General Tso Chicken. Crispy chicken smothered in a sweet, tangy, glossy sauce with a spicy kick! It serves deliciously for dinner, lunch or leftovers. Ready in just 25 minutes! This general tso chicken from scratch is easy to make at home.
This is a popular Chinese dish served at many take away style restaurants. It was first invented by a chef named Peng Chang-kuei. He created the dish in the 1950's. This delicious dish originates from China.
What does General Tso Chicken taste like?
Imagine crispy fried chicken bites covered in a thick glossy sauce that tastes sweet, salty, spicy and tangy all at the same time! There are also notes of sesame and ginger that enhance the flavour profile of this dish.
Easy to make!
My recipe is simple to make at home and can be made in under 25 minutes! All the ingredients are accessible, and I share substitutes where possible and applicable. I’m going to show you how to make General Tso Chicken with step-by-step pictures and a video to quickly explain the process.
You’re simply coating your cubed chicken thighs in cornstarch. Then frying it in shallow oil and removing it after it becomes brown and crispy. Into the same wok, you’ll add your ginger, pre-mixed sauce and let it bubble away until thick. Toss back in that fried chicken giving it a mix, garnishing with green onion and sesame seeds, both optional. That’s it! Super simple.
This will be the best ever general tso chicken recipe made at home and I’m very excited to share it with you!
No deep frying!
There is no deep frying in this recipe! We are simply shallow frying this chicken in vegetable oil. You can of course use your air fryer and I will share instructions on how to do that in the below recipe card.
No batter just cornstarch!
You heard me, no messy batter! Just cornstarch to flour the cubed chicken. This is enough to create a crispy golden chicken if you follow my instructions properly.
For this recipe you’ll need the following general tso chicken ingredients (see recipe card for full measurements):
- boneless skinless chicken thighs, diced
- ginger, peeled
- green onion, finely chopped
- vegetable oil, or avocado oil
- sesame seeds, optional garnish
General Tso Sauce:
- hoisin sauce
- soy sauce
- brown sugar
- rice vinegar, or white vinegar
- garlic, minced
- sesame oil
- red pepper flakes or red chili flakes
How to make General Tso Chicken
In a bowl, combine sauce ingredients and set aside.
Cut each thigh into bite size pieces, about 6-8 pieces per thigh depending on size. Do not pat chicken thighs dry, some moisture is needed for the next step. If you plan to air fry your chicken, see below on how to do that.
In a bowl, add chicken pieces followed by cornstarch. Mix to coat each piece evenly.
In a wok or pan, set over medium high heat, add vegetable oil. Allow this to get hot. To test, insert a wooden chopstick into the oil and look for bubbles. If you see bubbles, the oil is hot
Carefully lower coated chicken into oil and quickly spread apart. Once chicken is spread apart, do not touch or move the pieces around. Allow pieces to sear and form a golden crust, about 5-6 minutes on each side.
Remove and transfer fried chicken to a plate or cooling rack. Pour out any excess oil from pan.
In the same wok set over medium high heat, add your ginger followed by pre-mixed sauce. Let it come to a boil to thicken and reduce.
Then finally toss in your fried chicken and mix until each piece is coated in sauce. Optionally, garnish with green onions and sesame seeds. Enjoy!
How do I make air fryer general tso chicken?
You can make this chicken in the air fryer. Please refer to the recipe card below under Notes to find out how or read below:
Instead of pouring the cornstarch right over the cubed chicken (as instructed above), place the cornstarch on a plate and dredge each piece of chicken into the starch. Feel free to add more starch if needed. This creates a more even coating.
Then transfer the coated chicken into your air fryer basket in a single layer, giving each piece enough space. You may need to air fry in two batches depending on the size of your air fryer.
Spray enough oil over chicken. Air fry at 400 degrees F for 12-14 minutes until crispy and brown, no flipping required.
Meanwhile, in a wok set over medium heat, add 1 tsp oil and your ginger slices.
Next pour in your pre-mixed sauce and let it come to a boil until it is thick and glossy.
Then add your air-fried chicken into the sauce to mix. Garnish with green onions and sesame seeds.
Cooking Tips for the best General Tso Chicken Recipe
Prepare ingredients ahead of time
This is important. The cooking process is quick (about 15 minutes) so you don’t want to be scrambling as the chicken is frying in the pan or it can lead to overcooked chicken.
Use a pan that can withstand medium high heat
Medium high heat is the key to getting the chicken crispy and golden. So, avoid any pans that can’t.
Spread chicken apart after tossing into pan
Once you’ve tossed your chicken into the pan, quickly spread it apart so it doesn’t stick together as it fries making it harder to flip.
Don’t be tempted to move chicken constantly
After you’ve spread the chicken apart, do not move it around constantly. Let it sear and form a crispy crust on both sides. The more you move it around, the chicken will lose its crust.
For best crispiness, 5-6 minutes on each side is optimal.
Below are frequently asked questions about this authentic general tso chicken recipe:
Is General Tso Chicken spicy?
Yes, but you can definitely make this mild by omitting the red pepper flakes or reducing the amount to half.
What’s in General Tso Chicken?
It is made of chicken coated in a flouring agent or batter, then fried in a sauce. The sauce is made of hoisin sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar, rice vinegar, garlic, sesame oil, red pepper flakes, cornstarch and water. The dish is accentuated with green onion, ginger and sesame seeds (optional).
Where can I buy hoisin sauce?
Hoisin sauce is found at most Asian grocers in the sauce aisle and at many Western grocers. It’s also sold online.
Can I sub hoisin sauce with another ingredient?
I wouldn’t recommend it as there aren’t many great substitutes that really mimic the taste and texture of it. You can make it from scratch by following this recipe by Omnivore’s Cookbook!
Can I sub rice vinegar with white vinegar?
Can I use chicken breast instead?
Yes, but be cautious in overcooking this as chicken breast is not as forgiving as thigh since it does not have much fat. I would recommend only cooking it until it reaches in internal temperature of 165 F using to a cooking thermometer.
Why isn’t my chicken crispy?
These are some factors why your chicken couldn’t get crispy:
- The cornstarch didn’t stick to your chicken because the chicken was abnormally dry to the touch. For future, rinse the chicken and let moisture drip off completely, then dice it.
- Chicken pieces did not have time to sear and form a crust.
- Too much movement and tossing of the chicken pieces.
- Low of a heat was used
- Chicken did not have enough time to cook to develop a crust.
Other recipes you may like!
If you enjoyed this crunchy general tso chicken, you may enjoy these other recipes:
AIR FRYER KOREAN FRIED CHICKEN
KARAAGE (JAPANESE FRIED CHICKEN)
SWEET STICKY KOREAN CHICKEN
AIR FRYER CHICKEN KATSU
AIR FRYER TONKATSU SAUCE CHICKEN
SWEET SPICY GOCHUJANG CHICKEN
Well, I hope you give my General Tso Chicken a try! It always excites me when you make my recipes and I hope this is one you try.
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General Tso Chicken (Easy!)
- In a bowl, combine sauce ingredients and set aside.
- Cut each thigh into bite size pieces, about 6-8 pieces per thigh depending on size. Do not pat chicken thighs dry, some moisture is needed for the next step. If you plan to air fry your chicken, please refer to Notes now.
- In a bowl, add chicken pieces followed by cornstarch. Mix to coat each piece evenly.
- In a wok or pan, set over medium high heat, add vegetable oil. Allow this to get hot. To test, insert a wooden chopstick into the oil and look for bubbles. If you see bubbles, the oil is hot
- Carefully lower coated chicken into oil and quickly spread apart. Once chicken is spread apart, do not touch or move the pieces around. Allow pieces to sear and form a golden crust, about 5-6 minutes on each side.
- Remove and transfer fried chicken to a plate or cooling rack. Pour out any excess oil from pan.
- In the same wok set over medium high heat, add your ginger followed by pre-mixed sauce. Let it come to a boil to thicken and reduce.
- Then finally toss in your fried chicken and mix until each piece is coated in sauce. Optionally, garnish with green onions and sesame seeds. Enjoy!