Our General Tso’s Chicken is Tastier (and More Healthy) Than Any Takeout

Deep-frying and a thick, velvety, spicy-sweet sauce make this Chinese dish incredibly popular, but they also make it incredibly unhealthy. With a single serving clocking in at over 900 calories, we thought it was time to put General Tso on a diet.

BEFORE: 910 calories, 45g fat, 5g sat fat
AFTER: 490 calories, 8g fat, 1.5g sat fat

Swapping the traditional dark meat for white meat was a good start. Moving on to the breading, we started with cornflakes, which gave our chicken an ultra-crisp exterior. After dredging our chicken pieces in flour and dipping them in egg whites, we coated them with our cornflake crumbs and baked them elevated on a wire rack to allow for even crisping all over.

For the sauce, we combined soy sauce, hoisin sauce, vinegar, ginger, and garlic; a bit of cornstarch helped to thicken it. Sugar made the sauce taste overly sweet, so we tried swapping in a number of alternatives. In the end, we opted for apricot jam, which added complexity and made our sauce ultra-clingy. Subbing in balsamic vinegar for the white vinegar ensured a good balance of sweet-and-sour notes.

General Tso's Chicken, from America's Test Kitchen

Serves 4

To crush the cornflakes, place them inside a zipper-lock bag and use a rolling pin or the bottom of a large skillet to break them into fine crumbs.

Vegetable oil spray
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 large egg whites
5 cups (5 ounces) Kellogg's Corn Flakes cereal, finely crushed
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of all visible fat, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 2/3 cups water
1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup apricot jam
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons canola oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 475 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil, top with wire rack, and spray rack with oil spray. Spread flour into shallow dish. Whisk egg whites until foamy in second shallow dish. Spread Corn Flakes crumbs into third shallow dish. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Working in batches, dredge chicken in flour, dip in egg whites, then coat with Corn Flakes, pressing gently to adhere; lay on prepared wire rack.

2. Spray chicken with oil spray. Bake until chicken registers 160 degrees and coating is brown and crisp, 12 to 15 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, whisk water, soy sauce, apricot jam, hoisin, cornstarch, and vinegar together in bowl. Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add garlic, ginger, and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Whisk in soy sauce mixture, bring to simmer, and cook until thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and keep warm.

4. When chicken is cooked, return sauce to simmer over medium-low heat. Add cooked chicken and toss to coat. Serve.

Per serving: Cal 490, Fat 8g, Sat Fat 1.5g, Chol 110mg, Carb 62g, Protein 44g, Fiber 2g, Sodium 1410mg

This recipe appears in our brand-new cookbook, Comfort Food Makeovers.. We set the bar high and simply put flavor first when lightening up favorite dishes.