Air Fryer General Tso’s Chicken is delicious! Crispy chicken pieces smothered in the homemade sauce is an easy weeknight meal idea. If you love a Chinese takeout classic meal, you will love this Air Fryer General Tso’s Chicken Recipe!
If you love this homemade version, some of our most popular Chinese dishes are Air Fryer Sesame Chicken, Air Fryer Chinese Egg Rolls, and Instant Pot Jasmine Rice. And, of course, everyone needs an appetizer of Crab Rangoon to start the meal!
What Is General Tso’s Chicken
General Tso’s Chicken is a popular dish in American Chinese cuisine. It’s known for its deep-fried crispy chicken pieces coated in a sweet, slightly spicy, and tangy sauce. The dish is often accompanied by steamed broccoli and served over rice.
Here are some key aspects of General Tso’s Chicken:
- Origins: Despite its widespread popularity in the United States, General Tso’s Chicken is not commonly eaten in China, and its origins are a bit of a mystery. The dish is named after a Qing Dynasty military leader named General Tso Tsung-t’ang, but there’s no confirmed historical connection between him and the dish.
- Chicken: The chicken (usually the boneless thigh or breast pieces) is first marinated, then dipped in a batter or dredged in cornstarch, and deep-fried until crispy.
- Sauce: The distinctive sauce combines ingredients like soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sugar (or corn syrup), vinegar, chicken broth, and sometimes a bit of tomato paste. It’s sweet with a tangy undertone and often has a spicy kick from dried red chilies or chili paste.
- Garnish: The dish is typically garnished with steamed broccoli and sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds. Some versions add dried red chili peppers to the dish for an extra kick.
- Variations: Like many dishes, there are numerous regional and personal variations of General Tso’s Chicken. Some might be sweeter, others spicier, and some may even have a smoky flavor.
While General Tso’s Chicken is a staple in American Chinese restaurants, if you look for it in China, especially in Hunan province (where General Tso hailed), many locals might not recognize it. The dish is a prime example of how cuisines can evolve and adapt to local tastes when they move from one country to another.
Can You Make General Tso Chicken In Air Fryer
Yes! Absolutely! Making General Tso’s Chicken in an air fryer offers a healthier twist to the traditional deep-fried version, as it requires significantly less oil. Below with the help of my air fryer, I made a delicious and easy recipe for a classic Chinese food recipe!
Why Air Fried General Tso Will Become One Of Your Favorite Weeknight Meals
Air Fried General Tso combines the irresistible flavors of the classic dish with a healthier preparation method, making it both indulgent and guilt-free. Its quick cooking time and reduced oil content transform this popular takeout into an easy and nutritious weeknight staple.
The Best General Tso Chicken Recipe Air Fryer
Embrace the magic of air frying with our General Tso Chicken recipe, a modern twist on a beloved classic. This dish delivers all the irresistible flavors and textures of your favorite American-Chinese restaurant staple but with a healthier approach that shuns excessive oil without compromising the crunch.
Let your air fryer work wonders, transforming simple ingredients into a flavorful and delightfully crisp dish. Say goodbye to deep-frying and hello to a guilt-free General Tso experience that will leave everyone at the table reaching for seconds.
Ingredients Needed For Easy General Tso’s Chicken In The Air Fryer
Do you want to enjoy all the deliciousness of General Tso’s chicken without worrying about frying it up in a deep-fryer? With an air fryer, you can make this classic dish without all that extra hassle!
You only need a few simple ingredients and about 30 minutes to whip up an air-fried version of this Chinese American staple. In this blog post, we’ll be taking a closer look at what ingredients are necessary for making General Tso’s Chicken in the Air Fryer and how easy it really is to enjoy. So if you’re looking for a figure-friendly way of indulging in some tasty takeout cuisine from the comfort of your kitchen, read on – and get ready for some seriously flavorful results!
Remember the step-by-step directions and detailed ingredient list are below in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post, as well as the nutrition information.
- Chicken: Boneless, skinless chicken thighs, chicken tenderloins, or chicken breasts cut into bite-sized pieces for even cooking.
- Marinade (for extra flavor): Soy sauce, rice wine vinegar or dry sherry, sesame oil, and black pepper
- Coating: Cornstarch for a crispy outer layer. All-purpose flour to add body to the coating. Eggs are beaten to bind the dry ingredients to the chicken—kosher Salt and pepper for seasoning.
- Cooking Spray or Oil: Use neutral oil like canola or vegetable spray to ensure the chicken gets golden and crispy in the air fryer.
- General Tso’s Sauce: Soy sauce for a salty and umami base. Rice vinegar for a tangy note. Sugar or honey balances the sauce’s saltiness and adds depth. Cornstarch gives the sauce its signature thick consistency—hoisin sauce for a sweet and savory touch and sesame oil for a roasted, nutty undertone. Use red pepper flakes and minced garlic for a garlicky kick and fresh ginger, finely grated for a zesty and aromatic profile.
- Garnish (Optional): Green Onions: A handful, finely chopped to add flavor and color, and Sesame Seeds: Toasted for a nutty crunch and visual appeal.
How To Make Air Fryer General Tso Chicken
Are you ready to indulge in a delicious and healthier version of the classic General Tso Chicken? What if we told you it’s easier than ever to make this dish right at home with just a handful of ingredients with an air fryer? This air fryer takes on General Tso Chicken rivals traditional versions regarding taste and tenderness while being an all-around healthier option.
Below, we’ll show you how easy it is to replicate your favorite takeout dish without leaving your house!
Step 1: Prep the chicken
Cut the chicken into 1-inch pieces and place in a medium-sized bowl. Add the beaten egg, coat the chicken in the egg, and set aside.
Whisk the flour, cornstarch, salt, garlic powder, and onion powder in another medium-sized bowl.
Step 2: Dip chicken in breading
Preheat the air fryer to 390 degrees F, air fryer setting. Take the chicken pieces individually and let the excess egg drip off. Dip into the flour mixture, shaking off any excess.
Step 3: Air fry General Tso’s chicken
Spray the air fryer’s basket with olive oil, place the chicken pieces into the basket (not touching), and spray them generously with cooking spray. You may need to do this in batches.
Air fry for 8 minutes, flipping halfway through, coating with more cooking spray until crispy and an internal temperature reaches at least 165 degrees F.
Step 4: Prepare the General Tso Sauce
Whisk together the chicken stock, brown sugar, soy sauce, rice vinegar, hoisin sauce, and cornstarch in a small bowl set aside for the sauce.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the vegetable oil. Add the garlic, ginger, and chili flakes to the skillet and cook, stirring for 15 seconds. Add the sauce to the pan and cook for 30 seconds until it thickens.
Immediately add the chicken and toss in the sauce. Serve with an optional garnish of scallions and sesame seeds.
Pro Tips For The Best Air Fryer General Tso Chicken Recipe
- Chicken Choice: Opt for chicken thighs over breasts. Thighs are naturally juicier and stay moist, even after air frying.
- Marination Matters: If you have time, marinate your chicken pieces in the marinade mixture for at least 30 minutes to an hour before coating and air frying. This helps in infusing more flavors into the chicken.
- Even Coating: Ensure each chicken piece is evenly coated with cornstarch and flour. Shake off any excess. Uneven or too-thick coatings can become chewy rather than crispy.
- Avoid Overcrowding: Do not overload the air fryer basket. Cook in batches if necessary. Overcrowding can prevent the chicken from crisping up evenly. For best results, place the coated chicken in a single layer in the air fryer basket. Depending on your air fryer sizes, you may need to cook in batches.
- Midway Shake: Halfway through the air frying process, shake the basket or flip the chicken pieces with tongs. This ensures even browning and crispiness.
- Temperature Check: Always ensure that your chicken is cooked through. Use a meat thermometer; when done, the internal temperature should read 165°F (74°C).
- Sauce Simmer: When preparing the sauce, allow it to simmer until it has thickened. A thicker sauce will adhere better to the chicken, giving you that glazed effect.
- Add Sauce Just Before Serving: To keep the chicken crispy, only toss it in the sauce when ready to serve. This prevents the chicken from getting soggy if it sits for too long.
- Adjust Heat Level: The spiciness of General Tso’s chicken can vary based on personal preference. Feel free to adjust the amount of dried red chilies or chili flakes to suit your heat tolerance.
- Fresh Ingredients: Always use fresh garlic and ginger for the sauce. These fresh ingredients significantly elevate the sauce’s flavor profile compared to their powdered counterparts.
- Garnish: Don’t skip the garnish. A sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds and freshly chopped green onions make the dish look more appealing and enhance its flavor and texture.
With these pro tips, you’re set to create a delicious, crispy, and flavorful General Tso’s Chicken in your air fryer that rivals any takeout version.
Air Fryer General Tso Chicken FAQs
Do I have to use chicken thighs?
No, while chicken thighs tend to be juicier, you can also use chicken breasts. Just ensure you don’t overcook them as they can become dry.
Can I make this dish less spicy?
Absolutely! Adjust the number of dried red chilies or chili flakes to suit your heat preference.
How do I store leftovers?
Store any leftover chicken and sauce separately in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in the air fryer or oven for best results.Yes, the sauce can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. Just warm it up before using it. Overcrowding the air fryer or not flipping the chicken halfway can result in uneven cooking. Ensure you give the chicken enough space and shake or flip them midway. Yes, you can use brown sugar, honey, or even agave nectar. Each will slightly alter the flavor, but they all work well. You can substitute chicken with firm tofu, tempeh, or cauliflower florets. Adjust the cooking time accordingly. Yes, use tamari or gluten-free soy sauce in place of regular soy sauce, and ensure other ingredients like hoisin sauce are gluten-free versions.
Marinating adds depth to the flavor. While you can skip it if you’re short on time, allowing the chicken to marinate will enhance the taste.
A light spray of oil helps achieve that golden brown color and crispy texture. While you can air fry without oil, the result might be less crispy.
What to serve with general tso chicken:
General Tso’s Chicken pairs perfectly with steamed jasmine rice, white rice, brown rice, and sautéed green vegetables, like broccoli or bok choy. Add a side of vegetable spring rolls for a complete meal experience.
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Air Fryer General Tso Chicken
- 1 pound boneless chicken thighs, or breasts
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 3 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon ginger, fresh, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes, or more to taste
- olive oil , or cooking spray
- scallions, sliced
- sesame seeds, for garnish, optional
- Cut the chicken into 1-inch pieces, place in a medium-sized bowl, add the beaten egg, coat the chicken in the egg, and set aside. In another medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, salt, garlic powder, and onion powder.
- Preheat the air fryer to 390 degrees F, air fryer setting. Take the chicken pieces one at a time and let the excess egg drip off. Dip into the flour mixture, shaking off any excess.
- Spray the air fryer's basket with olive oil, place the chicken pieces not touching into the basket, and spray them generously with cooking spray. You may need to do this in batches. Air Fry for 8 minutes, flipping halfway through the coating with more cooking spray until crispy and an internal temperature reaches at least 165 degrees F.
- For the sauce, whisk together the chicken stock, brown sugar, soy sauce, rice vinegar, hoisin sauce, and cornstarch in a small bowl set aside.
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the vegetable oil. Add the garlic, ginger, and chili flakes to the skillet and cook, constantly stirring for 15 seconds. Add the sauce to the pan and cook for about 30 seconds until it starts to thicken.
- Immediately add the chicken and toss in the sauce. Serve with an optional garnish of scallions and sesame seeds.
- Plate, serve, and enjoy!
- Air Fryer
- Cooking Spray
- Parchment Paper, optional