8mg

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I originally shared this recipe February 2016. Updated August 2020.

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About The Author

Lauren Allen

Welcome! I’m Lauren, a mom of four and lover of good food. Here you’ll find easy recipes and weeknight meal ideas made with real ingredients, with step-by-step photos and videos.

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  1. 5 stars
    Follow this recipe to a T!! Absolutely amazing. My husband always asks for it LOL. Delicious! Just the right amount of flavor, Thank you!!

  2. Sauce is good, but there is a lot of dark stuff in it so when I make it again I will be adding lemon juice to kind of bring the flavor back up. May also do half brown sugar half honey

  3. 5 stars
    I made this and loved it! It’s tangy and sweet, and pretty easy to make. I added peanuts and served it on lettuce leaves instead of rice, more of a lettuce wrap? It was delish!

  4. 5 stars
    We’ve made 4 different recipes from this website that were all easy and tasty and all had good reviews. They really do taste better from scratch! So we were skeptical when making this recipe because of the mixed reviews. I don’t think I’ve ever had General Tso before (just Kung Pao or sesame) but this recipe was good! It wasn’t too salty as others said. I think it was well balanced between sweet, salty, and spicy. We added extra pepper flakes and had cracked pepper instead of freshly ground. We also used 2 chicken breasts, not sure if it was 1 1/2 lbs. Anyways, we’d def make it again 🙂

  5. 1 star
    I followed the sauce recipe to the letter, it was terrible. I found it way to salty and the hoisin sauce added waaay too much flavour. I did use the chicken prep instructions which resulted in a very nice crisp result. To replace the sauce I used the recipe from Ricardo’s tofu general Tao .

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