Crispy General Tso’s Chicken Recipe

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Garlicky, a little bit spicy, and slightly sweet, this healthier General Tso’s chicken is everything you love about the classic takeout dish but made with better-for-you ingredients for a delicious, healthy dinner!

general tso's chicken and white rice in a wooden bowl with a fork on a marble surface

Ah, General Tso’s chicken! A long-time favorite of mine. Can I confess something? Chinese restaurants used to be my jam…specifically, Chinese buffets. I know, I KNOW… lots of mystery can be found at a Chinese food buffet, but I just couldn’t keep away! In fact, in high school, my friend and I would go to the same Chinese buffet EVERY. SINGLE. MONDAY. You know what I couldn’t keep off of my plate? You guessed it…General Tso’s chicken! It’s just the perfect combination of spicy and sweet (but not too much of either), with a touch of yummy garlicky goodness. THE BEST.

Thankfully, my eating has evolved, and while I love a good treat, I always prioritize how food makes me feel first. And if I’m being honest, that buffet General Tso’s did *not* make me feel good. This one, on the other hand, totally does! Made with better-for-you ingredients and crisped using an air fryer or oven, this rendition feels (and, dare I say, tastes!) so much better than the takeout version!

general tso's chicken in a stainless pan with a wooden spoon on a marble surface

How do you make General Tso’s Chicken?

This recipe consists of 3 (super easy) different components. First, the chicken marinade, then the flour coating, and finally, the General Tso’s sauce. Typically, the restaurant version of General Tso's chicken features battered and deep-fried chicken, but we're going to walk you through how to get the perfect crispy coating without having to deep fry.

Here’s what you’ll need to do to for a better-than-takeout dinner:

Marinate + Bread the Chicken

  1. Whisk together the marinade + add the chicken. Preheat the air fryer to 400°F. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg white, cornstarch, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, and salt, then add the chicken pieces to the marinade, and toss to coat.

  2. Whisk together the flour coating + coat the chicken. In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch, white rice flour, and sea salt (these ingredients are KEY to getting the crispiest General Tso’s chicken), then remove the chicken from the marinade, dredge it in the flour mixture, shaking off the excess.

Cook the Chicken

Air Fryer Method

If you choose to use the air fryer, know that you’ll probably need to work in batches, but your end product will be ultra crispy and delicious! Here’s what you’ll do:

  • Preheat the air fryer to 400°F. Once preheated, add the chicken to the air fryer in a single layer (this allows for maximum crisp!). Spritz the chicken with avocado oil spray, and set the air fryer to cook for 12 minutes, flipping the chicken halfway through.

Oven Method

If you don’t have an air fryer, no worries! Thanks to the flour coating ingredients (ESPECIALLY the white rice flour), your chicken will still get a good crisp in the oven. If you’re going the oven route, here’s what you’ll do:

  • Preheat the oven to 425°F. While the oven is preheating, spread the flour-coated chicken out on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Lightly spray or brush the chicken with avocado oil, then bake it for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, flip the chicken then bake for an additional 15 minutes, until golden brown and crisp.

general tso's chicken in a stainless pan with a wooden spoon and a bowl of white rice in the backgroundon a marble surfaceMake the General Tso Sauce

While the chicken is cooking, make the General Tso’s sauce:

  1. Saute the garlic. In a frying pan or wok, heat the oil over medium heat, add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds, or until fragrant.

  2. Add the remaining sauce ingredients. Add the honey, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, chili garlic sauce (this adds some spice, so feel free to use less if you want a less spicy sauce!), sesame oil, cornstarch, and chicken broth or water to the skillet and whisk to combine. Once smooth, let the sauce simmer for about 5 minutes, or until thickened.

Toss + Serve

Once your chicken is crispy and your sauce is thickened, toss them together, garnish with sesame seeds, and enjoy!

Tips for the Crispiest General Tso’s Chicken

  • Use Chicken Thighs – we opt for chicken thighs here because their higher fat content keeps them from drying out, which means they can bake for longer than a chicken breast, plus they create a crispier coating.

  • Spritz the Chicken with Oil – give the chicken a good spray of avocado oil before baking or air frying it. While you can use a brush to spread the oil on the coated chicken pieces, the spray is MUCH easier and creates a more even coating.

  • Use White Rice Flour – white rice flour gets the *best* crisp. Brown rice flour is grittier and heftier, so it won’t get nearly as good of a crisp as white rice flour.

  • Work in Batches/Spread Out – if you’re air frying, work in batches. It’s tempting to pile in all of your chicken in hopes that’ll it’ll turn out okay, but resist the urge! The air fryer works by moving hot air around your food, and an overly-full air fryer isn’t able to do that effectively. If you’re baking your General Tso’s chicken, be sure to spread the chicken out on the sheet pan for the best crisp.

general tso's chicken and white rice in a wooden bowl with a fork on a marble surface

Air Fryer vs. Oven

Both methods result in an uber crispy, better-than-takeout General Tso’s, so which is better? Here’s a quick comparison. The air fryer is faster (12 minutes vs. 30 minutes), but can cook less chicken at a time, requiring you to work in batches. Oven-baked General Tso’s takes more time but can be done all at once, and results in a *slightly* less crispy end product. Honestly, there are pros and cons to each method, but they’re both absolutely delicious, so it truly comes down to how much time you have, whether or not you have an air fryer, and just how crispy you want your General Tso’s to be.

What to Serve with General Tso’s Chicken

We like to go simple here and serve our General Tso’s chicken with a side of perfectly-cooked white rice and steamed broccoli. It just *feels* right!

More Asian-Inspired Dishes

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Crispy General Tso's Chicken (Oven + Air Fryer Method!)

general tso's chicken and white rice in a wooden bowl with a fork on a marble surface

This General Tso's chicken is better than takeout, and also better for you! Crispy, oven-baked chicken is tossed in a sweet, spicy, garlicky sauce.

  • Author: Amber Goulden
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 5
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: Chinese

Ingredients

For the marinade:
  • 1 egg white
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch (may also use an equal amount of arrowroot flour or tapioca starch)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce (use tamari for gluten-free)
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
For the flour coating:
For the sauce:
  • 2 teaspoons avocado or olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce (or tamari for gluten-free)
  • 1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce (reduce to 1 teaspoon for a mild option)*
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • ½ tablespoon cornstarch (may also use an equal amount of arrowroot flour or tapioca starch)
  • ½ cup chicken broth or water
  • 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds, for garnish

Instructions

Oven Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, then lightly spray it with the avocado oil spray, or brush it with half of the avocado oil.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg white, corn starch, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, and salt. Add the chicken to the marinade and toss to coat.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the corn starch, white rice flour, and sea salt.
  4. Remove the chicken from the marinade then dredge in the flour mixture, then shake off the excess flour and lay the chicken on the baking sheet. Lightly spray the chicken with avocado oil, or brush it with the remaining oil, then bake for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, flip the chicken then bake for an additional 15 minutes, until browned and crisp.
  5. While the chicken is baking, heat 2 teaspoons avocado oil in a small pot over medium heat, then add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the honey, vinegar, soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, and sesame oil, and stir. Let cook for 1-2 minutes, until bubbling, then, in a small bowl, whisk together the broth and cornstarch and stir into the sauce. Let it cook for another 1-2 minutes until it begins to thicken, then remove from heat.
  6. Toss the chicken with the General Tso's sauce then garnish with white sesame seeds. Serve over white rice or cauliflower rice and enjoy!

Air Fryer Method:

  1. Preheat your air fryer to 400 F.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg white, corn starch, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, and salt. Add the chicken to the marinade and toss to coat.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the corn starch, white rice flour, and sea salt.
  4. Remove the chicken from the marinade then dredge in the flour mixture, then shake off the excess flour and place the chicken in your air fryer basket in an even layer. To do this, you may have to cook the chicken in two batches.
  5. Lightly spray the chicken with avocado oil, or brush it with the remaining oil, then air fry for 15 minutes, flipping halfway through.
  6. While the chicken is baking, heat 2 teaspoons avocado oil in a small pot over medium heat, then add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the honey, vinegar, soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, and sesame oil, and stir. Let cook for 1-2 minutes, until bubbling, then, in a small bowl, whisk together the broth and cornstarch and stir into the sauce. Let it cook for another 1-2 minutes until it begins to thicken, then remove from heat.
  7. Toss the chicken with the General Tso's sauce then garnish with white sesame seeds. Serve over white rice or cauliflower rice and enjoy!

Notes

If you can't find chili garlic sauce – double the amount of garlic for the sauce and use 1/2 – 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (to taste) instead!

Keywords: air fryer, oven, baked, crispy, general tso's chicken, general tsao

Comments

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  1. Melissa Fattal says:

    Looks SO yummy! Is there any substitute for the white rice flour? Thanks!

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      You can try using brown rice flour, but it won’t be quite as crispy. Some have had success with using all arrowroot (no white rice flour), but we haven’t tried it so we can’t guarantee the outcome!

  2. jennifer elliott says:

    Do these nutrition facts include rice? If so, how much?

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      They don’t! Just the chicken + sauce. Enjoy!

  3. Linda says:

    This was AMAZING!!! So delicious and so easy to make. Also served it with broccoli, perfect combo. Thanks, certainly going to become a favorite!

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      We’re so glad you loved this, Linda!! It’s a good one, for sure!!

  4. Anne says:

    I saw the step by step instructions in your Instagram stories and realized I had everything on hand to make it myself. It was such a treat! It was like having a Chinese take-out but without the nasty side effects on my stomach! I made it in the oven and it was crunchy and delicious, thanks for sharing.

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      SO glad you love this recipe as much as we do, Anne!! Thanks for sharing this with us!

  5. Hilary Halford says:

    My husband commented “this is one of the best things you’ve ever made.” ❤️ (I’ve been cooking for him for 20 years.) This recipe was super tasty and crispy and the sauce…..WoW! We will be having it again soon!

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      Wahoo! So awesome, Hilary! Thanks for sharing this with us!

  6. Kristie says:

    Amazing! One of my favorite recipes. Served it with brown rice and broccoli. I could eat this every day.

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      Me too!!! We’re so glad you loved it, Kristie!

  7. Christina says:

    I made this for dinner the other night & it is amazing! My hubby and I both agree that it tastes like legit Chinese takeout General Tso’s. Even reheated leftovers were still crunchy and delicious. Definitely will make this again!

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      Wahoo! We’re SO glad you guys loved it, Christina! Thank you for sharing this with us!

  8. Kristie says:

    We really love this and the orange chicken recipe on your site! I can leave some without sauce for picky kids and everyone is happy!!! Healthier chicken nuggets, and pretty easy 🙂

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      So awesome! Thanks for sharing this with us, Kristie! We’re glad your family enjoys this recipe!!

  9. Caitlin says:

    So delicious! The came out better than any takeout I have ever had, and it sat lighter in my belly after. This is definitely going into the menu rotation and I can’t wait!

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      Wahoo! I love this recipe too, Caitlin!! Thank you for sharing this with us!

  10. Lindsay says:

    INCREDIBLE! As a gluten-allergic person I have missed the strong flavor of carry-out Chinese food and this was so much better than anything I could have ordered. It has made our list of top-five meals and I will probably make it once a month. Thank you for another great recipe!

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      I totally agree. I was absolutely amazed at how delicious this was – Cassy and Amber knocked it out of the park here (as they always do!). It’s definitely a dish to add to the rotation!