An easy and homemade version of General Tso’s Chicken using crunchy baked chicken pieces rather than fried chicken pieces.
In celebration of General Tso’s birthday on November 10, I’ve partnered with Panda Express to share my version of General Tso’s Chicken, an American Chinese staple that is known to differ from kitchen-to-kitchen . From now through December 27, Panda Express is offering General Tso’s Chicken on its restaurant menus nationwide.
I’ve been deeply fascinated with the history of General Tso’s Chicken. I read about it in The Fortune Cookie Chronicles, watched the documentary The Search for General Tso and have done quite a bit of “eating” research as well.
General Tso was a real general, from Hunan, China. However, the dish actually originated in a restaurant in Taipei, Taiwan from Chef C.K. Peng, who was originally from Hunan. He created the dish inspired by flavor favorites found in his hometown and named it General Tso’s Chicken, after the hometown hero. A chef from New York City, Chef T.T. Wang, visited Chef Peng’s restaurant and tasted the dish and then recreated his own version at Shun Lee Palace restaurant in New York City, tailoring the flavors to fit the local ingredients and people. This version became extremely popular and spread across the US.
Before creating my version, I went to Panda Express to try out theirs. I loved the use of green beans, red and yellow bell peppers, and onions. It made the dish so colorful and vibrant. The dish itself is sweet, spicy and tangy.
By the way, how cool is the fork and chopstick hybrid? Panda Express sent me a few of these Chorks and now I really want to throw a party using them. Panda Express will be gifting these Chorks at their restaurants on November 10 for General Tso’s birthday as they symbolize what it means to be Chinese inspired and American crafted – just like the restaurant and General Tso’s Chicken.
Now a little bit about my version, which you can see, looks quite a bit different. I’ve made General Tso’s Chicken at home before, but it’s not something I make often because I don’t like doing a lot of frying at home as it gets messy and requires a lot of oil. We usually save eating fried foods for when we dine out. So I decided to make a baked version.
The chicken is coated in egg and cornstarch and then baked. The chicken pieces still have a light, crunchy coating that is a bit healthier than the fried version.
I also made my sauce a little more savory and less sweet and tangy. Over the years, I’ve experienced a few variations of General Tso’s Chicken. The sweet, tangy and spicy flavor profile like the one at Panda Express is what is usually found at American-Chinese restaurants. I’ve also tasted a more savory spicy version served at small Chinese restaurants. Both are good in their own way and for me, it usually just comes down to what I’m in the mood for. Since I already had the sweet and sour version at Panda Express, I decided to share a more savory version.
Finally, I mixed mine with some steamed broccoli and served it over rice.
Baked General Tso’s Chicken
- 1 lb boneless chicken breast cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 cup cornstarch
- 2 eggs whisked
- 1 cup steamed broccoli florets
For the sauce
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce
- 3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 2 tsp hoisin sauce
- 3 tbsp granulated white sugar
- 2 tsp + 1/8 tsp cornstarch
- 2 tsp sriracha
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 2 tsp thinly sliced ginger
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes optional
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Add whisked eggs to a small bowl and set aside. Add cornstarch to a wide bowl and set aside.
- Dip a piece of chicken in egg, shaking a few times to get off excess egg. Lightly roll chicken in cornstarch, tapping chicken a few times against the edge of your bowl to remove excess cornstarch. Place onto baking sheet. Repeat with remaining chicken.
- Bake chicken for about 12-15 minutes until chicken is cooked and crusted in a pale yellow coating (from the cornstarch and egg). If any chicken pieces have loose cornstarch remaining, brush off. Flip chicken pieces and bake an additional 5 minutes. Flip chicken back and set oven to low broil. Cook 5-10 minutes until the coating of the chicken turns a light brown and crisps up. Keep checking through the oven door during the broiling, as the heat is quite high and you don’t want to burn your chicken.
- To make the sauce, add all ingredients into a small saucepan. Without turning on heat, whisk until sauce is smooth and cornstarch is completely dissolved. Bring sauce to a simmer, stirring constantly so cornstarch doesn’t clump up. Cook 1-2 minutes until sauce is very thick. Turn off heat and set sauce aside for a few minutes, allowing it to cool slightly and thicken even more.
- Toss chicken with the sauce until chicken is evenly coated. Add in broccoli. Serve over rice.
The nutrition information provided are only estimates based on an online nutritional calculator. I am not a certified nutritionist. Please consult a professional nutritionist or doctor for accurate information and any dietary restrictions and concerns you may have.
This post was created in partnership with Panda Express. All opinions expressed are my own.