General Tso’s Chicken

It wasn’t until the last few years that I really have started to embrace Asian cuisine. I’ve had a lot of firsts, including sushi, and the different flavors and dishes have definitely grown on me. Most college kids rely on Chinese take out to get them through cram sessions and heartache, but I was always more of a pizza girl. I leaned on Domino’s. I, of course, had tried Chinese before, but was never crazy about it. All of that changed when I started spending time at my Chief Culinary Consultant’s. When he first mentioned ordering Chinese and I said that I hadn’t ever found something I really liked, he said I had to get General Tso’s, and that I would love it. He knows me all too well, because I absolutely adored it. Between the crunchy, battered chicken, the thick sauce, and the generous amount of spice, I was completely smitten. It soon became my favorite take out option, and I found myself craving it. We had talked about trying to make it at home, but until now I hadn’t found a recipe that I thought sounded authentic enough. I’m thrilled to have found this one; I think we might be cooking in Chinese more often than we order it out now!

I was most worried about the chicken breading having that characteristic thick, crunchy coating that is so typical of General Tso’s. That was definitely achieved, thanks to including just a little bit of the marinade in the dry batter ingredients. Genius! Everything else came together perfectly. As I cooked the sauce, I couldn’t believe how absolutely identical it smelled to the General Tso’s sauce I have come to know and love. Once everything was finished and we dug in, we hardly spoke a word, except to grunt and groan about how phenomenal the food was. And how much it really did taste like General Tso’s. Easily one of the best dinners I’ve made in the last year or so. Top 3, for sure. It’s going into the permanent rotation and very likely will replace many a take out meal for us.

One year ago: Best Ever Potato Salad
Three years ago: Chocolate Peanut Butter Torte
Four years ago: Homemade Marshmallows

General Tso's Chicken

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes


For the Marinade & Sauce:
½ cup hoisin sauce
¼ cup white vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1½ cups water
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1½ pounds), cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

For Coating & Frying:
3 egg whites
1½ cups cornstarch
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
4 cups vegetable oil
1-2 green onions, thinly sliced (optional, garnish)


1. To make the marinade, whisk the hoisin sauce, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, cornstarch, and water in a bowl. Of this mixture, place 6 tablespoons into a zip lock storage bag and add the chicken; seal and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Set aside the remaining marinade in the bowl.

2. While the chicken is chilling in the marinade, heat the 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Sauté the garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes until fragrant. Add 2 cups of the hoisin marinade to the skillet and simmer, whisking constantly, until the mixture is dark brown and thickened. Remove from heat, cover and keep the sauce warm.

3. To prepare the chicken for coating and frying, whisk the egg whites in a shallow dish until foamy; set aside. Combine the cornstarch, flour, baking soda, and remaining hoisin marinade in a second shallow dish; mix until it resembles coarse meal.

4. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and from the marinade. Pat the marinated chicken dry with paper towels. Toss half the chicken into the foamy egg whites until well coated, then dredge the chicken in the cornstarch mixture, pressing to adhere. Transfer the coated chicken to a plate and repeat with the remaining chicken.

5. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium high heat until the oil registers 350 degrees. Fry half the chicken until golden brown, about 3 minutes, turning each piece halfway through cooking. Transfer the cooked chicken onto a paper towel lined plate to drain. Return the oil to 350 degrees before frying again. Repeat with the remaining chicken.

6. Warm the sauce over medium heat until simmering. Turn off the heat and add the fried chicken pieces. Toss to coat and serve.

(Recipe adapted from What's Cookin, Chicago?, originally from Cook's Illustrated)


61 Responses to “General Tso’s Chicken”

  1. Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious on April 16, 2012 at 1:46 am

    General Tso’s Chicken is definitely a favorite of mine. I’ve made several versions, but never a deep-fried version. I try to be a healthy person most of the time but I am definitely going to splurge a bit and deep fry these babies!


  2. Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes on April 16, 2012 at 2:09 am

    Ohh man does this look good. I love Asian food! I have never tried making it because I always thought homemade could never compare to take-out. Might have to give this one a whirl…


  3. Kiri W. on April 16, 2012 at 5:22 am

    Wow, this is the fist recipe I’ve seen that actually visually looks like what my wife loves so much. On the to-do list!


  4. Jessica @ Portuguese Girl Cooks on April 16, 2012 at 7:13 am

    Wow! Thanks so much for sharing this because most recipes that I have seen appear as though the sauce is very sweet, this one looks spot on to the one that I have always had. Very excited to make this!


  5. Jen on April 16, 2012 at 7:56 am

    This recipe sounds great, I can’t wait to try it. Do you have any recommendations for what to serve with it? Rice for sure, but I always feel a little bad for making a meal that’s all carbs and protein and no vegetables. Any suggestions for a suitable vegetable side-dish?


    • Michelle on April 16th, 2012 at 5:58 pm

      Hi Jen, I have most often seen broccoli with General Tso’s. I would steam it and then toss it right into the sauce (or serve alongside).


  6. Ellen @ The Baking Bluenoser on April 16, 2012 at 8:01 am

    I have never had General Tso’s Chicken before, but now I guess I won’t have to, since this recipe looks so delicious! Can’t wait to make this!


  7. Erin @ Brownie Bites on April 16, 2012 at 8:08 am

    I love Asian dishes but for some reason have always shied away from trying to create them at home. General Tso’s is one of my favorites!


  8. Catalina @ Cake with Love on April 16, 2012 at 8:14 am

    Tso chicken is one of my favorite dishes, but I have never tried making it at home, this is my opportunity now since it doesn’t sound complicated!


  9. Natalie @ Cooking for My Kids on April 16, 2012 at 8:28 am

    This will be making an appearance on our menu very, very soon. It looks absolutely amazing!


  10. Rodzilla on April 16, 2012 at 8:38 am

    I don’t care about it’s authenticity, I love general Tso’s and this one looks great.


  11. Georgia on April 16, 2012 at 9:37 am

    How spicy hot is this? For a mild version, would I just use 1/4 tsp of crushed pepper flakes?


    • Georgia on April 16th, 2012 at 1:48 pm

      Um – looking at a recipe for Hoisan sauce – that’s where the main heat comes from. Maybe I could just make a milder version of hoisan sauce. I’ll play with it and see how it works out. I loveeeeeeeeee General Chicken.


      • Michelle on April 16th, 2012 at 6:00 pm

        Hi Georgia, The hoisin sauce that I used didn’t really have any spice, it was sweeter. I would check some different brands and read the labels – mine didn’t have anything spicy in it. I would say on a scale from 1 to 10, this was probably a 3 or a 4 on the spicy meter. If you don’t like spicy, I would reduce or omit the red pepper flakes.


        • Georgia on April 16th, 2012 at 6:55 pm

          Ok – I’ll read labels on the ready to buy hoisan sauce. When I googled hoisan sauce, the recipes had peppers/sauces in the sauce to make it hot. I once told PF Chang’s that I wanted mild Gen Chicken and it was almost white with just a tinge of specks of red.

          Thanks for responding.


  12. Deborah on April 16, 2012 at 9:44 am

    This is one of my favorites!!


  13. Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Pepper on April 16, 2012 at 9:46 am

    I love General-tso chicken! Love this recipe! I can see adding Rooster Sauce on it! Oh man, I’m hungry now!


  14. amanda @ fake ginger on April 16, 2012 at 10:24 am

    We haven’t found a great Chinese place since moving almost a year ago and I’ve been missing my General Tso’s! I can’t wait to try this!


  15. Tracey on April 16, 2012 at 10:28 am

    I’m pretty sure I could eat General Tos’s chicken every single day. I have a few go-to recipes but somehow I missed this one from CI. I need to make it happen asap, it looks awesome!!


  16. Kita on April 16, 2012 at 11:18 am

    My BF loves General Tso’s chicken but has been a little disappointed the last few times he ordered it out. It has put me on the mission to find a great at home recipe for it. This one looks like a winner.


  17. Anita at Hungry Couple on April 16, 2012 at 11:24 am

    I was one of those college kids that ate a lot of Chinese food but lost a lot of my taste for it over the years due to poor quality. The idea of making it at home is much more appealing. 🙂


  18. Nancy @ CouponClippingCook on April 16, 2012 at 11:37 am

    Looks and sounds delicious. Love the crispy, sweet and spicy hot combination.


  19. Debra Kapellakis on April 16, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    I can’t wait to try this, thank you.


  20. Kaitlin on April 16, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    General Tso’s has never looked so mouth watering! Amazing!


  21. Kathy on April 16, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    Can’t wait to make it-ooooh, ahhhhh!


  22. Lora on April 16, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    This is one of my favorite Chinese dishes. I can’t wait to try this. Thanks!


  23. christina @ ovenadventures on April 16, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    i love asian! this looks awesome. i’m so hungry now.


  24. Jenn on April 16, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    thanks for this recipe and not for the suspected reason (though it DOES look delicious and I may try it when my younger son isn’t home).

    GINGER! *smacks forehead* I bet that’s what causes his mysterious allergic reactions! But ….. (sorry, on a tangent here), I wouldn’t think there was Ginger in sesame seeded breads or Goldfish crackers. Can you by any chance email me what ingredients are in the hoisin sauce?


    • Michelle on April 16th, 2012 at 6:03 pm

      Hi Jenn, I think the ingredients vary by brand – when shopping the Asian aisle at the grocery store and comparing them, some sauces had plums, while some had molasses. They weren’t completely consistent. I already used up my jar and threw it away, or I would have included the ingredients for you. I would take a spin through the international aisle and pick up a couple of jars and check out the ingredients.


  25. Shawnda on April 16, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    I adore General Tsos! There’s a local restaurant that throws in fresh jalapeno slices in the sauce to simmer. It’s out-of-this-world hot. And completely awesome.


  26. mike @ TheCulinaryLens on April 16, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    This is so much my go to order when it comes to Chinese food. I need to give making my own a shot.


  27. Mireia on April 16, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    I need a piece of that right now!! It looks AMAAAAAAAAAAAAAZING!!!


  28. Jolene on April 16, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    The recipe looks yummy! I’ve nominated you for The Versatile Blogger Award –


  29. MsBijouxBeads on April 17, 2012 at 9:22 am

    I live 1 hour from any chinese take-out so I’m excited to see this. I made GSC before but this recipe looks better, thanks!


  30. Emily (The Culinary Couple) on April 17, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    We make a version of this, and it is SO good! Sure beats take out.


  31. Nikki @Pennies on a Platter on April 17, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    General Tso’s was my first Chinese take-out choice, too! (In college, though.) 🙂 I lived on that, and Papa John’s pizza!


  32. Tracy {Pale Yellow} on April 17, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    I always shy away from making homemade Chinese food. Thanks for posting such descriptive directions, this recipe sounds delicious!


  33. Recipes for food on April 18, 2012 at 4:41 am

    chicken is the most favorite item for me. that why i love that post very much


  34. Sherry on April 18, 2012 at 11:56 pm

    I don’t usually indulge in fake Chinese food since there’s always the real stuff to be had but there are times when you just crave the bastardized American versions… And then I feel bad about it but it’s always tasty going down. It’s such a double edged sword.


  35. Liz on April 20, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    Michelle – You did it again! This was a fantastic recipe. My husband and I loved this meal and I managed to make it somewhat weight watchers friendly! I even made a mistake (life with a one year old will do that) and made the marinade with the garlic, ginger, oil, and red pepper flakes! Next time I will be sure to read the recipe 3 times! I’m making the cashew chicken on Sunday for friends, I bet it will be just as fantastic!


  36. Cassie on April 22, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    OMG – Thankyou so much for this recipe. I live in Australia and General Tso’s Chicken is not something that I am familiar with (it’s not on the menu at our Chinese takeaways), however when I saw this recipe I just had to make it. I’m not sure what the original tastes like, but this one was amazing, and my entire family loved it. I love your site and have tried several of your recipes. Keep up the great work 🙂


  37. Jenn on April 22, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    I just made this tonight and it was amazing ! Far exceeded my expectations, this will definitely be in the rotation ! thanks for posting !


  38. Heather on April 23, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    Made this for dinner tonight. It was quite a bit of work but now that I’ve done it once it’ll be a breeze next time. Definitely need to up the spiciness next time too. So yummy!


  39. Martha on April 24, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    I made this dinner with the help of my son. Next time we will double the sauce. My son said “we could put that sauce on DIRT and it would taste GOOD! A lot of steps but it should get easier next time..


  40. Kelly on April 26, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    Made this today, it was great! I didn’t have any hoisin sauce, but the internet was gracious enough to find me a substitute recipe. The breading process was something I wasn’t used to, but it paid off with that nice crunch I’ve been trying to find. Thanks for putting this up!


  41. Jessica @ Portuguese Girl Cooks on May 1, 2012 at 10:46 pm

    Michelle, I made this tonight and it was delicious! I don’t usually fry anything so it was a bit of a change. I didn’t have any hoisin sauce so I made it from scratch and added sriracha sauce to it and it gave it a nice level of heat. Thanks for posting this, definitely a keeper!


  42. RisaG on May 7, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    My son thinks General Tso’s is the best Chinese dish aside from lo mien. I am not happy with most recipes for it. I will try this one and see what he says.


  43. Debbie on June 12, 2012 at 10:31 pm

    I just wanted to thank you for posting this recipe. I recently discovered your blog and I must say, I love it! I tried this particular recipe last night. My boyfriend very much enjoyed it. This was my first try ever at Chinese food, I think i did pretty well. So anyway, thanks again. I have my eye on those crab cakes for my next food adventure. 🙂


  44. Velvet Piini on June 25, 2012 at 11:52 am

    Just made this on Friday with some white rice and steamed broccoli. It turned out great! I was so amazed that I was able to make something that looks just like Chinese take-out but from scratch! It was extremely tasty and my boyfriend had to go back for seconds. Awesome 🙂


  45. Krista on June 30, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    I just wanted you to know I LOVE LOVE LOVE this recipe! I have made it four or five times now, (and again tonight!)and my family adores it! Thank you for sharing…you have many great recipes!!!


  46. Melanie on March 17, 2013 at 9:19 pm

    Just made this for dinner tonight and it was awesome! Everyone loved it! Our local grocery stores didn’t have Hoisin sauce so we had to make our own. Used this recipe. The chicken was really crunchy and the sauce was yummy!!


  47. Jacqueline on May 2, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    This recipe was absolutely AMAZING!! I made it last night for dinner and just finished eating the left over’s for lunch and I am sad, no more 🙁 I added broccoli to the recipe and used a frying pan, instead of a dutch oven. Delish, thank you so much for sharing.


  48. Nikki on July 29, 2013 at 6:18 pm

    Made this for a 3rd time last nite. Not a bit left over…and compliments all around…one of the best recipes I have tried yet. Thank you.


  49. Janae on September 29, 2013 at 7:31 pm

    This was so freaking YUMMY! Thank you so much for sharing!


  50. Mary on October 29, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    I made this and it was delicious! However, to make it just a bit healthier, I skipped the deep frying and just cooked the chicken in a skillet after rolling it in the cornstarch. It was great! Thanks for this recipe


  51. Kim on January 16, 2014 at 11:58 am

    Thank you for creating a recipe for General Tso chicken that is not loaded with sugar! I can’t wait to try this one tonight!


  52. Shannon on April 13, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    My family went crazy for this. My husband just kept looking at me with a full mouth like, “really? is this really happening?”. My 4 for year old said, “this is the best thing I have ever put on my tongue!”. thank you!


  53. Sabila on April 17, 2014 at 9:56 am

    Hi Brown Eyed Baker. I am a big fan of General Tso’s chicken! I really wanna try this recipe but I can’t find Hoisin Sauce anywhere (I live in Bangladesh, its hard to get a lot of thing). Is there anything else I can use as a substitute? Thanks


  54. Julia Webster on September 11, 2014 at 5:49 pm

    I love General Tso’s Chicken. The chicken turned out great but I found the sauce to be too vinegary. Next time I will reduce the vinegar or add rice wine instead. My family did not like the sauce at all.


  55. Andrea on February 16, 2015 at 8:28 am

    Oh my is this delicious! I made this once for my husband and he fell in love! The chicken is so crunchy and the flavor is wonderful! My husband doesn’t like too much spice in his food, so I didn’t add the red pepper flakes the first time. He actually said it needed a little bit of spice so I added a dash of cayenne pepper the second…and third…and fourth time I made this. This is spot on and I will be making it again and again! Thank you!


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