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
Save Recipe

Ingredients
  

For the sauce:

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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RATE and COMMENT below! I would love to hear your experience.

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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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Really good sauce. Cooking the chicken is a pain. I couldn’t figure out how to keep the flour from browning in the cooking batches.

  2. 1 star
    Find a different recipe, folks! This sauce tastes terrible and completely ruined the meal. It was too thick (WAY too much hoisin sauce?) and did not taste or look anything like General Tso’s. Nobody was able to eat more than a few bites. I wish I had noticed and read the multiple negative comments warning people about this recipe before wasting time and money on it. We ended up throwing it all in the garbage and getting fast food instead.

  3. 5 stars
    Two resounding thumbs up from the entire family! I upped the amount of chicken to 2 pounds, and still kept the rest of the ingredients the same. Absolutely delicious! Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  4. 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!!

  5. 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

  6. 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!

  7. 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 🙂

  8. 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 .

  9. 5 stars
    This General Tso’s Chicken is so delicious! Glad I got to get all my needed ingredients at Karman Foods. Fast and reliable! The taste was absolutely perfect! This is my new fave dish.

  10. This was a HUGE hit with my family! I cooked a little more chicken and used sesame oil instead of canola. Great recipe!

  11. 5 stars
    Fabulous recipe I made for the first time tonight. It was magical. I had steamed green beans, white rice and a bit of homemade kimchi along side and it was the perfect meal!

  12. 5 stars
    I love this recipe! I’ve made it several times. The sauce is really delicious, with such a nice tang. Recently I tried the air fryer, and it worked great (apart from the chicken getting stuck to the tray, which I assumed would happen). Still it turned out great!

  13. 5 stars
    I have made this a few times. I make veggies (Chinese) and a fried rice. My husband and I love it. I have made quite a few things from this site. I like the site very much.

  14. 5 stars
    This was a huge hit with my family! They have been requesting General Tso. The first recipe I tried was ok-ish but this one hit it out of the park. The sauce was great the chicken was crispy and flavorful. I was told to add it to “the list”!

  15. 5 stars
    I thought this was a very good version of General Tso’s Chicken. Thinking the next time I cook it I will drain out most of the oil after cooking the chicken. I didn’t think to do that and I felt it was a bit too much. Is it even necessary to have the oil upon adding the sauce to the pan, or does it keep the sauce from sticking?

    1. I agree . There was to much oil left over after cooking the chicken. I discarded almost all of before adding the sauce to the pan. Next time I’ll omit or use less pepper flakes. Fresh ginger used instead of ground ginger. Boneless chicken thighs instead of breast . Served with Jasmine rice and broccoli Overall a easy tasty weekday meal.

  16. This was really good and fairly easy to make. I deep fried the chicken in about an inch of oil in my Dutch oven which made things go a little faster, I think. I also used less chili flakes, my husband and I don’t like too much heat. This is a keeper in our house

  17. What a waste of perfectly good chicken! The sauce was not good! Even my husband who eats anything didn’t eat it. Most of it went in the compost bin.

  18. 5 stars
    Just letting you know the Navy Seals weren’t formed till 1962 before that there was UDT frog men while the Army Geen Berets “Greenbeans”were just formed in 1952 so it’s very unlikely either were there most probably it would have been CIA as they were quite active in China at that time . Just thought you should know

  19. The hoison sauce is completely over powering. This tastes nothing like any general tso’s I’ve ever had in my life. I wanted to like it so much after working all day then spending the money and time buying the ingredients then preparing it. My boyfriend and I gave it a try and unfortunately the entire pan went into the garbage. This is a thumbs down for us.

  20. 1 star
    I was very disappointed after cooking for two hrs. ( mostly the chicken) but I wanted to make this from scratch it looked amazing.. But it tasted just like a soy sauce. Didn’t do anything different except add sesame seeds. Not much sauce left as well…Sorry but DON’T waste your time!!

  21. This recipe was not good. It was actually inedible. The sauce was too overpowering/rich to the point it burned your throat. We tried adding water to our dish to cut the potency of the sauce but it did not work. We spent a lot of time/money and effort on these ingredients and actually preparing the meal. We are super disappointed. We do not recommend this recipe.

    1. I want to take back the negative review I left for this recipe. We heated it up today and added a little bit of water and it was delicious! Tasted just like the restaurant. I tried to take the review down but it isn’t an option to do so! We will make this again and eat the next day. It’s like all of the flavors came together over night.

  22. 5 stars
    I absolutely love this dish. My Mother never wanted to cook this because of the corn starch, but I went for it. It was delicious. I have this in my recipe book now, where it will stay.

  23. 5 stars
    I made this recipe for my family and it was delicious but very time consuming! I chose to make the stovetop method and my chicken needed to cook way longer than 2-3 minutes per side. It was more like 10-15 minutes to get it to the nice golden brown I wanted. Was it worth the time it took to make it? I’d say it was but just be aware of what you’re getting yourself into.

  24. This looks so good and looks like plenty of sauce. I hate when you make a recipe like this and it’s got no sauce. I usually double the sauce because of it. I saw this recipe on FB but it looks very dry when done with no sauce for the rice. So I am not sure why it would look so much different. It is supposed to be the same recipe.
    Recipe adapted from Tastes Better From Scratch Get the written recipe here: http://po.st/8dht0T