General Tso’s Chicken

5 from 10 votes
72 Comments

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This General Tso’s Chicken Recipe is a crowd favorite!  Save money on takeout with this Chinese restaurant style chicken. Crispy, sweet, and slightly spicy. 

A piece of General Tso's Chicken held up with chopsticks

Homemade General Tso’s Chicken

This General Tso’s Chicken is near and dear to my heart. It’s actually the first meal my husband, Jared, ever made for me back when we were dating. How lucky am I to have a husband that loves to cook and makes a great chef! With a recipe as good and easy as this, you won’t ever have to, or want to, order-out for Chinese food again. Jared actually worked for a Chinese take-out restaurant when he was in high school. He learned how to make a bunch of the dishes, so keep a look out for some of his recipes when you are browsing Favorite Family Recipes. General Tso’s Chicken was his favorite to make and to eat when he worked there.

General Tso's Chicken in a bowl on a bed of rice topped with green onions and sesame seeds

What is General Tso’s Chicken?

This dish is named for Chinese military general Zuo Zontang, or General Tso, from the Hunan Province in China. Famous Chinese Chef Peng Chang-kuei is said to have made this chicken dish in his honor. Since then it has been somewhat Americanized but still tastes delicious! Crisp, lightly fried pieces of chicken are soaked in a sweet and spicy sauce mixture and generally served over rice. The sweet and spicy flavors blend beautifully in the pan as you cook it and taste even better as leftovers the next day!

How do you pronounce “Tso?”

Some people aren’t quite sure how to pronounce “General Tso.” Some say “General Cho”, others I have heard say “General Sow,” or even “General Toes.” I have always pronounced it “General Soh”, but Jared has always called it “General Chow.” I always thought he was way off but I have come to find out he is technically right. At the Chinese restaurant where he worked, it was pronounced “Chow” and the owners of the restaurant assured him that this is the correct way of saying it. There is the Americanized way of saying and the correct Chinese way of saying it, which is indeed “Chow.” No matter how you say it, people will figure out what you are trying to say sooner or later!

Additions and Substitutions 

  • We love cooking this dish up with a bowl of our Restaurant Ham Fried Rice and some steamed veggies on the side.
  • Add sesame seeds or some scallions on top for extra texture and garnish.
  • You can also add pineapple, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower or other veggies right in with the chicken to make it go further.
  • It is also delicious to add bell peppers or chili peppers in with the chicken. Do what you think your family would like best!
  • Add a tbsp or two of hoisin sauce for a deeper color and flavor in the sauce. 
  • For more of a kick, add a bit more cayenne pepper or even a shake or two of hot sauce. By the same token, if you want it less spicy, only add a bit of cayenne.
  • Toss in a dash of rice wine vinegar, rice vinegar or Chinese rice wine for extra flavor.

How to Fry chicken for this recipe

Getting the perfect fried chicken for General Tso’s chicken is really easy! Just follow these simple steps:

  1. First, make sure to cut the chicken into 2-inch pieces so they will all cook evenly. You can use chicken breasts or boneless skinless chicken thighs.
  2. Next, dredge the chicken in flour or a mixture of flour and cornstarch. Use a medium bowl to hold your flour mixture.
  3. Then, deep fry or fry in a pan on the stovetop. You can use all kinds of oil: sesame oil or vegetable oil. Toasted sesame oil is very strong so you may want to use just a little bit along with vegetable oil for flavor.
  4. Work in batches and fry on medium high heat so the oil stays hot during the whole cooking process.
  5. Allow the pieces of chicken to rest on some paper towels to absorb some of the oil.

More Recipes Like General Tso’s Chicken

  • Crock Pot Cashew Chicken: Needing an easy recipe to throw in the slow cooker? This is definitely a reader-favorite recipe. Such an easy weeknight dinner idea!
  • Panda Express Chow Mein: Need a side dish to go with your meal? This is one of my favorites!
  • Bonefish Grill’s Bang Bang Shrimp: This shrimp has got to be my favorite thing at Bonefish Grill, hands down. Guess what? It is SO easy to make at home-check it out!
  • Chinese BBQ Pork (Char Siu): This is a delicious recipe for the smoker or grill. The pork is moist, tender, and flavorful.
  • Sesame Chicken Stir Fry: This is a low-calorie option if you are craving Chinese food but want keep it on the healthier side.
  • Check out ALL our Asian-inspired recipes HERE

How to make General Tso’s Chicken

General Tso's Chicken in a bowl on a bed of rice topped with green onions and sesame seeds

General Tso’s Chicken Recipe

5 from 10 votes
This General Tso's Chicken Recipe is a crowd favorite!  Save money on takeout with this Chinese restaurant style chicken. Crispy, sweet, and slightly spicy. 
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Chinese
Servings 4

Video

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Dredge chicken in flour.
    Boneless skinless chicken breast cut up into pieces and dredged in flour in a glass bowl
  • Fry in oil over medium heat (in a wok or a skillet) until golden brown and crispy. Drain excess oil. Sprinkle cayenne over the chicken and keep warm on low heat. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, combine sauce ingredients (sugar, soy sauce, pineapple juice, vinegar, garlic, and ginger) and heat gently.
    Lightly fried chicken on a paper towl
  • When sauce is smooth and sugar has dissolved, SLOWLY add cornstarch mixture and stir constantly until sauce has thickened to desired thickness. Pour sauce in the wok and stir to coat chicken. Stir in green onion and hot red pepper flakes (optional). Remove from heat and serve with fried rice.
    General Tso's Chicken in a bowl on a bed of rice topped with green onions and sesame seeds

Nutrition Information

Calories: 324kcalCarbohydrates: 41gProtein: 30gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 73mgSodium: 945mgPotassium: 534mgFiber: 1gSugar: 15gVitamin A: 206IUVitamin C: 6mgCalcium: 25mgIron: 1mg

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About the author

Erica Walker

Erica lives in Boise, Idaho with her husband, Jared, an attorney, and her beautiful three girls. Beyond the world of recipes, she loves adventuring with everything from kayaking, to cruising, to snowboarding and taking the family along for the thrill ride.

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I loved this so much! The flavor of the sauce is delicious and the crust on the chicken was the perfect consistency! I did make a couple of changes, though! First, I marinated the chicken for about an hour and a half before trying. I also added a little bit of white pepper and salt to the flour for extra flavor. I swapped the cayane pepper for crushed red pepper. Lastly, I added bamboo shoots in with the chicken at the end. Overall fantastic, this is going in my recipe box!

  2. 5 stars
    This recipe was so delicious and the family loved it! Thank you! And I reckon it’s “soh”. Definitely not “toes”! LOL

  3. This was amazing. I had doubts about it tasting like General Tso’s. Next time I will add some heat but this is a new family favorite!

  4. I just tried this recipe and I was expecting it to be a little sweeter. On the other hand, my boyfriend loves it.

    1. If you prefer your General Tso chicken to be sweeter, you can always add a little extra brown sugar and pineapple juice to the sauce. Hope this helps!

  5. Hi there! Can I substitute pineapple juice for something else? Orange juice perhaps? I don’t have any pineapple and would love to try this today. Thanks 😀

      1. Can you omit the pineapple juice all together?
        Or whats another substitute if you dont have pineapple or orange juice..

        1. The pineapple juice definitely helps the consistency of the sauce. You could try adding some vinegar and sugar for that sweet and sour taste!

  6. I’m making this soon and wanted to know if you only dredge the chicken in flour, or if it needs to be a flour/egg mixture? Also do I only dredge it once or multiple times to get a thicker breading?

    1. You can do it either way. I seem to get a better coating if I do egg/flour but it depends how thick you want the breading. You can do it multiple times to get a thicker breading if that’s what you want to do!

  7. 5 stars
    This was fantastic! My husband took one bite and said, “Oh we’re absolutely making this again!” Only change we’ve made is steaming veggies and throwing them into the sauce and chicken. YUM!

    1. We love throwing veggies in the sauce too! Pineapple is good in the sauce too 🙂 So glad you guys liked it!

  8. Loved this recipe. My only problem was the directions did not say to boil the sauce after adding the cornstarch. I followed the directions & the sauce never thickened. I looked at the cornstarch box & it said to boil for 1 minute. I did that & all was great!! Thanks for this great replacement for takeout.

  9. The recipe seems to be missing. Any chance of putting it back? my family keeps requesting this dish again, it’s excellent but I never did print it out and now it seems to not even be there on the page. 🙁
    Thanks!!

  10. This was delicious! My family of 5 devoured it. I used 5 chicken breasts which the sauce just barely covered. Next time I will double the sauce, as we like ours a little more saucy. Very good flavor. I didn’t change anything. Thank you for this awesome recipe!

    1. Emily, after you cut up the chicken this recipe only takes about 30 minutes to make. Thanks for asking!

  11. How did you get the chicken breading to look so perfect? Your list of ingredients doesn’t contain flower but the instructions state to use flower. Am I missing something?

    1. You are right- flour is not in the ingredients list but it IS used to coat the chicken to get the crispy breaded coating. I will fix it on the recipe

  12. Do not use regular soy sauce! Too strong and terrible. I had to triple the other ingredients to balance it out.

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