Healthier Instant Pot General Tso Chicken Recipe is lighter version of General Tso chicken. Deep fried chicken is replaced with sauted chicken and half the calories to your take-out order. It’s got the sweet, sticky, spicy perfection without deep frying chicken pieces. You won’t miss a thing. Try it once, you’ll be hooked.
General Tso’s chicken is one of the most popular “Chinese” dishes in America. This Americanized Chinese dish is mostly made from dark meat cut and deep fried, then tossed in a wok with sweet and spicy, tangy sauce. General Tso chicken has complex flavors that is garlicky, tangy, intensive, sweet, spicy and salty, all flavors balanced beautifully.
You won’t find General Tso Chicken in China.
I know .. I know.. some of you might be getting furious by now reading the recipe, you may even call this ‘this is really not General Tso chicken recipe’. Yes, General Tso recipe in general is deep fried chicken tossed in General Tso sauce. But we all are allowed to tweak and add twist to a recipe and create your own favorable version. So according to me this recipe still qualifies to be called General Tso Chicken and we are loving the fact that it’s healthier version, so YAY lesser guilt while eating these on your busy weeknight dinner.
This light Instant pot General Tso chicken recipe is made with tender juicy chicken. It’s dump, saute and turn on instant pot recipe. No deep frying. This healthier homemade instant pot General Tso chicken is ready in less than 20 minutes. And so much better than take-out. With the option to add any variation of your choice. SCORE!
If you are looking for authentic General Tso chicken recipe simply follow this exact recipe and deep fry the chicken pieces marinated in soy sauce and coated in corn flour until browned. Saute all ingredients as exactly mentioned in the recipe. You can refer to the recently posted General Tso Tofu recipe to get the idea.
One of the common question I got when I posted General Tso Tofu recipe was
Who is General Tso?
A little help from Wikipedia –
The dish is named after Zuo Zontang (TsoTsung-t’ang) a military leader from Qing’s dynasty. Eileen Yin-Fei Lo states in her book The Chinese Kitchen that the dish originates from a simple Hunan chicken dish and that the reference to “Zongtang“.. The dish or its variants are known by a number of names, including Governor Tso’s chicken, General Tao’s Chicken, General Gao’s / Gau’s chicken, General Mao’s chicken, General Tsao’s chicken, General Tong’s chicken, General Tang’s chicken, General Cho’s chicken, General Chai’s chicken, General Joe’s Chicken, T.S.O. Chicken, General Ching’s chicken, General Jong’s Chicken, House Chicken, or simply General’s Chicken – Info source – Wikipedia!
General Tso Pronunciation
The General’s name we are referring to is a Mandarian word. There is no correct English pronunciation for “Tso”. Some pronounce as “cho”, some “chow”, “tsao”, “tsau”, “gau”. The can a debate on how to correctly pronounce Tso. I’d say Tso is pronounced as “so”, T being silent. No matter how you pronounce it, Chinese restaurants in America probably get’s what you are ordering. So don’t worry about not been able to pronounce it exact correct, just go out there and called it however you think you can.
General’s name was actually “Zuo” and he is from Qing dynasty.
What is General Tso Chicken
It’s a crispy, deep fried chicken in a flavorful sauce that is not too spicy and not too sweet. General Tso’s chicken is an American Chinatown invention, definitely not an authentic Chinese dish. But the dish has definitely gained popularity with the Americans, considering it’s one of the most popular Chinese food take-out.
General Tso Sauce
This General Tso Sauce is a versatile Asian sauce that has a perfect balance of sweet, spice, salt and tang. We like to call it magic Asian sauce that you will want to pour one everything! General Tso sauce is rich, pungent with a hint of sweet and spice in it.
It’s a versatile sauce and you can adjust ingredient as per your palate. If you love to have the hint of spiciness, just add more dried red chilies and chili sauce to it.
Dark and light soy sauce
Zhenjiang vinegar or Rice-wine vinegar
Brown sugar or white sugar
And stock (chicken)
Easy Healthier General Tso Chicken Recipe
This is healthier version of General Tso chicken, so there is not deep frying, rather we just saute chicken cubes for few minutes until it changes it’s color.
Pro-Tip : Alternatively you could just dump chicken cubes along with rest of the sauce ingredients into instant pot, turn on instant pot and walk away until General Tso chicken is done. Still tastes good.
Ofcourse with deep fried chicken pieces you’ll get a crunch in your bite, that probably might be the only thing you’ll miss, but otherwise I think the flavors and taste are not compromised with this instant pot General Tso chicken recipe.
Dried red chilies
Low sodium light soy sauce
Zhenjiang vinegar or Chinese wine vinegar
Chili sauce (optional)
Salt and pepper
Saute all ingredients well.
Cover lid and select POULTRY setting on instant pot. Adjust timer to 5 minutes.
Note – I tested twice with chicken thighs (boneless, skinless) with for 10 minutes cooking time and I found that the chicken get over cooked and they turned almost like shredded chicken.
5 minutes for chicken thighs or chicken breasts works best for me. Select 5 minutes first when you make this recipe, once cooking time is done, open lid and test a chicken piece but piercing with a fork. If it tears/cut smooth then you chicken is cooked well. If 5 minutes POULTRY setting ends up with under cooked chicken, select SAUTE mode and let the pot simmer for few more minutes with lid off until chicken is cooked through. In case you pot turns dry, pour about 5-7 tablespoons chicken stocks and allow chicken to cook.
Pro-Tip : Do not cut chicken pieces too small, keep them atleast 1.5 inch cubes. You don’t want to end up with General Tso shredded chicken.
Once instant pot cycle is complete, wait for 5 minutes for NATURAL release. Then turn valve to VENTING position for QUICK release. Carefully unlock and remove the lid from the instant pot.
Whisk flour with little water. Pour it into pot, instant pot set on SAUTE mode. Let it simmer for few minutes as the sauce thickens.
Garnish with chives and sesame seeds.
Serve hot with white rice or cauliflower rice for low-carb options.
Some more Asian inspired recipes for you-
Off late I’ve been trying NOT to make everything in instant pot, but I have been failing miserably. It’s hard to not consider the convenience of instant pot cooking. Do love love making everything in Instant Pot? I’m pretty sure after using your instant pot once, you’ll be converted to Instant Pot Ninja! LOL.
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WATCH HOW TO MAKE INSTANT POT GENERAL TSO CHICKEN RECIPE – QUICK VIDEO
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Healthier Instant Pot General Tso Chicken Recipe
- 1.5 lbs chicken thighs skin less, bone less cut into 1.5 inch cubes
- 2 tablespoon canola oil
General Tso Sauce –
- 1 tablespoon garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon ginger minced
- 1 tablespoon red chili sauce
- 1 table spoon hoisin sauce
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
- 2 tablespoon Chinese wine Shaoxing wine or any sherry
- 2 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1/3 cup chicken stock
- 2 teaspoon corn starch
- 5-6 dried red chilies or 3 fresh Thai red chilies
- ¼ cup scallion
- Salt and pepper
- Green onions chives
- Toasted white sesame seeds
- Set instant pot to SAUTE mode.
- Add cubes chicken and saute for a minute or until it changes it’s color.
- Add ginger garlic and continue to saute and cook.
- Add dried red chilies, scallions, hoisin sauce, low sodium soy sauce, brown sugar, Zhenjiang vinegar or Chinese wine vinegar, Lemon juice, Chili sauce (optional), Salt and pepper. Give a quick stir.
- Add 5-7 tablespoons chicken stock.Cover lid.
- Select POULTRY setting and adjust timer to 5 minutes.Note – I tested twice with chicken thighs (boneless, skinless) for 10 minutes cooking time and I found that the chicken get over cooked and they turned almost like shredded chicken.5 minutes for chicken thighs or chicken breasts works best for me. Select 5 minutes first when you make this recipe, once cooking time is done, open lid and test a chicken piece but piercing with a fork. If it tears/cut smooth then you chicken is cooked well. If 5 minutes POULTRY setting ends up with undercooked chicken, select SAUTE mode and let the pot simmer for few more minutes with lid off until chicken is cooked through. In case you pot turns dry, pour about 5-7 tablespoons chicken stocks and allow chicken to cook.Pro-Tip : Do not cut chicken pieces too small, keep them alteast 1.5 inch cubes. You don’t want to end up with General Tso shredded chicken.
- Once instant pot cycle is complete, wait for 5 minutes for NATURAL release. Then turn valve to VENTING position for QUICK release. Carefully unlock and remove the lid from the instant pot.
- Whisk flour with little water. Pour it into pot, instant pot set on SAUTE mode. Let it simmer for few minutes as the sauce thickens.
- Garnish with chives and sesame seeds.Serve hot with white rice or cauliflower rice for low carb options.