This General Tso chicken recipe is so tasty and pretty simple to make. Chicken thigh meat is cut into bite-sized pieces and gets fried, then coated with a tangy sweet and sour sauce. Serve it on a bed of brown rice for an exceptional meal.
This is just like the General Tso Chicken you can get as take out from a Chinese restaurant…but you can make it in your own kitchen.
To be honest, I’m not a big fan of Chinese take-out. I never know what to order and I generally let MaryJo order for me. “You’ll like this,” she says. I always end up liking the food…especially the tangy sauce that combines soy, toasted sesame oil, and ginger.
I really enjoy making Asian-inspired stir fry like…Extra Spicy Shrimp Stir Fry and Vegetable Stir Fry with Tofu and Chicken. I think that it’s the tiny bit of toasted sesame oil that gives Chinese food its unique flavor.
Making General Tso Chicken
So the spicy sauce I used for the General Tso chicken recipe is quite similar to my Vegetable Stir Fry sauce. I’ve made this several times and have ended up using less sugar and ramping up the heat just a touch. You end up getting enough sweetness combined with sufficient spiciness to make the chicken taste fantastic, IMHO.
To make the sauce, just mix all the ingredients in a saucepan that’s big enough to also hold the fried chicken later, and stir together on medium-low heat until the sauce thickens. That will take just a couple of minutes. Turn off the heat until the fried chicken is done.
First though, you need to get your rice cooking and if you are using brown rice it will take 30 to 45 minutes to cook. Just follow your package instructions, or make it my way. I always cook rice like pasta by adding lots of water then strain the rice when done. Set your timer to what the package says. This avoids burnt rice if the water runs out at the end. I would always worry about this and I’d be checking the rice every two minutes or so. Too much stress for me!
While the rice cooks, prep your chicken thigh meat, (or chicken breasts if you prefer), by trimming off some fat and cutting it into bite-sized pieces. Place the chicken pieces into a bowl filled with buttermilk. The buttermilk will be the binder when you coat the chicken with flour.
To fry the chicken, I filled a skillet with about 1/2″ of canola oil. Raise the temperature of the oil to about 350°. (You can check if it is hot enough by throwing in a bit of flour. If it starts to sizzle, the oil is hot enough).
Use a shallow bowl or deep plate for the flour and place half of the chicken in the flour. Mix it around with your fingers then carefully place the pieces into the oil. Fry until the chicken is browned which will take about 4 minutes. Use tongs to flip the chicken to the opposite side. Let them fry for another 4 minutes then remove the chicken with a slotted spoon onto paper towels lined plate. Then repeat with the rest of the chicken.
Breading the chicken and deep-frying is the traditional way to make General Tso Chicken. If you would like to avoid the extra calories, you could fry the chicken in a lightly oiled skillet and just add some salt and pepper. Fry for 7 or 8 minutes until cooked through. The texture will be different but the flavor will still be good.
Put it all together
Toast some sesame seeds in a dry skillet until they start to turn golden brown then remove them to a small bowl. Chop a couple of scallions for garnish and place them in a small bowl.
Put the sauce back on the stove on low heat and put the fried chicken in and stir with a silicone spatula until the chicken is well coated. Add about half of the toasted sesame seeds and stir together reserving the rest to serve at the table.
Serve the chicken on a bed of rice and garnish with chopped green onion and a few more sesame seeds.
Pair this dish with a fresh garden salad or sauteed summer squash. Give this General Tso Chicken recipe a try…I think you’ll like it.
And take a look at these tasty recipes:
- Perfect shrimp cocktail recipe
- Beef au jus sauce recipe
- Chicken fettuccine alfredo recipe
- The best sloppy joe’s recipe without ketchup
- Baked cheese crisps recipe
- Creamy white chicken chili
General Tso Chicken Recipe
- 1 cup brown rice, cooked according to package instructions white rice can be substituted
- 1 1/4 lbs chicken thigh meat, skinless, boneless, fat trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
- canola oil for frying
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 3 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
- 2 tbsp sweet chili sauce, like Mae Ploy
- 1/2 cup chicken broth, I use Better than Bouillon roasted chicken base
- 1 tbsp brown sugar or raw cane sugar
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds *see notes
- chopped scallions
- Start by cooking your rice according to the package instructions. *see notes Keep warm.
- Trim the chicken thighs of excess fat and cut into bite-sized pieces then place in a bowl filled with buttermilk.
- Fill a skillet with about 1/2" of canola oil and place on the stove on medium high heat. Bring the oil temperature to 350°.
- Place the flour in a shallow bowl or deep plate and stir in the salt and pepper. Remove half of the chicken, shaking off excess buttermilk and place in the flour. Use your fingers to stir the chicken around to coat.
- Carefully place the chicken into the oil and fry until the chicken is browned, about 4 minutes. Turn the chicken pieces over with tongs and fry the second side 4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate. Repeat for the remaining chicken.
- Mix the sauce ingredients together in a saucepan large enough to add the chicken to. Heat on medium low heat while stirring until the sauce simmers and thickens, 3 or 4 minutes. Turn off the burner and keep warm awaiting the chicken.
- When all the chicken is cooked, place it into the sauce and stir with a spatula to coat. Add about half of the toasted sesame seeds and stir them in.
- Serve the chicken on a bed of rice and garnish with a bit more sesame seeds and chopped scallions.
- You can cook the rice like you would pasta. Fill the saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add the rice and set a timer to the time suggested by the package instructions. Taste to see if the rice is done, then strain as you would pasta.
- Use a thermometer to check the oil. You can also add a pinch of flour into the oil and if it starts to sizzle and brown the oil is hot enough. When the chicken is added it should bubble vigorously but not spit oil.
- Toast the sesame seeds in a dry skillet on medium heat until they are mostly golden brown. Remove the seeds and place in a small bowl. If you leave the seeds in the skillet they will keep toasting and could start to burn.
- If you don't wish to bread and fry the chicken, you can season the chicken with salt and pepper and cook in a lightly oiled skillet until cooked through, 7 or 8 minutes.
- Nutrition information based on approximately 3/4 cup of cooked rice and 5 ounces of the General Tso chicken.
This recipe post has been updated on January 20, 2022.