When my husband and I were dating, just about every Sunday after church, I would go with him and his family to this one Chinese buffet in town. This was, of course, before my husband and several immediate family members were diagnosed with celiac disease (even if the dish is gluten free, the cross contamination at a buffet is a big yikes). General Tsos Chicken was one of the dishes that would find it’s way onto everyone’s plate at one point or another so I really wanted to recreate this dish as a gluten free and slightly healthier alternative to the restaurant version. It’s naturally gluten free so even my gluten eating friends can enjoy this one without making any specific gluten free ingredient substitutions.
Besides creating delicious recipes, recreating people’s favorite foods from before they had to give up gluten is one of my greatest joys!
The chicken in this recipes, despite being roasted in the oven instead of deep fried, is crispy enough to hold up to the sauce which is free of refined sugar, gluten, dairy, and artificial flavors and colors! I opted to use honey for sweetness, but you could always try your hand with a little stevia instead if you would like it to be completely sugar free. Just know that this may slightly alter the thickness of the sauce in the end. There is also no shame in using plain brown sugar instead of honey if you wish.
Serve this with cauliflower rice, white or brown rice, and/or any vegetable you’d like. We especially like it alongside broccoli!
Healthy-ish General Tsos Chicken
- 3 medium to large sized chicken breasts cut into 1″ pieces
For Coating Chicken:
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp fresh ginger grated on microplane or chopped very fine (or ginger paste from the tube), sub 1 tsp powdered ginger if you want but fresh is best
- 2 cloves garlic (again I would use fresh, but in a pinch you could sub 1/2 tsp powder)
- 1/8 tsp red chili flake (doesn’t add a lot of kick, just good flavor, but still optional)
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 1/4 Cup honey
- 1/3 Cup broth (chicken, vegetable, or beef would all work)
- 1.5 Tbsp sesame oil (this really brings a distinct and delicious flavor so I wouldn’t sub it)
- nonstick cooking spray
- Scallions (green onions) for garnish
At the end to thicken sauce:
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch + 3 Tbsp cold water
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a sheet pan with a silicon baking mat or parchment paper.
2. Cut up the chicken into 1 inch pieces.
3. Beat 2 eggs in a shallow dish (I use a pie plate). In a different shallow dish (pie plate again for me) place 1/2 cup of cornstarch and 2 tsp kosher salt (1.5 tsp if using regular table salt).
4. Dip the chicken pieces into the egg then in to the cornstarch mixture making sure to let the chicken pieces drip a little before placing them into the cornstarch. I like to use two sets of tongs for this (one for wet, one for dry) but feel free to use your hands. Just make sure you keep a wet hand and a dry hand or you will end up with battered fingers 🙂 .
5. Place the chicken pieces on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat, spacing them evenly apart so they are not touching.
6. Spray the chicken with nonstick cooking spray (just like you were coating a baking pan), then using tongs, turn the chicken pieces over and spray the other side. Place chicken into the 375 degree preheated oven for 7-8 minutes, then flip the chicken pieces and cook for another 6-8 minutes until chicken is cooked through (you could always take a piece out and cut it in half to check for doneness if you’re more comfortable with that).
7. Make your sauce. whisk together 1/4 cup honey, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1/3 cup broth, and 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar.
8. Place 1.5 tablespoons sesame oil in the bottom of a small saucepan over medium heat and sauté 2 cloves of garlic, 2 tsp ginger, and chili flake in the oil for 30 seconds stirring constantly so it doesn’t burn. Turn the heat down if you need to. Add in the 2 tablespoons of tomato paste and stir constantly for one minute. WHISK in the broth mixture until smooth. The mixture should be simmering, not boiling. Note: Every stovetop is a little different, so turn down the heat when needed.
Combine 1 tablespoon cornstarch with 3 tablespoons cold water and add this mixture to the sauce. Simmer until thickened (this should take 30 seconds max).
Remove the sauce from the heat. Transfer chicken pieces to a large bowl or skillet and toss with the sauce. Use as little or as much sauce as you’d like.
Serve with cauliflower rice, brown or white rice, and/or any vegetable on the side.