Lighten up – General Tso’s Chicken Recipe

General Tso’s Chicken Recipe

It’s time to face the facts, most of the menu items at my favorite restaurants are calorie bombs, concealing more fat than I even want to know.  And even when I conjure the inner strength to order something lighter, the portion sizes are so huge that I have trouble figuring out how much I should and shouldn’t eat.  But eating healthier doesn’t mean giving up all your favorite foods.  Even those of us who are trying to shed a few extra pounds (definitely me) need to indulge our cravings from time to time.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying your meals.  The trick is to satisfy more than just your growling tummy.  You need to indulge your sense of taste, smell, and sight all at the same time.  Research shows that when you cater to all your senses with a single meal you’ll eat less but enjoy it more.

That’s what I set out to do with this dish.  I wanted a lighter version of my favorite General Tso’s chicken, but I didn’t want to lose any of things that made this meal so enjoyable to me.  The first thing I did was go heavy on the flavors  – lots of fresh ginger and garlic with a sauce that is thick and rich and seriously satisfying.  Then I added some snow peas for color and texture.  The crunch of the snow peas tells your brain to pay attention to what you’re eating.  Plus, snow peas, as well as most vegetables, add vitamins, minerals, and fiber.  The General Tso’s chicken recipe that you’d typically find in a restaurant is deep fried in way too much oil.  My version uses only two tablespoons at the most.   And lastly, I chose to use  brown rice over white.  Brown rice is higher in protein and is brimming with Vitamin B6, Thiamin, Manganese, Selenium, and more.  It’s true that it takes a while for brown rice to cook, but I take a short cut here.  I buy pre-cooked brown rice in the freezer section.  (Rice should be the only ingredient listed.)

This chicken recipel has so many things going for it – it’s quick, easy, and family friendly along with all its health benefits, and it uses easy to find, inexpensive ingredients.  Whether you’re trying to shape up, just trying to feed your hungry family, or stick to a budget – or like me and trying to do all three at the same time, you will love this dish.

General Tso’s Chicken Recipe
serves 4

1 1/2 cups long grain brown rice
4 teaspoons cornstarch, divided
1 large egg plus 1 large egg white
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1″ pieces
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup soy sauce or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
2 Tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 1/2 cups snow peas, trimmed
2 Tablespoons canola oil, divided


Cook rice according to package directions.  Keep warm.

Place 2 teaspoons cornstarch, one egg, and one egg white in a large bowl and whisk together.  Add chicken and stir to coat well.  Set aside.

In another medium sized bowl place water, soy sauce/Liquid Aminos, honey, and remaining cornstarch.  Whisk until combined.  Add ginger, garlic, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, and snow peas.  Stir to coat well.

Heat 1 Tablespoon oil in a large non-stick skillet.  Using a fork, transfer chicken to skillet, letting excess liquid drip back into bowl.  Do not crowd the pan – you may have to do two batches.  Let chicken cook until golden brown on the first side, about 3-4 minutes.  Turn to other side and cook until golden brown and totally cooked through.  Remove chicken and place onto a paper towel lined dish.  Blot with another paper towel to remove excess oil.  (If cooking a second batch, add remaining tablespoon oil to pan and repeat process).

Add snow pea mixture to skillet and stir until sauce is thickened, about 1-2 minutes.  Add chicken back to pan and stir until coated with sauce.  Divide rice evenly among four plates and top with equal amounts of chicken mixture.

Recipe adapted from: Martha Stewart



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  1. says

    I’m a huge fan of General Tso’s chicken and have yet to found a home recipe that I really like. This is definitely one I’m going to try. I’ve even tried the store bought jars, but nothing too good yet.

  2. Samina says

    This looks absolutely delicious! I’ve got most of the ingredients in the recipe on hand, so I’ll have to swing by my Publix for the rest, but I’m definitely going to try it this week.

  3. Donna says

    I put this on my menu plan this week and served it tonight! It was delicious and even the kids (11 and 7) liked it! It was a little on the spicy side (as General Tso’s chicken should be), so I might reduce the red pepper a little next time. There WILL definitely be a next time because it was delicious and tasted so fresh. This was my first time to cook with ginger, so that was a learning experience — ha! Thanks for the great recipe!

    Question for Susan — the chicken by itself was sooo delicious. Do you use this method of cooking chicken in any of your other recipes?

    • says

      So glad you liked it! Spicy is so subjective – some people like more, some less, so I’m glad you mentioned that part for the kids. Good question about the chicken – I’ve been making chicken “nuggets” for the kids using this same method and they LOVE it. And I love that they love it! So yes, I’ve been experimenting with this method for several different recipes, it works perfectly every time. But nothing is on the blog yet.

      • Donna says

        Love the idea of chicken nuggets cooked this way. I sometimes wonder if my kids will turn into chicken nuggets because that is their favorite go-to meal! :-) I’m thinking thin chicken strips cooked that way would taste delicious for fajitas, too.

  4. says

    I made this for dinner tonight. I made a double batch since hubby and I are Chinese food fanatics. There is nothing left. Nothing. Even my super picky eaters (6, 4, 2, 1) devoured 2 helpings each. Only my oldest picked out the snow peas but he refuses to eat anything green, yet. This is definitely a new family favorite. I did leave out the red pepper flakes since the kids don’t like spicy but next time I will make separate double batches so hubby and I can have it spicy. Thank you for a delicious new recipe!