General Tso’s Chicken is considered to be the most popular “American Chinese” dish – and for good reason! My version includes double frying the chicken to get it extra crispy, and then coated in a sweet, spicy, tangy sauce. You’re going to love making this at home!
FLOUR + CORNSTARCH + BAKING POWDER
My not-so-secret tip to the crispy chicken is a combination of FLOUR, CORNSTARCH, and BAKING POWDER. When mixed with the flour, the cornstarch makes the flour coating crispier and gives it that golden brown color! (It has to do with prevention of gluten development.) The baking powder reacts with the oil and creates tiny air bubbles, which also helps form a crispy coating.
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!)
My favorite neutral oil is avocado oil, but you can also use canola or vegetable oil! I don’t use olive oil when cooking Chinese food for two reasons: 1. It has a low burning point and 2. I find that the flavor profile does not usually go with the dish.
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!
WARM YOUR CHICKEN STOCK
Using warmed chicken stock will help dissolve the sugar in your sauce!
Add any leftover marinade (or 1-2 tbsp of water) to your seasoning mix (flour/cornstarch/baking powder) and rub them together to create the craggily bits we all love!
Do not let your frying oil drop below 300-325F when frying! I highly recommend you use a thermometer to keep an eye on the temperature. If you see it dropping below 300F, fry your chicken in batches. Frying at a low temperature will result in too much moisture (AKA SOGGY!)
DOUBLE FRY YOUR CHICKEN
The second fry at 350F is what will make your chicken extra crispy! If you prefer not to, you can skip this step but I highly recommend it!
General Tso’s Chicken
- 1 lb chicken thigh cut into 1/2" 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
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp white pepper
- neutral oil for frying; I used avocado oil
- 1/4 cup light soy sauce
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 1 tbsp crushed szechuan chili flakes
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tbsp ginger minced
- 2 tbsp distilled white vinegar
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1/4 cup water
- Marinate your chicken with garlic, ginger, Shaoxing wine, light soy, white pepper, and kosher salt for 30 minutes.
- Premix your sauce by combining light soy, sugar, Szechuan chili, and warm chicken stock to help dissolve your sugar.
- In a large bowl, whisky together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt, and pepper. Drizzle in some of your extra chicken marinade and combine to create craggily bits for extra texture. Coat your chicken pieces well, pressing the dredge in to make sure there are no bald spots.
- Fry your chicken at 325F for 3-4 minutes (oil should not come down below 300F, work in batches if needed). Remove chicken and bring oil to 350F; fry a 2nd time at 350F for 2 minutes and set aside.
- Over high heat, fry garlic and ginger for 15 seconds; then add your premixed sauce. Stir to combine, then add in vinegar and cornstarch slurry. Stir for 30 seconds or until sauce has thickened and is glossy; add in your chicken and stir in sauce until coated.