I get asked all the time how to make my favorite General Tso’s Chicken without frying the chicken in oil.. so I developed this Air Fryer General Tso’s Chicken recipe! My method not only gets the chicken crispy but helps the chicken STAY crispy, even after tossed in the sauce!
Watch the Air Fryer General Tso’s Chicken Recipe Video Below!
I used chicken THIGHS in this recipe because it does not dry out as quickly as chicken breast and is more forgiving in the air fryer. Unless you strongly dislike thighs, I would not recommend sub-ing with chicken breast.
Potato starch might be hard to find depending where you live (I usually get the Bob’s Red Mill kind from Whole Foods) but this is the KEY ingredient for this recipe. I tested this recipe with different flours and starches, and potato starch was the absolute winner. You get the lightest, crunchiest results every time!
If you cannot or do not want to use wine, you can sub with sherry, mirin, or chicken stock!
I get asked all the time if you can sub black pepper for white pepper – and my answer is, it depends BUT you need to watch the ratio. White pepper has a milder flavor profile than black pepper, so it’s a 1-1 substitute. I would start with less black pepper and add as you go. (But really, you should have white pepper in your pantry! It’s a staple in mine!)
NEUTRAL OIL COOKING SPRAY
I used avocado oil cooking spray (avocado oil is my go-to neutral cooking oil)! You can use another cooking oil spray, as long as it is NOT olive oil. I don’t recommend using olive oil spray for this dish, due to the flavor profile and low burning point.
A cornstarch slurry is a mixture of cornstarch and water that is used in cooking to thicken WITHOUT powdery lumps or additional flavors/colors! This is the secret to so many of your favorite Chinese dishes. My #1 tip is make sure your cornstarch slurry has not separated before adding it in – I always try to re-stir right before!
DOUBLE (AIR) FRYING
- The method that came out the best for me was “DOUBLE FRYING” in the air fryer – once at a lower temperature for a longer period of time, then at a higher temperature for a shorter period of time.
- You want to cook the chicken to about 90% done at a lower temperature, to avoid burning the coating. Once almost done, you cook at a higher temperature (with another coat of cooking spray) to get the batter nice and crispy at the very end!
BE GENEROUS WITH THE COOKING SPRAY
The cooking spray is the only source of oil in this recipe, so you will need to be generous with it! You’ll want to spray the tray thoroughly to avoid the chicken sticking while cooking, and you’ll want to spray the chicken thoroughly to allow the coating to cook nicely (otherwise it will look & taste dry). Don’t forget to spray again when cooking for the 2nd time!
Air Fryer General Tso’s Chicken
- 1 lb chicken thigh cut into 2" pieces
- 4 cloves garlic grated
- 1 tbsp ginger grated
- 1 tbsp shaoxing wine
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp white pepper
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 egg white
- 1 cup potato starch
- neutral oil cooking spray I used avocado oil
- 1/4 cup light soy sauce
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1/2 cup chicken stock high quality
- 1 tbsp crushed szechuan chili flakes
- 1 tbsp distilled white vinegar
- 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
- 3 tbsp water
- 3 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 tbsp ginger chopped
- 1 tbsp neutral oil for frying; I used avocado oil
- Cut chicken thigh into 2" pieces and marinate with white pepper, salt, Shaoxing wine, light soy sauce, grated garlic and ginger, and one egg white. Mix thoroughly to ensure the egg white is mixed well with the chicken and marinate for 30 minutes.
- Premix your sauce by combining soy sauce, sugar, chicken stock and crushed szechuan chili.
- Chop 3 cloves of garlic and 1 tbsp of ginger and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, add 1 cup of potato starch. Lightly the chicken in the potato starch one piece at a time.
- Give your air fryer tray a spray with oil, then lay your chicken down on the tray in a single layer. Spray the chicken pieces with your oil spray until coated then air fry at 350F for 10 minutes.
- After the first air fry, pull out the chicken and spray again with another coat of oil spray, then fry a 2nd time at 400F for 6 minutes or until the chicken is nice and crispy and reads 165F internal. I would recommend checking the chicken after 2 minutes due to differences in power with different air fryers!
- Over high heat, add 1 tbsp of neutral oil and fry your garlic and ginger for 15 seconds, then immediately add your premixed sauce. Stir for a few seconds then add your vinegar and cornstarch slurry. Stir for a few more seconds until the sauce has thickened.
- Add back chicken toss to combine. Serve with freshly steamed rice. Enjoy!