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.Jump to Recipe
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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.
Here’s our criteria for what makes the best General Tso’s chicken:
- The chicken has to be coated well and super crispy. A soggy General Tso’s is a sad General Tso’s.
- There should be heat in each bite, but not so much that you lose the other flavors.
- The sauce needs to be thick enough that it sticks to the chicken and rice…
- …and there needs to be plenty of sauce! We’re talking drowning in sauce.
- 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:
- 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.
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.
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?
Love this recipe? You may enjoy these other recipes, too:
General Tso’s Chicken
- 1 lb raw chicken breast trimmed into 1-1/2 inch pieces
- 1 cup white rice dry
- 2 cups water
- 4 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 2 egg whites
- 2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
- ¾ cup cornstarch
- 2 pinches salt
- 1 pinch black pepper
General Tso's Sauce
- 2 tsp minced garlic
- 1½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 cup water
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 5 tbsp brown sugar
- ¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
- 2 tsp tomato paste
- 1½ tbsp hoisin sauce
- 2½ tbsp chili oil
- 1½ tbsp rice vinegar
- First, make the coating for the chicken. In a medium bowl, whisk together sesame oil, egg whites, and 2 tbsp 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 tbsp of the vegetable oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add chicken in batches and fry until crispy, about 4-5 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 5-6 minutes.
- Add chicken to the frying pan and stir until coated in sauce. Remove from heat and serve immediately with steamed rice.*