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Lighter General Tso's Chicken

Save some calories and a little cash with this DIY makeover of the popular Chinese takeout meal.

  • Prep:
  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 4
Lighter General Tso's Chicken

Source: Everyday Food, October 2008


  • 1 1/4 cups long-grain brown rice
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 pound snow peas, trimmed and halved crosswise
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated and peeled
  • 3 tablespoons light-brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • 2 large egg whites
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, such as safflower


  1. Cook rice according to package instructions. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, stir together 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 1/2 cup cold water until smooth. Add snow peas, garlic, ginger, sugar, soy sauce, and red-pepper flakes; toss to combine, and set aside.

  2. In another bowl, whisk together egg whites, remaining 3 tablespoons cornstarch, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add chicken, and toss to coat.

  3. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Lift half the chicken from egg-white mixture (shaking off excess), and add to skillet. Cook, turning occasionally, until golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate; repeat with remaining oil and chicken, and set aside (reserve skillet).

  4. Add snow-pea mixture to skillet. Cover; cook until snow peas are tender and sauce has thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Return chicken to skillet (with any juices); toss to coat. Serve with rice.

Reviews (82)

  • Ootiegirl 1 Aug, 2014

    Great recipe! Have added to bookmarks. Taste is as if you went to a restaurant - but healthier!

  • vl peli 26 Feb, 2014

    My family loved this recipe - kids included! Made it as written and turned out great. This will definitely make the dinner rotation.

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  • candicelee 30 Oct, 2013

    This turned out just as I expected, and it was great. Bonus: Using gluten-free soy sauce, this is a gluten-free recipe.

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  • APAP 10 Aug, 2013

    I made this recipe for my picky, finicky husband. It's like trying to feed a 3 year old sometimes!! And he LOVED it!! This is now become a staple to our recipes! I'm so happy I found one that's half way decent for us health wise and that he scarfs down with no hesitation. Thank you!

  • J_Green 23 Jul, 2013

    This was delicious and surprisingly easy to make! I added frozen peas and water chestnuts to the snow pea mixture. Next time I’ll add carrots to the mix. I will be making this again!

  • Charles Erickson 15 Jul, 2013

    Very nice recipe. There is a very strong taste of ginger but I like it that way. This was enjoyed by the whole family.

  • punampandey411 13 Jul, 2013

    Absolutely no disappointments here.. this pot roast will rein over anyother recipie you might be using. Full of flavor and taste that you can serve with pride & confidence. Simply follow the recipie, serve and then wait for the accolades to come.

  • waqar younas51 20 May, 2013

    WOW its to good i will try this at home to bake for my childerns that can very happy to ate this ...
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  • rsb56 5 Apr, 2013

    Very skeptical about any "as-good-as-take-out" recipe, but we tried this one . . . and LOVED it. Works well with just about any vegetable we've tried.

  • Vaiz 4 Apr, 2013

    Just saw this recipe today, made it for dinner and it is great!! It is so much better than eating out. I didn't use the snap peas. I used broccoli and carrots. My Husband loved it as well!

  • AmyCz 22 Mar, 2013

    We absolutely loved this recipe. I didn't have snap peas and used broccoli which I think I might like better. I went heavy on the ginger, garlic and red pepper flakes. I think it was better than any carryout around. This is going to be in our rotation of chicken dishes. It even tastes better leftover, so I will be sure to make plenty the next time so my husband can enjoy it the next day as well. lol...

  • lisboeta55 7 Feb, 2013

    i would like to have a printing option for the recipe i would like to try, it would make it easy to print directly from that page

  • bwedlock 4 Feb, 2013

    To be honest, I have to admit it first and foremost that anything cooked together with rice is my favourite food, it's not all about here that it can be also ordered out, it's just about taking care of your own health, making goood eating habits during the time and simply enjoying the life. I would definitely recommend this wonderful recipe to anyone willing to do all the mentioned pea coats above!

  • hdresen 29 Jan, 2013

    I personally wouldn't call this a 'quick' recipe, but it's well worth the extra effort. It's one of our favorites in our house since general tso's is my husband's favorite. The ingredients are simple yet very scrumptious.

  • Melissa Rafael 27 Jan, 2013

    Thinking about making this for my family...and I was wondering about substituting broccoli for the peas. My husband doesn't like them. Any thoughts?

  • CookinChica 5 Jan, 2013

    I am generally leary of "lighter" recipes as they are usually not worth the effort, but this was a pleasant suprise. I recently moved to an area where there is a lack of quality chinese food restaurants and was desperately craving General Gao's Chicken. Let me tell you, this recipe does not dissapoint. Of course it won't taste identical to the full fat version, but it tastes delicious in it's own right. Make it, you won't be dissapointed!

  • emmeelmore 7 Sep, 2012

    When eating a lighter recipe, the sauce is SUPPOSED to lighter...making more sauce defeats the purpose of lighter

  • emmeelmore 7 Sep, 2012

    When eating a lighter recipe, the sauce is SUPPOSED to lighter...making more sauce defeats the purpose of lighter

  • DanielleDemmerle 6 Aug, 2012

    I loved this recipe and had a wonderful time doing it, but I didn't have enough sauce and flavor. Double the sauce and it should be fine.

  • Melissa P 8 Jun, 2012

    Loved this recipe. Followed the advice and doubled the chicken and increased the sauce. Added a bag of frozen veggies - but over steamed a bit before I added everything together - next time no pre-steaming. Added jar of small mushrooms and baby asian corn. Loved it!

  • bethinnashua 1 Apr, 2012

    Very good recipe. Next time, I will increase the chicken by 1/2 lb. It needed a bit more.

  • Rhiannon_ 7 Mar, 2012

    I would call this recipe Lieutenant Tso's. The sauce is not very viscous (adding honey may be a good idea), and it called for additional spices to give it some impact. We doubled the chicken to two pounds, thankfully, because had we not, it would have been a snowpea salad with some chicken on top.

    It was fine, but not like the take-out.

  • edgar694 19 Feb, 2012

    I prepared this recipe tonight because I wanted to avoid getting take-out, and it was amazing!
    Way better than take out! I modified it by adding sliced carrots...

  • MidwestSignorina 7 Feb, 2012

    This was wonderful! I found this while searching for the famous Chicken Orzo recipe which I am making tomorrow. So tonight, I made this recipe with pork instead of chicken and it was delicious. I am sure it is equally wonderful with chicken and I may try it with shrimp. Next time, I will add some julienned carrots, water chestnuts and baby corn just to amp up the vegetables. My PICKY eaters gobbled it up! Definitely a keeper! THANKS MARTHA!

  • EKB12 4 Feb, 2012

    Delicious! My husband and I are counting calories, so we were excited to try a lighter version of General Tsao's. The chili pepper flakes provide just the right amount of heat. The sauce is not as sweet as some variations - but it is perfect with the ginger, garlic and brown sugar. We added some sliced carrots and water chestnuts.

  • pkparker 1 Feb, 2012

    AMAZING. Seriously. I had my doubts ... but our family of four all loved it. Amazing flavor - not TOO spicy - delicious!

  • botlvr 17 Jan, 2012


  • Tony_Gonz 3 Jan, 2012

    Excellent... better than ordering it out!

  • Dburz 20 Dec, 2011

    A new family favorite! I should have doubled the sauce (will do next time). Used broccoli and served over white rice. No leftovers! m

  • Westislander 12 Dec, 2011

    Super recipe! My three picky eaters and husband loved, loved, loved this. I doubled the batch and used the leftovers for lunch.

  • mahgie 7 Dec, 2011

    This was a very big hit with my husband and teenaged son. Pretty dish, also. I will definitely make it again.

  • marsb 28 Nov, 2011

    Will be making this again.. I doubled the sauce as others mentioned. Maybe cut back on the sugar. BUT was very tasty over brown rice!!! Oh and I added extra chile flakes and lots of ginger

  • JudyM 16 Nov, 2011

    Yum! Great recipe! I will double the sauce next time too. The chicken was so tender and moist.

  • sugabear 26 Sep, 2011

    I've made this twice now, and my family loves it! The second time, I did double the sauce and instead of peas I added green onion. Two thumbs up for this recipe!

  • Taitter 17 Sep, 2011

    Made this last week and it was a hit! Served over brown rice. I think the only modification I would have made was doubling the sauce components for more sauce.

  • DiBeth 20 Jul, 2011

    Very good. I would recommend cooking the snow peas in the shorter time frame, mine turned out a bit soft. I also added the rice in with the chicken mix at the end. Yum!

  • emilygrace87 3 Jul, 2011

    This was very delicious, worth the extra effort.

  • CupcakeLVR 28 Jun, 2011

    A little time intensive but VERY tasty without the fat. I really liked the batter for the chicken and will totally use this strategy for other Asian inspired stir-fries. The sauce was the right balance of spicy and sweet. Will make again.

  • ZohraY 13 Feb, 2011

    The end product was delicious and a definite hit, but just beware of all the starchy mix that sticks to the pan when cooking the chicken. Before adding your second half of the marinaded chicken, I'd suggest scraping it off to avoid it from burning/getting in the way of the heat from getting to the chicken.

  • juniebjones 9 Feb, 2011

    Oops...I wrote etools and it changed it to stools!

  • juniebjones 9 Feb, 2011

    For Weight Watchers: Plug in the recipe ingredients on stools and it will calculate the points for you.

  • juniebjones 9 Feb, 2011

    For Weight Watchers: Plug in the recipe ingredients on stools and it will calculate the points for you.

  • maizeriv 22 Jan, 2011

    Is anyone on weightwatchers? This sounds good. But I need to be able to calculate the point value. I wish Martha would include the nutritional information for her recipes. Thanks.

  • phillycook 30 Nov, 2010

    I made this tonight for the first time and it was absolutely delicious. I followed the recipe except I used Splenda brown sugar blend instead of regular brown sugar, and I also used shrimp instead of chicken. I added julienned carrots and mushrooms to it as well. This will definitely be a regular meal for me now.

  • needtime2cook 21 Nov, 2010

    This was delicious.. we added fresh broccoli, green peppers, carrots and pineapple. It is an easy recipe worth making!

  • Gin2102 18 Nov, 2010

    This was fab. A lot less expensive than ordering takeout. Followed recipe exactly and added waterchestnuts. Yum.

  • jamesmolly 1 Nov, 2010

    My egg white and cornstarch mixture did not stick to the chicken. Should I have made sure it was really dry first? How can I solve this problem next time. We really enjoyed this dish!

  • Elizsafox 23 Jun, 2010

    This is one of my go-to recipes. I use frozen snap peas instead of fresh and it works fine. The chicken comes out crispy and flavorful (I substitute thigh meat). This is a healthy and delicious staple meal.

  • melpy84 9 Jun, 2010

    This was fantastic. No problems with breading sticking. Well done, Martha Stewart website.

  • everydayhomecook 8 Jun, 2010

    This is alright. I didn't have much luck with the breading sticking to the chicken in the pan... it stuck to the pan instead. I thought the sauce tasted okay. I probably won't be making this particular version again... Guess I'll keep looking for the perfect at-home General Tso's dish.

  • Marie3000 4 May, 2010

    Wonderful recipe. I prefer a less hot version but my husband added hot sauce to his serving and lioved it too! He didn't even realize it was a "light" version.

  • kbrad33 29 Mar, 2010

    This is a great recipe! Awesome flavor! I added a sliced red pepper to the snow pea mixture also. And the I served it with a salad with Carrot Ginger dressing. I will be making this again!

  • ttouloumis 15 Feb, 2010

    I thought this was delicious! I'm always hesitant to order this off a Chinese menu because I know it's loaded with calories. This was a great alternative. Be careful with the red pepper flakes - it gets very spicy very quickly!

  • ms_monaco 17 Jan, 2010

    I think they forgot about the brown sugar in the directions. I assume to mix it in with all the other stuff.

  • flits21 10 Jul, 2009

    Not as good as I was hoping for. A bit sweet --next time I'd use 2 TB brown sugar and put egg-white mixture dipped chicken chunks on a rack before adding to pan so excess coating doesn't make them clump together. Time consuming de-stringing and prepping the snow peas. Need srichacha.

  • navs 3 Mar, 2009

    Does anyone think the meal would be compromised in any way if I left the cutlets whole? Once I made a similar dish and it was very labor intensive. Thanks.

  • Cookingcutie11 3 Feb, 2009

    I made this 2 days ago. I thought it was easy and delicious and would definitely make it again. The sauce has just the right amount of heat and sweetness.

  • jeremyandshelly 20 Jan, 2009

    This dish was so yummy! Substituted green beans for snow peas because it was what I had on hand and also added toasted almonds. I will probably add extra red pepper flakes next time and maybe some hoison sauce. Otherwise it's fabulous!
    Definitely will make it again.

  • ixip 20 Jan, 2009

    Fairynuff I don't understand what you are talking about when you say "done with cornflower makes a rather nice change than bread crumbing it." There is cornstarch in the recipe, but not cornflour? At any rate I am going to try the recipe since it sounds really easy and very good.

  • shannan1118 19 Dec, 2008

    Is a nice change to the common week night meals. Nice could even substitute the peas for other vegetables - peppers, carrots..

  • fairynuff 12 Dec, 2008

    This dish is amazing! The chicken comes out quite crispy , done with the cornflour makes a rather nice change than bread crumbbing it .My nan had a taste of just the chicken , and she loved it, she had some on a plate with salad which also looked yummy. Anyone thinking of trying this dish should DO IT you won't be disappointed .

  • kavikat 9 Dec, 2008

    I made this for dinner last night with brocolli instead of snow peas (my kids won't eat them!). It was bland somehow even with the red-pepper flakes. We did love the texture of the chicken though. Next time I'll add a couple tablespoons of hoisin paste to the sauce to give it the little something it was missing...

  • Lu_C 28 Nov, 2008

    I make a different menu every week so we keep our diets varied and interesting; this is the only repeat performer in a good couple of months. YUMMM

  • glossgirl 17 Nov, 2008

    My husband loved this when I made it and now it's something that he makes for the both of us. (wink)

  • cheftb 28 Oct, 2008

    I will probaby just smash the garlic next time (didn't like eating the pieces). Good flavor. My 2 year old had seconds.

  • jec89123 19 Oct, 2008

    Made this tonight and it was very good. I will make this again for sure. Everyone finished their dinner!

  • purplestardust101 15 Oct, 2008

    Hi Marcie, all you have to do to email this recipe, is to copy and paste...if you do not know how, here goes:

    left click and hold down on what you want to copy and drag down til you are at the end of what you want should all turn blue hi-lited...then right click on up your email compose page, just like you were writing a letter to be inside your email body and RIGHT CLICK your mouse and hit PASTE...Then just email your letter ; ) Micheline

  • sstew 15 Oct, 2008

    It was just like chinese take out but only better. The flavors and texture and look of this dish were outstanding. It was a very healthy version. And it was very easy. And I learned new things with this recipe. Thank you for making "good things" easier to come into my home.

  • Jenniffrm 15 Oct, 2008

    I have made this recipe at least 4 times in my house and my kids and husband can't get enough.

  • marcie195 15 Oct, 2008

    Looks like a great recipe.
    How do I e-mail it? I get a box and even after changing the display setting. We
    can't get to the send button. ??

  • suegw11 15 Oct, 2008

    This dish was delicious, and easy, and I had everything I needed already in my kitchen except for the pea pods. I substituted carrots and broccoli for the pea pods tho and my husband and I both loved it!

  • BigPinkCupcake 14 Oct, 2008

    this was amazing and so easy to make.

  • gfawley 14 Oct, 2008

    This was fabulous. Quick and really tasty.

  • LindaFontaine 14 Oct, 2008


  • denaluna 14 Oct, 2008

    I made this last night and it was a huge hit! Great recipe. Very authentic, and so much healthier than the restaurant version. I agree with the other commenter about topping with sliced scallions. I might also add toasted sesame seeds as a garnish.

  • nolamom 10 Oct, 2008

    This was SO YUMMY! As good as the Chinese takeout we usually get, but much healthier. Made it on a weeknight, too..very fast. The only caveat: the hot oil does tend to splatter, so there IS some stove clean-up after the fact, but it is WELL worth it. I might mix in some sliced scallions just before serving, but that's just a personal preference.

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