This Healthy General Tso’s Chicken Recipe is still fried but “fried” in the air fryer and can be made in less than 30 minutes. Top it with the amazing general tso’s sauce for an easy and quick weeknight dinner.
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I have a few rules when it comes to General Tso’s chicken. It must have crunch, it must have a little spice, and it must be saucy! At least that was my experience the first time I tried this dish.
It was almost 10 years ago when I first had it at a restaurant in Durham, NC during law school. I first tried this dish during a study break with friends and I fell in love.
It was also during this study break that I bit into one of the hot peppers that comes in the dish and I couldn’t breathe for a good minute. The peppers are not to be eaten, the peppers are not to be eaten. I wish I knew that before I took a bite.
Despite the incident with the pepper, the dish was delicious. The chicken had the perfect crunch and the sauce was a perfect combination of sweet and salty. The depth of flavor was amazing. It’s a dish that I came to love and recreate in my kitchen quite often.
Initially, my general process when creating general Tso’s chicken was to batter and fry the chicken pieces until crunchy and then coat them in my sauce.
Although delicious, it became a bit cumbersome for weeknight dinners. My deep fryer broke which was a bummer and the time it took to heat oil on the stovetop just didn’t fit into my tight schedule for weeknights.
So one night when my daughter requested this for dinner, a light bulb clicked in my head and I found that my Air Fryer would be the perfect fix. It became a win win because the air fryer cut the time it took to prepare the general tso chicken recipe but it also became my new healthy general tso chicken recipe since I needed no oil to fry it.
I initially purchased my air fryer to deal with a pregnancy craving I had for french fries. Well to be fair, I always crave french fries so I shouldn’t blame that on pregnancy. Either way, I use my air fryer for much more than french fries and I am excited to share with you all the recipes I create in this amazing appliance.
What is an Air Fryer?
So what’s an air fryer you may ask? In general, it’s an appliance that recreates fried foods without actually frying the food in tons of oil. It also roasts and bakes food but its main claim to fame is the fact that it can give the same texture as fried foods without using a ton of oil.
It’s a healthier option for home cooks who desire the delicious crunch that comes with fried foods but not the delicious calories and fat. It also tends to have a quicker cook time than many foods that are typically baked in the oven.
With help of my air fryer, I create this dish in less than 30 minutes. That’s right, I use the air fryer to prep my chicken and I create my sauce while that’s going.
There are a few tips and tricks to make this recipe a success. For one, you will want to coat your chicken pieces in potato starch. It’s a tip I picked up from This Old Gal. It provides the perfect crunch for the chicken pieces without changing the taste profile.
You will also want to make sure that your air fryer basket is properly oiled. I just put a little olive oil on a paper towel and rub it all over the bottom of my basket. That way the chicken pieces won’t stick when frying. This is the only oil you will need for frying the chicken pieces in this recipe. How awesome is that?!?
The last tip is to shake the air fryer basket about every 5 minutes when cooking. This will ensure that your chicken pieces are evenly cooked and crisp.
The beauty of this dish is that while your chicken pieces are cooking in the air fryer, you can work on creating your sauce on the stovetop. Dump the chicken pieces into the sauce when they are done cooking for the perfect weeknight dinner.
I like to serve our healthy general tso chicken recipe with a side of white rice I make in my Instant Pot. For veggies, I serve with steamed or air fried broccoli.
I hope you enjoy this healthy General Tso Chicken recipe in the air fryer as much as we do.
Looking for other Healthy Air Fryer Recipes? Try these out…
- Perfect Air Fryer Steak with Garlic Herb Butter
- Healthier Cheesesteak Factory Avocado Rolls
- Crispy Air Fryer Fish
- Air Fryer Meatloaf
- Thin Air Fried Pork Chops (Japanese Tonkatsu Style)
Healthier General Tso’s Chicken Recipe
- 1.5-2 lbs chicken thighs, boneless and skinless cut into bite sized pieces
- 1/3 cup potato starch
- 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
- 6 dried red chillies
- 3 green onions chopped
- 2 teaspoon garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon ginger minced
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 2 Tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 pinch of salt
- 2 teaspoon corn starch
- 1/4 cup water
- Set Air Fryer to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat chicken thighs with potato starch making sure all pieces are fully covered. Use tongs to place chicken pieces in Air Fryer basket. Cook chicken pieces for 20-25 minutes until crispy, shaking basket every 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare sauce by heating vegetable oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add green onions, dried chilies, garlic, and ginger and stir fry for about 1 minute, until chillies brighten in color and onions have softened.
- Add brown sugar, chicken broth, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and pinch of salt to the skillet and stir. Bring to a boil and cook for about 3 minutes.
- Once chicken in air fryer is finished, add to sauce and stir in.
- Create a thickener by whisking 2 teaspoons of corn starch in 1/4 cup cold water. Stir into boiling sauce and allow to cook for about 1 minute, until sauce has thickened.
- Serve with rice and vegetable and Enjoy 🙂
Note for Healthy General Tso’s Chicken RecipeBreak a few of the chills peppers in half before adding to skillet for a spicier dish.
Suggested Tools for Healthy General Tso’s Chicken RecipeI have this Air Fryer You will want to coat chicken with Silicone Kitchen Tongs so coating stays on chicken when mixing and transferring to air fryer. A skillet for making the sauce on the stove top.
Some Ingredients You Will NeedDried Red Chillies Potato Starch
Step by Step Photos of Healthy General Tso Chicken Recipe
Want more Chinese recipes? Try my Zucchini Mushroom Chicken Recipe.
Friday 28th of October 2022
I now have a new smart oven. One of the ovens can be used as an air fryer. Can I follow the recipe as is for an oven air fryer? For example: the temperature, a pan sheet instead of a basket, etc. thank you!
Tuesday 1st of November 2022
Hi Perrin, yes, that should work fine. From what I know the smart ovens work just like stovetop air fryer. The only adjustment needed may be the length of the air frying time.
Friday 5th of March 2021
Can potato flakes be used instead of potato starch?
Tuesday 8th of February 2022
@Janie Harris, Also:
Are potato starch and potato flakes the same thing? Potato flakes, potato starch, and mashed potato flakes are all synonyms for the same thing. Often, you will see them used as a thickening agent in soups, gravies, or sauces.
Tuesday 8th of February 2022
@Janie Harris, I found this on a Google Search:
Can I make potato flour from potato flakes? The best substitute for potato flour is going to be potato flakes, which is essentially potato flour that hasn't been ground as fine. You can either dissolve it into batter for baking, or use a blender or food process to grind it into a fine powder. Potato flakes can be substituted for potato flour using a 1:1 ratio.Jun 14, 2021
Friday 5th of March 2021
Hi Janie, I've never used potato flakes so I'm not sure how it would turn out. A more similar sub would be corn starch.
Tuesday 9th of February 2021
Loved this recipe came out perfect. I sautéed stir fried some sliced carrots,onion,celery, broccoli and red bell pepper and layered veggies and chicken added some grated orange peel to veggies and all I can say is WOW. The potato starch is a must!
Wednesday 10th of February 2021
Thanks Twigss! That sounds delicious!
Thursday 13th of August 2020
My kids loved it! Definitely a hit with the family.I prefer a bite to mine and not so sweet. Next time i'll use less browm sugar. This is a keeper. Ty much!!
Friday 14th of August 2020
You're so welcome Todd. Glad you liked it. My kids love this recipe too.
Lois B. Hansen
Wednesday 1st of July 2020
I'd like to make this with chicken breast. 20-25 minutes to cook bite size pieces sounds like too long.
Thursday 2nd of July 2020
Hi Lois, you're correct, 20-25 minutes would be too long for breast. If using breast, reduce the time to about 10-12 minutes but note that the chicken pieces may not be as crispy. The sauce sets it off though so it'll still be delicious.