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Baked General Tso’s Chicken

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Baked General Tso’s Chicken is a mouthwatering, lighter version of the restaurant classic. So skip the takeout, and make it at home instead! Easy to make, and on the table in about 30 minutes 

This post and recipe card updated March 7, 2020
overhead shot of finished Baked General Tso's Chicken over rice on a white plate with chopsticks on the side

I’m a huge fan of Asian cuisine, and could probably eat it every day.  For years, I always ordered General Tso’s chicken at restaurants. No, deep-fried chicken chunks aren’t really healthy, but they sure taste good. 

Over time I’ve learned to make some of my favorite Asian style recipes, including Kung Pao Chicken, Crispy Baked Egg Rolls, and Shrimp Fried Rice. So I was so happy when I finally mastered Baked General Tso’s Chicken

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS
  • You make the sauce, so you can control the ingredients
  • The chicken is baked, so it’s a fraction of the fat and calories of the traditional
  • It’s an easy recipe that’s on the table in about 30 minutes
overhead shot of finished Baked General Tso's Chicken over rice on a white plate with chopsticks on the right side

Oh man, every time I take a bite of Baked General Tso’s Chicken it takes me back to my restaurant orders. The sauce is rich and flavorful, and the chicken is tender.

Like many recipes, I had my fair share of failures with Baked General Tso’s Chicken.

overhead shot of finished Baked General Tso's Chicken with rice and broccoli on an orange plate

Yes, this was my first, sad attempt. But it smelled and tasted perfect, so I knew I was on the right track.

IMPORTANT TIPS FOR THE SAUCE

The sauce is really the key to Baked General Tso’s Chicken, and it’s the technique that will make or break the results.

NOTE: I have significantly reduced the amount of sugar and hot chili paste from the original recipe. I think I had a death wish with the chili paste because it was a ridiculous amount. And you get just as much flavor from much less sugar.

Let the sugar and water cook down properly. I rushed that step in my first few attempts, so the mixture never turned golden brown, and so it didn’t have the same depth of flavor.

Simmer the sauce for about 5 minutes after adding the cornstarch. If you don’t give it enough time, the sauce won’t thicken properly.

Don’t add cold ingredients to the hot sugar/water, or it will seize and clump. I keep my Low Sodium Soy Sauce and Hot Chili Paste in the fridge, so I mix the sauce ingredients together first so it has time to all come to room temperature. Plus, I whisk constantly as I add the ingredients to the saucepan.

Hot Chili Paste is powerful. You can find a variety of chili pastes, both hot and sweet, in the Asian aisle of the grocery store. Be careful with the hot, because once you add it, you can’t take it out.

I have a love/hate relationship with sesame oil, and a little goes a LONG way. I use Toasted Sesame Oil, but you could also use regular oil if you prefer.

RAW OR ROASTED GARLIC FOR THE SAUCE?

Originally I used roasted garlic for the sauce because roasted garlic is fabulous. Roasting develops an intense sweet flavor that you can almost eat straight.

I like to roast a couple of heads at a time, and you can keep it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 weeks. I use it in my Peppercorn Garlic Pork Chops, Maple Mustard Garlic Sheet Pan Chicken, Chicken Chickpea Salad, and Roasted Vegetable Farro Salad.

If you don’t have roasted garlic or don’t want to use it, you can most certainly substitute raw garlic. I prefer the roasted garlic flavor in Baked General Tso’s Chicken, but still love it with raw.

overhead shot of finished Baked General Tso's Chicken over rice on a white plate with chopsticks on the side
STEP BY STEP INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, paprika, hot chili paste, garlic, and fresh ginger. Set aside.

overhead process shot: sauce ingredients in a glass bowl

Combine flour, black pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, ground ginger, and salt in a container with a lid.

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Transfer the chicken to the egg wash and coat well. Transfer chicken to flour mixture and toss well to fully coat.

Transfer the chicken to a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.

While the chicken bakes, add sugar and water to a medium saucepan, and cook over medium-low heat until just golden.

overhead process shot: sugar/water mixture in a saucepan

Pour the sauce mixture into the saucepan, whisking constantly

Simmer for 3 minutes, whisking occasionally.

Add cornstarch and water in a small bowl and stir to combine. Pour into the sauce and whisk well to fully combine. Simmer for 5 minutes.

overhead process shot: thickened sauce mixture in a saucepan

Transfer chicken to the saucepan, and toss to combine. Remove the pan from the heat and let sit for 2-3 minutes.

Serve Baked General Tso’s Chicken over rice, and garnish with Toasted Sesame Seeds and green onions.

close up shot of finished Baked General Tso's Chicken over rice on a white plate with chopsticks on the side
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Can I use another cut of chicken? Absolutely. I use boneless/skinless chicken thighs, but the sauce is perfect on wings, tenders, or whole pieces of chicken.

Can I make the sauce ahead? I don’t recommend making it ahead, because it will get kind of clumpy when reheated. The sauce cooks while the chicken bakes, so it really is very convenient to do it all at once.

Can I roast the garlic along with the chicken? Yes! I recommend roasting individual cloves with the skin removed, so it roasts quickly. It won’t get quite as roasted as when you do the whole heads, but it still adds great flavor

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overhead shot of finished Baked General Tso's Chicken over rice on a white plate with chopsticks on the side

Baked General Tso's Chicken

Yield: 2 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Baked General Tso’s Chicken is a mouthwatering, lighter version of the restaurant classic. So skip the takeout, and make it at home instead! Easy to make, and on the table in about 30 minutes 

Ingredients

CHICKEN

SAUCE

GARNISH

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, toasted sesame oil, water, paprika, chili paste, salt, garlic, and ginger. Whisk to combine and set aside
  3. Prepare a breading station. In one container with a lid combine the flour, salt, black pepper, cayenne, garlic powder, onion powder, ground ginger
  4. In another container with a lid, whisk the egg and add 1 Tablespoon of water
  5. Add the diced chicken into the egg wash, seal the container and shake to coat
  6. Transfer the chicken to the flour mixture, seal the container and shake to fully coat
  7. Transfer the chicken to a baking rack on a baking sheet. Lightly drizzle the tops with a little bit of oil
  8. Bake the chicken for 15 minutes
  9. Prepare the sauce while the chicken bakes
  10. In a medium saucepan, add the sugar and water. Bring to a low boil and cook until it becomes a light amber color. Watch carefully, so it doesn't scald. 
  11. Carefully add the sauce mixture to saucepan, whisking well to make sure it doesn't clump. Simmer for 4-5 minutes, whisking occasionally
  12. Combine the water and cornstarch, and mix to dissolve cornstarch. Add to the sauce mixture, and mix for 2-3 minutes until slightly thickened
  13. Add the chicken to the sauce, and toss to combine. Remove the pan from the heat and let it rest for about 2 minutes.
  14. Serve chicken over steamed rice. Top with sesame seeds and spring onions

Notes

NOTE: I have significantly reduced the amount of sugar and hot chili paste from the original recipe. I think I had a death wish with the chili paste because it was a ridiculous amount. And you get just as much flavor from much less sugar.

IMPORTANT TIPS FOR THE SAUCE

  • Let the sugar and water cook down properly, so the mixture turns golden brown
  • Simmer the sauce for about 5 minutes after adding the cornstarch, so the sauce thickens properly
  • Don’t add cold ingredients to the hot sugar/water, or it will seize and clump. Mix the sauce ingredients before even breading the chicken, so it comes to room temperature
  • If you don't have roasted garlic, you can substitute raw

If the sugar/water mixture still clumps when you add the sauce, stir constantly for about a minute with a wooden spoon.


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Can I use another cut of chicken? Absolutely. I use boneless/skinless chicken thighs, but the sauce is perfect on wings, tenders, or whole pieces of chicken.

Can I make the sauce ahead? I don’t recommend making it ahead, because it will get kind of clumpy when reheated. The sauce cooks while the chicken bakes, so it really is very convenient to do it all at once.

Can I roast the garlic along with the chicken? Yes! I recommend roasting individual cloves with the skin removed, so it roasts quickly. It won’t get quite as roasted as when you do the whole heads, but it still adds great flavor

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 2 Serving Size: 2 people
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 325Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 103mgSodium: 2400mgCarbohydrates: 54gFiber: 4gSugar: 29gProtein: 11g

Nutrient values are estimates only. Variations may occur due to product availability and food preparation. Nutrition may vary based on methods of preparation, origin and freshness of ingredients, etc

Adapted from Rock Recipes

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