Easy General Tso Chicken

Easy General Tso Chicken from 101 Cooking For TwoQuick, easy and tasty. My absolute favorite Chinese dish. This is now a weeknight 30 minute recipe. And as an extra bonus, this version is much healthier.

I have worked on this for almost a month. I started with an American Test Kitchen version. It was an absolute disaster. Yes, I do have those. Over one hour of hard cooking. I created the biggest mess I have ever made in the kitchen. Plus I hated it. Way too much vinegar and just otherwise not outstanding. With that much work, it needs to be great. I was very disappointed. My wife was likewise unimpressed. It went down the sink.

Several more recipes and it was starting to get really old. What others thought was great and wonderful just wasn’t. All had too much vinegar and too many unusual ingredients. Plus, they all took too much work for my “cooking for two” world.

Ultimately Lighter General Tso’s Chicken from Tracey’s Culinary Adventure came to the rescue. While I still changed a few things and cut the vinegar, this is definitely the inspiration piece. She used a Martha Stewart recipe as inspiration. The chicken was coated with some egg white and corn starch than pan-fried. Definitely healthier than deep-frying and easier.

Rating

Yep a five but a lower five. There is some room for improvement but not much. I will be doing this over and over.

Notes: The Martha method of cooking the chicken is a little fussy with turning each little piece to brown over and over. Plus doing it in two batches. This involves standing there continuously for about 20 minutes. I put it all in at once and stirred occasionally. A little of the coating came off (some even came off in the Martha method also) but most stayed on and your sin is hidden by the sauce anyways.

Ultimately I took the vinegar out completely. There is some vinegar in the Hoisin sauce and that was enough.  I left in some dry ginger but many recipes call for fresh ginger which I don’t usually have and don’t really like that much.

A heat note. I used 1 tsp of crushed red pepper. 1/2 tsp is mildly spicy and 1 tsp is hot which is how I like my Tso’s. My wife picked up some Tien Tsin peppers at Penzey last week to try. More on this later.

I have more brown sugar in this than may be needed and I will be cutting that down some in futures cooking’s. I really think it can cut in half without much effect. If your really want light, check the Tracy and Martha recipes.

The only “special” thing is Hoisin sauce. I’m now going to stock it in my refrigerator.

Start by rinsing, pat dry and trimming two skinless boneless chicken breast. Then cube into about 1 inch pieces.

Heat 2 t oil over medium high heat in a large non stick skillet or a wok. Whisk together 2 egg whites, 3 T corn starch, 1/2 t salt and 1/4 t pepper.

Add chicken to the egg mix and stir to coat.

Shake excess coating off the chicken and add one piece at a time. You can be a perfectionist and do half turning them nicely for 8 to 10 minutes and repeat. OR put them all in and stir occasionally like lazy me for about 12-14 minutes. Be sure the internal temp gets to 165 by checking multiple pieces.

While the chicken is cooking, mix the sauce. 1/2 cup water with 1 T corn starch. Whisk. Then add 1/2 cup brown sugar (decrease if you want). 3 T Hoisin sauce, 3 T ketchup, 2 T soy sauce, 1/4 t dry ginger and crushed red pepper. The red pepper is more to taste. 1/2 t is a mild heat (3/10) and 1 t is what I think of in Tso’s chicken (7/10).

When the chicken is done, transfer to a bowl and decrease heat to medium-low. Add the sauce and whisk continuously while boiling until well thickened 2-3 minutes.

Add the chicken back in and stir to coat.

Easy General Tso Chicken from 101 Cooking For Two
Transfer to serving dish and top with toasted sesame seeds.

Easy General Tso Chicken

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Easy General Tso Chicken

My absolute favorite Chinese dish. This is now a weeknight 30 minute recipe. And as an extra bonus, this version is much healthier.

Ingredients

  • 2 skinless boneless chicken breasts trimmed and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 3 T corn starch
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/4 t pepper
  • 2 t oil
  • Sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 T corn starch
  • 3 T Hoisin sauce
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup (or less) brown sugar
  • 3 T ketchup
  • 1/4 t dry ginger
  • 1/2 to 1 t crushed red pepper
  • Serving
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • toasted sesame seeds

Instructions

  1. Start by rinsing, pat dry and trimming two skinless boneless chicken breast. Then cube into about 1 inch pieces.
  2. Heat 2 t oil over medium high heat in a large non stick skillet or a wok. Whisk together 2 egg whites, 3 T corn starch, 1/2 t salt and 1/4 t pepper. Add chicken to the egg mix and stir to coat.
  3. Shake excess coating off the chicken and add one piece at a time. You can be a perfectionist and do half turning them nicely for 8 to 10 minutes and repeat. OR put them all in and stir occasionally like lazy me for about 12-14 minutes. Be sure the internal temp gets to 165 by checking multiple pieces.
  4. While the chicken is cooking, mix the sauce. 1/2 cup water with 1 T corn starch. Whisk. Then add 1/2 cup brown sugar (decrease if you want). 3 T Hoisin sauce, 3 T ketchup, 2 T soy sauce, 1/4 t dry ginger and crushed red pepper. The red pepper is more to taste. 1/2 t is a mild heat (3/10) and 1 t is what I think of in Tso’s chicken (7/10).
  5. When the chicken is done, transfer to a bowl and decrease heat to medium-low. Add the sauce and whisk continuously while boiling until well thickened 2-3 minutes.
  6. Add the chicken back in and stir to coat. Transfer to serving dish and top with toasted sesame seeds.
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Updated
December 6 2013

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Comments

  1. says

    It’s rare that an ATK recipe isn’t spot on but it happens. The first recipe I ever got for this starts by telling you to open the kitchen window because of how you cook dried chiles to start with. Your version seems a lot less complicated and faster than that recipe and it sounds like it comes out just as good.

  2. says

    I likewise have found all ATK recipes well tested and solid. This one just wasn’t for me. I reviewed what I did and really, I didn’t spot any errors. I think it was me and the vinegar think but I’m sure I measured that right. But who knows… This is simple and easy. I want to investigate some changes in the sauce but it is very good as stated and a good starting point. I will be done playing with it in about 20 more cooking’s.

  3. says

    Delicious! Even though I read through the recipe several times, I added the 1/2 c water to the cornstarch and egg whites. I was too lazy to separate more eggs so I went with it. I di shake of the excess liquid before adding the chicken to the pan. It was still good. I thought the sauce was a tad sweet. I used 1/3 c brown sugar, next time I will use 1.4 c. I will be making this again!

  4. says

    If you were to make ketchup, you would start with tomato paste, some vinegar, a little sugar and mustard, and a few spices. I would forget everything other than the tomato paste and just try 2 tablespoons of paste with a tablespoon of water. Let me know how that works…

  5. says

    Do you think it would work for shrimp or tofu as well?? I’m cooking for 2 too but I’m also a pescitarian with a boyfriend who doesnt
    like seafood so I’m always trying to find flexable recipes! Plus my last shot as general tso was a HUGE failure so I’m looking to redem myself with this:)

    • says

      I have no clue really… This is very easy and most of the taste is in the sauce. So subbing in something else for the chicken would probably work. Give it a try and with the sauce it should taste good anyway.

      With my first try at the General, I made a legendary mess in the kitchen and it didn’t taste very good. I get reminded occasionally…

    • says

      Well it wasn’t a disaster! The shrimp didn’t hold batter/coating but I think it was because of technical error (aka me:) But the chicken was perfect!

      I appreciate all your info/recipes you post! So far I’m 2 for 2 with this recipe and the Memphis BBQ pork tenderloin! Looking forward to trying more! thanks again!

    • says

      Glad it worked. I’m not a shrimp person (growing up in Iowa…) The Spicy Chicken Alfredo might be a good one for substitution.

      The Memphis tenderloin is always one of my favorites along with the KC brisket that I have in the oven now…

  6. Todd Smith says

    I would love if you would do a recipe for Japanese Fried Rice like they have at the Japnese Hibachi Steakhouses. I think that would pair very nicely with this.

  7. Robin Delaney says

    I’ve made this recipe a few times now. The egg wash has been stretched with a little water with no negative effects. Each time I’ve amped up the nutrition by adding veggies to the sauce–onion, sweet red/orange/yellow/green pepper, mushrooms, broccoli—or even easier a bag of Chinese veggies from freezer. No need to make additional sauce as there’s plenty to cover the veggies and the chicken. Typically my family sees this dish served with white rice, but last week it was served with sesame noodles…yum yum!! Thank you for making this a quick and tasty meal–faster than dashing for take out!

  8. Howie Aldwinckle says

    Being a single father with 4 kids, I am always looking for fast, easy recipes for meals. This recipe is just that and it tastes great! Even converted one of my kids into a General Tso’s Chicken fan!

  9. Ally says

    It would help if you specified whether T means table spoon or teaspoon. Most people use tsp for teaspoon and tbsp for tablespoon .

    • says

      The T and t have been standard for many years but seem to lead to confusion. I’m spelling them out more the last few months and will try to do it all the time from now on. I do have an abbreviation section in the FAQ section to help any confusion.
      DrDan

  10. Linsey says

    I bake quiet frequently but I want to start cooking more. This was the first thing I tried and it turned out great! I would say five stars plus! I had people over so I was a little nervous but all turned out well. I did doubled it by the way

    • says

      Great. This is one of my favorites that I don’t do enough. Maybe this weekend.
      Thanks for the note and jump in and try some others.
      DrDan

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