Our air fryer General Tso’s chicken recipe will help you replicate the crispiness and iconic flavors of this popular Chinese takeout. If you have any leftover rice, this recipe is an excellent way to use it up.
Sesame Chicken vs General Tso’s Chicken
Even lovers of Chinese food can mistake these two dishes but don’t worry, we’re here to help.
Air Fryer Sesame chicken is a saucy chicken stir-fry with a sweet and salty shiny glaze made of soy sauce and sesame oil. It’s then garnished with lots of toasted (white) sesame seeds and drizzled with extra sesame oil.
General Tso’s chicken comprises chunks of battered, deep-fried, sauce-coated chicken. The sauce should taste sweet, salty, and a little tangy. Recipes often call for vinegar or ketchup.
General Tso’s chicken is also sometimes mistaken for orange chicken, but it’s the citrusy undertone of orange juice that draws the line.
Is It Spicy?
Chinese dishes are often spicy, and this one is no exception. However, the heat is adjustable and you can tailor it to your taste.
Is Our Recipe Healthy?
Air frying is generally considered healthier than conventional frying, and for our General Tso’s chicken, it’s no exception. We only need a little oil to fry, which gives us more control over the fat and calories content.
Moderately sizing the portions goes even further to keep the calories, saturated fats, sodium, and added sugar content within healthy ranges. Our portions for this recipe only contain 498 calories, 2.2 g saturated fats, 580 mg sodium, and 7 g added sugar; all complying with our guidelines.
Our air fryer General Tso’s chicken recipe calls for chicken thighs, soy sauce, honey, white vinegar, cornstarch, cooked rice, bok choy, and other ingredients:
Let’s take a look at the main players:
1. Chicken and Batter
Chicken thighs are our cut of choice. If you prefer leaner meat, chicken breasts also work fine.
Since we batter and fry the meat, we slice the skin off; leaving it on would give the nuggets an unwelcome chewy texture.
The batter for today’s chicken comprises all-purpose flour, water, and seasoning in the form of garlic powder and paprika. We’ve left out eggs and dairy as these ingredients would cause the batter to turn out less crispy.
Once battered, the chicken is coated in all-purpose flour before being placed in a lined frying basket.
The base of the sauce consists of these basic components: garlic, ginger, soy sauce, honey, vinegar, Sriracha, and cornstarch to thicken. The sauce should be aromatic and balanced in flavor — sweet and salty with a tangy under-taste.
To this base, we add red pepper flakes for presentation and some extra heat. We also squeeze in some lime juice for a refreshing twist.
3. Cooked Rice
Like many Chinese recipes, this dish must be served with rice. It’s typically medium-grain white rice, but virtually any type works well.
4. Bok Choy
We cook some bok choy to serve on the side, but it’s replaceable with any green, crunchy vegetable. The color and texture lend the dish a healthy, delicious balance.
How to Store and Reheat
You can place the chicken in an airtight container and refrigerate for 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Be sure to date the container so you’ll know when it expires.
Cooked rice can be stored in this manner as well, but for bok choy, it’s best that you keep it in the fridge. Crisp, juicy vegetables tend to become mushy once thawed.
However, unlike chicken nuggets, it’s impossible to reheat General Tso’s chicken to be crispy again. We advise you to consume this dish in one sitting for the best experience.
We also have this air fryer dinner roundup, dedicated to air fryer lovers. The recipes are easy to follow and complied with our healthy eating standards.
What to Serve With
We serve it with a bowl of warm, wholesome cabbage potato soup and a glass of orange-pineapple juice. The soup’s mild flavors help to refresh the palate, and the drink is a sweet way to end the meal.
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Tuyet Pham is an award-winning Saigonese chef who believes that joy is the secret ingredient to delicious food. At Healthy Recipes 101, Tuyet personally tests and simplifies every recipe, ensuring maximum flavor with minimal effort. With a background at prestigious French restaurants P’TI Saigon and Le Corto, Tuyet knows how to make every dish exceptional.
Luna Regina is an accomplished writer and author who dedicates her career to empowering home cooks and making cooking effortless for everyone. She is the founder of HealthyKitchen101.com and HealthyRecipes101.com, where she works with her team to develop easy, nutritious recipes and help aspiring cooks choose the right kitchen appliances.
Natalie Butler is a registered dietitian nutritionist with a passion to help others live their best life through food, fitness, safer beauty and a healthy lifestyle. She has expertise with a variety of diets and diseases and believes that there is no one-size-fits-all approach for health.
This air fryer General Tso's chicken is a healthier take on a classic dish, and it's packed with flavor!