Easy General Tso’s Chicken

from 36 votes

General Tso’s Chicken is a delicious Chinese-American dish starring crispy chicken pieces coated in a sweet, tangy and slightly spicy sauce. The chicken is deep-fried until golden brown and then tossed in a flavorful mixture of soy sauce, garlic, ginger, hoisin sauce and chili peppers. It’s one of my favorite takeout dishes and now you can whip it up at home in just 30 minutes from start to finish! 

Large spoon containing Easy General Tso's Chicken.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then that above shot is my dissertation on the greatest homemade General Tso’s Chicken you will ever taste. A bold but oh-so-accurate claim!

Just look at that ratio of sweet and tangy sauce to crispy chicken pieces. There’s more than enough sauce to generously coat the chicken and spoon atop rice or noodles. I’ll take all the sticky-sweet, slightly sour, super umami sauce, please!

Making takeout favorites at home is nothing new around here. Easy Beef and Broccoli continues to be one of the most popular recipes of all time, and Thai Coconut Sticky Rice with Mango isn’t far behind.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • On your dinner table in 30 minutes or less. 
  • It’s sweet, savory, sour and every bit as addictive as the restaurant version.
  • The chicken is crispy without being overly breaded (my usual complaint when it comes to General Tso’s), while the sauce is thick and syrupy, just like it should be.

If you prefer a vegetarian version, I’ve got you covered! Check out my top-rated recipe for General Tso’s Cauliflower starring crispy cauliflower florets bathed in an equally-as-enticing sauce.

Mouth watering yet? Read on for the recipe and don’t forget the pineapple fried rice and homemade fortune cookies to complete your feast! 

Ingredients

Ingredients for general Tso's chicken in various sizes of glass bowls, including vegetable oil, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar, chicken stock, minced garlic and ginger, flour, cornstarch, chicken thigh pieces, whole dried chilies, soy sauce, and rice wine vinegar.

There are two parts to this classic Chinese-American dish, the deep-fried crispy chicken bites and the sticky, savory sauce that’s both sweet and spicy. Here’s what you’ll need for each:

For the chicken:

  • Cornstarch: This is your secret weapon for achieving that irresistible crispy coating on the chicken. Make sure to generously coat each piece for maximum crunchiness.
  • All-purpose flour: Combined with cornstarch, this creates the perfect crispy texture while still allowing the chicken to remain tender on the inside.
  • Boneless, skinless chicken thighs: These cuts are great for frying and have more flavor and moisture than chicken breasts. Swap: You can use chicken breasts instead, but thighs are more tender and tastier.
  • Vegetable oil: Has a high smoke point, making it ideal for frying.

For the sauce:

  • Cornstarch: This acts as a thickening agent for the sauce.
  • Soy sauce: Adds depth of flavor and that signature umami kick. If you’re gluten-sensitive, opt for tamari instead.
  • Dried whole chilies, such as chile de árbol: Adjust the amount of chilies based on your spice preference, or substitute with red pepper flakes for a milder heat.
  • Minced garlic and ginger: Fresh is best for both of these but garlic powder and ground ginger can be used in a pinch. Just be sure to reduce the amount as dried ingredients are more potent than fresh. 
  • Rice wine vinegar: Provides a tangy acidity to balance the sweetness of the sauce. Swap: Substitute with apple cider vinegar if that’s what you have in your pantry.
  • Hoisin sauce: This thick, aromatic sauce is commonly used in Asian cooking and can usually be found in the international aisle of most grocery stores. Swap: You can use oyster sauce as a substitute.
  • Light brown sugar: Adds sweetness and depth to the sauce, balancing out the savory and spicy flavors. 
  • Chicken stock: Use a good quality for maximum flavor.
  • Sesame oil: Just a little goes a long way, so use it sparingly.

See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.

How to Make General Tso’s Chicken

Before starting, ensure all your ingredients are prepped and ready to go. Like stir-frying, this recipe cooks quickly, so organizing everything will make the cooking process smoother and more enjoyable.

  1. Velvet the chicken. Coat the chicken in a mixture of cornstarch and flour to velvet it, a technique commonly used in Chinese cuisine. This creates a protective coating that helps lock in moisture, keeping the chicken juicy and flavorful. This recipe omits the egg white marinade for a quicker and easier cooking process, similar to my Mongolian beef recipe.
  2. Fry the chicken. To achieve perfectly crispy chicken, make sure the oil is hot enough before adding the chicken. You can test the oil temperature by adding one piece of the chicken to the pan. If it bubbles and floats, the oil is at the correct temperature. 

Pro Tip: Fry in batches to prevent overcrowding the pot, which can lead to uneven cooking and soggy chicken.

  1. Make the sauce. Stir constantly when cooking the chilies, garlic, and ginger until fragrant and golden brown to avoid burning. Allow the sauce to come to a gentle boil after adding the cornstarch slurry. This activates the cornstarch, causing the sauce to thicken. Be sure to stir continuously to prevent lumps from forming.
  2. Coat the chicken. Once the sauce has thickened to a syrupy consistency, add the fried chicken back to the pan and toss to coat evenly. 
  1. Garnish and serve. This is totally optional, but I like to sprinkle sliced scallions over the finished dish just before serving for a pop of freshness and color.

Tips and Tricks

  • For every clove of garlic, use about ¼ teaspoon of garlic powder, and for every teaspoon of minced fresh ginger, use approximately ¼ teaspoon of ground ginger.
  • You can adjust the amount of chili peppers to control the level of spiciness. I personally enjoy a bit of heat, so if you prefer a milder flavor, feel free to reduce the amount by half.
  • If you’re swapping in crushed red pepper flakes, I recommend starting off with either ½ teaspoon or 1 teaspoon then taste and add more as needed.
  • Use a deep-fry thermometer and heat the oil until it reaches a temperature range of 350 to 375°F. If the oil is too hot, the coating may burn before the chicken cooks through. If it’s too cold, the chicken will absorb more oil and become greasy.
  • Keep an eye on the sauce as it simmers. It should thicken to a syrupy consistency, coating the back of a spoon. If the sauce becomes too thick, add a splash of chicken stock or water to reach the desired consistency. 
  • This dish really is best cooked and served as close to mealtime as possible. You could absolutely do all the prep work in the ingredient list, as once you start the cooking, it goes very quickly!
Watch Kelly effortlessly whip up perfectly tender and crispy General Tso’s Chicken in this quick recipe video.

Storage and Reheating

General Tso’s Chicken is best enjoyed fresh, but leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat gently in the microwave or on the stovetop until warmed through, adding a splash of water or chicken stock to prevent the chicken from drying out.

What to Serve with General Tso’s Chicken

Whether you’re serving it over a bed of steamed rice or alongside crispy air fryer egg rolls, this Easy General Tso’s Chicken is sure to be a hit with the whole family. Here are a few more of my favorite dishes to serve alongside this homemade takeout recipe for an Asian-inspired dinner:

Common Questions

Is General Tso Chicken just orange chicken?

While General Tso’s Chicken and Orange Chicken are both popular Chinese-American dishes featuring battered and fried chicken tossed in a flavorful sauce, they are not the same. General Tso’s Chicken features a sweet, tangy, and slightly spicy sauce with savory and spicy notes from ingredients like soy sauce, garlic, and chili peppers. In contrast, Orange Chicken offers a sweeter, tangier flavor profile with prominent citrusy notes from orange juice or zest, soy sauce and vinegar.

How do I prevent the chicken from becoming soggy after adding the sauce?

To prevent the chicken from becoming soggy, toss it in the sauce just before serving to maintain its crispiness. Alternatively, serve the sauce on the side for dipping.

Can I make General Tso’s Chicken in an air fryer?

Absolutely! Preheat the air fryer to 400°F and coat the basket with cooking spray. Arrange the chicken pieces in a single layer, ensuring they aren’t touching. Coat them with cooking spray and air-fry for 8 to 10 minutes, flipping halfway through. Use a meat thermometer to check that the internal temperature reaches 165°F. Once cooked, toss the chicken in General Tso’s sauce and enjoy! Note: You may need to adjust the cooking time based on the size of your chicken pieces and your air fryer model.

Gold spoon with homemade Easy General Tso's Chicken.

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Main Course

Easy General Tso’s Chicken

Ditch the delivery in favor of a DIY recipe for Easy General Tso's Chicken starring tender chicken thighs in a sweet and tangy sauce.
Author: Kelly Senyei
4.89 from 36 votes
Large spoon containing Easy General Tso's Chicken.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients 

For the chicken:

  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Vegetable oil, for frying

For the sauce:

  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup dried whole chilies, such as chile de árbol
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 Tablespoon sesame oil
  • Sliced scallions, for garnishing

Instructions 

Make the chicken:

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and flour with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and ⅛ teaspoon pepper. Add the chicken pieces to the bowl, tossing to coat. 
  • Add 2 to 3 inches of vegetable oil to a large heavy-bottomed stockpot set over medium-high heat. Line a plate with paper towels. 
  • Once the oil is hot, shake off any excess flour mixture from the chicken pieces and add them to the oil in batches. (See Note.) 
  • Cook the chicken pieces in batches, turning as needed, until golden brown and cooked through. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked chicken to the paper towel-lined plate then make the sauce.

Make the sauce:

  • In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and soy sauce to make a slurry. Set the slurry aside.
  • Add the vegetable oil to a large saucepan set over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the chilies, garlic and ginger and cook, stirring constantly, until the garlic is golden brown, about 1 minute.
  • Stir in the rice wine vinegar, hoisin, brown sugar, chicken stock and sesame oil. 
  • Stir in the slurry, bring the sauce to a simmer and cook it until it thickens to the consistency of syrup, about 1 minute.
  • Return the chicken to the pan and toss to coat. 
  • Serve the chicken topped with scallions.

Kelly’s Notes

  • I personally enjoy a bit of heat, so if you prefer a milder flavor, feel free to reduce the amount by half.
  • You can test if the oil is hot enough by adding one piece of the chicken to the pan. If it bubbles and floats, the oil is the correct temperature.
  • This dish really is best cooked and served as close to mealtime as possible. You could absolutely do all the prep work in the ingredient list, as once you start the cooking, it goes very quickly!
  • Did you make this recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!

Nutrition

Calories: 642kcal, Carbohydrates: 44g, Protein: 59g, Fat: 23g, Saturated Fat: 9g, Cholesterol: 271mg, Sodium: 1431mg, Potassium: 838mg, Sugar: 19g, Vitamin A: 70IU, Vitamin C: 0.7mg, Calcium: 49mg, Iron: 3.5mg

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Recipe by Just a Taste. Please do not reprint this recipe without my permission. If you'd like to feature this recipe on your site, please rewrite the method of preparation and link to this post as the original source.


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4.89 from 36 votes (1 rating without comment)

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Comments

  1. I’m going to try this on Christmas Day, believe it or not!! Can you fry the chicken earlier in the day and the sauce, then just heat and combine later? Or is it better to do all together? It’s just that always pressed for time on Christmas day. Looking for recipes that you can do a lot of the prep ahead of time.

    1. Hi William! This dish really is best cooked and served as close to meal time as possible. You could absolutely do all the prep work in the ingredient list, as once you start the cooking, it goes very quickly!

  2. 5 stars
    This is the BEST general tso’s chicken recipe. My husband and I absolutely love it! It’s better than take-out and is a staple in our house. Thank you so much for sharing it!

  3. 4 stars
    I would highly recommend shaking the seeds out of the dried chilies. I love spicy but this was crazy unenjoyably hot. The flavor was amazing until I couldn’t feel my tongue to taste it anymore . I will definitely be making it again just with less chilies and without their seeds. Other than that seriously amazing recipe

    1. Thanks for your note, Danielle! I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe (until it was too spicy ).

  4. What chiles do you use? There is literally dozens of options at the market – I ended up with one I thought looked the closest, but there’s such a variety of spice that I have no idea which one to pick.

  5. 5 stars
    Marvelous! I did it today and was easy but extremely delicious! Definitely, so far my favorite recipes for General Cho Chicken.

  6. Delicious! I substituted ~1 tbsp of crushed red pepper for the 1/4 cup of chiles.

    Could this sauce be stored (maybe frozen?) for future use? I’d love to have some handy.

    I’m making the above recipe (for the 2nd time) tomorrow, and hope to double the sauce, and save half of it for wings later in the week.

  7. 5 stars
    THE BEST General Tso chicken even. It tastes just a great as the what I buy from a favorite restaurant. Now I make it myself. The brown sugar is the secret.

      1. 5 stars
        Oh my gosh. Soo good. I was so disappointed when I ordered Chinese food and such little sauce. Bummer!!!
        I said to self “Well this can not happen again” Haha. FF: Got ingredients few days later…Just made the Tso’s and it’s delicious!!!! Thank uuuuu

  8. 5 stars
    I love General Tso chicken, it’s my favorite meal at Chinese restaurants, but lately I have been disappointed with it, because every one uses breast meat chicken now, and I like the original version made with chicken thighs. And I like it extra spicy to. I added a few More chili’s. Thank you for this lovely recipe. No more ordering out for me.

  9. 5 stars
    My family loves this recipe! It is moved into our weekly rotation (which is saying a lot because we don’t have any other recipes we make each week). We also added broccoli or a steamed Asian vegetable medley. Delicious!

  10. Great recipe! It’s very easy to make so I’ll be making this instead of eating out for Chinese! It’s hard to find a good general to’s sauce at restaurants. I do agree that 1/4 cup chilies is to much but that’s an easy fix. My husband loved the spiciness but it’s just to much for me but it’s an amazing recipe. I’ll just cut down on the chilies next time. Thank you for the great recipe!

  11. 5 stars
    Wow.
    Simple dish yet has amazing flavor. Used fresh chilies from the garden. I will be making this again (and again..).

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