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
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes

Ingredients

Marinade/Sauce

  • 2 pounds chicken breasts cut into 1” pieces
  • 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup rice wine or dry sherry (I use “Kikkoman Aji-Mirin” found in the Asian section of any grocery store)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seed oil
  • 1-3 teaspoons Sriracha/ Asian hot chili sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2-3 tablespoons freshly grated ginger (or 2-3 teaspoons ground ginger)
  • Dash of pepper
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch (for Sauce, reserve from marinade)

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 pwder, garilc pwder
  • 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.

Did You Make This Recipe?

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Recipe adapted from Rock Recipes

Carlsbad Cravings© Original

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84 Comments

  1. Kiwi says

    Hi Jen,

    Does this make good leftovers? I feel rehearing baked flour coated chicken night now work well.

    Should I just leave off the sauce and warm it and then mix with the cold chicken? Not sure how to make this leftover friendly. The reason I ask is because I made the Lemon Ginger Chicken (Delish by the way!) and had same issue. Not as good as it was fresh.

    Thanks for sharing what I’m sure will be another showstopper.

    • Jen says

      Hi Kiwi! Unfortunately, most foods aren’t quite as good reheated so if you do want the chicken to not get soggy, then yes I think leaving the sauce off is a good idea. Hope you love this one – its one of my favorites!

    • Peter says

      Leftovers ? Not likely. Insanely good. I try not to make comments with substitutions, but used no sirachi, instead 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes. Brown sugar vs regular. SPOT ON ! Best Tso I have ever tried. Full stop.

      • Jen says

        Thanks for your awesome review Peter! I’m thrilled it was such a hit!

  2. Jackie Hewitt says

    I was hesitant to put three teaspoons of hot sauce in this because I was afraid it would be too hot for us and I only put in one and half teaspoons and I really could have added more. My husband said it was delicious and that you wouldn’t get better in a restaurant! It was very tasty but I think I would cut back on the sugar a little bit next time.

    • Jen says

      Hi Jackie, I’m so happy this was such a winner and that your husband thought it was restaurant quality! Thank you so much!

  3. Angie says

    YES! I knew I could trust your recipe! This turned out so delicious, just like the other meals I’ve made from your site — thank you so much! I made mine with broccoli and green pepper to make it like my favorite Chinese restaurant’s General Tso chicken. ^_^ Also, I halved the caramel sauce and thought it still tasted wonderful! It was definitely a treat!
    Thanks again for sharing such flavorful recipes, Jen! Hope you are well~

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much Angie, I love hearing you can trust my recipes – that means the world to me! I’m so happy you enjoyed this recipe as well and it sounds delicious with the addition of broccoli and peppers!

  4. Sheila says

    I must try this!

    Do you think leftovers could be frozen?
    If so, how would you reheat it?

    Thank you.

    • Jen says

      Hi Sheila, I haven’t tried freezing leftovers but I do think it should work well, I would just be aware that the frozen chicken will be softer once reheated. If you do expect leftovers you want to freeze then I would keep the sauce and chicken separate so you can freeze them separately. I would bake the chicken from frozen (and let it cool completely before you freeze it), and then you can simply microwave the sauce. I hope that helps!

  5. Sam says

    This was the best home made take out I’ve ever made – my husband and I loved it!! I marinated the chicken about 6 hours which definitely helped keep it from drying out in the oven. We added broccoli while the sauce was thickening. Thank you for another great recipe!

    • Jen says

      WAHOO! Thank you for the ultimate compliment! I am so happy you both loved it SO much!

  6. Allie says

    This is very very good… You have the sauce nailed! I will cut down on the sugar a tad and hope it keeps the wonderful taste. I used Christopher’s ginger in the little jar and also some dried. It is a lot of ginger, but the results are outstanding. I ran out of the can of spray oil, so I used some, “I can’t Believe it’s not Butter” in the plastic spray bottle. Probably not the healthiest but it works great. You did a great job on the recipe!

    Thank you!

    Allie

    • Jen says

      I’m so happy you enjoyed it! If you decide to cut down the sugar in the future then I recommend cutting down the ginger as the two balance each other out. Thanks Allie!

  7. Paddy says

    Jen your AMAZEING!
    When are you gettin your own cookin show on the food network?
    this recipie is THE BOMB!
    I followed it perfectly I hada little confusion on some of the steps but I’ve spent most of my life confused, just ask my wife,
    This was AWESOME!!!!
    My wife Sandy, who is about to celebrate her 49th birthday yet again couldn’t believe I made it (again) and said “let me guess, another one of Jens recipies”
    I said of corse! You have made me look like a hero in the kitchen! You are awesome thanks again and G_D Bless
    And thank you for sharing your talent!!!
    Paddy from CT

    • Jen says

      Hi Paddy, thank you thank you for your awesome comment! You are so sweet and absolutely made my day! I LOVE hearing you are both loving my recipes and I am thrilled this was another hit! God bless you and yours! xo

  8. Laura says

    Ohhh my goodness you are so talented. This was another perfect recipe! I read all of the tips and followed all of the suggestions and everything turned out amazing!! Thank you !!!!

    • Jen says

      You are so sweet Laura, thank you so much! I’m thrilled it was a hit!

  9. Joanna says

    Perfect in every way. I am working my way through your Asian inspired dishes, and this was another home run for my family. Since we have kids, I put their sauce on the side to use as a dipping sauce, and they preferred it that way. I also did as suggested and used some of the sauce to make a stir-fry broccoli. The fresh flavors of this recipe can’t be beaten. In my store, Rice Wine is stocked with the oils, like Canola, Olive Oil, etc. I also found a better sesame oil on this aisle too. I had to look for the Rice Wine, but I knew our store would have it. Thank you for such a yummy dish! I can’t wait to make something new this week. I liked the Eggs Benedict post. I think I am going to try that.

    • Jen says

      Hi Joanna, I am thrilled you loved this General Tso’s Chicken so much! I LOVE cooking Asian inspired recipes so I am happy you are enjoying them – and I have so so many more I want to make and share 🙂 Thank you for making my recipes, happy cooking!

  10. MeeDeessa says

    Great recipe!! I think next time I will half the sugar mixture but otherwise this recipe is a new staple in my home. Someone mentioned using this recipe for chicken nuggets which is a great thought. I have a flat sifter that I used to get rid of the extra flour which made the breading process much faster.

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much, I’m so happy it’s a new staple! Love the idea of using a flat sifter, I’ll have to try that next time!

  11. SBakes says

    Wow, this was amazing! So flavorful and the texture of the chicken was tender, crispy and not greasy. Perfect! My entire family loved it. I added steamed broccoli and served over rice. Better than any Chinese takeout for sure!!! The directions are detailed and quite long (which is very helpful!), but the actual process is pretty quick and easy. Next time I make this (which will be soon!), I’ll sail right through it. FYI: I’ve never made a recipe from this site that hasn’t been delicious.

    • Jen says

      YAY! Thank you so much Stacy for your review and recommendation! I’m thrilled your entire family loved this chicken. I also love hearing you’ve enjoyed every recipe you’ve made from here – totally made my day!

  12. Brynn says

    Love your recipes! Especially the sauce on this one! Any suggestions on how long this sauce might keep? I’d love to make a double or triple batch for use later.

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much Brynn! The sauce should keep for about 5 days in the refrigerate and 3 months in the freezer.

  13. Kevin McClurg says

    This looks delicious! I’ve been avoiding making many breaded items recently, because my husband no longer eats eggs–is there a substitution you could recommend for the step between the marinade and flour mixture? Thanks!

    • Jen says

      Hi Kevin, buttermilk should do the trick!

  14. Holly says

    Hi Jen,

    I would like to make a non-skinny version of this. Would you recommend I fry in a pan? What kind of oil? When should I add the sauce?

    Thanks so much!!! My boyfriend and I love, love your recipes. He just says, “Is this one of her recipes (your name is understood)?”

    Holly

    • Jen says

      Hi Holly, thank you so much for your kind words! I’m honored my recipes are loved in your house! Yes, you can certainly fry the chicken. I would use vegetable oil and fry until golden/cooked through. I would toss the chicken in the sauce just before serving. If not serving immediately, then remove chicken to a cooling rack so it stays crispy. Hope this helps!

  15. Monique says

    Hello, delicious, delicious. I added stirfried carrots and red capsicum which was tasty. next time I will halve the sugar content as gets a bit sweet after the 2nd helping 😉

    • Jen says

      Thanks Monique and I love your additions, yum!

  16. Desi says

    If I wanted to do a saute version without any breading. Can I just skip the breading and add the sauce to the sauted chicken?

  17. Monika says

    Hi, another BIG fan of your recipies! About to try this as my kids love Chinese but trying to avoid take out – Can I use Chicken thighs instead of breasts for this ? thanks .

    • Jen says

      Absolutely! Thanks for following along and for making my recipes! I’m so happy you’re enjoying them!

  18. Shirley says

    Made this today and my kids LOVED it. I’ve made this dish before with a different recipe (deep frying with thigh meat) and this tasted just as good minus the messy oil. The coating kept the breast meat nice and tender. Even though I used 1/2 the sugar for the caramel sauce, the sauce was still the perfect amount of sweet. Thank you!

    • Jen says

      You’re so welcome Shirley! I’m so happy this General Tso’s recipe was winner and just as good as fried!

  19. Fern says

    Don’t get upset but I didnt properly read the recipe before hand and used rice vinegar… since I have no comparison we both thought it was very good. Just the right amount of heat and spice. I promise I’ll get rice wine and make it again to compare. I did add some green pepper and fresh pineapple. Very delicious.

    • Jen says

      LOL! Of course I’m not upset but so happy you loved this recipe! It sounds AMAZING with fresh pineapple!

  20. George Guyas says

    Nice that I didn’t have to fry the chicken. But, still very good. I added red bell and onion. Good sauce!

    • Jen says

      Thanks George, I’m so pleased it was a winner!

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