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Last updated on March 30th, 2024 at 04:51 pm

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How to Make General Tso Sauce [video]

General Tso Sauce is a rich, sweet, and spicy sauce that is perfect for your stir-fry dishes! You have to believe me when I tell you that learning to make this sauce at home will change how you cook! 

Talk about a universal sauce, that you can easily use for stir-fries, to marinate meat or tofu, or to serve as a dipping sauce. The first time I had it, I was hooked, and I mean it when I say that you can make it too in just 10 minutes! This homemade version puts to shame any takeout or store-bought alternative.

General Tso Sauce Recipe

As someone who cooks for a living, I have learned a few shortcuts that come in handy and will also save YOU time in the kitchen. Hear me out, any recipe that you make may end up incredibly bland even if you are using the best ingredients, because the flavor is so important, having a few good sauce recipes under your belt is key.

General Tso sauce is incredibly popular, and certainly, you will see General Tso Chicken on every Chinese Takeout Menu. So, anytime you want to have some Chinese takeout, look no further because making it at home will be quicker and tastier.

Still, wondering how a simple sauce as this one can take your dinners to the next level? Let me give you a few very good reasons:

  • Easy to make and the fool-proof approach to make your dinner 10 times tastier
  • The ability to make a larger batch, and freeze it for later
  • Way healthier, tastier, and undeniably more flavorful than ANY store-bought version!
  • The versatility to use it as a stir-fry sauce or dip

What is General Tso Sauce made of?

Over the years I have enjoyed eating out at traditional Chinese restaurants in New York and New Jersey. This way, I became an expert at understanding how the most authentic Chinese recipes should taste.

The secret to making a great General Tso sauce, that you will immediately differentiate from the store-bought versions, is in using fresh aromatics, that will elevate and sharpen the flavors!

To make the sauce you need staples like: 

  • rice vinegar
  • soy and hoisin sauce
  • chicken broth
  • white sugar
  • brown sugar
  • minced ginger
  • fresh garlic or garlic powder
  • red pepper flakes
  • cornstarch

How do you make General Tso sauce?

This is one of the easiest recipes that you will make, and don’t worry, there is no way to mess it up! 

To make it, simply combine all the ingredients in a pot, the order doesn’t matter. Then, heat for 3 to 5 minutes over medium-high heat while continuously stirring. Allow it to thicken for another 5 minutes, then, remove it from heat.

Use it immediately or cool it thoroughly and store it in a clean container or jar.

Recipe Variations:

  • Gluten-free: You can make this sauce gluten-free by using tamari or Amino acids instead of soy sauce.
  • Sugar alternatives: The sugar in this recipe can be replaced with honey or agave. Also, sugar replacers like erythritol or monk fruit sugar can be used.


  • Refrigerator: You can use this up within two to three weeks once refrigerated.
  • Freezer: If frozen, this can be kept for 3 months. This is especially helpful when you cook a larger batch, and refrigerate portions in Ziploc bags to have on hand.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Chinese General Tso sauce?

It is used in the famous Chinese takeout dish called the General Tso Chicken. It is named after a Chinese leader from the Qing dynasty, Zuo Zongtang, whose romanized name is Tso Tsungtang.

History has it that a certain Chef Peng invented the dish and served it in his restaurant in Taiwan. From this original recipe, the Chinese immigrants in the US developed the present-day recipe in the 1970s.

The version that we know now is tweaked to please the American palate – a little bit sweeter than the original version which is hotter and of Hunanese influence.

What does General Tso sauce taste like?

It is the perfect and balanced combination of sweet and savory flavors. It has notes of sour, tangy, and mildly spicy all at the same time. The sauce has a sticky texture and tends to thicken when refrigerated. It goes hand in hand with crispy chicken and veggies, as served in General Tso Chicken.

Is General Tso just Sweet and Sour?

While both are sweet and savory sauces, are very popular, and have some similarities, these two are NOT the same. Each one possesses very distinctive features.

General Tso Sauce, leans more towards the savory palette, with an umami flavor from the Hoisin sauce, that is not used in Sweet and Sour Sauce.

Sweet and sour sauce, is a bit more acidic, sweeter, and not as spicy. Usually, it will have some pineapple juice in the ingredient list, and the umami flavor comes from the Ketchup that is added. The most popular dishes that use it are Sweet and Sour Chicken and Sweet and Sour Pork.

Visually, they also look different, the General Tso being darker, while the other one is almost a bright red color.

More Chinese sauce recipes:

Craving for some Chinese takeout? I’ve got you covered with easy stir-fry dishes that you can cook for a nice family dinner! Check out my recipes for Szechuan Chicken, Hunan Beef, and Hunan Chicken!

Recipe Tips:

  • Hoisin sauce adds some authentic Chinese flavor to any dish. But if you do not have it, you can combine barbecue sauce with sriracha. Add some Chinese five-spice powder, too. I strongly encourage you to get one though! You can use it in a lot of Chinese recipes and can keep it in the refrigerator for one whole year.
  • Not everyone is a garlic fan, if you want a subtle garlic flavor, use the garlic powder. However, if you prefer a robust garlic flavor, opt the the fresh minced garlic.
  • Also, Chinkiang vinegar is a great ingredient to replace rice vinegar. It has a deeper flavor.

General Tso Sauce

General Tso Sauce is a rich, sweet, and spicy sauce that is perfect for your stir-fry dishes! Super easy to prepare and done in ten minutes.

General Tso Sauce
  • Prep Time5 MIN
  • Cook Time10 MIN
  • Servings 4 servings of about 1/4 cup


  • 3 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce low sodium
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth low sodium
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch


  • In a medium pot, add all the ingredients and whisk to combine. Place it over medium heat for 3-5 minutes until it starts to simmer.
    stirring general tso sauce in a saucepan
  • Continue to cook for 5 minutes, until the mixture begins to thicken. Once the sauce is thickened, remove from heat.
  • Use immediately, or let cool and transfer to a jar or airtight container and refrigerate.
    general tso sauce in a jar

Nutrition Facts

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Ronnie Johnnie Donnie Giovanni

Ronnie Johnnie Donnie Giovanni

I’m going to try this. But I’m going to use a tablespoon of rice vinegar instead of 3 teaspoons if you think that’s ok.



Beautiful sauce. I was trying to combine recipes so I added 1/2 cup more soy sauce and also added bbq sauce (in place of the other recipe’s ketchup). I didn’t anticipate how salty it would be unfortunately. However I still love it lol . I was wondering if you know how to dilute it? The sauce is already made so not sure if I just reheat it and add water and sugar and maybe another tbsp of cornstarch to thicken it up again? Thanks so much!

Catalina Castravet

Catalina Castravet

a bit of cornstarch should help. thanks



Just made this to go with my air fryer wings! The only modification I made was I only did 1/2 tbsp of hoisin because it's really strong. Also added sesame seeds on top! So good!

Paul Wilk

Paul Wilk

This sauce is well worth the 15 minutes it takes to make. I always keep a jar in the fridge, just add some thin sliced chicken or beef to your wok and 5 minutes put some of this delicious sauce then put it on some rice or noodles. Job done 😁

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