General Tso’s Chicken

I love General Tso’s chicken. It’s comfort food. For years it has been my go-to takeout dish. Hot, spicy, crunchy, satisfying perfection – even when the preparation is only mediocre. It simply scratches an itch. Anytime I order takeout I am always torn. I want to try something new, something that maybe – for example – actually originated in China, but inevitably, my order always includes General Tso’s. When I have lived away from the coasts, I was frustrated by what I was served. It was either not spicy enough, not crunchy, or, in at least one case, tasted like fast-food nuggets in canned turkey gravy. I tried a number of takeout joints and eventually gave up. I attempted different recipes and methods at home, but wasn’t ever satisfied. Finally, after considerable reading and experimentation, I got what I wanted – a dish that is  fiery, crispy, tangy, and sweet with a batter that holds up and stays crunchy. For me, at least, the secret ingredient was unexpected – yup, ketchup.

General Tso’s Chicken

Recipe by DrewCourse: Main, Dinner, LunchCuisine: Chinese, AmericanDifficulty: Medium


Prep time


Cooking time




  • Marinade
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

  • 2 tbsp cornstarch

  • 1 tbsp soy sauce

  • 1 tbsp water

  • Breading
  • 1 cup AP Flour

  • ¼ cup cornstarch

  • 1 tsp kosher salt

  • 2 tsp baking powder

  • Sauce
  • ½ cup chicken stock

  • 1 tbsp dried red chili flake

  • 1 tbsp ketchup

  • 1 tbsp soy sauce

  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar

  • 2 tsp minced garlic

  • 1 tsp minced ginger

  • 1 green onion

  • ¼ cup granulated sugar

  • 1 tsp cornstarch

  • 2 tbsp water

  • 1 tsp sesame oil

  • Dried Chilies (optional)


  • Prepare and Marinate the Chicken
  • In a non-reactive bowl, mix cornstarch and soy sauce into a smooth batter.
  • Cut the chicken into 1-to-2-inch pieces, and add to the batter, tossing and massaging the mixture to coat the chicken completely. Allow the chicken to rest in the marinade at least 20 minutes.
  • Bread and Fry Chicken Pieces
  • Mix the breading well in a covered container.
  • Give the chicken in the marinade a good stir to recoat any pieces.
  • Using a single hand (keeping a “wet” and a “dry” hand makes the process much easier and cleaner), drop a few pieces at a time into the breading mixture and cover, shaking vigorously to coat well.
  • Remove the pieces with your “dry” hand.
  • Set the breaded pieces on a sheet pan with a rack and continue to bread all of the remaining pieces.
  • Put the sheet pan in the refrigerator uncovered for at least 30 minutes to allow the breading to hydrate..
  • Fry at 375° until browned.
  • Remove to drain.
  • Immediately before service, fry for a second time at 375° for about 2 minutes to crisp and finish.
  • Prepare the Sauce and Finish
  • Slice the green onion, separating the white and green portions. Reserve the green portion for garnish.
  • Add 1 tsp sesame oil to a shallow pan over medium heat.
  • Add garlic, ginger, the white portion of the green onion, and the chili flake to the pan, and sauté for about 2 minutes or until the entire mixture becomes fragrant.
  • Add soy, chicken stock, vinegar, and ketchup. Simmer for about 20 minutes.
  • Mix 2 tbsp water and 1 tsp cornstarch. Add to the simmering sauce, and return to a low boil to thicken slightly.
  • To finish, fry the chicken for a second time, as outlined above.
  • Allow to drain for just a minute.
  • Transfer to a large bowl, and toss well with sauce and serve.
  • Garnish with chopped green onion tops.


  • Dried Chilies – if you like your food spicy, add a small handful of whole red chilies when sauteeing the aromatics for the sauce. They add a lunch of color, and a hit of spiciness that really amps up the flavor of the dish. They’re not for everyone, so I haven’t included it in the base recipe.

Be sure to check out my other food project, The Weekly Menu!



    Yummy, will have to try these receipts…

  2. Pingback: Buffalo Chicken Bites – The Chicken Thigh Guy

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.