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Slow cooker General Gao's chicken

A restaurant favorite that's so easy to make at home! General Gao's chicken. #glutenfree

On any Chinese restaurant take-out menu, this famous chicken dish (which might be called General Tso's, or General Tsao's, or General Gao's, which is our local spelling) would rate a few hot red peppers next to the name. It's spicy, or should be, and it's one of the two dishes by which I judge all Chinese American restaurants everywhere. (The other, lo mein, I make at home all the time, and my version is pretty good, so I'm a tough critic on that one, too.)

In our house there's never enough General Gao's chicken to go around. This recipe makes plenty, it can be made ahead, and the leftovers are the best snack ever when grabbed with chopsticks right from the refrigerator (ask me how I know). The slow cooker method, while not yielding the same crust as fried chicken, brings all of the flavor of the traditional recipe, with no stand-over-the-stove time for the cook. Adding the broccoli at the end keeps it crisp. If you love General Gao's chicken, you'll love this easy home-cooked version.

Make this General Gao's chicken at home, in the slow cooker. What could be easier? #glutenfree

Slow cooker General Gao's chicken

From the pantry, you'll need: chicken breasts, cornstarch, kosher salt, fresh black pepper, hoisin sauce, reduced-sodium soy sauce, rice vinegar, granulated sugar, mild red pepper flakes, fresh ginger.

Adapted from this recipe on Creme De La Crumb. Be sure to use gluten-free condiments for a gluten-free dish. Serves 6-8, with rice.


5 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (approximately 3 lbs), cut into bite-size pieces
1 cup cornstarch
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp fresh black pepper
2 tsp vegetable oil (or peanut oil)

For the sauce:
6 Tbsp hoisin sauce (or gluten-free hoisin)
6 Tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce (or gluten-free soy sauce)
6 Tbsp rice vinegar
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
1-1/2 Tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp mild crushed red pepper flakes (use 1/2 tsp if you want a milder dish)
1 tsp minced gingerroot or ginger paste
4 tsp water

For serving:
3 cups broccoli florets, blanched in a pot of boiling water for 1 minute, removed into a bowl of ice water
3-4 cups steamed white or brown rice
Sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)


Place the chicken pieces in a bowl, and blot them thoroughly with a paper towel.

In a smaller bowl, combine the cornstarch, salt, garlic powder and black pepper. Mix well.

Add the chicken and the cornstarch mixture to a large ziploc bag. Shake to coat the chicken pieces.

Heat the vegetable oil in a nonstick frying pan or wok (I heated mine right in my Ninja Cooking System slow cooker, which has a stovetop high setting). Sauté the chicken for a few minutes, until the pieces are starting to brown. The chicken won't be cooked at this point.

While the chicken is browning, mix all of the sauce ingredients in a glass measuring cup.

When the chicken is lightly browned, add all of it, along with half of the sauce, to a 5- or 6-quart slow cooker. Stir gently to coat the chicken pieces with the sauce.

Cook on LOW for 3 hours, or until the chicken is cooked through (the original recipe says 4 hours, but mine never takes that long).

After the chicken has finished cooking, add the blanched broccoli florets and the remaining sauce into the slow cooker. Stir gently.

Serve hot, with steamed rice. Garnish individual bowls with sesame seeds.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More take-out favorites:
Salt and pepper prawns, from The Perfect Pantry
Cold sesame noodles, from The Perfect Pantry
Mu shu chicken, from Weelicious
Slow cooker honey garlic chicken, from Just a Taste

Make this restaurant favorite at home! So easy in the slow cooker. #glutenfree

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


I love everything about this. The recipe sounds great, and the photos are seriously making me drool. And this is one of my favorite Chinese dishes, although in my family there are some spice-adverse wimps who ask for Sesame Chicken instead. But if I am ordering just for myself, I would get this every time!

Lydia, I've had some rabidly gluten intolerant people tell me that most hoisin sauce isn't really GF. I don't know, but I wanted to put it out there. Maybe someone with experience in this matter knows, or knows of a brand that is GF. Thanks.

Kalyn, I had to make this several times to get the recipe just right. And each time, we managed to eat every bit of the chicken! So I know it's good!

Janis, thanks so much. I try to check, but I'm not an expert, so just to be safe, I've noted the cautions above. Reading labels is paramount, of course.

How do you ever get this recipe to look so delicious coming out of a slow cooker? I'm so hungry just looking at it!

Janice, it took a few tries to get it to look this good, but the flavor was there all along! We just kept eating and eating.

This is an Americanized version of a Chinese dish of traditional Hunanese cuisine but a lot sweeter than what is served in China. In fact the Chinese shun this type of food as not original Chinese cuisine.

A typical restaurant serving of General Gao's or Tso's chicken may include up to 1,300 calories, 11 grams of saturated fat and 3,200 milligrams of sodium as well as exceed 300 mg of cholesterol. This one dish may exceed a person's entire daily recommended sodium intake, half of the recommended caloric intake and 1/3 to 1/2 of the recommended saturated fat limit. One serving will typically be about 4 oz. (approximately 100 grams) of chicken thigh meat which contains 20-30 grams of protein, greater than 30% of the daily recommended niacin needs and over 15% of the recommended B6, phosphorus and zinc needs.

Ken, this is definitely a favorite in American Chinese restaurants, but much less sweet and gloppy.

I dont like those white small thing . I dont remember the name. but the dish is awesome..

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