General Tso’s Chicken

Last updated: June 6th, 2024

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We created the perfect General Tso’s Chicken recipe that tastes just like your favorite Chinese takeout dish. It’s spicy, savory, a little bit sweet, and super crispy.

A bowl of General Tso's chicken served with white rice

For pretty much as long as I can remember, my family has always had Chinese takeout for Christmas dinner. Between holiday travel and visiting extended family, Chinese food has been a fun, easy, and delicious tradition. So this year, Alex and I decided to recreate one of our favorite Chinese takeout meals and share the recipe with you in time for the holidays!

We love General Tso’s chicken. The perfect blend of spicy, savory, and somehow a little sweet, it’s always a winner. There are a lot of aspects that go into the perfect General Tso’s and we’ve debated it to no end, trying every single Chinese restaurant in town in search of the perfect meal.

Crispy General Tso's chicken served in a bowl with white rice and chopsticks

Here’s what makes the best General Tso’s chicken:

  1. The chicken has to be coated well and super crispy. A soggy General Tso’s is a sad General Tso’s.
  2. There should be heat in each bite, but not so much that you lose the other flavors.
  3. The sauce needs to be thick enough that it sticks to the chicken and rice…
  4. …and there needs to be plenty of sauce! We’re talking drowning in sauce.
  5. Oh, and it comes with NO broccoli.

And if we’re counting what makes the best Chinese takeout meal, including a giant serving of General Tso’s, there’s one more thing:

  1. There should always be a side of pork dumplings!

So we took all these requirements and developed our own recipe for General Tso’s Chicken that checks all the boxes. We spent weeks testing different ingredients, strategies, and flavors, putting our time and energy into creating our recipe instead of aimlessly trying another local takeout spot.

The final result is an incredibly tasty dish that makes a great date night dinner or family meal and rivals the best Chinese takeout we’ve ever had.

A closeup of crispy chicken in a sticky general tso's sauce served with white rice on the side

Our General Tso’s Chicken recipe tastes just like what you’d get at a Chinese restaurant (minus the broccoli). It also makes a ton of food, but really, what else would you expect? Don’t worry, because just like Chinese takeout, the leftovers store great in the fridge for a few days and reheat well. Just remember to sprinkle a little bit of water over your rice before microwaving and it’ll prevent it from drying out!

Here are some tips and tricks for cooking this meal without any hiccups:

  • Steam the rice while the chicken is resting so that you don’t forget to make it, and so that it’s definitely ready before the chicken is done cooking. You can even cover the pan back up to keep the rice warm if it’s ready too early! 
  • Get in the habit of preparing your mise en place – this is especially important for the General Tso’s sauce. This term means having all your ingredients prepped, measured, and ready to go before you start cooking. 
  • Your mise en place can also include preparing your workstation, which is equally as important! Before frying the chicken, you’ll want to have a plate lined with paper towels nearby for draining the chicken.
  • Cook the General Tso’s sauce in the same pan you fried the chicken in to incorporate all that delicious chicken flavor (and save time doing dishes after dinner)!
  • For the sauce, whisk the more “solid” ingredients with the soy sauce to dissolve them a bit before adding the remaining liquid ingredients. This will help everything combine more easily and give you a smoother consistency.
Two bowls of crispy general tso chicken with white rice and chopsticks

With a little bit of planning and prep time, this restaurant-quality meal comes together surprisingly fast – and will definitely impress your friends and family, or your date! Serve our General Tso’s Chicken with a side of Pork Dumplings for a complete meal and savor the delicious flavors of homemade Chinese takeout.

Try the recipe below and let us know what you think! Would you replace your Chinese takeout nights with this fun home-cooked version?

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A bowl of General Tso's chicken served with white rice

General Tso’s Chicken

We created the perfect General Tso's Chicken recipe that tastes just like your favorite Chinese takeout dish. It's spicy, savory, a little bit sweet, and super crispy.
4 from 2 votes
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Dinner, Main, Main Course
Cuisine Asian, Chinese
Servings 3 servings
Calories 891 kcal


  • 1 pound raw chicken breast trimmed into 1.5 inch pieces
  • 1 cup white rice dry
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil

Chicken Coating

  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • ¾ cup cornstarch
  • 2 pinches salt
  • 1 pinch black pepper

General Tso's Sauce

  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 5 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • tablespoons chili oil
  • tablespoons rice vinegar


  • First, make the coating for the chicken. In a medium bowl, whisk together sesame oil, egg whites, and 2 tablespoons soy sauce. Add chicken and stir to coat, then let sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.
  • Steam the white rice. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil, then stir in rice, turn heat to a simmer and cover. Cook for 20 minutes. Once the rice is done, fluff with a fork and keep covered until ready for serving.
  • Prep the sauce. In a small bowl, stir together cornstarch, brown sugar, soy sauce, and tomato paste. Add hoisin sauce, chili oil, and rice vinegar, then whisk to combine well and set aside.
  • Once the chicken has rested, combine cornstarch with salt & pepper in a second bowl. Dredge chicken in the cornstarch and set aside.
  • In a deep cast iron frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add chicken in batches and fry until crispy, about 4 to 5 minutes, turning over once or twice as it cooks. Drain cooked chicken on paper towels and set aside. Add more oil to the pan as needed.
  • Begin making the sauce. Remove the cast iron pan from heat. Add minced garlic and crushed red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 10 seconds. Add 1 cup water and scrape the bottom of the pan to stir seasonings into the water, then return pan to medium heat.
  • Add sauce to the frying pan. Cook until thickened, stirring constantly, about 5 to 6 minutes.
  • Add chicken to the frying pan and stir until coated in sauce. Remove from heat and serve immediately with steamed rice.


While the chicken marinates: Use this time to start steaming the rice and also prepare your mise en place for the sauce ingredients! This step is incredibly helpful since the sauce cooks quickly and might burn if you take too long measuring out ingredients. (To learn more about what a mise en place is, read our blog post above!)
Frying the chicken: Add oil to the pan between batches of chicken as needed, maintaining about 1/4-inch of oil.
Sauce: When you add the minced garlic and crushed red pepper flakes to the super hot pan, they will start to cook fast and may burn if you don’t keep them moving. We like to dump the two ingredients in at the same time and immediately start moving them around, constantly stirring until the water is added and the seasonings are mixed in well.
Serving suggestions: A plate of General Tso’s and steamed rice goes great with a side of homemade pork dumplings! Try our recipe here.
Cooking tools: The deep side of our 2-in-1 Cuisinel cast iron is perfect for frying and cooking up sauces like General Tso’s. We also love using this flat-edge wooden turner for sauces, especially on our cast iron since it won’t damage the pan!


Calories: 891kcalCarbohydrates: 105gProtein: 42gFat: 32gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 14gMonounsaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 97mgSodium: 1720mgPotassium: 862mgFiber: 2gSugar: 21gVitamin A: 206IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 68mgIron: 2mg
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Keyword chicken breast, chili oil, cornstarch, hoisin, new year, rice, rice vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, takeout, winter
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4 from 2 votes (2 ratings without comment)

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