General Tso's can be more than the saccharine, gloopy sauce soaked into flabby, over-breaded chicken to which we've become accustomed. With just a little technique and a little love, the 45-minute wait for this takeout mainstay can be better spent making it yourself. The recipe below is adapted from Serious Eats.

Special Equipment List

Dutch oven or deep pot for frying

Shopping List

For the chicken and marinade:

  • 2 egg whites 

  • 3 Tbsp dark soy sauce

  • 3 Tbsp Chinese cooking wine

  • 3 Tbsp vodka

  • ¼ tsp baking soda

  • 3 Tbsp cornstarch

  • 1 ½ lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs

For the breading:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour

  • 1 cup cornstarch

  • 1 tsp baking powder

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 3 Tbsp reserved marinade

For the sauce:

  • 4 Tbsp dark soy sauce

  • 4 Tbsp Chinese cooking wine

  • 3 Tbsp rice wine vinegar

  • 4 Tbsp chicken stock

  • ¼ cup sugar

  • 1 tsp roasted sesame seed oil

  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch

  • 6 scallions

  • 4 cloves garlic

  • 2 inch piece of ginger

  • 6-12 arbol chiles (optional)


  1. In a large bowl separate egg whites from 2 eggs and beat the whites until frothy. Add 3 Tbsp dark soy sauce, 3 Tbsp chinese cooking wine, and 3 Tbsp vodka. Beat together and set aside half for later use. In the same large bowl where half mixture remains, add ¼ tsp of baking soda and 3 Tbsp cornstarch, and whisk until smooth. Cut chicken into 1 inch pieces and add to mixture. Mix together by hand, making sure every piece is coated. Cover and set aside for about 20 minutes. 

  2. In your shallow breading dish, combine 1 cup all purpose flour, 1 cup cornstarch, 1 tsp baking powder, and 1 tsp salt. Pour in 3 Tbsp reserved marinade and incorporate using your fingers until it’s clumpy. Set aside.

  3. Make the sauce: In a small bowl goes 4 Tbsp dark soy sauce, 4 Tbsp chinese cooking wine, 3 Tbsp rice wine vinegar, 4 Tbsp chicken stock, ¼ cup sugar, 1 tsp roasted sesame seed oil, and 1 Tbsp cornstarch. Whisk until completely smooth. 

  4. From 6 scallions, thinly slice all whites and 2 inches of the green. Next grate 4 cloves garlic and 2 inches of ginger. In a saute pan over medium high heat, simmer 2 Tbsp vegetable oil and add most of scallions, grated garlic, and grated ginger. Saute for one minute. Add a dozen arbol chiles (optional) and saute for another minute. Pour in sauce and saute for one more minute until sauce has thickened.

  5. Heat a quart of vegetable oil to 375°F. Coat chicken in the breading flour mixture while it’s heating. Then add to frying oil one piece at a time and make sure not to crowd, cooking each batch for about 4 minutes. Place batches on wire rack that’s set on a rimmed sheet pan, and place in oven on low heat. Repeat until all chicken is fried. 

  6. Add chicken to sauce mixture and coat over low heat. Serve with white rice and garnish with leftover sliced scallions. Enjoy!

Emilija Saxe