Healthier General Tso’s Chicken

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General Tso’s Chicken is a takeout favorite that I’ve made a bit healthier. It’s just as spicy, sweet, and zesty as your favorite Chinese takeout restaurant makes it! Make this General Tso Chicken recipe in just 30 minutes!

Since living in Japan, I’ve had to take recreating some of our comfort foods from home into my own hands. When we’re not having pizza on a Friday night, we’re usually ordering some delicious Chinese takeout. Well, here in Japan there are no Chinese takeout places nearby. So, I’ve taken the time to recreate one of our favorite takeout menu items —-but I didn’t stop there. I also made it a little healthier by ditching the deep fryer! This Healthier General Tso’s Chicken recipe never disappoints. It’s just as mouthwatering as your favorite Chinese takeout.

Common General Tso’s Chicken questions answered!

What is General Tso Chicken?

General Tso’s Chicken (often mis-pronounced/spelled as “General Tso Chicken” is a classic Chinese takeout dish. It was first served in the U.S. somewhere in the 1960s/1970s when the dish’s creator, Chef C.K. Peng, introduced the dish to New York City. To read more of the story, check out this article.

  Searching for America with General Tso

Where did General Tso’s Chicken come from?

General Tso, or sometimes known as General Zuo or Zuo Zongtang, was a Qing Dynasty military leader who played an important role in the Taiping Rebellion.

The dish’s creator, Chef C.K. Peng, is from Hunan Province which is the same province as General Tso. During the 1950s Chef Peng was cooking for a fancy banquet and he decided to name the fancy chicken dish that he served after his hometown hero, General Tso/Zuo.

How do you Pronounce General Tso Chicken?

In order to pronounce “Tso’s” correctly you drop the T. So you would pronounce this dish by saying General “so’s” chicken.

Is General Tso’s Chicken real Chinese food?

Kind of. The dish was “born” in Taiwan sometime during the 1950’s, and it was created by Chef C.K. Peng. The version that we’re familiar with was brought to America by the same Chef sometime during the 1960s and 1970s.

Is General Tso Chicken supposed to be spicy?

Yes! It’s supposed to be a spicy, sweet, salty, and zesty dish. It gets its spice from red chili flakes, and it gets its zest from fresh ginger and garlic!

How do you make General Tso’s Chicken?

This dish is usually coated in a cornstarch mixture and then deep fried. But not my version! I make this dish a little healthier by ditching the deep fryer and instead I cook it in a heavy skillet with just 3 tablespoons of peanut oil.

  Crockpot General Tso’s Chicken

If you’re looking for other takeout-inspired dishes then check out these recipes below:

  • Simple Fried Rice
  • Healthier Orange Chicken
  • Real Deal Chicken Chow Mein
  • Sichuan-Style Orange Beef
  • Sheet Pan Stir-Fried Chicken Teriyaki with Pineapple
  • Authentic Chinese Dumplings
  • Garlic Chicken Lo Mein

Cook’s Note – Healthier General Tso’s Chicken:

  • When snow peas aren’t in season, I like to use steamed broccoli in this recipe.
  • This recipe will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, but it is best eaten the day it’s made because the snow peas lose their shape and bright green color.

Disclosure: This post for Healthier General Tso Chicken recipe includes affiliate links.

Cook’s Tools – Healthier General Tso’s Chicken:

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General Tso Chicken Recipe



  • ⅓ cup warm water
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 Tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 3 Tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes


  • 2 large egg whites
  • 3 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces


  • 3 Tablespoons peanut oil, divided
  • 3 Cups snow peas, trimmed and halved diagonally


  • cooked white or brown rice
  • toasted sesame seeds



  • In a small bowl whisk together the warm water and cornstarch. Add the soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, brown sugar, grated ginger, and pepper flakes and whisk to combine. Set aside.
  What Is The Difference Between “General Tso’s Chicken” And “Grandfather Chicken”? (The Distinction)


  • In a medium bowl whisk together the egg whites, corn starch, salt, and white pepper. Add the chicken pieces and toss until the chicken pieces are evenly coated.
  • In a large heavy skillet over high heat add the oil. Once shimmering, add the chicken mixture to the skillet in an even layer. Cook, without turning the the chicken until the chicken is golden on the bottom, about 2 minutes. Flip the chicken pieces over and continue cooking until the chicken pieces are golden brown on all sides, about 2 minutes more. Transfer the chicken to a plate.


  • Add the remaining 1 Tablespoon of peanut oil to the skillet. Once shimmering, add the sauce and snow peas and cook until the peas are bright green and the sauce has thickened, about 2-3 minutes. Add the chicken back to the pan, and stir until the chicken is heated through and evenly coated in the sauce, about 1 minute.


  • Serve the chicken over cooked white or brown rice and garnish with toasted sesame seeds.


This Healthier General Tso’s Chicken first appeared on Food, Folks and Fun in January 2011. I’ve since updated the recipe and pictures. Here’s a picture from when I first made this dish in 2011.


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