We absolutely love Chinese food so much. And this one of the most classic Chinese-American dishes of them all.
We’ve been playing with this recipe for many years now, and we are so happy to share with you this newly revised version. The chicken is crispy and yet incredibly tender. And the sauce? Oh, the sauce. And it all comes together in about 30 to 40 minutes!
HOW TO MAKE AUTHENTIC GENERAL TSO’S CHICKEN
There are several tricks to making General Tso’s Chicken taste like what you get at your favorite Chinese restaurant. First and foremost, ‘mise en place’ is critical. This is a culinary French term meaning, everything in its place. Essentially, once this dish starts coming together, things move quickly. You won’t have time to run to the pantry to grab an item once you are stir-frying. Prep all the ingredients, have them easily within reach, and then get started.
Now, back to the dish, the chicken needs to be flavorful and tender on the inside, with a slight crunch on the outside.
And the sauce needs to be the perfect combination of sweet, savory, and if you prefer, a slight hit of spiciness.
START WITH THE CLASSIC SAUCE
Let’s start off by putting together the sauce. It’s really quite simple, but exploding with incredible depth of flavor.
What you’ll need:
- Chicken stock
- Corn starch
- Rice vinegar
- Tomato paste
- Light soy sauce
- Dark soy sauce
- Brown sugar (we prefer dark)
EXPERT TIP: We strongly recommend you seek out both of the soy sauces: Chinese dark, and Chinese light. Chinese light is not low-sodium soy sauce. It is a “thin” soy used in traditional Chinese cooking. In a pinch, you could use traditional Japanese soy sauce. Dark soy sauce is thick and sweet, and honestly, there is no substitute. Good news: Both are more and more commonly found in the Asian section of most well-stocked supermarkets, or at your local Asian market. You can also order them online (see links above).
Simply whisk all the ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl and set aside.
PREPARING THE CHICKEN FOR GENERAL TSO’S
We love using boneless, skinless chicken thighs for this iconic dish. It stays super tender and we think is deeply flavorful.
Coat the chicken pieces in the marinade ingredients along with the corn starch and then heat your oil to 375°F in your wok.
VERY IMPORTANT: We strongly recommend using a wok ring when cooking this dish! The ring holds the wok in place, you do not want an unstable wok when you are cooking with hot oil! You’ll need to fry the chicken in two or three batches. Cook until nice and golden, about 4 to 6 minutes. Be sure to let the oil return to 375°F before continuing with the next batch.
Just look at the crispy, perfectly cooked chicken!
EXPERT TIP: After frying the chicken pieces, you’ll need to discard the oil from the wok. We recommend allowing the oil to cool somewhat, and then very carefully, use a funnel to transfer the oil to a heat-proof container. Most cities have a location where you can bring used cooking oil in larger quantities. It is not an environmentally good practice to pour used oil down your drain.
Now, we’re ready to bring this dish home!
Heat 6 tbsp of peanut oil in your wok.
As soon as the oil starts to shimmer, and very slightly smoke, add the peppers, ginger, and garlic.
After just 30 seconds, add in the prepared sauce.
Stir the sauce continuously for about 3 to 5 minutes.
The sauce will thicken before your eyes and should be smooth and silky. Keep stirring! Don’t let it burn.
FINISHING THE DISH
Next, very carefully transfer the prepared chicken into the wok.
Use a wooden spoon to stir the chicken around in the sauce.
It will only take two or three minutes to warm the chicken. We love to finish the dish off by stirring in 2 tbsp of sesame oil.
We just love the sauce for Authentic General Tso’s Chicken.
So much that we made sure our version was good and saucy.
If you prefer less sauce, simply cut the sauce ingredients in half. But why would you want to that?
GENERAL TSO’S CHICKEN FAQs
- Can I use chicken breasts instead of thighs? Of course! Just make sure to get boneless and skinless. We think the chicken thighs have great taste and texture for this dish, but with all the flavor that’s happening in this dish, chicken breast meat will work just fine.
- Is there a substitute for Light Soy Sauce, Dark Soy Sauce, and Shaoxing Rice Wine? If you’re looking for the most authentic tasting General Tso’s, then get your hands on these ingredients. If that’s just not possible, then you use regular Japanese soy sauce for the light and the dark (there really is no substitute for dark soy sauce), and use either Dry Sherry or regular rice wine vinegar for the Shaoxing Rice Wine. These ingredients are becoming more increasingly available in many well-stock markets, and certainly in Asian food markets, or order online (click the links to order).
- Can I use a skillet, if I don’t have a wok? Sure! Go with a large, sturdy skillet, or saucepan that can handle high heat, and follow the recipe as written.
- What is General Tso’s served with? It is best served with Perfectly Steamed White Rice and garnished with sesame seeds and chopped green onions (aka scallions).
If you are a lover of this classic Chinese-American dish, then you’ve just got to give this recipe a try.
By the way, ever wondered where the name of this classic dish came from? Learn more here:
Here are some other amazing Asian dishes you will want to try:
Homemade Egg Rolls
Sweet and Sour Pork
Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry
Authentic Shrimp Pad Thai
In the meantime, go and make this Authentic General Tso’s Chicken!
Ready to make a dish better than any takeout you’ll ever have? Go for it!
And when you do, be sure to take a picture, post it on Instagram, and tag @howtofeedaloon and hashtag #howtofeedaloon!
Authentic General Tso's Chicken
- Wok (with wok ring), or large, sturdy saucepan (skillet)
FOR THE CHICKEN
FOR THE SAUCE
- ¾ cup chicken stock unsalted
- 2 tbsp corn starch
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar can use Shaoxing wine
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 4 tbsp light soy sauce
- 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
- ¼ cup brown sugar we like dark
FOR STIR FRYING
- 6 small dried red chiles arbul or Thai red peppers work well, ends snipped and slightly cut down the middle
- 6 tbsp peanut oil for frying (about 1/2 cup)
- 2 tsp ginger fresh, finely chopped
- 2 tsp garlic minced
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- Place all the sauce ingredients in a bowl and whisk until the corn starch has dissolved and is fully combined. Set aside.
- Place the chicken pieces in a large bowl. Add the soy sauces, 1 tsp peanut oil, and egg yolks. Mix with two large wooden spoons. Add the corn starch and continue mixing until the chicken pieces are coated with the marinade mixture.
- Heat the oil (3½ cups) over high heat in your wok (on a wok ring), or heavy 12-inch saucepan. Working in batches, carefully add the coated chicken pieces into the oil, once it has reached 375°F. Cook until golden brown and cooked through, about 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a platter lined with paper towels. Set aside.
- Let the oil cool somewhat, and then very carefully discard. Wipe the wok clean with paper towels and place back on wok ring on the stove. Heat the 6 tbsp of oil over medium-high heat until shimmering and smoking very slightly.
- Carefully add the peppers, garlic, and ginger and stir-fry for 30 seconds.
- Add the sauce to the wok and stir constantly with a wooden spoon. Continue cooking and stirring until the sauce has thickened, about 3 to 5 minutes.
- Carefully add the cooked chicken to the sauce in the wok and stir to fully coat. Simmer for about 2 minutes, enough time to heat the chicken pieces.
- Turn the heat off and stir in the sesame oil.
- Transfer the chicken with sauce to a serving platter. Garnish with sesame seeds and chopped green onions/scallions. Serve immediately with steamed white rice.
POST UPDATE: This recipe was originally published in July 2017, but was updated with improved tweaks to the recipe with expert tips, new photography, and a fabulous new video in March 2020!
This was the best General Tso’s I ever had- better than any restaurant or take out. A lot of work but well worth it. Another winner for Chris and Wesley!!!
Hi Mark! You are a cooking rock star! This General Tso’s does take a little effort, but we agree. the results are pretty amazing! Sounds like you made it perfectly! As always, thanks for sharing! We appreciate that so so much! Kris & Wesley
Heat wave in Los Angeles so we decided to make General Tso’s. I had to substitute red curry paste for tomato paste but the entire dish was fantastic! Happy Pride!
Making this for my family. Can you pre prep the the 3 different parts (chicken. Sauce, stirfry)the day before?
Hi Bonnie! If you mean by just prepping the ingredients to prepare the 3 different parts, by all means. That will make bringing it all together fast and easy. If you mean actually cooking the 3 different parts up separately, and then bring them all together to serve later, that might be challenging. To be honest, we’ve never tried that, so we’re hesitant to say. It might be okay, but with any kind of stir-fry, it’s really best fresh out of the skillet/wok. You could go ahead and get the chicken pieces coated and then chilled. You can make the sauce ahead of time. Do all of that, have all of your ingredients in place, and the dish will come together quickly. We really hope this helps and we hope you have HUGE success with the dish. It’s one of our all-time favorites! Keep us posted! Kris & Wesley
I have made General Tso’s many different ways and this is BY FAR my favorite and forever the only recipe I will use. SO FREAKING DELICIOUS!
Hi Brittany!! This makes us happier than you’ll ever know! Thank you so much for letting us know and for the wonderful review. That means the world to us!! All the best, Kris & Wesley
I’ve searched for well over a year for a restaurant quality General Tso Chicken recipe. Until now, search over! Well done Guys! When the wife likes it, it’s a hit! For ours, going to add more whole peppers (de Arbol or Thai), that’s it.
P.S. You guys are HILARIOUS!
Made this tonight and it was fantastic ! Pre prepped all the sauces and mixes so it made the process super easy . Flavor was so so good !!! Will put this on the “repeat” menu for sure
Thanks you so much, Kim! It’s definitely a good one to put in the recipe rotation.
Made this just the other night, first time, and it shocked everyone…that something SO GOOD and SO MUCH BETTER THAN ANY CHINESE RESTAURANT EVER could come out of our humble little kitchen.
For anyone making this for the first time, double everything because later you’ll only wish you did, haha.
Wish I did.
Seriously, it goes really fast.
Mark, you have honestly just made our week!! We are over-the-top happy that you and the gang loved the General Tso’s Chicken!! It’s the bomb, right? Woo hoo!! And we agree…double it!! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for letting us know about your success and for the AWESOME review!! All the very best, Kris & Wesley
This looks soooo good. I cannot wait to make this!!
By the way, I love the chicken on top of your refrigerator.
You have made us so happy. Not just because you’re excited about the General Tso’s recipe, but because you love our chicken!! THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! xoxoxo Kris & Wesley
I’m officially a groupie. Made this last night and my family LOVED it. I actually didn’t know boneless, skinless chicken thighs was a thing. LOL AND WHY didn’t I because that made such a big difference in the flavor and texture! My teenager asked how I “got it to taste like a restaurant.” You did a great job laying the recipe out in an easy to follow manner.
Hi Monica!! YES!!! We are thrilled you had such great success with the General Tso’s recipe and extra kudo’s for impressing your teenager! Woo hoo!! Thanks again for letting us know and please stay in touch! All the best, Kris & Wesley
Wow! So delicious. My children have called this meal “the bomb” and want to know what I am making next from your site. Flavourful. Easy method. And I can’t wait to make it again!! Many thanks for broadening my horizons to include a deep-fried stirfry.
Janet!! YES!! Major win…love it! “The bomb!” We are so thrilled you had success with our General Tso’s Chicken! We agree with the kiddos, it’s the bomb! And sounds like you prepared it perfectly! Thank you for letting us know, and please stay in touch! All the best, Kris & Wesley
So after last nights amazing General Tso’s chicken, my Sous chef, also my 10 year old son, starting following the both of you and decided our next recipe is sweet and sour pork. Wesley gave is a 100% stamp of approval, so we are trying. We just ordered Chinese black vinegar from Amazon….we live in Montana??? So excited to try. Love you both!
Hi Patience! We LOVE that your 10-year-old is taking charge in the kitchen!! Sweet and sour pork is one of our favorites. Make sure he takes care with the hot oil in the wok! And we LOVE Montana! Let us know how the sweet and sour pork turns out!! xoxo
OMG.. on recipe number#3 and found my family’s favorite. This is a must try and then love!! So simple as long as your have your Mise en Place because you need ingredients fast! My family was like..”When can we have this again”? Thanks again Kris and Wesley! I absolutely love your recipes and the both of you on camera! Patience
YAY!!! You made General Tso’s!!!! And that is so true about the Mise en Place!! Thank you again for letting us know and for another great review. We love you!!!! We’re excited to hear what you’re making next!!! xoxo Kris & Wesley
Thank you for sharing this recipe! I’ve been gluten free for about a year now and really missed going to Chinese restaurants. The hubby and son said it is really good and to keep the recipe!
This was super easy to make and great flavor, even using coconut aminos and avocado oil (no peanut oil on hand).
Hi Angela!! We couldn’t be happier to hear that you had such amazing success with our General Tso’s recipe! And it sounds like you made the perfect modifications! Thanks so much for letting us know and for the wonderful review! We appreciate that so much! All the best, Kris & Wesley
Delicious! I have been looking for an authentic General Tso recipe and this one really hits close to the mark. It truly taste like a got it from a restaurant. The flavors are really good and I love the fact that I can turn up the heat with additional flavorings. My husband ad kids really liked it as well which makes this a keeper.
I’m looking forward to trying more of your recipes!!
Thank you for posting these!!
Hi DeAnna! YES!!! We are so thrilled you enjoyed our General Tso’s Chicken recipe! We gotta tell you, that ranks right up at the top as one of our all-time favorites. So glad you found us and please stay in touch!!! All the very best, Kris & Wesley
Hi Kris, I really liked the way you shared the recipe. It was so easy to follow. I tried out this recipe a few days ago, my husband was really happy after having it. Your recipes are always super amazing. You are a great cook. I would love to see more recipes of yours in the future.
Hi Gia! Thank you so much!! We are so so so happy that you are enjoying our recipes. Stay in touch, and stay tuned…lots more on the way!!!
You guys never disappoint! This was so so good. I didn’t use near the amount of peanut oil, and had to cut down on the peppers because of the kids, but so delicious. The chicken was amazingly tender even though I used a cuisinart electric frying pan. Buying the authentic ingredients was well worth the effort. Thanks guys!!
Hi Stacy! That is so awesome to hear! And sounds like your modifications worked perfectly! So so so glad you loved it and THANK YOU SO MUCH for the great review and for letting us know!! All the best, Kris & Wesley
Ooh I must make this on the weekend! And I must double that sauce! Thanks for sharing!
This is brilliant using tomato paste in General Tso’s chicken, I’ve never tried that, but certainly will be now…and tossing the marinated chicken in the corn starch before frying is a GREAT technique.
…This looks AMAZING!
You are an amazing cook. I love this blog and everything about it. Just awesome.
Franz (but you can call me Fran)
Heat wave in Los Angeles so we decided to make General Tso’s. I had to substitute red curry paste for tomato paste but the entire dish was fantastic! Happy Pride!
Woo hoo!! Sounds perfect! Thanks for sharing and for the great review. And HAPPY PRIDE!!!!!