A delicious homemade Chinese deep-fried chicken dish that tastes like (or even better than) the best Chinese restaurants or take-out. Try this easy General Tso's chicken recipe today. You won't even believe that this Asian dish came straight out of your kitchen!
Today, I am going to share the best General Tso's chicken recipe! Skip the Chinese take-out and Uber Eats food delivery orders. You can make this Chinese deep-fried chicken dish with simple Asian ingredients and condiments that you can find in your pantry or local grocers. This General Tso's chicken is a dish consists of deep-fried chicken breast with a sweet and savory Asian stir fry sauce. It's so easy to make, and is tasty and addictive!
What is General Tso's Chicken:
General Tso's chicken is one of the most popular dishes at Chinese restaurants in North America. It tastes similar to Orange chicken but is spicier and zestier. In addition, General Tso's chicken uses dark caramelized sauce. As a result, the meat looks darker than Orange Chicken. The dish is named after Zuo Zongtang (also romanized Tso Tsung-t'ang), a Qing dynasty statesman and military leader from Hunan province. Interestingly, General Tso's chicken is not one that is eaten in China (but hey, if it’s good it’s good, right?).
How spicy is the General Tso's chicken? The chilies add a nice kick to the dish but I don't consider this as spicy food.
General Tso's Chicken Ingredients:
Let's start with the protein. In this recipe, I used chicken breasts instead of chicken thighs as the main ingredient. I find it easier to work with chicken breasts because they simply cook faster than dark meat (thighs).
Some people prefer the taste of dark meat over white meat, and consider it to be more tender and flavorful. Both chicken thighs and breasts are good sources of lean protein. So it's up to you which type of chicken meat to use while making this dish.
Now for the sauce. The sauce is made from a combination of dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, Sriracha, Thai Sweet Chili sauce, Chinese black vinegar, Shao Xing wine, chicken broth, and white sugar. You can find most of these Asian seasoning ingredients at any grocers. If not, don't worry because, on the recipe card below, I will include some alternative ingredients to use.
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How to Make General Tso's Chicken
The preparation and cooking process of this recipe isn't complicated. Basically, there are five important steps:
- Quickly marinate the chicken while you are preparing other ingredients.
- Make the stir fry sauce and cook it in the stove to caramelize it.
- Batter the chicken in corn starch.
- Deep-fry the chicken in hot oil.
- Cook the aromatic seasoning ingredients, sauce and add the deep-fried chicken, toss to coat.
Anybody can cook this dish. There is no special cooking skill required. However, you will need a good wok or non-stick pan, a pair of chopsticks, paper towels, and a pair of tongs.
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General Tso's Chicken
Chicken and Marinade Sauce:
Sweet and Savory General Tso's Chicken sauce:
- 2 tbsp less-sodium soy sauce
- 2 tbsp white sugar
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
- ¾ tbsp Chinese black vinegar, (or use Rice Vinegar + ½ tsp sugar or balsamic vinegar)
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 2 tsp Thai sweet chili sauce
- 2 tsp sriracha sauce
- 1 tsp dark soy sauce, (see notes)
For Stir Fry:
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 5 thin slices of fresh ginger
- 3 diced scallions, (white and light green part only for stir fry, green part for toppings)
- 10 dried red chili peppers, (remove stem but keep them whole)
- 1 tbsp canola/vegetable/peanut oil
- 1 tsp sesame seeds
- Dried Red Chilies: Soak the dried red chilies in hot water for at least 15 minutes.
- Sweet and Savory General Tso's Chicken sauce: In a medium mixing bowl, mix the "Sweet and Savory General Tso's Chicken sauce" ingredients. Set aside.
- Chicken and Marinade Sauce:Place the chicken into a large mixing bowl. Add the marinade sauce ingredients: light soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, Shao Xing wine, salt, black pepper, and egg. Toss to coat. Set aside.
- Sweet and Savory General Tso's Chicken sauce: In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, stir in the "Sweet and Savory General Tso's Chicken sauce" mixture. Cook the sauce until reduced by half and thickened. Set aside.
- Deep Fry the Chicken:Add the corn starch into the chicken mixture. Stir to coat.Heat about 2 cups of oil in a large non-stick pan or wok over high heat. Dip a chopstick into the oil. If the oil starts steadily bubbling, then the oil is hot enough for frying. Working in 3-4 batches, use chopsticks or tongs to drop the chicken cubes into the wok one by one. Turning once or twice, cook until they turn golden brown, begin to float and cooked through (about 4 minutes or longer for chicken thighs). Spread thick paper towels on a plate. Remove the cooked chicken cubes from the pan, and transfer to a plate.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large wok over high heat. Cook garlic, ginger, scallions, and whole chilies. Give them a quick stir for about 15 seconds. Do not burn. Add the "Sweet and Savory General Tso's Chicken sauce" into the wok. Bring the sauce to a vigorous boil then add the deep-fried chicken cubes. Stir to coat, by tossing the wok three to four times. Turn off the heat and transfer the chicken onto a plate and sprinkle with diced scallions, green part only, and sesame seeds. Serve and enjoy with rice.
- Some suitable substitutes for Chinese black vinegar are rice wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar. If you are going to use rice wine vinegar, you may need to add a bit more sugar (about ½ tsp of white sugar).
- Chinese black vinegar, also known as Chinkiang vinegar is available at Asian grocers, or select Ralph's/Kroger stores.
- Thai sweet chili sauce is available at Asian grocers, select Walmart/Target/Ralph's/Kroger/Sprout's stores.
- Oyster sauce is available at Asian grocers, select Walmart/Target/Ralph's/Kroger/Sprout's stores.
- Sriracha sauce is available at Asian grocers, select Walmart/Target/Ralph's/Kroger/Sprout's stores.
- Dried chili peppers also known as Chile de árbol. You can find them at at Asian grocers, select Walmart/Ralph's/Kroger stores. Do not substitute dried chillies for fresh. If you can't find dried chili peppers, just skip them.
- Feel free to add a small amount dried red chili flakes to add spiciness to the dish.
- Feel free to skip the dark soy sauce or replace with light soy sauce. It will give you same taste result to your dish but the color won't be the same.