This weekend I made General Tso’s Chicken for the first time. I surprised Mr. K with it and he loved it. He really enjoys Chinese takeout-style dishes and has been pretty excited that I’ve been making them for him now.
What is General Tso’s Chicken?
It’s a popular Chinese American dish consisting of crispy fried chicken cubes coated in a salty, slightly sweet and mildly spicy sauce.
I remember the first time I saw General Tso’s chicken on a menu. My first thought was: What the heck is General Tso’s Chicken? The origins of the dish are murky. It was served in America as a dish from the Hunan province, but apparently, if you visit Hunan, the dish is nowhere to be found.
According to The Fortune Cookie Chronicles, the dish became popular when Taiwanese chefs in New York served it in their Hunan restaurants.
The dish follows the same method as many other popular American Chinese stir fry dishes like Orange Chicken and Mongolian Beef. It uses many common Chinese pantry staples and is pretty easy to make.
You fry the protein for a crunchy exterior. Definitely not healthy, but it does make the meat extra tasty. Then the dish is mixed with a thick, sticky sauce, making it perfect for eating over a bed of rice.
I adapted this recipe from Appetite for China, but I eliminated a few of the ingredients as well as left out the marinating of the meat to simplify the recipe. I’ve found that because the sauce is so strong, it’s enough to flavor the chicken, so skipping the marinade isn’t that noticeable.
- Boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into bite-sized pieces – I prefer thighs because they have more flavor and fat that keep the pieces moist. If you prefer, you can use chicken breast, but the chicken may end up a little drier.
- Cornstarch – You will need some for the chicken coating and a little to thicken the sauce.
- Egg whites
- Vegetable oil – Or other high-smoke point cooking oil
- Dried chilis or red pepper flakes
- Minced garlic cloves
- White sesame seeds
- Chopped scallions or green onions
- Soy sauce
- Rice vinegar
- Hoisin sauce
- Sesame oil
- Granulated sugar
How to Make It
Heat two to three cups of oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. While the oil heats, coat the chicken in the egg white and then in the cornstarch.
Fry the coated chicken pieces in small batches until they are golden brown. Drain them on paper towels and repeat with the rest of the chicken.
Whisk the water, soy sauce, vinegar, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, and sugar in a small saucepan. Heat the mixture over low heat, stirring constantly, until the sauce starts to thicken. Turn off the heat and set the pan aside.
In a wok or large skillet, heat a little vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook it until it’s fragrant, about 30 seconds or so.
Add the fried chicken and sauce, and stir to so the chicken is coated evenly. Garnish with sesame seeds and scallions or green onions.
The taste of this General Tso’s Chicken is very similar to takeout – we’ll definitely make it again! Here are a few more takeout recipes you might like, too:
More Chinese Recipes
General Tso's Chicken
- 1 lb raw boneless chicken thighs cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 1/2 cups cornstarch for coating
- 2 egg whites for coating
- 2-3 cups vegetable oil for frying
- 8 dried chilis or 1/2 tbsp red chili flakes
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 tbsp white sesame seeds garnish
- 2 tsp chopped green scallions garnish
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
for the sauce
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 1 tsp hoisin sauce
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp granulated white sugar
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- Add oil to pot being used for frying and bring to a medium-high heat. Dip chicken pieces in egg white and then in cornstarch. Add to hot oil. Fry chicken in small batches until they turn a golden brown. Then remove and place on a plate lined with a paper towel to soak up excess oil. Repeat until all chicken is fried.
- In a small saucepan, whisk together sauce ingredient until cornstarch is dissolved. Then heat the saucepan on low heat, stirring constantly until sauce just begins to thicken and before it begins to boil. Then turn off heat.
- In a wok or large pan, add 1 tbsp vegetable oil and bring to a medium-high heat. Add in minced garlic until aroma of garlic comes out. Add in fried chicken and stir. Pour on sauce and stir until all chicken pieces are coated. Turn off stove. Sprinkle scallions and sesame for garnish. Serve with 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.