General Tso’s Chicken (Baked!)

General Tso’s Chicken that is BAKED, not fried, smothered in an irresistible sweet and spicy, zingy sauce and about to become your favorite Chinese food fakeout takeout!

This General Tso’s Chicken is one of my favorite recipes EVER.  The chicken alone seeps with flavor from the marinade and its crispy ginger spiced breading but becomes positively addicting as its smothered in the sweet and spicy, zingy sauce infused with sriracha, ginger, garlic and sesame oil.  The layered complex flavors combined with the crisp-crust, juicy chicken will have you falling hard for this General Tso Chicken recipe.

General Tso's Chicken

Carlsbad Cravings is turning 4 next month!  Part of my goal this year is to update photos from some of my first recipes I ever posted when I didn’t know how to hold a camera because it is true we eat with our eyes first, and I want you to WANT to eat ALL of my recipes, starting with this General Tso Chicken Recipe!

After all my cooking and cooking Asian food is still my favorite with Mexican food a close second.  So in order to devour Asian food at home in my slippers, whenever I want, I have created several restaurant takeout fakeout versions that are positively drool worthy from Beef and Broccoli, Mongolian Beef, Mongolian Chicken, Cashew Chicken, Sesame Noodles, Sweet and Sour Chicken and I have an Orange Chicken I’ve been working on forever coming soon.

So needless to say, picking my favorite Asian recipes is a tall order.  But if I could limit to my favorite Chinese recipe and I had to pick, then it would be this General Tso’s Chicken recipe.  So in other words, YOU NEED TO MAKE THIS CHICKEN!  Would it help if I said, PLEASE!!! 🙂

White rice with General Tso's Chicken.

What is General Tso’s Chicken?

General Tso’s Chicken is also known as General Tao’s Chicken.  If you have never tried it, it has been called the spicy cousin to Orange Chicken.  In the American Chinese takeout versions, they are both deep-fried (except in our version is crunch baked) but General Tso’s Chicken is characterized by the sweet and spicy sauce that is kicking with garlic and ginger.

After devouring this General Tso Chicken recipe for the first time, you might find yourself craving General Tso’s chicken, dreaming about General Tso’s Chicken, even falling in love with General Tso’s Chicken.  But that’s okay, because this chicken is baked and then broiled to crispy perfection and not fried, so its worthy of all your guiltless affection.  In full disclosure, the chicken won’t get as crispy as when fried, but it’s being smothered in the best sauce anyway, so I can assure you, you won’t even notice.

General Tso's Chicken over white rice with black chopsticks.

HOW TO MAKE GENERAL TSO CHICKEN

Here are some tips and tricks that make this the Best General Tso’s Chicken Recipe!

1. Heat your baking sheet first.  We first line a baking sheet with foil and lightly spray with cooking spray then place this baking sheet in oven.  This allows the baking sheet to get piping hot so when we add our chicken, it immediately begins to crisp up.

In my original General Tso Chicken recipe, I placed the chicken on a greased baking rack on top of a baking sheet, which you are still welcome to do, but I find that method super tedious when adding and flipping the chicken to make sure they don’t fall in between the cracks.  This new method gets them just as crispy as long as you broil both sides of the chicken.

2.  Use the marinade for both the marinade AND the base of the sauce – no double work here! Our marinade/sauce consist of mostly pantry friendly ingredients: low sodium soy sauce, Japanese rice wine, water, toasted sesame seed oil, Sriracha/ Asian hot chili sauce, garlic and ginger.  We separate out some sauce for our marinade and the rest is the base of of our sauce.

3.  What is rice wine and where can I buy it?   The only marinade/sauce ingredient you might have a question about is the  rice wine. Rice wine should become a pantry staple if you do much Asian cooking because it is used in MANY of my recipes, not just this General Tso’s Chicken. Rice wine is NOT rice vinegar- DO NOT switch them out.  Rice wine adds a sweetness and depth of flavor while also tenderizing the chicken. Rice vinegar, on the other hand will add an acidic flavor.

I use “Kikkoman Aji-Mirin: Sweet Cooking Rice Seasoning” which is commonly found in the Asian section of most grocery stores or you can Amazon it.  I highly suggest you google image before you head off to the grocery store so you know exactly what you are looking for.  The best substitute for rice wine is pale dry sherry.

Showing how to make the sauce for General Tso's Chicken.

4. Marinate for as little or long as you like.  The extra step of marinating our chicken does wonders at tenderizing it and infusing it with flavor.  You can marinate your chicken for as little as 20 minutes at room temperature or you can refrigerate it for up to 6 hours – whatever fits you schedule!

5.  Don’t skimp on the ginger! Next, we whisk together all of breading ingredients consisting of flour, ground ginger, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper.  The recipe calls for 2 tablespoons ground ginger which sounds like a lot but I promise it is AMAZING! The ginger cuts through the sweetness of the sauce and adds the character General Tso’s Chicken zing.

6.  My easy breading technique! Instead of draining the chicken, dipping them in an eggs wash and then dredging in four, I’ve created a simple technique you will love! Drain your chicken from the marinade while the chicken is still in the bag (I do this by holding it over the sink with an opening that isn’t large enough for the chicken to escape, but large enough for the marinade), then add your eggs TO the bag. Toss in the bag until the chicken is evenly coated and viola!

Pouring sauce over top the chicken for General Tso's Chicken.

7.  Shake, shake, shake and hand toss!   Working in in batches, we remove the coated chicken from egg bag and dab off excess egg with paper towels then add it to the breading bag and shake, shake shake!  This way your hands don’t become a gooey mess.  After the chicken has been shook, I like to use a dry hand and rub any pieces in the breading that might not be evenly coated evenly.

8.  Broil to get crispy. We evenly line our chicken on our hot baking sheet, lightly spray with cooking spray and bake for 10 minutes.  Now comes the key to crispy chicken – broil!  Broil your chicken until golden in some spots then flip over and broil another 2-3 minutes.  The chicken will not be as crispy as when fried but it will be deeeelicious.

9.  Don’t overcook the Caramel Sauce! While chicken is baking, we whisk ¼ cup water and 1 cup sugar together in a large nonstick skillet and bring it to a boil for approximately 1 minute, whisking constantly.  You don’t want to overcook or it will harden! At this point, we add reserved sauce all at once and simmer until it thickens, about 2 minutes.

Fresh cooked General Tso's Chicken.

9.  How Saucy? The recipe makes a little extra sauce so you can simmer it with some veggies if you would like or toss in some cooked vegetables. If you aren’t adding vegetables then you might not want to use all the sauce.  In this case, I recommend pouring the desired amount of sauce over the chicken instead of adding the chicken to the sauce.

Now that is more than you ever wanted to know about General Tso’s Chicken!  But I hope you make this recipe soon and it will having YOU say, “This General Tsos’ Chicken is one of my favorite recipes EVER!”

LOOKING FOR MORE CHINESE CHICKEN RECIPES?

General Tso's Chicken with sesame.
General Tso’s Chicken recipe that is BAKED, not fried, smothered in an irresistible sweet and spicy, zingy sauce and about to become your favorite Chinese food fakeout takeout!

General Tso’s Chicken (Baked!)

General Tso’s Chicken that is BAKED, not fried, smothered in an irresistible sweet and spicy, zingy sauce and about to become your favorite Chinese food fakeout takeout!  The chicken alone seeps with flavor from the marinade and its crispy ginger spiced breading but becomes positively addicting as its smothered in the sweet and spicy, zingy sauce infused with sriracha, ginger, garlic and sesame oil.  The layered complex flavors combined with the crisp-crust, juicy chicken will have you falling hard for this General Tso Chicken recipe!
Servings: 6
Total Time: 52 mins
Prep Time: 40 mins
Cook Time: 12 mins

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Ingredients

Marinade/Sauce

Breading

  • 2 eggs (do NOT add to flour bag)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons ground ginger (sounds like a lot but its amazing)
  • 1 tsp EACH salt, onion powder, garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Caramel Sauce

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar

Instructions

  • Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly spray with cooking spray. Place baking sheet in oven.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk all of the marinade ingredients together EXCEPT cornstarch. Spoon ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons of the marinade into a freezer bag with the chicken; let marinate 20 minutes at room temperature (or up to 6 hours in the refrigerator). Whisk 2 tablespoons cornstarch to the reserved sauce (NOT the marinade) – this will be added to your Caramel Sauce later. Set aside (or refrigerate separate from marinating chicken if not using soon).
  • Meanwhile, whisk together all of the Breading ingredients in a freezer bag EXCEPT the eggs.
  • Drain excess marinade from chicken without removing chicken from bag. Add eggs to bag and toss with chicken until evenly coated. Working in batches, remove coated chicken from bag, dabbing off excess egg wash with paper towels then add chicken to Breading bag. Seal bag and toss until chicken is evenly coated.
  • Carefully place chicken on the hot baking sheet in an even layer and lightly spray with cooking spray. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes then move the baking tray to the top middle oven rack and broil until crispy, watching closely so the chicken doesn’t burn (about 2-3 minutes). Flip chicken pieces over and broil another 2-3 minutes, or until golden and crispy.
  • While chicken is baking, whisk ¼ cup water and 1 cup sugar together in a large nonstick skillet. Bring to a boil over medium high for 1 minute, whisking constantly – don’t overcook or it will harden! At this point, add reserved sauce all at once. Simmer the sauce until it thickens, about 2 minutes. You can add vegetables to the sauce while it simmers if desired. Remove the sauce from the heat and allow to cool down slightly. Add cooked chicken and stir to combine OR for less saucy chicken, add chicken to a large bowl and add desired amount of sauce.
  • Garnish with sesame seeds and green onions if desired.

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Recipe adapted from Rock Recipes

Carlsbad Cravings© Original

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88 Comments

  1. Brooke says

    Can regular sesame seed oil be used instead of toasted? Thanks 🙂

    • Jen says

      Hi Brooke, regular sesame oil doesn’t have nearly as much flavor, but it will still be fine with it. Enjoy!

  2. Kaylyn says

    I was wondering if this chicken was okay frozen and reheated? I am a big fan of reheated frozen meals, but haven’t found Asian chicken recipe that is good reheat. Thank you!

    • Jen says

      Hi Kaylyn, it will be good but not AS good ;). You are right, the chicken tends to soak up the sauce, but it will still be flavorful.

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