A General Tso Chicken recipe that’s baked, not fried and so much better than the real thing! Crispy and tender chicken pieces baked in crushed cornflakes and dressed in a classic sweet and sour sauce. It’s absolutely scrumptious!
A few nights ago I came across a very interesting documentary on Netflix called The search for general Tso.
The movie explores the origins of general Tso’s chicken and why it’s becomes such an iconic dish in America. The dish was apparently created in 1952 by Chef Peng Chang-kuei (彭長貴) at Pen’s Garden Hunan restaurant in Taipei, Taiwan. He named the dish General Tso chicken in honor of the famous Qing Dynasty general from his home province of Hunan.
The documentary also talks about the evolution of Chinese food in America and the difficulties Chinese immigrants had to face in order to survive and eventually thrive in this country.
What is General Tso Chicken?
General Tso chicken is one of the most popular takeout dishes you can get in Chinese American restaurants across the United States and Canada.
The dish is made of chicken pieces that have been dipped in egg and cornstarch and deep fried until crispy. The fried chicken is then tossed in a sweet and tangy gooey sauce and sometimes topped with sesame seeds.
Healthy General Tso Chicken
Once I finished watching the documentary I wasn’t only craving a big plate of general Tso’s chicken, I wondered if I could make a healthier version of it in my own kitchen. I would have to find a way to skip the deep fryer and create a breading that would be just as crispy as the original version.
The sauce would also have less sugar but still taste exactly like General Tso sauce.
“I can do it”, I told myself as I put on an apron and began prepping the dish.
Opted to not use the broth and thickner. Huge flavor! Major hit with my little one =)
Question: Has anyone substituted the 1/4 cup of flour with cornstarch? My husband must avoid wheat.
Just made this and it was delicious! I did read the comments about portion size and doubled the recipe for me and my husband so we can have this a few nights this week.
I subbed out the cornflakes for Japanese style Panko (you can find at any Wal-Mart) and chili garlic sauce for the Sriracha (1/2 amount of what recipe recommends) and it was amazing!
I did most in the oven but tested one out in the Air Fryer and it cooked great.
I would also recommend flipping the chicken half way through baking to ensure both sides are crisp whether you go classic oven method or Air Fryer 🙂
Definitely a must try recipe!!!
What can be used instead of the rice vinegar
Hi Kelly! You can use apple cider vinegar as a substitute 🙂
I randomly stumbled upon this post , and decided to try this one for my family. It turned out so well , many thanks for posting this one . Keep shining 🙂
I made this last night and my family loved it! I followed the recipe exactly using two large chicken breasts and doubling the sauce with 2 tsp toasted sesame oil and one tsp of red pepper flakes added. I didn’t toss it in the pan I just put white rice on plates added the chicken and some steamed broccoli on top and drizzled with the sauce. It fed 4 adults with one of us having seconds and there was one serving of leftovers. I will definitely be making this again! Thank you for a wonderful recipe
Thank you so much for sharing this Jodi, I’m so happy you like the recipe! 🙂
Hi! Great recipe! Inspired by you, I’ve started my own blog and would be honoured to know what you think. Feel free to check it out here: F and B Recipes.
Thank you Shristi! I look forward to seeing your recipes too! 🙂
Hello! I’ve just eaten this and it was pretty good! As other reviewers said, season the chicken and don’t mix the sauce into the chicken as it will make them soggy. I’m impressed with this recipe and enjoyed it immensely!
Really looks delicious! Would love to try it out. Thanks for the article!
Definitely Increase the amount of the chicken to 3 or more lbs if serving more than one and then double or triple the rest of the recipe. Use crushed plain pork rinds instead of cornflakes to cut down on carbs. Serve with steamed broccoli and carrots. Totally delicious!
Would love to make this but I’m curious what does this mean: 2 tablespoons corn starch mixed with 2water
There’s no increment between the “2” and the “water”. Do you mean 2 tablespoons? Please clarify. Thanks
I think this would be better if the sauce was just drizzled over when serving. Mixing the sauce with the chicken n a pan made the whole lot soggy .
wat is the temperature u used to bake?
Hi Teju, I bake the chicken at 450ºF, or 230ºC 🙂
Seriously!!! A one pound chicken breast serves 4?! I find that hard to believe, I want to make this but I cannot see this being enough for one meal let alone 2 for my husband and I.
Hi Nancy, 1/4 pound is around the suggested serving per person (3-4 oz according to USDA) if you are looking to lose weight. I blog about healthier eating so I focus on portion sizes a lot since it’s helped me tremendously in maintaining the same weight throughout the years. The way I suggest serving dinner is to fill your plate 20% meat and 80% sides such as brown rice and veggies. Plus, it makes eating dinner a lot more fun since you get to taste different flavors! 🙂
Hi, I just converted this recipe to be gluten free and it came out delicious!
That’s great Lynn! What did you end up using?
Looks fantastic! Has anyone tried grilling the chicken? Way too hot for an oven these days. Thanks!
This recipe looks delicious. I will have to try it. I always like to taste others recipes. It gives me a break from thinking of my own all the time. And since I love Asian food so much I will have to give this one a go. Great photos and great looking food!
Of course I will have to use Organic Corn and Organic Soy because of the GMO’s that I avoid. but other than that I can’t wait to taste that sauce on that chicken. It looks very crispy. I’m always interested in eating alternative healthy recipes like this one. Hope to see you around soon. ~ Mario
Where is all of the cholesterol coming from besides the egg yolks?
It also comes from chicken which is fairly high in cholesterol.
Yes but the cholesterol in chicken (and fish) – as long as it’s not fried – has very little saturated fat. The unsaturated fats in chicken is healthy for you. The egg is high in cholesterol but it has so many other health benefits, it’s still considered a healthy food. There’s way more to worry about in the sugar than anything else in this recipe. And garlic and ginger also have many health benefits. It’s also a staple in Asian cuisine.
hi there! what is hoisin sauce? thanks!
Hi! Hoisin sauce is a common Chinese condiment – a sauce – that’s sweet, pungent and salty. It’s thick, brown in color and used a lot in stir fries and dipping sauces.
I just made this and didn’t like it very much, it was honestly the sauce. I ended up using half the sauce and half teryaki sauce. I think it was the sriracha. Smart idea with the cornflakes though, I liked the actual chicken part!
Hi Jennifer, sriracha has a bell pepper taste I also find overwhelming in some dishes, maybe you can try it without next time. Glad you liked the crispy chicken bits! 🙂
Made this with my son (age 14) – great fun to make AND it tasted sooo good! Thank you!
Thank you Molly, I’m so happy that your son loved it!
OK, now i’ve made it. First, the baking technique is great. The chicken came out crispy and moist inside. It had a faint taste of cereal when eaten plain, but that disappears once you sauce it. Next time I would suggest seasoning the chicken with salt and pepper before starting the dredging process to give it a little more flavor. The sauce was good (I had to put garlic in it). Overall it made a very nice healthy meal. It doesn’t have that true fried crispness to it, but hey — something has to give if you’re going to save a gazillion calories from a dish. lol.
Awesome! Used panko. Found the sauce was reminiscent of Montana’s Shrimp Kapow. I will definitely be making this again. Thanks!
Hi there: Looks awesome! No garlic or ginger in the sauce? I’m surprised.
I know, I’m such a garlic and ginger lover too! I wanted to create the simplest and healthiest recipe for General Tso so I got rid of quite a few ingredients. The essence is still there though and I must admit to being a sucker for this recipe 🙂
This is my new favorite! So many “baked” recipes are fried before baking, so I usually skip them. This is really baked and so awesome! I used boneless thighs because I had them. I pounded them and trimmed well, and they were quite delicious. My only other change would be to omit the hoison sauce because it didn’t taste like restaurant Tso sauce. I added diced green onion and diced pickled jalapeño to my sauce, not the kids ‘ sauce. LOVE LOVE LOVE
Oh yeah, my package of thighs was 2# so I doubled everything. The kids had their sauce on the side for dipping. I dipped my pieces separately, spooning extra sauce on my rice. I ended up with enough chicken pieces baked to make it again, so I will freeze them for another day. Can’t wait to see how that turns out.
Wonderful! Thank you Anita for sharing your tips, great ideas!
I made this in my crock pot. I doubled the liquid ingredients and used five drumsticks, 8 boneless, skinless thighs and 4 boneless, skinless breasts cut in 3 pieces. I cooked it on low for just under 4 hours. After removing the meat I poured the liquid into a saucepan and reduced it to half then served the chicken and sauce with texmati rice
Wow, sounds amazing! Thank you Catrin for the great idea!
Made this for my family tonight, we loved it! Thanks for sharing this unique and healthier version of a favorite 🙂
Thank you Nicole!
Hi! What is the serving size? I see the calories listed but not the amount of chicken. Thanks!
Hi Gabriella! Serving size is for 4 (per quarter), or approximately 240g.
I have never tried General Tso chicken until I tried yours. Now I will never order it out because this was so easy to prepare and yummy! Thank you once again…. We love all recipes we have tried.. I have made your meat pie 3 times with the intent to share with my grandchildren but by day two it is gone!
My husband devours it!
Thank you again!
Cheryl, my husband also gobbles down the pie – I’ll usually only get to enjoy one or two slices before it’s all gone! My plan is to make two or three next time and see if they freeze well 🙂
Great recipe! Made this last night and it was awesome! I added more sriracha than the recipe called for since I’m a fan of spice. Happy I found this since I had a craving for chinese, without the 1,500 calories involved with takeout lol.
Is the nutritional information based on the whole recipe, or one serving??
The nutritional facts are per serving (4 for this recipe).
Is the nutrition info accuracte? Where’s all that protein coming from? There’s 22-25 grams of protein in a 1/4 lb serving of boneless chicken
The nutrition widget can be inaccurate (I’ve re-entered the recipe and changed the label- thanks for pointing it out 🙂 ), I’m still looking for one that I don’t have to fix time and again. If you know of any out there that are reliable, please do share as I’ll definitely take a look!
Question: you say to remove the chicken from the oven and transfer to a large pan then to turn the heat to low and pour sauce over the chicken… Are you talking about on the stove or the oven? How long is this process supposed to take? Thanks
Once the chicken is removed from the oven, put it in a large pan over low heat on the stove. The process only takes a minute or two, it’s just so that the chicken stays warm while you pour the sauce over.
I found this recipe tonight, looked through the ingredients and was so happy that I had them all in the cupboard! I got everything out to realize I didn’t have the cornflakes. I looked through the comments on this to see if anyone had tried anything different – I found some tortilla chips and wanted to tell you how well they worked!
This recipe is fantastic, we friggen loved it!
Tortilla chips, I would have never thought about that, great idea! So many options to bake these chicken nuggets with! Thank you for sharing Michelle!
I made this tonight for dinner and it was AMAZING! My whole family loved it. Thank you! I have to confess though, I used a bottle of General Tso’s sauce from the store instead of making my own. Still so good!
haha! You’re welcome Michelle and next time, you gotta try the sauce, you’ll love it 🙂
Another breading option for those who can’t have grains would be crushed pork rinds. I have used this before with pork cutlets and they were super crunchy!
I have never tried that, sounds amazing Linda!!
I am impressed, this looks as if it was fried. Can’t wait to make this. I really love visiting food blogs, I appreciate all of you for sharing your wonderful recipes with the world. Your pictures are amazing! I can already tell this is a 5 star recipe. Thanks!
Thank you Crissy! 🙂
Could I use panko instead of corn flakes? I have some lying around needing to be used, and this seems like it might be a good use.
I’m not sure if panko would work as it may get soggy too fast. Why not try on a couple of pieces of chicken to see if it works instead of baking a whole batch. I’d love to hear back from you as this could be a great idea for a substitute!
I use panko when making orange chicken, works great for me.
Thanks for sharing Myriah, I’ll add the panko option to the recipe!
Thank you so much for this recipe! It turned out perfect. To take a bit of the spice away, I added some orange zest – about 1/3 orange. So full of flavour!
What a great idea Kirsten! You made it half orange chicken, yummy! 🙂
This was delicious, and devoured by my husband who is very fond of typical takeout General Tso chicken. I am so happy to find a healthier version for him! Thank you.
You’re welcome Cheryl! 🙂
I am wondering how well this will hold up if it’s not server immediately, could it be fridged the night before or could it be made in the morning and last in a lunch container for a few hours?
Sometimes I just get a craving for Chinese food and do not wish to pay the prices offered at my school, haha!
Any response is appreciated
thanks so much
I know what you mean about craving Asian food, I can’t go more than two days without it! Unfortunately this recipe doesn’t hold well for long – I’ve eaten it the next day and it was a little soggy. However, I do have a roundup of my favorite chicken (but healthier) stir fries that are super easy to make and can keep in the fridge for a couple of days if that interests you. Here is the link: https://pickledplum.com/10-easy-chicken-stir-fry-recipes/
This looks great! Do you have a recipe for orange chicken that’s baked like this?
Hi Barbara! I don’t have a recipe for orange chicken but am working on it so stay tuned! 🙂
My husband and I LOVE General Tso’s Chicken. It’s a huge hit in my home on take-out night but I never knew it was so simple to make at home. Thank you so much for this recipe 🙂
-Ria @ Whipp’d Up
You’re welcome Ria! And it’s a much healthier version too which means you can eat more of hehe!
Wow, never thought of using corn flakes before!! I love how so many people are beginning to experiment with different kinds of breading. I recently tried a pretzel “breading” for oven baked chicken nuggets and it turned out surprisingly well. As long as you have the egg in there, there’s something to make your coating stick to the chicken. Corn flakes would be extra crunchy too, I think I’m gonna try it out!!