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!

General Tso Chicken - 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. #chinesefood #chickenrecipes #homemade #healthy #bakednotfried | pickledplum.com

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.

General tso chicken ingredients | pickledplum.com

How To Make Baked General Tso Chicken

  • Place parchment paper over a large baking tray.
  • Fill one bowl with flour, a second one with whisked eggs and a third one with crushed cornflakes.
  • Dip each chicken piece in flour, egg and cornflakes and place on the baking tray.
  • Bake at 450ºF for 13-15 minutes.
  • Put chicken broth, tomato paste, soy sauce, sriracha sauce, rice vinegar and sugar in a small pot and bring to a simmering boil.
  • Mixed the cornstarch and water and add it to the sauce while stirring. The sauce is ready when it has thickened.
  • Take the chicken pieces out of the oven and add them to a large pan over low heat. Pour the sauce over the pieces and toss them to coat evenly.
  • Add optional ingredients and serve.

Sweet, Savory and Tangy

One thing I can tell you is that there is no shortage of general Tso’s chicken recipes online! I had to read through a dozen of them before I felt knowledgeable enough to make my first batch.

I picked three of my favorite adaptations and began experimenting with the measurement of each ingredient. My general Tso chicken sauce would be sweet but not cloyingly sweet, and with a tangy element to it.

And since general Tso’s chicken hails from Taipei, it only seemed right to create something with a little heat (Hunan province is known for its hot and spicy flavors). And while I still kept the dish somewhat sweet, I focused more on its savory and tangy side.

A healthier Chinese American takeout option! #chickenrecipes #healthychicken #bakedrecipes | pickledplum.com

General Tso Chicken That’s Baked, Not Fried

The biggest issue with making fried foods healthy is a textural one.

What makes fried chicken so delicious is the light and crispy skin you get from deep frying it. Achieving the same kind of crispiness without the fryer has been a challenge but there’s one ingredient I found that works like a charm – cornflakes!

The result is pretty amazing – a crispy exterior and juicy interior just like you would get if the chicken pieces were deep fried! I had to remind myself after every bite that this general Tso chicken was baked, not fried!

Is General Tso Gluten-Free?

Sadly, this recipe isn’t gluten-free because cornflakes contain sweeteners that have gluten in them. And I’m also using regular soy sauce which also contains gluten.

But there’s no need for a sad face since you can easily make it gluten-free! You just need to swap Kellogg’s cornflakes for a gluten-free brand such as Nature’s Path, EnviroKidz Amazon Flakes, or Erewhon Corn Flakes, and use gluten-free soy sauce like Kikkoman’s or San J’s.

Traditional deep fried General Tso chicken is also not gluten-free unless it says it on the menu.

baked chicken with cornflakes

Really, really delicious.

If you are looking for a less sweet and healthier general Tso chicken recipe, I urge you to try this version.

This is what I call delicious healthier Chinese food. I could eat this every day!

What to serve this with?

Other popular Chinese takeout inspired recipes:

General Tso Chicken - 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. #chinesefood #chickenrecipes #homemade #healthy #bakednotfried | pickledplum.com

Did you like this Baked General Tso Recipe? Are there changes you made that you would like to share? Share your tips and recommendations in the comments section below!

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Baked General Tso Chicken

General Tso Chicken - 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. #chinesefood #chickenrecipes #homemade #healthy #bakednotfried | pickledplum.com

This is a healthy baked general Tso chicken recipe – Baked chicken pieces tossed in a tangy and sweet sauce. Delish!

  • Author: Caroline Phelps
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Main
  • Method: Baking, pan frying
  • Cuisine: Chinese American
Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cut into 2-inch chunks)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 large egg (beaten)
  • 2 cups crushed cornflakes

For the sauce

  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon sriracha sauce
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch mixed with 2 tablespoons water

Optional

  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil or regular sesame oil
  • 2 Chinese dried red chiles, finely sliced
  • sesame seeds

Instructions

  1. Move one of the oven racks to the upper-middle part and preheat oven to 450ºF.
  2. Cover a large cooking tray with parchment paper.
  3. Place three large bowls one next to another and fill the first one with flour, the second with eggs and the last one with crushed corn flakes.
  4. Dip each piece of chicken in flour and egg and cover with crushed cornflakes, while gently pressing to coat. Place on cooking tray.
  5. Bake in the oven for about 13 minutes, until chicken is cooked through and cornflakes are golden brown.
  6. Meanwhile put all the ingredients for the sauce- except for cornstarch – in a medium size pot and bring to a gentle boil. Give the cornstarch and water a quick stir and slow add to the sauce while stirring. Cook for a minute until sauce thickens and turn the heat off.
  7. Take chicken out of the oven and transfer to a large pan. Turn the heat on to low and pour sauce over the chicken, coating each piece evenly while tossing. *If you are adding sesame seeds, sesame oil and dried red chiles, this is the time to add them.
  8. Turn the heat off, transfer to a plate and serve immediately.

Notes

You can also use panko breadcrumbs. I have never tried it myself but others have said it’s just as delicious!

Keywords: recipe, poultry, sweet and sour, main, healthy

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