Drop the take-out menu. We have a better idea!
What’s the one menu item that makes your fingers itch to dial your local Chinese takeout restaurant? Which dish makes your mouth water and has you daydreaming of white cardboard containers, chopsticks, and that sweet and spicy goodness? For many of us, it’s General Tso’s Chicken!
Friendly to Your Taste Buds but a Terror to Your Waistline
This satisfying recipe was first made popular in the kitchens of America’s Chinese restaurants in the 1940’s and 50’s. General Tso’s Chicken is a deep-fried delight that, when prepared at a restaurant, is sure to be loaded with excessive fat and calories. Plus, depending on the restaurant, there’s a chance that it comes with a dose of MSG as well. While this Chinese take-out option might taste incredible, it certainly isn’t conducive to a flat belly or smaller waist!
Does this mean you have to give up your favorite meals? Of course not! You just need to find a way to make your favorite recipes healthier! Fortunately, that’s exactly what we’ve done with this slow cooker version of General Tso’s Chicken!
A Tasty, Lower-Calorie Take-Out Alternative
Slow cooking chicken eliminates the excess fat, cholesterol, and calories that come with deep-frying. We’ve also made some ingredient substitutions that will retain this dish’s classic flavors while boosting its nutritional value.
Antioxidant-rich red bell peppers are a perfect pairing with chicken, and we also included some health boosters in the seasoning mix. Cayenne pepper boasts capsaicin, which is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and ability to curb cravings. Furthermore, ginger contributes to a healthy digestive system, is anti-inflammatory, and may even have cancer-fighting properties.
We’ve also used low-sodium soy-sauce to reduce the sodium content of this dish, as well as ingredients that are lower in sugar, like unsweetened pineapple juice. Using natural sweeteners like coconut sugar or honey are also great ways to make a recipe cleaner and better for you, all without sacrificing flavor!
Making Slow Cooker General Tso’s Chicken
Put down the takeout menu, and make this easy, healthy, but just a delicious General Tso’s chicken at home!
The first thing you’ll do is add the arrowroot powder, salt, black pepper, and garlic powder to a shallow dish and mix thoroughly to combine. Dip the chicken pieces into the mixture until they are coated on all sides, shaking off any excess. Then, grab a pan and heat the oil over medium heat until it begins to simmer. Add the chicken pieces and brown them on one side for 30 to 60 seconds before flipping them over to brown the other side.
Next, you’ll add the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, rice vinegar, pineapple juice, honey, garlic, water, cayenne pepper, and ginger powder to the slow cooker. Stir well until the ingredients are evenly combined. Finish by stirring in the bell pepper strips, chopped white scallions, and browned chicken. Cook on low heat for four hours. During this time, feel free to go about your day!
You’ll want to check on the chicken about 25 minutes before serving. If the sauce has not thickened enough for your liking, whisk together a slurry of two tablespoons of cornstarch with two tablespoons of cold water and slowly stir it into the mix. Allow it to cook for the remaining 25 minutes, and then add the chopped scallion greens before serving!
The Perfect Side Dishes for General Tso’s Chicken
Every chicken main course needs a tasty side or two. You can serve this dish with a basic grain such as plain brown rice, quinoa, or soba noodles. Greens such as steamed broccoli, spinach, or kale are also great choices.
Of course, if you’d like to explore other flavorful options, we have plenty of recipes for that as well. Check out any of these tasty Asian-inspired sides:
Slow Cooker General Tso's Chicken
- 2 pounds boneless and skinless chicken breasts chopped into bite-sized cubes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil or coconut oil
- 1/2 cup arrowroot powder or tapioca starch (also called tapioca flour), plus an additional 2 tablespoons reserved
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 4 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 1/4 cup soy sauce low-sodium
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar apple cider vinegar or white vinegar can substitute
- 1/2 cup pineapple juice unsweetened
- 2 tablespoons honey or coconut palm sugar
- 1 tablespoon garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper add more if you prefer a spicier sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon ginger powder
- 1 red bell pepper stemmed, seeded, and sliced into strips
- 1/4 cup scallions chopped, only the white part (reserve the green for garnish)
- 1/4 cup scallion greens chopped, about one small bunch
- Combine all of the dry ingredients to coat the chicken in a shallow dish, mixing thoroughly. Dip the chicken pieces in until they are coated on all sides, and shake off any excess mixture.
- Over medium heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the chicken pieces, brown on one side for 30 seconds to one minute, and flip to brown on the other side.
- Add all of the sauce ingredients, besides the red pepper strips and white scallion pieces, to the slow cooker and mix well. Once mixed, stir in the bell pepper strips and chopped white scallions.
- Carefully add the chicken to the sauce. Cook on low heat setting for 4 hours.
- Check the chicken 25 minutes before serving. If the sauce has not thickened enough for serving, whisk together a slurry of two tablespoons starch with two tablespoons cold water and slowly stir it into the mix and allow it to cook for the remaining 25 minutes. Add chopped scallion greens to serve.
- Serving suggestions: Serve with a grain such as brown rice, quinoa or soba noodles, and a green such as steamed broccoli, spinach, or kale.
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We’d love to hear what you think of this slow cooker General Tso’s chicken! Leave us a comment, below!
Editor’s Note: This recipe was originally published on February 24, 2015.
I am going to try this – we love chinese in the crock pot!! Quick question – I like to double these kinds of recipes and freeze 1/2 so I have crock pot ready meals – will the chicken freeze ok coated with the flour?
Karen, Yes, you should be able to freeze these even though they are coated in flour.
What could I use instead of pineapple juice? I think i have a sensitivity.
Marianne, You could sub with chicken broth.
Can I sub cornstarch for the arrowroot? looks yummy.
That should work fine!
Is this as tasty as it looks, or is it just tso tso?
Plz add me to your recipe followers.
Thanks Linda! Please go to our home page and sign up for the newsletter. https://skinnyms.com
Could I make this in a pan instead of in a slow cooker? If so how?
Yes! You sure can, Lestina!
Coat the chicken in spices as directed in the recipe Instead of just browning, cook the chicken completely (no pink and temperature is 165). Remove the chicken from the pan and heat about 1 tablespoon more of olive oil (this will change the nutrients in the recipe slightly). Cooke the bell pepper in the oil until just soft and add the remaining sauce ingredients. Bring to a boil and add the chicken. Simmer for about 20 minutes and serve as directed!
Hope this helps!
Thank you so much!
I made this for dinner tonight and all I can say is, fan-FREAKIN-tastic!!! I only managed to get 3 full 11/4 cup servings from the recipe (with 1 extra cup left over) but will definitely make a double batch next time, it was that good! The only change I made was to add 1 full teaspoon of cayenne pepper as I like my General Tso’s a little spicier. Both my wife and I loved it and can hardly wait ’til tomorrow to rack up another 10 SmartPoints! Thanks so much for the recipe SkinnyMs. This recipe will definitely become a staple around our house from now on!
Thank you for the feedback! 🙂
Great recipe. First one I try and I think i’m hooked.
Masiel, YAH!!! 🙂
Just got thisand want to try it, But can you list the Sodium mg?
Ross, The recipe has been updated with the sodium data. If you’re trying to cut back on sodium, we recommend Coconut Aminos. It’s a delicious
alternative to soy sauce.
Can this recipe work for a clean eating diet? It looks like it, but, I am new to clean eating process./)
Hi Diana, the recipes on our site will work with a clean eating diet. It’s always best to check the ingredient labels on the items you purchase to ensure they fit this lifestyle.
What is the point of coating it in the powder beforehand and browning it? Is it possible to skip that step?
Coating helps give a crispy outside, this can be skipped if prefered.