Everybody can make this Easy General Tso's Chicken Recipe at home with crispy pan-fried breaded chicken covered with a spicy, sweet, and tangy sauce—a healthy 30-minute recipe.
Featured Comment from Alby C.
"Wow! This recipe was so delicious and so easy to make. I can't believe a novice cook like me was able to make a dish that rivaled most restaurants I've been to! Signature dish! Thank you so much!"
- 👨🍳How to Make General Tso's Chicken
- Options and variations
- How to adjust the spiciness
- To make Gluten-Free General Tso's Chicken
- ↕️How to make this a "for two" or "family size" recipe
- 🍽️Serving General Tso's
- Storage of leftovers
- 🇨🇳What is General Tso's Chicken
- Step-by-Step Photo Instructions
- 📖 Recipe
Mainly using pantry ingredients and some Housin sauce, you can have the great taste of Chinese takeout at home in only 30 minutes.
I have destroyed my kitchen in the past with General Tao recipes, but this recipe, adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe, is only one pot, plus much easier and faster to make at home.
- Chicken—usually skinless boneless chicken breasts, but thighs will work.
- Coating Ingredients—corn starch, egg, salt, pepper
- General Tso's Sauce Ingredients—corn starch, Hoisin sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar, ketchup, dry ginger, crushed red pepper
- Vegetable Oil—for pan frying
- Serving—toasted sesame seeds, sliced green onion, cooked rice.steamed vegetables
👨🍳How to Make General Tso's Chicken
- Trim and dry chicken breasts into 1-inch cubes.
- Make the batter coating of egg, cornstarch, salt, and pepper. Coat the chicken and shake off the excess topping. Let rest for 5-10 minutes before cooking, if possible, to improve adhesion.
- Brown the chicken in a large skillet or wok in hot oil in one or two batches. Turn occasionally and cook to 165°.
- Mix the General Tso sauce with Hoisin sauce, ketchup, and other seasonings.
- When the chicken is brown and 165°, remove the chicken from the skillet.
- Add the sauce to the hot pan and cook until thickened while whisking continuously.
- Add the chicken to the sauce and serve.
This is a summary of the steps. See the recipe card or the step-by-step photo instructions below for complete instructions.
Options and variations
- If you use thighs, the cooking temperature should be 180°-185° for tenderness.
- You can use a whole egg instead of two whites. The whites are used to continue the "lighter" theme by decreasing the fat.
- The Hoisin sauce provides a vinegar flavor for this dish, but you may want to add some rice wine vinegar. Likewise, garlic is in the Hoisin, but add more if you wish.
- Dry ginger is used, but you may use 1 teaspoon of freshly grated ginger for each ¼ teaspoon of ground ginger.
- Brown sugar adds sweetness to the sauce but can be cut in half without much effect.
How to adjust the spiciness
The red pepper flakes are "to taste." ¼ teaspoon has minimal heat (1/10) but some pleasant taste. ½ teaspoon is what you typically have in a restaurant (3/10), but 1 teaspoon is more for the heat lover (7/10).
Dried Chinese chilies like Tien Tsin peppers can be used, but be careful since they can be very hot.
To make Gluten-Free General Tso's Chicken
Most General Tso's is not naturally gluten-free, but with a few easy adaptions, it will be.
- Hoisin sauce is usually thickened with wheat, but gluten-free versions are available.
- Soy sauce is packed with gluten, but Tamari is a good substitute and is generally gluten-free, but read the label.
- Ketchup is usually gluten-free, but some have gluten, so read the labels.
↕️How to make this a "for two" or "family size" recipe
This is a very easy recipe to cut in half or double
The full recipe makes 4 large servings. Perfect for our "for two" household for two meals.
- Use the recipe card and adjust the number of servings to half or double.
- Use the amount of ingredients in the ingredient list, not the instructions—those do not adjust.
- In a double recipe, you will need to cook the coated chicken in batches.
Storage of leftovers
Store leftovers in an airtight container refrigerated for 3 days. The longer you store coating made with cornstarch, the more it will break apart.
Also, the sauce is made with cornstarch and may become "jelly" like when refrigerated. It will still taste good and is safe, but the texture may be off.
You can find a few suggestions, but there is no great substitute. Many components make this a unique sauce; you will not get the desired results with substitutes. Hoisin is commonly available in most markets and is worth buying for this recipe.
First, dry the chicken as much as possible with paper towels before coating.
Second, let the coating set on the chicken for 5-10 minutes before cooking.
Third, flip gently in the skillet with a fork.
Fourth, cook the chicken in several batches to not crowd the pan.
🇨🇳What is General Tso's Chicken
General Tso's chicken is a sweet, tangy, and somewhat spicy deep-fried chicken dish served in most North American Chinese restaurants.
Although it is probably some basis in standard Chinese fare, it is not a traditional Chinese dish. Most likely, what we now know as General Tso’s Chicken originated in New York City in the 1970s, but there are many conflicting claims about who and where.
Wherever it started, it is now standard fare in almost every North American Chinese restaurant—and has always been one of the most popular dishes.
This recipe is listed in these categories. See them for more similar recipes.
Step-by-Step Photo Instructions
Trim two skinless boneless chicken breasts, then cube them into about 1-inch pieces—pat dry with paper towels.
Whisk together 2 egg whites or one whole egg, cornstarch, salt, and pepper.
Add chicken to the egg mixture and stir to coat. Shake the excess coating and let set for 5 minutes if you have the time to help the coating adhere better. Heat 2 teaspoons vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a large nonstick skillet or a wok.
Add the chicken one piece at a time to the hot oil. You can be a perfectionist, half-turn them nicely for 8 to 10 minutes, and repeat. OR put them all in and occasionally stir like lazy me for about 12-14 minutes. Be sure the internal temp gets to 165° by checking multiple pieces. Use 185° as your endpoint if using thighs.
Start the sauce while the chicken is cooking—whisk cornstarch into ½ cup of water. Then add brown sugar, Hoisin sauce, ketchup, soy sauce, dry ginger, and crushed red pepper.
When the chicken is done, transfer it to a bowl and decrease the heat to medium-low. Add the sauce and whisk continuously while boiling until well thickened, 2-3 minutes.
Add the chicken back into the sauce and stir to coat.
Transfer to the serving dish. Garnish with the toasted sesame seeds and slices of green onion. Serve with sides of rice and steamed vegetables.
Easy General Tso's Chicken Recipe
- 2 skinless boneless chicken breasts - about 10-12 oz. each.
- 2 teaspoons oil
- 3 tablespoons corn starch
- 1 egg - or two egg whites
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoons pepper
- ½ cup water
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
- 3 tablespoons Hoisin sauce
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- ½ cup brown sugar - or less
- 3 tablespoons ketchup
- ¼ teaspoon dry ginger
- ¼ to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper - See recipe notes below
- toasted sesame seeds
- sliced green onion
- cooked rice
- steamed vegetables
- Trim two skinless boneless chicken breasts, then cube them into about 1-inch pieces—pat dry with paper towels.
- Whisk together 2 egg whites or one whole egg, cornstarch, salt, and pepper.
- Add chicken to the egg mixture and stir to coat. Shake the excess coating and let set for 5 minutes if you have the time to help the coating adhere better. Heat 2 teaspoons vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a large nonstick skillet or a wok.
- Add the chicken one piece at a time to the hot oil. You can be a perfectionist, half-turn them nicely for 8 to 10 minutes, and repeat. OR put them all in and occasionally stir like lazy me for about 12-14 minutes. Be sure the internal temp gets to 165° by checking multiple pieces. Use 185° as your endpoint if using thighs.
- Start the sauce while the chicken is cooking—whisk cornstarch into ½ cup of water. Then add brown sugar, Hoisin sauce, ketchup, soy sauce, dry ginger, and crushed red pepper.
- When the chicken is done, transfer it to a bowl and decrease the heat to medium-low. Add the sauce and whisk continuously while boiling until well thickened, 2-3 minutes.
- Add the chicken back into the sauce and stir to coat. Transfer to the serving dish. Garnish with the toasted sesame seeds and slices of green onion. Serve with sides of rice and steamed vegetables.
Your Own Private Notes
- You can use chicken thighs but should cook to 180° to 185° for better texture. They are safe at 165°.
- The Hoisin sauce is needed, and do not skip it.
- The sweetness is on the high side. Decrease the brown sugar if you want.
- I used two egg whites to make this "lighter" but use one whole egg if you want.
- The red pepper is "to taste". ¼ teaspoon has minimal heat (1/10) but some nice taste. ½ teaspoon is about what you would normally have in a restaurant (3/10), but 1 teaspoon is more for the heat lover (7/10).
- To decrease the sodium, cut out the salt and use low sodium soy sauce.
- Good refrigerated for 3 to 4 days. I don't see this freezing well.
To adjust the recipe size:
You may adjust the number of servings in this recipe card under servings. This does the math for the ingredients for you. BUT it does NOT adjust the text of the instructions. So you need to do that yourself.
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Editor's Note: Originally Published October 17, 2012. Updated with expanded options, refreshed photos, and a table of contents to help navigation.