General Tso’s Chicken

January 16, 2014

This is General Tso’s Chicken done right. Yes, the prep might be a bit lengthier than some of your simpler General Tso Chicken recipes, but I’m telling you, it is worth it. Enjoy!

General Tso's Chicken on top of white rice on dinner plate

Homemade General Tso’s Chicken Recipe

Yesterday I mentioned that I had a cashew chicken recipe fail that I ended up tossing down the drain. Well, that fail left me with a whole lot of white rice so I decided I better try out a different Asian-inspired recipe today. Enter: General Tso’s Chicken!

I’m happy to say this one was a complete success! I could have probably finished the entire batch myself. The flavors, the textures, everything, I just loved my homemade General Tso’s Chicken.

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that this one was fried in oil and the other was only sautéed in a few tablespoons of oil. When it comes to Chinese food I think I prefer it take-out style, deep fried in oil.

It’s just so much better that way! I love how that fried to perfection, golden crispy coating begins to soak up all that saucy goodness.

This General Tso’s Chicken recipe is simply amazing thanks all the exciting flavors going on. You’ll love the depth of flavor the rich hoisin or General Tso sauce adds, and the freshness the ginger and garlic offer to this dish.

If you’ve ever wondered if you could make General Tso’s Chicken at home, this recipe is for you!

What is General Tso’s Chicken?

If you’ve never had this classic Chinese take-out dish, you’re missing out! Essentially, General Tso’s chicken is a dish comprised of deep-fried chicken pieces smothered in a slightly spicy sauce.

Unlike other Chinese chicken dishes, General Tso’s chicken typically isn’t made with any type of vegetable. So if you want fresh veggies with your meal, you’ll need to prep those separately.

Homemade General Tso's Chicken with General Tso Sauce and scallions

General Tso’s Chicken Ingredients

For the General Tso’s sauce, you’ll need:

  • Hoisin sauce
  • Rice vinegar
  • Low-sodium soy sauce
  • Light brown sugar
  • Cornstarch
  • Chicken broth

And for the chicken, you’ll need:

  • Chicken breasts
  • Vegetable oil
  • Green onions
  • Garlic
  • Fresh ginger
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Egg whites
  • Cornstarch
  • All-purpose flour
  • Baking soda
  • Salt and pepper

How to Make General Tso’s Chicken

  • Whisk together General Tso’s sauce ingredients in a liquid measuring cup.
  • Place diced chicken breasts into a zip-top bag and pour 6 tablespoons of the sauce mixture over top. Let marinate for 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, sauté the green onions, garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes in a skillet.
  • Add 2 cups of the sauce mixture to the skillet and cook until thickened.
  • In a small dish, whisk the egg whites until foamy. In another dish, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking soda and remaining sauce mixture.
  • Coat the marinated chicken pieces first in the egg whites, then in the flour mixture.
  • Fry chicken pieces in batches until golden brown. Add to large bowl and toss with thickened sauce to coat.

Chopsticks picking up homemade General Tso's Chicken

How Spicy Is This Recipe?

The spiciness of this Chinese chicken totally depends upon how much crushed red pepper flakes you add in. If you don’t like spicy foods, add less than the amount listed in the recipe.

Do I Have to Deep Fry the Chicken?

Technically, no. You can pan fry the chicken with just a little oil. However, if you don’t deep fry the chicken it won’t be as crispy as what you get from a Chinese restaurant.

Tips for the Best General Tso’s Chicken

  • Pat the marinated raw chicken pieces with paper towel before coating in the egg whites and flour mixture. This will help the coatings stick to the chicken more easily.
  • Check the temperature of the oil before deep frying the chicken. If the oil isn’t hot enough, the chicken will soak up lots of oil rather than fry in it.
  • Place the fried chicken on a paper towel-lined plate to soak up the excess grease.

More Chinese Recipes You’ll Love:

 

General Tso’s Chicken

5 from 5 votes

Even better than take-out! Perfectly fried chicken pieces coated with a flavorful sweet and tangy, sticky sauce.

Servings: 5
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 Tbsp packed light-brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts , diced into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 green onions , sliced, greens and whites divided
  • 4 cloves garlic , minced
  • 2 Tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes , or to taste

Coating

  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cups cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • Salt and white or black pepper , as desired
  • 4 cups vegetable oil , for frying

Instructions

  1. In a mixing bowl, whisk together hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, 2 Tbsp cornstarch and the chicken broth. Place chicken in a large Ziploc bag and pour 6 Tbsp of the hoisin mixture over chicken, seal bag and allow to marinate in refrigerator 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 1 Tbsp vegetable oil over medium heat. Once hot, add chopped whites of green onions, garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes and saute 1 minute. Add 2 cups of hoisin sauce mixture (reserve remaining little bit) to skillet, season with salt and white pepper to taste (you may not even need salt) and cook, stirring constantly until mixture has thickened. Remove from heat, cover with lid.
  3. In a shallow dish, vigorously whisk egg whites until foamy, set aside. In a separate shallow dish, whisk together cornstarch, flour and baking soda, then add remaining hoisin sauce mixture and stir until mixture resembles coarse meal.
  4. Heat 4 cups oil in a dutch oven over medium heat to 350 degrees F. 

  5. Meanwhile, remove chicken from refrigerator and remove chicken from marinade, shaking off excess marinade, and transfer to a large plate lined with several paper towels. Cover with more paper towels and pat dry. 

  6. Place half of the chicken into the egg whites and toss to coat, then lift and allow excess to run off and immediately transfer to cornstarch mixture. Toss in cornstarch mixture (separating pieces as they stick together or working with just a few at a time) to evenly coat then transfer to a plate and repeat coating process with remaining chicken. 

  7. Fry coated chicken in batches in hot oil (I did three batches for all of the chicken, just so it's not overcrowded and dropping the oil temperature), until chicken is golden brown and has cooked through, about 3 - 4 minutes, turning chicken once during frying. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain and repeat frying process with remaining chicken.

  8. Warm sauce over medium-low heat until heated through. Place chicken in a large bowl and toss with warm sauce to evenly coat. Serve warm topped with sliced green onions and optional sesame seeds if desired.

Recipe Notes

  • Check the temperature of the oil before deep frying the chicken. If the oil isn't hot enough, the chicken will soak up lots of oil rather than fry in it.
  • Recipe Source: adapted from Cook's Illustrated via What's Cookin, Chicago?
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: General Tso's Chicken
Author: Jaclyn