This General Tso’s Chicken recipe (左宗棠鸡) is the top-selling main dish in our restaurant. 

Our team has done numerous experiments during the development phase and fine-tune to become the most favorite dish in the last three years. 

We decided to rewrite the recipe and post it on this blog to let all our readers across the world replicating this proven General Tso’s Chicken recipe at your comfy home. 

We understand that General Tso’s Chicken does not need an introduction to our American readers. Still, to my surprise, there are hardly any restaurants that serve this mouth-watering American Chinese cuisine in Hong Kong and Malaysia. 

My goal is to make sure you can replicate my recipe, and hence I will provide as much detail as possible with the video presentation to show you all the steps. 

Shoot me a question at the comment section below whenever you have doubts. By doing so, you are helping me to get my messages across in the most precise means, as I will keep updating the content of this article. 

Let’s dive straight into the details. 

This General Tso's chicken recipe (左宗棠鸡) is the best selling items on our restaurant's menu. We are here to reveal all the trade secrets behind the scene on how to prepare it.

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my privacy policy for more info. I may receive commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

1. Prepare the chicken 

We use only chicken thigh meat in our General Tso’s Chicken recipe. Chicken breast meat is never a substitute because it is dry, and the texture is tougher than the thigh meat. 

Therefore we only order the whole chicken leg from our chicken vendor. He will debone the chicken for us, which I think you can request the same service from your chicken supplier. 

Upon receiving the chicken (his worker will deliver to our kitchen), our staff will clean the chicken and drain the chicken thigh in a large colander. 

We discard the skin as it does not taste good. Cut the chicken thigh into bite-size pieces, about three to four cm square. We also want to make sure that the thigh meat is entirely free from any small bones. Sometimes we found some bone debris still attached to the meat unnoticed. 

Transfer the meat pieces to the kitchen scale to obtain the net weight. We weigh everything with the digital scale down to one gram because consistency is crucial in the restaurant business. It is so useful that I also purchase a digital scale for my kitchen at home, although I am only cooking at home occasionally. 

Our standard recipe is based on one kg of deboned thigh meat. We will recalculate the amount of each ingredient based on the actual amount of the meat that we have. Occasionally, the net weight is less than a kg. Sometimes we also make larger batches.

Once we have recalculated the batch size (we use a spreadsheet to do this), we can then move on to the next step, i. e. to prepare the marinade. 

2. Constitute the marinade 

The marinade comprises of five ingredients: egg white, dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, Chinese rice wine, and cornstarch. Let’s look at the reason behind why we use these ingredients to marinate the chicken meat. 

  • Egg white. It is customary to use egg white to marinate meat in Chinese cooking. It helps to protect the meat from direct heat during stir-frying, which can dry up the meat.
  • Light soy sauce. It is the primary flavoring agent for the chicken. Since it is salty, salt is not required in the recipe.
  • Dark soy sauce. It is not as salty as the light soy sauce, but with a tinge of caramelized flavor. We use both soy sauces to strike a balanced flavor. Dark soy sauce also adds color to the chicken. 
  • Chinese rice wine The wine infuse flavor to the meat. It is also an acidic component that helps to tenderize the meat. 
  • Cornstarch. It forms a coating on the meat. It also acts as a binder to hold the soy sauce and bind to the meat.

How to marinate

The reason we marinate the chicken in advance is that we don’t want to run out of chicken at the last minute. After it is marinated for one hour, the flavor should have penetrated the entire piece of meat.

The process is straightforward. You only need to combine the marinade with the chicken. Since we usually prepare this General Tso’s Chicken recipe in advance, we divide the marinated meat to two hundred grams portion (keep in small bags) and keep them refrigerated. 

The meat can be frozen if we do not use it immediately. In this case, we will remove the required portions from the freezer in advance and let it defrost at room temperature before cooking. 

3. Deep-fried the chicken meat 

Coat with a unique flour mix

Coat the chicken meat with our special flour mix before deep-frying to create a crispy coating. 

We coat the chicken with a mixture of dry ingredients, not a batter. This method can create a coating that stays crispy for more than half an hour. 

The component of the dry flour mixture are:

  • 100g (3/4 cup) of all-purpose flour 
  • 100g (0.6 cup) of cornstarch
  • 2g (1/2 tsp) of salt 
  • 4g (1 tsp) of baking powder (or baking soda)

We make a larger batch of the flour most than above for the restaurant, but half of the above should be sufficient for one kg of chicken meat. 

Drain away any excess marinade. Mix the chicken meat with a copious amount of the flour mix. Shake off any excess flour and deep-fried immediately. 

Based on our experience, the chicken will be very crispy if we deep-fried the chicken chunks immediately. That is when the flour mix still coats the exterior. The chicken will be less crispy if we left it until the dry powder absorbs the marinade, and the surface becomes wet. 

We deep-fried the chicken at 175°C/350°F for four minutes until golden brown. Remove the meat from the oil and drain. 

Use clean oil to deep-fry 

General Tso’s Chicken recipe involves deep-frying, which is a concern to some people. The oil will break down once it hits the smoking point, which creates organic substances that are bad for health. A similar chemical reaction will happen after the oil is recycled multiple times. Therefore, we should be careful while deep frying any food items by following a few simple rules :

  • Use the smallest amount of oil required for deep-frying 
  • Do not recycle the oil for more than three times 
  • Be careful not to heat the oil until it turns smoky 

I am using minimum oil with a frying pan to deep-fry the chicken. Here are a few tips for you :

  • Make sure you pay attention to the temperature. Do not let the oil turn smoky
  • Use cooking oil with a high smoking point. Peanut oil, palm oil, and corn oil are my choice. 
  • Remove the chicken once it turns golden brown. 
  • Pour the used oil through a wire mesh strainer. Keep for future use. 
This General Tso's chicken recipe (左宗棠鸡) is the best selling items on our restaurant's menu. We are here to reveal all the trade secrets behind the scene on how to prepare it.

4. Formulate the coating sauce 

The next step of this General Tso’s Chicken recipe is to coat the fried chicken with the thick sauce. 

The sauce is the extension of the marinade. It comprises all the ingredients of the marinade plus vinegar, sugar, sesame oil, and tomato paste. 

Since the sauce has all the ingredients of the marinade, why do we still want to marinate the meat? The reason is that the sauce can only coat the surface and unable to penetrate the interior of the meat. 

Now let’s understand the role of each additional ingredient in the sauce. 

Vinegar. It furnishes the sourness required by the recipe. I am using white vinegar, but you are free to substitute it with balsamic or black vinegar. 

Sugar. The objective of using sugar, in my opinion, is to balance the sourness of the vinegar. Our version of General Tso’s Chicken recipe has less sugar than many similar recipes. This adjustment is based on the request from our customers as most of the Asian prefer savory over sweet in general. 

Sesame oil. It adds a layer of nutty flavor to the chicken. We do not use it to marinate the chicken as the heat will destroy it during deep-frying. 

Tomato paste. It gives the chicken a slightly reddish color, which certainly looks better than dark brown. The small amount of tomato paste does not contribute much flavor.

To prepare the sauce, combine all the ingredients and bring it to a boil. Make sure the sugar is dissolved. 

We need 45ml (3 tbsp) of this sauce for every 150g (5 oz) of the marinated chicken meat. 

5. Coat the chicken with the sauce

Now we come to the final step of this recipe- coat the chicken with General Tso’s Chicken sauce. 

To do this, you need to get ready four ingredients – chopped ginger, chopped garlic, chopped scallion, and dried chili. 

Here are the steps 

  • Heat some oil in the pan. Saute all the four ingredients, as mentioned above, until aromatic. You need about a teaspoon each of these items for every 150g (5 oz) of chicken. There is no need to use high heat, and the process will take fifteen to thirty seconds. 
  • Next, add the correct amount of sauce to the aromatics. (45g per 150g chicken). The sauce will boil within ten seconds as the amount is small. 
  • Add the crispy, deep-fried chicken to the sauce. Mix and flip the chicken quickly to coat the surface with the sauce. Once there is no more sauce left in the pan, remove from heat, and serve. 

You will notice we only a small amount of water constitutes the sauce, as we want a concentrated sauce with intense flavor to coat the meat without wetting the surface too much. This method is our way to preserve the crispiness of the chicken, and it works.

If you add more water to the sauce, coupled with using a cornstarch slurry to thicken the diluted sauce, all the effort to deep-fry the chicken until crispy will be wasted. We want the sauce with intense flavor cling on to the crispy surface, not to let the chicken inundated by a pool of cornstarch paste. 

Note: If you like this recipe, you will most likely also like our Sesame Chicken and Lemon Chicken. It is also prepared by deep-frying and coated with a thick savory sauce.

Garnish and serve

We garnish the General Tso’s Chicken with shredded scallion and chopped red chiles. It is not necessary to have elaborate garnishing, as the chicken will disappear from the plate in no time. It is best to serve with steamed rice. 

Conclusion 

I have just shown you our General Tso’s Chicken recipe and all the trade secrets behind the scene, nothing is left untold. My goal is to make it clear to you so that you can replicate it at home wherever you are living. 

If you have any doubts, please leave your comments below. I will update this recipe whenever it is necessary to make every point clear and concise. 

Enjoy the General Tso’s Chicken. 

Yield: 3 servings

General Tso's Chicken

General Tsos chicken recipe

General Tso's chicken is the ultimate American Chinese cuisine.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes

Ingredients

For the marinate

For the Dry Coating

For the Sauce:

For sauteeing

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic, , minced
  • 2 teaspoons ginger, , minced
  • 2 teaspoons scallion, , cut
  • 8 dry red chili

For deep-frying:

  • Vegetable oil

Instructions

  1. Score the skinless side of the chicken in a crosshatch pattern. Be careful not to cut through the meat.
  2. Cut the chicken into 4 cm chunks, leaving some skin on it for extra crispiness.
  3. Marinate with the ingredients in (A) for at least half an hour or oversight.
  4. Mix the ingredients (B) together to become the dry flour mix.
  5. Drain off any excess liquid from the chicken. Dredge the chicken chunks into the flour mix.
  6. Pour at least 1.5-inch layer of vegetable oil into a heavy-bottomed pot or wok and heat the oil up to up 360 °F (180 °C).
  7. Deep fried the chicken until cooked through and turns golden brown about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally with chopsticks to avoid the chicken pieces sticking together.
  8. Drain the chicken pieces on a plate lined with a paper towel.
  9. Mix the ingredients D together.
  10. Saute the garlic, ginger, dry red chili and scallion in D with vegetable oil in a pan. Pour the ingredients D to the pan and cook until the mixture become translucent. Turn of the heat.
  11. Add the deep-fried chicken to the sauce. Coat the chicken with the sauce thoroughly. Serve.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

3

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 2317Total Fat: 129gSaturated Fat: 37gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 68gCholesterol: 482mgSodium: 7816mgCarbohydrates: 144gFiber: 8gSugar: 32gProtein: 141g

    29 replies to "General Tso’s Chicken recipe"

    • KP Kwan

      Hi, this is KP Kwan. I am happy to see you in this comment area, as you have read through my recipe. I am pleased to reply to any questions and comments as soon as possible.

    • marilyn colby

      hi, mr.kwan.

      i would like to try this recipe. i become a bit discouraged when i see kilos and grams.

      i would appreciate it if you would put measurements in pounds/ ounces/cups(1/2 cups, etc.)/ tablespoons/teaspoons, etc. next to the gram measurements. it would make following your recipes very enjoyable.

      thank you for your easily comprehensible recipes.

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Marilyn,
        Thanks for your feedback. I have added the cups/tbsp etc into the article. Hope that is much easier for you to follow now.
        Since each ingredient has different density, it turns out there’s no standard conversion. For example, 5g of sugar is about 1 tsp, but 5g of cornstarch is far more than that.

        The reason for me to use grammage is because that’s the most accurate measurement. However, you can convert all the ingredients by using the following conversion service :

        https://m.convert-me.com/en/convert/cooking/

        Hope this is useful to you.
        KP Kwan

    • Jeff Cheung

      What type of gluten free flour would you recommend for this dish?

      Thanks

      • KP Kwan

        You may use cornstarch to substitute the flour in the recipe. You will, however, find that it will become more crispy after frying.

    • Ivan Donchev

      Hi, Mr. Kwan,
      I am a fan of you, based in Bulgaria (south-east Europe)
      I find this recipe very seductive and will try it definitely. Can Japanese MIRIN rice wine be substitute for your wine?
      I already tried your “hot and sour soup in 4 easy steps” and result was fantastic- everyone likes it. In our region we eat/use hot chilies quite often!
      Thank you for providing such great expertise in popular and understandable way!
      Mr. Ivan Donchev- the Chef in the family:)

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Ivan,
        You can use mirin I think is a good idea. You can also use sherry as a substitute for Chinese wine. Enjoy!
        Thanks,
        KP Kwan

        • Ivan Donchev

          Thank you for your reply, Kwan
          Some recipes for this dish are calling for double fry for enhanced crispiness, what do you think?
          Regards

          • KP Kwan

            Hi Ivan,
            The double fry method will create a very crispy surface. You can use that method if you are looking for extra crispy chicken.
            I double fry the chicken for another dish called Taiwanese salt and pepper chicken, as there is no gravy involved, and the crispiness will stay for quite a long time. But for general Tso’s chicken, it is doused in a sauce after frying and will soften it a bit. So I think it will not achieve the extra crispiness texture.
            You can read the article at https://tasteasianfood.com/taiwanese-salt-and-pepper-chicken/
            I have an explanation under the title “Part 3: Fried the chicken” in that article.
            KP Kwan

    • Ivan Donchev

      Hallo, KP KWAN,
      Many thanks your swift reply!
      Your suggestion is highly appreciated.
      Will try
      Best regards

      • KP Kwan

        You are welcome. All the best!

        • Ivan Donchev

          Dear Mr. Kwan
          in general, all recipes seen refer as ingredients to approx. 1-2 servings.
          How to proceed if I will expect 5-6 guest at the table?
          I know it is not just simply to multiple the ingredients quantity to desired number of people, but bearing in mind quantity to be e.g. fryied to be not that much to cool the oil for stir fry, etc.
          Any suggestions/advices how to proceed when needing to cook one and the same particular dish, but for meeting 5-6 guests?
          Best regards and thank your time

          • KP Kwan

            Hi Ivan,
            In general, most of the recipes in one or two servings can be converted to a larger amount without much modification. Indeed, there are a few areas that need to pay attention to. Here are some of my suggestions:
            1. Stew/braise/boil: No adjustment required.
            2. Stir-frying: Stir fry in small batches. It needs high heat to create the wok aroma, and most of the stove at home is not powerful enough to handle large amounts at any time. The temperature will quickly drop once we add a large amount of ingredients, so it is better to fry in batches.
            3. Deep-frying: Deep-fry in small batches if you are using the stove. The reason is the same as stir-frying. And an additional benefit is you can use less oil if you deep-fried in small batches. Once you have finished a batch, place a kitchen paper towel on a wire mesh strainer and pour the oil through it. The oil will become clean, and you can use it to deep-fried the subsequent batches.
            4. For General Tso’s chicken, you can deep-fry the chicken in advance, and only add the sauce to it the last minute when your guest arrives. This way will prevent the chicken from turning soggy.
            I hope this info is helpful.
            Happy cooking.
            KP Kwan

            • Ivan Donchev

              Many thanks Kwan!
              All well noted.
              Meanwhile, many businessman can learn from you not only cooking, but also
              how to respect people’s incoming mail and respond without any delay…I am since 30 years in the insurance world and your attitude in this respect is remarkable!
              Keep walking!

            • KP Kwan

              Hi Ivan,
              Thank you. It is my duty to respond and answer. I will definitely keep going.
              KP Kwan

    • Barbarainnc

      I like the measuring spoons you used, where can I get a set? I enjoyed watching you fix General Tso’s Chicken, my favorite recipe.

      • KP Kwan

        I do not have any particular preference for measuring spoons, as long as it is of the standard size. One teaspoon should be 5g/ml of water, and one tablespoon should be 15g/ml of water.

    • Ash Agueci

      Thank you souch for this delicious recipe! Not only is it easy to make, it’s truly one of the tastiest dishes I’ve ever eaten

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Ash,
        You are welcome. I am so glad to know that it works, and you enjoy the general Tso’s chicken.
        KP Kwan

    • Maggie Yeo

      I made it yesterday and it tasted good! I made half without the sauce and the half covered with the sauce. Both of them quite good. It just that the dish emphasizes more on the Tsau Shing wine. Maybe I will reduce it to 3 tbsp instead of 4 tbsp on the marination part as the sauce also consists of it as well. Saltiness and the sweetness, just nice.

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Maggie,
        Thanks for trying the General Tso’s chicken recipe I am glad that it works well. Feel free to make changes to suit your tastebuds.
        Regards,
        KP Kwan

    • Peor

      Hi KP Kwan,
      I have recently come across your site in the last couple of weeks and I think it’s great. The details you provide along with your videos makes things so much easier for someone that has not cooked previously before lockdown. So first of all I just want to say thanks for such a brilliant resource! Secondly, sorry to be a pain but I normally see your recipes in grams rather than cups but I can’t see it on this recipe?
      Thanks, Peor

      • KP Kwan

        HI Peor,
        I have just added the measurement in gram/pounds in the recipe. I recommend you a site where you can get all the ingredients converted accurately.
        https://www.convert-me.com/en/convert/cooking/
        It is a free service, and it is handy.
        Thanks.
        KP Kwan

        • Peor

          Thanks for that!

          • KP Kwan

            You are welcome 🙂

    • Katerin

      Hai Mr Kwan,
      What brand of dark soy sauce do you use? It looks like thick and sticky. The one that I have doesn’t have that texture

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Katerin,
        I live in Malaysia, and all brands of dark soy sauce are quite thick. I think it does not matter that much. Dark soy sauce gives you a darker color than the light sou sauce and less salty. The result should be quite similar despite the thickness.
        KP Kwan

    • Allen

      We tried this recipe and now it is a monthly treat in our house as here in southwest Colorado good Chinese food is impossible to find, absolutely the best general’s chicken i have ever had , thank you so much for sharing with everyone.

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Allen,
        You are welcome and glad to know that you love it.
        Thanks,
        KP Kwan

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