Whether you call it General Tao or General Tso’s Chicken, you’re going to want this sweet, tangy, and spicy recipe! Battered chicken thighs are lightly fried in oil and tossed in a sticky sauce made with soy sauce, chili peppers, garlic, and ginger. It’s quick and easy to make and is better and healthier for you than any Chinese takeout.

Chopsticks are used to lift up the sweet and sticky chicken.

What is General Tso’s Chicken? 

Can I see some hands from all of my General Tso’s Chicken lovers out there?!

As soon as I sit down at an Asian food restaurant the internal debate ensues.

“Let’s go for something light, and healthier for you! Like the Lemon Pepper Chicken.”

But then the other part of me chimes in, “But that sweet and crispy General Tso’s chicken is SO good, and you can’t get this at home!!”

After way too many of these instances, I finally decided that it was time to make my own HEALTHIER version of General Tso’s chicken at home.

And y’all… it is EVERYTHING and more than you’ve ever hoped for!

You still get that lovely crunch from lightly (not deep!) frying battered chicken thighs…

The perfect balance of a sweet and tangy sauce without it being laden with sugar…

And that batter? It can easily be made gluten-free with a simple flour swap.

Serve it over a bed of Instant Pot White Rice with a side of steamed broccoli or asparagus and you’ve got a delicious AND healthy Chinese restaurant-quality dinner at home!

How to Pronounce General Tso’s Chicken?

If you’ve ever been to a Chinese restaurant, you’ve likely heard this dish pronounced several different ways.

The most generally accepted pronunciation is to leave the T off and just say, “General SO’s.” 

Chicken, oil, flour, cornstarch, sriracha, sugar, garlic, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, and ginger are the ingredients for this recipe.

Ingredients

These are the simple ingredients you need to make this homemade General Tso’s chicken:

  • Chicken. Boneless chicken thighs are the best cut for this recipe; they’re juicy and have tons of flavor. You can also use chicken breast. Make sure to cut the meat into bite-sized pieces.
  • Cornstarch. This is the secret to getting the chicken ultra-crispy when frying! Tapioca starch is another good option. You’ll also use a bit of cornstarch to thicken the sauce. (You can also find some of the best cornstarch substitutes.)
  • Flour. A mix of starch and flour completes the batter. A gluten-free 1-to-1 blend may be substituted.
  • Oil. Normally the type of oil is not a big deal, but since you are cooking at a relatively high heat you want an oil with a higher smoke point. Avocado oil is preferred, but safflower, grapeseed, canola, or even peanut oil will work as well.
  • Soy sauce. You can also use a gluten-free type or Tamari. If needed, find reduced sodium.
  • Hoisin sauce. This fermented soybean paste is the main ingredient, but miso paste is sometimes used instead. Many also contain peanut butter and molasses. Gluten-free brands do exist if needed.
  • Sugar. Brown sugar gives a nice rich flavor. You can also substitute with regular sugar, coconut sugar, honey, or pure maple syrup.
  • Rice vinegar. For the most authentic taste, rice vinegar is needed. However, regular white wine vinegar can stand in as well (here are other substitutes for rice vinegar).
  • Ginger and garlic. Use fresh for the best flavor. You can likely find ginger paste in the produce section of your grocery store.
  • Sriracha sauce. A must-have for a spicy kick in the sauce. 

How to Make General Tso’s Chicken

Below you’ll find the simple steps to make this healthy General Tso’s chicken recipe at home:

Prep the Chicken

Use a sharp knife to cut away any bits of fat or ligament from the chicken thighs. Then, slice in 1-inch pieces.

In a large bowl, stir together 1⁄4-cup cornstarch, flour, salt, and black pepper. Carefully place the chicken thigh pieces into the flour mixture. Toss until everything is coated.

Place 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet or wok and set the stove to medium heat, no higher than medium-high.

Add in half of the coated chicken to the hot oil, or as much as you can cook in a single layer. Cook for 7 to 8 minutes, being sure to flip the pieces halfway through. The chicken should be golden brown.

Remove the crispy chicken pieces to a paper towel-lined plate. Finish cooking the rest of the chicken.

Make the Sauce

This General Tso sauce recipe is much like a homemade Teriyaki Sauce, except it uses a special ingredient—hoisin sauce! 

Make a slurry by whisking 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with 1 tablespoon of water. Add that, along with the soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sugar, rice vinegar, ginger, garlic, and Sriracha sauce to a medium bowl. Whisk well until no lumps remain in the sauce mixture.

Pour the sauce into the empty skillet that the chicken was cooked in. Over medium-high heat, bring the sauce to a boil. Then, reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. The thick glossy sauce should reduce by about half.

The sauce ingredients are mixed together on the stove.

Add in the Chicken

Add the fried chicken back into the spicy sauce and continue cooking. It will only need a few minutes for the chicken to warm up.

Spoon the chicken and sauce over a bed of rice and garnish with chopped green onions and sesame seeds.

Meal Prep and Storage

  • To Prep Ahead: Whisk together sauce ingredients, but don’t cook until you’re ready to serve. Cut the chicken, but wait to coat in the flour and starch. 
  • To Store: This will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days.
  • To Freeze: It may lose a little of its crispness, but you can freeze in a freezer-safe container for up to 3-4 months.
  • To Reheat: Add back to a skillet until heated through. 

Dietary Modifications

The recipe you’ll find below is already dairy-free as written. Here are some adjustments and substitutions you can make to help it fit your other dietary requirements:

  • Gluten-Free: Use a gluten-free 1-to-1 blend, and find gluten-free soy sauce and hoisin sauce. 
  • Refined Sugar-Free: Swap out the brown sugar for coconut sugar, honey, or pure maple syrup.
  • Lower Sodium: Choose a reduced sodium soy sauce.
This spicy Asian chicken is served for a quick dinner.

Is General Tso’s chicken spicy?

Yes, General Tso’s chicken is spicy, although the degree of heat varies per recipe. You can customize this chicken dish by adjusting how much Sriracha sauce or other spices you add.

Is General Tso’s chicken healthy?

Unfortunately, General Tso’s chicken is not considered healthy. However, when you make this dish at home, you can make changes to create a healthier version of this recipe.

Can you freeze General Tso’s chicken?

While you can freeze General Tso’s chicken, it won’t be quite as crispy when it is thawed. Be sure to keep it in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 to 4 months.

How to reheat General Tso’s chicken?

The best way to reheat General Tso’s chicken is to add it back to a skillet. If needed, add in a little extra water to loosen up the sauce.

Is General Tso’s chicken gluten-free?

Usually, General Tso’s chicken is not gluten-free. However, when you make it at home you can ensure your ingredients are free of gluten!

Expert Tips and Tricks

  • Thighs are best. This cut of chicken is the juiciest and has the best flavor. 
  • Cook until golden. You want a really good crispy coating on the chicken.
  • Hoisin is a must. This is a key ingredient to give the General Tso’s sauce a unique flavor.
  • Whisk it well. The sauce thickens up quickly, so make sure to keep a close eye on it.
  • Spice it up. Add even more sriracha sauce or even red pepper flakes for a spicier dish.
A plate of rice is served with the homemade healthy General Tao Chicken.

What to Serve with General Tso’s Chicken?

Now that you have the main dish, here are some sides to go along with this General Tso’s chicken recipe.

For a classic serving, whip up some Instant Pot White Rice Recipe and Air Fryer Broccoli.

You can also go with Coconut RiceMango Coconut RiceAir Fryer AsparagusAir Fryer Brussels Sprouts, or even Chinese Green Beans with Garlic.

It’s easy to go low-carb with Cauliflower Rice.

More Takeout Favorites

Sometimes, you just crave some takeout food. Make them healthier at home with these recipes.

Gluten-Free Orange ChickenInstant Pot Orange ChickenHoney Sesame Chicken and Broccoli and Chicken Stir-Fry are classics everyone loves.

You can also go with Beef Stir-Fry or Mongolian Beef.

Or, try your hand at Chicken Fried RiceShrimp Fried Rice, or Sesame Noodles.

Tap stars to rate!

4.89 from 27 votes

General Tso’s Chicken Recipe

Whether you call it General Tao or General Tso's Chicken, you're going to want this sweet, tangy, and spicy recipe! It's quick and easy to make and is better and healthier for you than any Chinese food restaurant.
Yield 6
Prep 10 minutes
Cook 20 minutes
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Ingredients 

Battered Chicken:

  • 1 ½ lbs. chicken thighs boneless and skinless
  • ¼ cup cornstarch or tapioca starch
  • ¼ cup flour or a gluten-free 1-to-1 blend*
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper
  • 3-4 Tbsp. oil avocado

General Tso’s Sauce:

  • cup soy sauce or Tamari
  • ¼ cup hoisin sauce
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup brown sugar or coconut sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp. ginger paste or minced
  • 3 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1-2 tsp. Sriracha sauce optional

Serving:

  • White rice cooked
  • Green onions chopped
  • Toasted sesame seeds optional

Instructions 

  • Trim any excess fat from the chicken thighs and cut into bite-sized pieces, about 1-inch.
  • Whisk together cornstarch, flour, salt, and black pepper in a large bowl. Add chicken thigh pieces and toss until all are completely coated.
  • Heat 1-2 tablespoons of oil in a large stainless-steel skillet or wok over medium to medium-high heat. Wait for the oil to sizzle and add in half of the coated chicken pieces. Cook for 7-8 minutes, flipping halfway through. Remove the cooked chicken and let drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat with remaining chicken.
  • Whisk together the sauce ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. After chicken is removed from the skillet, pour in sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. The sauce should reduce by almost half during this time.
  • Once reduced, add in cooked chicken and continue cooking over medium-low heat for another 2-3 minutes.
  • Serve General Tso’s Chicken over a bed of white rice with green onions and toasted sesame seeds. Enjoy!
Last step! If you make this, please leave a review letting us know how it was!

Tap stars to rate!

4.89 from 27 votes

Video

Notes

Chicken breasts may also be used instead of thighs.
Gluten-free flour, soy sauce and hoisin sauce may be substituted.

Meal Prep and Storage

  • To Prep Ahead: Whisk together sauce ingredients, but don’t cook yet. Cut the chicken, but wait to coat in the flour and starch. 
  • To Store: This will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days.
  • To Freeze: It may lose a little of its crispness, but you can freeze in a freezer-safe container for up to 3-4 months.
  • To Reheat: Add back to a skillet until heated through. 

Nutrition

Calories: 321kcal, Carbohydrates: 27g, Protein: 24g, Fat: 13g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 6g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 108mg, Sodium: 1192mg, Potassium: 352mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 12g, Vitamin A: 30IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 33mg, Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Made this recipe?Leave a comment below!
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Comments

  1. 4 stars
    Would be perfect if about half the saltiness. We like salty food, but I’d probably cut the hoisin sauce by a third, if not a half.

    1. Yay! So happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe! I’m sorry it was too salty. Different brands have different amounts of sodium. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment and rating!

  2. 5 stars
    Made this tonight for my family. I used chicken breast since that was what I had. It was delicious according to the critics.

    1. Yay! So happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe, Dimitrios! Glad it could satisfy the critics 😉 Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment and rating!

    1. Yay! So happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe, Lesley! I love recipes that beat takeout. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment and rating!

  3. 5 stars
    Made this for the first time tonight! It is the best General Taos recipe I have tried. My youngest son is a General Taos coniseouier and he approved. Will be going into the rotation.

    1. Yay! So happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe, Amanda! Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment and rating!

  4. 5 stars
    Loving your recipes and plan on healthier tastier meals for 2023 as the norm rather than a treat. However, hubby can’t take anything too hot. He likes a little chilli flake ginger soy etc but siracha I think too hot this chicken dish has so many hot ingredients. Any suggestions to cool it down a little?

    Nowhere local, live in the Welsh Countryside, for Asian ingredients so I decided to order a lot of items online and stock up rather than waiting until I can get to a bigger town to try your recipes.

    Thanks for your channel awesome

    Lynne

    1. Yay! So happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe, Lynne! You can absolutely leave out the spicy ingredients or simply decrease them. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment and rating!

  5. Good recipe. I really dislike chicken thigh meat so made with breast meat. Turned out really well. I also stir fried some red peppers and zucchini and added them in to increase the veg element of our dinner. Yummy.
    Thanks for the recipe.

    1. Yay! So happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe, Lynn! This sounds delicious with breast meat and extra veggies. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment!

  6. 5 stars
    My family and I loved this! My celiac husband was thrilled to eat Chinese food that was as good as take-out, but safely gluten free (I bought gluten free hoisin from Amazon – had to buy a two-pack, but that’s ok cuz we’ll be making this again… and again!). And I was thrilled to have as-good-as-take-out but with way fewer calories, no MSG, etc. The kids didn’t care just as long as it was delicious… which it was! Thanks for your awesome website, London! Yours is my favorite cooking blog.

    1. Oh I’m so happy to hear your husband was able to enjoy it, Sherry!! And your kids, too! Thanks so much for taking the time to leave such a kind comment and rating! This recipe is actually this month’s Cooking Challenge recipe. If you happened to snap a photo you should send it to london@evolvingtable.com for a chance to enter the contest! Also, please let me know if there are any other takeout dishes you’d like to see on the blog and I’ll see what I can do for you 🙂

      1. That’s so thoughtful of you to ask about other recipes. Maybe I missed it but I haven’t seen sweet and sour chicken on your blog. We would love a recipe for that. I emailed a picture of the Sept cooking challenge this morning. If you didn’t get it, plz let me know.

        1. I don’t have a recipe for Sweet and Sour Chicken yet! But will keep that in mind when recipe testing in the future 🙂 I have not received an email from you, yet – can you try sending it again to london@evolvingtable.com Excited to have you enter!