Homemade General Tso's Chicken Recipe

If you're ordering takeout from a Chinese restaurant, then you simply cannot go wrong with General Tso's chicken. The chicken itself is perfectly fried, and the sauce has an unbeatable combination of savory, sweet, and spicy flavors. Believe it or not, you actually don't need to order takeout to enjoy quality General Tso's chicken, and this recipe from developer Ting Dalton will satisfy both your tastebuds and your bank account. "This is such an amazing dish," Dalton raves describing it as "tangy, sweet, and spicy, but with the extra crunch of crispy chicken." 

Not only is it easy to make General Tso's chicken at home, but it doesn't take much time to do so, either. You will need a number of ingredients — most of which go into the sauce — but considering the amount of flavor profiles you'll cover, a lengthy ingredients list is a small price to pay. Pair this chicken with rice, noodles, vegetables, or just eat it as is to give takeout a run for its money. 

Grab the right ingredients to make homemade General Tso's chicken

Like we said, the ingredients list is a bit lengthy, but the end result is absolutely worth it. You'll need boneless, skinless chicken thighs (cut into small pieces), an egg white, Shaoxing cooking wine (you could use mirin instead), sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, both dark and light soy sauce, hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, water, brown sugar, cornstarch, grated ginger, red chili flakes, minced garlic, vegetable oil, sliced green onion, and finally some sesame seeds for garnish. 

"The method of using cornstarch to coat the chicken means you get a lovely crispy coating," Dalton says of the unexpected ingredient. It's a simple addition, but it makes a huge difference when it comes to the chicken's texture. After all, who would want their General Tso's chicken to be soggy? Cornstarch makes a lot of sense here, too, as its a crucial ingredient in the Chinese cooking method known as velveting, which help to tenderize meats in stir fries.  

Marinate the chicken and mix the sauce

To get started on the recipe, you'll want to make a quick marinade for the chicken. In a large bowl, add the chopped chicken pieces, along with the egg white, 1 tablespoon of the dark soy sauce, and the Shaoxing wine. Mix it all together and make sure that each piece of chicken is evenly coated, then set it aside for a bit.

Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, mix together the light soy sauce, remaining dark soy sauce, brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, rice wine vinegar, and sesame oil. This is the sauce that you'll coat the cooked chicken in, so just set it aside for the time being.

Coat the chicken in cornstarch, then fry

Add the remaining cornstarch to a shallow dish, then toss the chicken in it, ensuring that each piece is evenly coated. Now, place a wok (or deep skillet) on the stovetop and add the vegetable oil. Allow the oil to heat to 350 F (and make sure that the temperature stays steady as you cook), then fry the chicken for 2 to 3 minutes, until they're nice and crispy on the outside. You may need to work in batches, and as the chicken pieces become ready to go, place them on a paper towel-lined plate to drain excess oil.

Toss the chicken in the sauce

With the chicken cooked and set aside, get rid of most of the oil in the wok; leave only about 1 tablespoon. Add the garlic, ginger, and chili flakes, and let them cook for about 30 seconds. Now, add the sauce that you mixed up earlier, then turn the heat up quickly so the sauce comes to a simmer. The sauce will begin to thicken up. Once the sauce reaches your desired consistency, add the chicken back in and toss it in the sauce. "Try to make sure that you add the chicken at the last moment, so that the chicken doesn't lose its crispiness," Dalton advises. As soon as each piece of chicken is coated in sauce, immediately remove it from the heat. 

Garnish and serve your General Tso's chicken

Immediately serve up your homemade General Tso's chicken, sprinkle on some chopped green onion and sesame seeds, then enjoy. "Serve with boiled rice," Dalton suggests. "It's the perfect accompaniment." 

While this chicken is best enjoyed fresh and crispy, Dalton does note that you can keep leftovers. "for up to 3 days or freeze them, but be aware the chicken will no longer be crispy," she says. While the chicken may lose its crisp, those tangy, sweet, and spicy flavors will certainly still be there.

Homemade General Tso's Chicken Recipe
4.9 from 34 ratings
General Tso's chicken is a popular Chinese takeout pick, and for good reason. But you can actually make it at home with this budget-friendly and speedy recipe.
Prep Time
Cook Time
general tso's chicken with rice
Total time: 30 minutes
  • 1 pound skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce, divided
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine (or mirin)
  • ¼ cup light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 cup cornstarch, divided
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • ¼ cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups vegetable oil, for frying
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1 green onion, finely sliced, for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds for garnish
Optional Ingredients
  • cooked rice, for serving
  1. In a large bowl, add the chicken, egg white, 1 tablespoon of dark soy sauce, and Shaoxing wine. Combine well so the chicken is coated.
  2. In another bowl, mix together the remaining dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, and water. Set aside.
  3. Put the remaining cornstarch into a shallow dish. Toss the chicken into it, making sure each piece is well coated.
  4. Preheat a wok or deep non-stick skillet with the oil. Heat oil to 350 F (or when a piece of chicken sizzles in the oil). Cook the chicken pieces for 2 to 3 minutes, until they're golden brown and crispy. Do not overcrowd the wok; cook in 2 batches if needed. Drain pieces on paper towels and set aside.
  5. Discard most of the oil, leaving around 1 tablespoon in the wok. Then add the garlic, ginger, and chili flakes, and stir-fry for around 30 seconds. Then add the reserved sauce. Turn up the heat and bring it to a rapid simmer, and let the sauce thicken. Once you're happy with the consistency, add the chicken and toss through the sauce and make sure the chicken is well coated.
  6. Sprinkle green onions and sesame seeds over the top of the chicken before serving with rice.
Calories per Serving 632
Total Fat 40.3 g
Saturated Fat 3.7 g
Trans Fat 0.3 g
Cholesterol 106.8 mg
Total Carbohydrates 39.4 g
Dietary Fiber 1.1 g
Total Sugars 4.8 g
Sodium 1,514.7 mg
Protein 26.0 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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