Lightened Up General Tso’s Chicken

Lightened Up General Tso's Chicken

So, I’m sick. Like really sick. Like when you feel so badly, that you just lie on the couch all day staring into space and are completely useless. That kind.

Sickness aside though, I have to share this recipe with you! It’s been a while since I last shared a Chinese dish. That’s because the last three I have tried were horrible and I just wouldn’t do that to you guys. Chinese food can be tricky to master. The sauces have to be just right, not overly sweet, and the chicken has to have the right texture.

Lightened Up General Tso's Chicken

We love General Tso’s chicken in this house, but I don’t love the fact that it’s fried and contains a ridiculous amount of sodium. This version lightens things up a bit by cooking the chicken in cornstarch with minimal oil and the sauce also got a makeover with less sodium. It’s just sweet enough thanks to the addition of apricot jam. Both myself and my husband really liked this one. I brought some leftovers for lunch the next day and it was still really good (maybe even a little better!). And that is saying a lot for me because I am really weird about reheated chicken.


Lightened Up General Tso's Chicken


For the chicken:

  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken breast, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil

For the sauce:

  • 1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup apricot jam
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1-2 teaspoon sriracha
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • up to 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger


  1. In a mixing bowl, add the diced chicken, corn starch, salt and black pepper. Stir together until the chicken is well-coated in the corn starch.
  2. In a non-stick 12-inch skillet, heat the 1 1/2 tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium heat. Cook the chicken, turning the pieces over every so often for about 6 minutes or until the chicken is cooked thoroughly. Transfer the chicken to a plate and cover to keep warm.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, hoisin, apricot jam, rice vinegar, balsamic vinegar, sriracha, and the water.
  4. Place the skillet back onto the heat. Add the remaining vegetable oil for the sauce. Add the garlic and grated ginger and cook for about 30 seconds. Pour in the sauce mixed and whisk until the sauce is thickened, about 3 minutes. Add the cooked chicken back in with the sauce and toss to coat. Serve over rice or vegetables. Top with sesame seeds and/or sliced green onion if desired.

Sauce recipe adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Comfort Food Makeover

All images and text ©


  1. My husband is a huge General Tso fan. That’s all he ever orders when we order Chinese takeout. I love this lightened up version.

  2. So many people I know are awfully sick! I hope you feel better soon. This meal should help ;-)

  3. Feel better my friend, it sounds like this chicken is just what the doctor ordered :)

    Choc Chip Uru

  4. Oh I hope you feel better. Being sick stinks!

  5. I am a big fan of using apricot jam in my Chinese style dishes… it’s really wonderful. I love this lightened up General Tsos Chicken… definitely adding it to my menu soon. :)

    PS.. I hope you feel better… it’s miserable to be sick.

  6. I’m really sorry that you’re sick! Drink up those smoothies you’ve been making and get plenty of rest. p.s this recipe is great! love the use of apricot jam :)

  7. Hope you’re feeling better! I’m going through all your recent posts and I want to make everything, especially this!! Must try soon!

  8. Goodness I hope you are up and about now. I love love General Tso’s, but I never order it myself just because of your comments about all the sodium and the deep fried part. So I am delighted you came up with a new twist.
    Yes! Smiles—–

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  11. 7 minutes and sauce still not thickening!! Aaagghhhh!!! Adding more cornstarch and water to do the trick. :(

  12. This really didn’t work out for me. I waited a long time but the sauce never thickened. I had to add quite a bit of cornstarch mixed with cold water to get it to thicken at all. It turned out okay in the end but I don’t know that we will make this again. Thanks anyway for the idea.

  13. Wow, thank you it was soo good!

    My husband came home and said it smelled good and tasted even better. This will be remade again.

    My mixture was a bit too salty so I diluted it with water, but next time with a bit if back choy and mushrooms and some nice noodles…this dish is amazing.

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe!

  14. Unfortunately, like some others, this sauce did not thicken at all until I added a ton of cornstarch and let it boil. That took the flavor down quite a bit. It ended up being alright, but just a heads up.

  15. Alas I had no Apricot Jam and cannot seem to find it (rarer over here in Ireland I guess) but a little agave nectar or syrup adds a little more sweetness. I also added one of my home-dried chilis for that extra bite. Lovely recipe!

  16. I’m not exactly sure how the sauce is supposed to work. There is no thickening agent in it so all heating it up does is evaporate the water?

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