General Tso’s Chicken

I love chicken. I love Chinese food. I love Chinese chicken dishes. I really, really do.

It’s a matter of garlic, ginger, soy sauce and sesame oil.  There’s just something about that combination that makes me weak. The heady, nutty scent of toasted sesame oil with the pungent garlic and spicy ginger and the umami of the soy sauce renders me powerless. When I smell that there’d better be food on the horizon. And quick.

When I first saw this over on Evil Chef Mom, I knew I had to have it that night. Sweet and hot, crispy and tender, garlicky, gingery General Tso’s chicken is a mainstay of Chinese buffets and restaurants, but I knew it would be infinitely better, fresher and healthier at home. Since my husband was at work in the big city,  I texted him saying, “Please pick up boneless, skinless chicken thighs and broccoli. Need them desperately. Love you!”

He came home with bone-in, skin-on drumsticks and peas. Sigh. He meant well. Needless to say, I didn’t get my General Tso’s chicken that night.

The next night, my darling brought me pork chops and salad.

The night after that? Beef to grind for hamburgers and potatoes. I worshipped the idea from afar and waited for the moment I would get to the store by myself.

The next two big shopping trips yielded *GASP* no boneless, skinless chicken thighs because there was an apparent run on them in Amish country. Go figure.

General Tso and I were becoming star-crossed lovers.

Finally, when I went shopping for my birthday meal last week, boneless, skinless chicken thighs were abundant on the shelves and I did a happy dance that resembled Chris Farley’s ‘Tommy Boy’ version of the Flashdance number near the butcher’s counter. He looked at me a little funny, but I didn’t care. General Tso was mine at last.

He was totally worth waiting for. Love always is.

Adapted ever so slightly from and with major thanks to Evil Chef Mom.


General Tso’s Chicken
Sweet and hot, crispy and tender, garlicky, gingery General Tso's chicken is a mainstay of Chinese buffets and restaurants, but you can make it better, fresher and healthier at home!
For the chicken:
  • 1½ teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat and cut into 1½" pieces
  • canola, peanut or vegetable oil for frying
For the Sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger root
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 cup chicken broth or stock
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese chile-garlic sauce
  • 3 tablespoons raw sugar (a.k.a. Demerara or Turbinado)
  • 1 tablespoon peanut, canola or vegetable oil
For Serving:
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • Steamed broccoli
  • Fresh, hot cooked white rice
Prep your chicken:
  1. In a mixing bowl, stir together the sesame oil, soy sauce, egg white, and ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons of cornstarch until a thick slurry forms. It will look gummy but smooth.
  2. Add the chicken pieces and stir until all are evenly coated. At first it may appear that it will not come together but it does!
  3. Set aside, covered lightly with plastic wrap, at room temperature for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Begin the sauce:
  1. Add the tablespoon of oil to a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over high heat.
  2. Stir the garlic and ginger into the oil and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining sauce ingredients until smooth. Pour into the garlic and ginger, stirring, until thick and shiny. Keep over a low burner partially covered to stay warm.
To fry the chicken:
  1. Heat ½-inch of oil in a heavy-bottomed, high-sided frying pan or skillet over high heat.
  2. When the oil is shimmering, add one piece of chicken at a time, taking care not to crowd the pan.
  3. Cook for 4 minutes on each side, or until deep golden brown and crisp on both sides**.
  4. Transfer the chicken to a paper towel lined plate and repeat the process until you've cooked all the chicken.
  5. Slide all the chicken into the prepared sauce and toss to coat. (If desired, add the steamed broccoli to coat with the sauce also.) Increase the heat to medium, stir and cook just until hot all the way through.
  6. Sprinkle with sliced scallions and serve immediately over white rice.
**A note: Chicken is a safe food for me. I know that just about anything done to it is going to yield something that is, at the very least, edible. This is especially true of boneless skinless chicken thighs. It's really hard to mess those up! They stay tender and juicy and it's very hard indeed to cook them to the point of chicken jerky. Be sure to cook them through, you definitely want that crisp, deep-brown coating to hold up to the sauce!


  1. DeeDee V. says

    In step #5 what are we cooking? The garlic and ginger I assume? Anything else? I must know, the General and I have a dinner date!

  2. says

    So you know I’ve made this, and that I loved it, but what I never told anyone is the bit where you mix the chicken and cornstarch makes my skin crawl and my teeth hurt. For me, chunky wet cornstarch squeaking against the side of a glass bowl gives my heebie jeebies heebie jeebies. Worth it? Totally. But I still get the shivers just thinking about it.

  3. says

    “The heady, nutty scent of toasted sesame oil with the pungent garlic and spicy ginger and the umami of the soy sauce renders me powerless.” Amen, Bec. Amen. I have this on my to-do list. The General will be mine some day also. I assume you’ll share him.

  4. Emily says

    I served this ( a double batch!) to a crew of hungry teenaged home remodelers. It was AMAZING! Partly because we were so hungry, I guess, but we practically licked the bowl clean. I’ve always loved General Tso’s at restaurants and never tried it at home. Now I’ll never go back. Thanks so much for sharing this one.

  5. Lisa says

    Loved it! I couldn’t believe I made something that could taste so good. Thank you for the receipe. This was my first time to fry chicken, so that was an experience, screaming and jumping from the flying grease, but it was fun and entertaining for the family pets to watch me.

  6. says

    Saint Tigerlily- Now that you mention it, it is a little squelchy, but still so very worth it :-)
    Bev, Amy, Frugal Baby, and Spandana- I’ll share the General!

    Emily and Lisa- You’re very welcome. Thank you so much for letting me know how it worked for you. And Lisa? I would’ve paid to see that :-)

  7. Pat says

    It’s funny, this Summer when I was not near internet access I thought to myself, “I should comment on Rebecca’s blog and ask her if she has a General Tso’s recipe she could share on there.” =). I look forward to making this hopefully soon =).

  8. kate says

    hi! i just had to leave you a comment because i made this for dinner tonight with tofu. AND. IT. WAS. AMAZING. so amazing that i had to track you down and tell you! i happened to see it on tastykitchen blog and thought i would try it. i had no idea idea it would be so amazing. that it would completely satisfy that NEED for General Tso’s tofu, which is hard to find at chinese take out,actually (or a good version of it). if you have any vegetarian readers, i just subbed veg broth and tofu and otherwise left everything else the same. i may still be drooling and trying to figure out how i can make this every week! (also i switch step 6 into step 4s slot, because i am SLOW with the measuring and the stiring and will burn the ginger/garlic otherwise)
    thank you thank you thank you for posting this! (yes, i am aware i am completely over enthusiastic over one dish, but you have no idea how long i have been CRAVING!)

  9. Tara says

    I made this tonight. It was a huge hit in my house. I doubled the recipe for my family of four & we had none left… :) I’m pretty much an amateur in the frying of chicken, so this was out of my comfort zone. I am loving your blog because it is really making me branch out and try new cooking methods and more adventurous recipes.


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