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It’s baked, not fried! This healthy General Tso Chicken recipe is a lighter version of the Chinese restaurant classic. With just one dish and about 10 minutes of prep, the easy dinner is even better than take-out! Serve the sweet, sticky chicken with rice and broccoli for a family-friendly meal with very little effort.

Close overhead shot of healthy general tso chicken recipe served in a bowl with rice and broccoli

How to Make Baked General Tso Chicken Recipe | 1-Minute Video

What is General Tso Chicken?

A General Tso Chicken recipe consists of deep fried chicken in a sweet, slightly spicy, sticky, and delicious sauce. It’s incredibly popular at Chinese-American restaurants, and is named after General Tso Tsung-t’ang, a Qing dynasty statesman and military leader. The dish is an example of Americanized Chinese cuisine, and there is no recorded connection to the actual general nor is the dish known in Hunan province, Tso’s home.

Baked healthy General Tso Chicken with a bowl of rice on a dinner table

Healthy General Tso Chicken

This recipe is baked instead of fried, so it’s so much healthier and easier than its fried restaurant counterparts. There’s no extra hassle with breading the chicken, no hot oil splattering on your stovetop, and no babysitting batch after batch of chicken in the pan. Instead, this “dump-and-bake” General Tso Chicken recipe comes together with simple, easy-to-find ingredients in one casserole dish. The oven does the work, so you get the best flavor with very little effort!

Whether you call it General Tso Chicken or something else entirely, the bottom line is that this Asian-inspired meal is about to be devoured by every single member of your household…and that’s what I call a success!

Sprinkling cornstarch over diced chicken breast

General Tso Chicken Sauce

A traditional General Tso Chicken sauce is sweet, slightly spicy, and thick enough to coat each piece of chicken. It’s made of hoisin sauce, cornstarch to thicken, brown sugar, sesame oil, and sometimes soy sauce or rice wine vinegar. We add red pepper flakes for some heat and ginger and garlic for extra flavor, too!

Whisk together sauce in a white bowl

Ingredients

This is just a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for a homemade General Tso Chicken recipe. As always, specific measurements and complete cooking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Chicken: I use boneless, skinless chicken breast, but boneless, skinless chicken thighs will also work well.
  • Cornstarch: helps the sauce thicken and adhere to the chicken.
  • Chicken broth or chicken stock: to thin the sauce.
  • Brown sugar: gives the sauce a deliciously sticky, caramelized flavor.
  • Hoisin sauce: this is like a Chinese version of barbecue sauce, with a thick texture and a sweet-and-salty taste.
  • Sesame oil: gives the dish that classic Asian flavor, so don’t substitute with other types of oil. You can find this in the International or Asian foods aisle at almost any grocery store.
  • Garlic and ginger: for even more flavor!
  • Red pepper flakes: gives the sauce a spicy kick. You can omit this ingredient for a mild dish, or add extra red pepper flakes if you like it hot.
  • Peanuts: add crunch and salty contrast to the sweet sauce.
Process shot showing how to make general tso chicken

How to Make General Tso Chicken

Did I mention that my General Tso Chicken is baked, not fried? That means that you won’t feel weighed-down after your meal, you won’t have to stand at the stove with a hot skillet of oil to tediously deep fry individual pieces of meat, and you won’t have to spend your precious money on overpriced Chinese takeout. WIN-WIN-WIN! This is lighter, healthier, and dare-I-say BETTER than the original!

  1. Place the diced chicken in a baking dish.
  2. Sprinkle with cornstarch and toss to coat chicken.
  3. Whisk together the chicken broth, brown sugar, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, salt, garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes.
  4. Pour the sauce mixture over the chicken and give everything a good stir.
  5. Bake, uncovered, in a 425°F oven for 20 minutes. Stir, then return to the oven until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce is nice and thick.
  6. Garnish with sliced green onions or toasted sesame seeds just before serving.
General Tso's chicken in a baking dish on a wooden table.

What to Serve with General Tso Chicken

Serve the sweet, sticky, spicy chicken over rice (or over cauliflower rice for an even lighter dish), with plenty of extra sauce spooned over top. We love it with steamed broccoli tossed into the mix as well. Additional good options include pasta, ramen noodles, sesame peanut noodlesramen noodle coleslawsesame ginger snap pea salad, or baked store-bought egg rolls. Don’t forget fortune cookies for dessert, too!

Side square shot of the best general tso chicken recipe in a bowl with chopsticks

Storage

This General Tso’s Chicken recipe will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. You can also freeze the leftover chicken in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Another bonus to the baked (not fried) chicken? It’s doesn’t get soggy in the fridge!

Reheat the chicken in a skillet on the stovetop over low heat, just until warmed through. You can also microwave individual servings for 1-2 minutes.

Overhead shot of the best general tso chicken recipe served on a dinner table with broccoli and rice

Recipe Variations

  • Add a dash of soy sauce for a salty, umami component in the sauce.
  • Include some rice vinegar in the sauce for a little bit of acidic flavor.
  • If you prefer dark meat, substitute boneless, skinless chicken thighs for the chicken breast.
  • The peanuts are optional, since not every General Tso’s chicken recipe includes this ingredient. We love the added salty crunch that they give the dish!
  • Cooking Just for Two? Cut the ingredients in half and bake the chicken in a smaller dish. The cooking instructions remain the same.
Side shot of a bowl of homemade General Tso Chicken with rice

Tips for the Best General Tso Chicken Recipe

  • Don’t skip the hoisin sauce, which is important for the recipe’s flavor and texture.
  • The sesame oil is also a key ingredient, which cannot be replaced by other oils. Sesame oil has a unique rich, toasted flavor that gives many Asian dishes their authentic taste.
  • If available, use fresh ginger instead of dried, ground ginger. If using fresh ginger, you’ll need about 1 teaspoon of the grated root.
  • Garnish each serving with scallions, toasted sesame seeds, or extra peanuts for even more flavor and texture.
Fork in a bowl of healthy general tso chicken with rice

More Easy Chinese Takeout Recipes to Try

Close overhead shot of healthy general tso chicken recipe served in a bowl with rice and broccoli

Baked General Tso Chicken Recipe

5 from 10 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 40 minutes
Servings 4 – 6 servings
Calories 291 kcal
It's baked, not fried! This healthy General Tso Chicken recipe is a lighter version of the Chinese restaurant classic. Just one dish and about 10 minutes of prep!

Ingredients
  

  • 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 ½-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup hoisin sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 3 teaspoons finely minced fresh garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger (or sub with 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger)
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (add more for a spicier dish or omit for a mild dish)
  • ¼ cup dry roasted, salted peanuts
  • Optional garnish: sliced green onions, toasted sesame seeds, extra peanuts

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 425°F. Spray a medium baking dish with cooking spray (I have used a deep 9-inch by 6-inch dish, a deep 8-inch square dish, and an 11-inch by 7-inch dish, and all work well).
  • Place chicken in the prepared dish. Sprinkle with cornstarch and toss to coat.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together chicken broth, brown sugar, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, salt, garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes. Pour sauce over chicken and stir to combine.
  • Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Stir, return to the oven for 5-10 more minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and sauce has thickened.
  • Remove from oven, stir in peanuts. Season with additional salt and red pepper flakes, to taste. Garnish with sliced green onions, sesame seeds, or extra peanuts just before serving.

Video

Notes

  • Don’t skip the hoisin sauce, which is important for the recipe’s flavor and texture.
  • The sesame oil is also a key ingredient, which cannot be replaced by other oils. Sesame oil has a unique rich, toasted flavor that gives many Asian dishes their authentic taste.
  • If available, use fresh ginger instead of dried, ground ginger. If using fresh ginger, you’ll need about 1 teaspoon of the grated root.
  • Garnish each serving with scallions, toasted sesame seeds, or extra peanuts for even more flavor and texture.
  • Add a dash of soy sauce for a salty, umami component in the sauce.
  • Include some rice vinegar in the sauce for a little bit of acidic flavor.
  • If you prefer dark meat, use boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead of chicken breast.
  • The peanuts are optional, since not every General Tso’s chicken recipe includes this ingredient. We love the added salty crunch that they give the dish!
  • Cooking Just for Two? Cut the ingredients in half and bake the chicken in a smaller dish. The cooking instructions remain the same.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/6 of the recipeCalories: 291kcalCarbohydrates: 30.1gProtein: 36.3gFat: 5.3gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 88.3mgSodium: 314.4mgFiber: 0.6gSugar: 20.9g
Keyword: Chinese Chicken, General Tso Chicken
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Asian
Author: Blair Lonergan

This recipe was originally published in January, 2018. The photos were updated in December, 2021.

blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Made this last night and my very picky grand daughter not only cleaned her plate She went back for seconds. So glad to find another dish to add to our rotation.