General Tso’s Chicken {Lightened Up!}

I was talking to a fellow pregnant woman recently who shared with me her frustrating habit of overconsumption, which I could completely relate to.  Nutrition is so difficult for me when I’m pregnant, and I’m constantly attempting (and usually failing) to fight my cravings.  I instantly felt a kindred spirit with this woman, a sisterhood of sorts.  That was until she told me her big downfall: Oranges.  She couldn’t stop eating oranges.  Ya, we can’t be friends anymore.

I’m more of a fried Chinese food and ice cream kind of girl.   I don’t know what it is about these babies of mine (if you missed the news on Facebook, it’s officially BOY #4 for us!) but they like fried food.  And what’s better than crispy fried chunks of chicken drenched in sticky sweet sauce?  General Tso’s has been a long-time favorite take-out item of mine, so I was excited to try this lightened up version, and it didn’t disappoint.  Super crispy chicken, awesome, flavorful sauce (that’s SO easy to make), and happy kids all around.  This was an instant hit at my house, and I bet it will be at yours, too!

There are a lot of things you can use to bread chicken with a crispy coating, and in this recipe, we’re using good ol’ Corn Flakes.  It really does make a super crisp outer layer, and it holds up in a sauce better than more delicate options like Panko or bread crumbs.

Corn Flakes

You’ll need to prep three dredging bowls: egg whites, flour, and crushed corn flakes.

Dredging Bowls

Dip your chunks of chicken in the flour, then the egg whites, and then finally the corn flakes.  Place them on a metal rack on top of a baking sheet.  The rack makes it so air can circulate around the bottom and get those little pieces crispy all over.

Baked Chicken Nuggets

While the chicken is in the oven baking, you make the super quick sauce.  Mince up some garlic, fresh ginger, and toss some red pepper flakes in there.  If you like spicy food, add extra pepper flakes, or a few squirts of Sriracha.  Or sauté the garlic and ginger in our Chili Olive Oil.

Ginger and Garlic

For sweetness and body, you’ll need some apricot jam.  (I love Smuckers Simply Fruit.)

Smuckers Simply Fruit

You’ll also need hoisin sauce, which you should be able to easily find in the Asian foods aisle of the grocery store.  It lasts a long time in the fridge, so don’t hesitate to buy it just for this recipe.   It’s great in lots of Asian dishes.

Hoisin Sauce

You’ll just sauté the garlic, ginger, and chili flakes for a minute, then add in a mixture of the jam, hoisin sauce, water, soy sauce, and a splash of balsamic vinegar.  It’s thickened with a little corn starch.

The chicken bites cook quickly, and come out super crunchy.

Baked Crispy Chicken

Toss it with the sauce, serve over brown or white rice, and dinner is done!

General Tso's Chicken from Our Best Bites

This totally quenched my take-out cravings; it’s the perfect weeknight dinner.  Pin this baby right now- you’ll thank me later!

Lightened Up General Tso's Chicken from Our Best Bites

General Tso’s Chicken {Lightened Up!}



  • vegetable oil spray
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 5 cups 5 ounces Kellog’s Corn Flakes, finely crushed
  • 1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts but into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 2/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup apricot jam
  • 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil or Chili Olive Oil
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes


  • Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 475 degrees.  Line rimmed baking sheet with foil, top with wire rack, and spray rack with oil spray.  Spread flour into shallow dish.  Whisk egg whites until foamy in second shallow dish.  Spread corn flakes crumbs into third shallow dish.  Pat chicken dry with paper towels.  Working in batches, dredge chicken in flour, dip in egg whites, then coat with corn flakes, pressing gently to adhere; lay on prepared wire rack.
  • Spray chicken with oil spray.  Bake until chicken registers 160 degrees and coating is brown and crisp, 12-15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, whisk water, soy sauce, apricot jam, hoisin, cornstarch, and vinegar together in bowl.  Heat oil in 12 inch skillet over medium heat until shimmering.  Add garlic, finer, and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Whisk in soy sauce mixture, bring to simmer, and cook until thickened, about 2 minutes.  remove from heat, cover, and keep warm.
  • When chicken is cooked, return sauce to simmer over medium-low heat.  Add cooked chicken and toss to coat.  Serve immediately, as the crispy coating won’t last long-term in that yummy sauce.


Author: Sara Wells
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Meet The Author

Sara Wells

Sara Wells co-founded Our Best Bites in 2008. She is the author of three Bestselling Cook Books, Best Bites: 150 Family Favorite RecipesSavoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites, and 400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites. Sara’s work has been featured in many local and national news outlets and publications such as Parenting MagazineBetter Homes & GardensFine CookingThe Rachel Ray Show and the New York Times.

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Questions & Reviews

  1. This took me forever to prepare, and I needed 4 hands to do it all! Not sure how I would get it done in 30 minutes by myself. Just FYI for those home cooks out there.

  2. I made this for dinner tonight, with halibut instead of chicken. I served it over fried rice. My family loved it! I will definitely make this again.

  3. This looks like another amazing recipe to try. I never thought about using Corn Flakes instead of bread crumbs.

  4. Loved this recipe. It’s a little time consuming. But it’s easy. I used my left hand for the flour and egg white part and then my right hand for the cornflakes. That prevented from getting my hands really dirty and having to stop and wipe them off. I’d recommend throwing in some vegetables with the chicken. We tried shoe string zucchini and carrots and then a little broccoli. Yummy!

    Thanks for the great recipes. My boyfriend commented tonight that I’m a good cook. I owe it to you ladies for providing great recipes and tutorials. 🙂

  5. Hi! I was wondering if I could freeze the chicken after breading, or maybe even after baking, and freeze the sauce separately? Do you think it could work as a freezer meal?

  6. All I wanted pregnant was college boy food – Kraft Mac & cheese, top ramen, and donuts. Ha! I made this tonight and it was delicious. But I have a request… It took me forever because I suck at breading chicken. Definitely not a 30 minute meal for me. 🙁 Do you have any tricks or tips? I tried to do it in batches but it just gets all over my fingers and makes a mess. Anyone else have this problem? I would love a how-to because I feel like a moron every time I do it. (Same issue with your coconut chicken fingers. SOOOOO good. Take me forever.)

  7. This looks so yummy! I can’t wait to try it!
    Congrats on boy#4! So exciting! I have 5 and boys and no girls, so I may be a little biased, but I think boys are definitely the way to go!

  8. Congratulations on your next baby boy! I raised all boys, too, and we just got to meet our third grandson who joins his sister, who is the only granddaughter we’ll ever have. I recently tried making sweet and sour chicken using cornflakes and baking the chicken instead of my usual method. We found it more tough than crisp, and vowed to never do that again. The flavor wasn’t “authentic” tasting, either.

    1. Totally different flavor profile (the balsamic here is adding sweetness and richness) but in a pinch you could leave it out.

  9. This looks so good! Congrats on boy #4. They are so much fun. I know. We are expecting boy #5 in August! Best wishes for a good pregnancy. This boy wanted lots of healthy food in the beginning, but not any more 🙂

  10. I’m having a problem saving some of your recipes. When I click on the save recipe button it tells me it has saved southwestern brown rice salad. It’s done that about 6 times now on various recipes. Any idea what’s happening?

    1. I’m sorry- that’s an issue with a third party app (ziplist) so we have no control over it. I’ll try and submit a request to fix it!

  11. Wow this looks easy enough for me to make! I had to comment I am also pregnant right now with BOY #4 for me too! How awesome is that! I can totally understand the junk food cravings right now…hello ice cream! 😉 Thanks for this recipe!

  12. Congrats on Baby boy #4!! I’m a 4 boy only mom too! Like Nichole, I don’t know how many people asked if we were going to “try again” while I was still pregnant (and even still now as I’m not.) Thanks for being so nosy stranger! Do you ask every pregnant person this in the checkout line? Or “one more boy and you’ll have a basketball team!” Wow. Original. First time I’ve heard it. BTW, if it was a girl, couldn’t she play basketball too? Or how about, “Good for you, girls are nothing but drama.” Hmmm…I’m a girl…and I’m pretty nice! So, now, as people still are compelled to comment (baby is three years old), I respond with “I love it! It’s a party at our house!” Usually that quiets the people who must say something. I do get compliments on them too (when they are acting well behaved), so I guess not everyone is negative. Honestly, I think it is usually an ice breaker for people to start a conversation with, like the weather. Enjoy the ride!

  13. We can be friends:). I’m pregnant with #3 and I always crave the junk. Now I want a cheeseburger and fries after reading a comment about in and out burger. This dinner looks fantastic! I think my kids would actually love it too. I hope your pregnancy continues going well and congrats on a boy! How fun will 4 boys be, wild but fun!!!

  14. Sarah, Thanks for another amazing dinner! You (and Kate) taught me how to cook and love it. You’re the best!

  15. I made this immediately after seeing your post. It’s so perfect it’s going into the regular recipe rotation!

  16. For me it was BLACK PLUMS the first time. I was eating 6-8 a day for weeks! Thank goodness they were in season. Pregnancy #2 was Drumsticks, the ice cream cone confection. YUM! Guess which pregnancy gained me 30# and which gave me 70# LOL?

    My dh loves General Tso’s chicken. Thanks so much for the recipe. I hate frying up all those little pieces. Can’t wait to try it.

  17. I have 4 boys and just had my first girl. From the second I found out #4 was a boy people would ask when we were trying again. While I did want a daughter, I wasn’t just having babies to get a girl. And this time even after 3 clear ultrasounds we were still sure we were having boy #5 up until I pushed out a girl. Lol. But we also moved 18 months ago from southeast Idaho to Reno and it’s not normal for people to have big families here. We’ve had people roll their eyes in the stores, and even a lady tell us we had way too many kids. I think there are just those people out there that enjoy irritating others!

  18. I love a recipe where you can spritz with oil and bake instead of frying. This looks like a great one.

  19. hahaha I totally agree with you, I have a secret resentment against people who crave healthy food when they’re pregnant. I tend to throw up salad and bell peppers and whole-wheat cereal, and In-N-Out burgers just seem to be the only acceptable replacement. This recipe looks amazing, though! Going in my meal plan for the week right now!

  20. Congrats! A boy! Four boys! I’m a mom of four boys(no girls) too! They are so much fun! I grew up with only sisters so I do get shocked quite often by their “boy-ness”, but I sure do love them! I always feel like I meet a kindred spirit when I find a mom with all boys. Congratulations again, Brothers are the best! Hope the rest of your pregnancy goes well and fast!

  21. So making this tonight! Yum! And thank you for all your hard work! Seriously- 3 kids, growing another, running a business, tending a garden ( I know how much work that alone is)!!! You’re a rock star!

  22. I think you should still be her friend…maybe you can corrupt her.:0P haha. I have three boys and would not be surprised by a 4th for me. I think I’m a boy mom. I hope you don’t get a bazillion trillion of the annoying pity comments about the opposite gender which shall not be named. Whenever people do that to me I always think “what is it about these beautiful little people that would make you think I’d ever want anything else. *tucks soapbox back under cabinet*

    1. Oh those comments started the moment I announced a pregnancy. Everyone who knows me knows how crazy I go on that topic, don’t even get me started, lol!

  23. Overindulgence isn’t just a problem when I’m pregnant…it’s a problem ALL MY DAYZZZ. Love this. And congratulations on another baby boy!

  24. I’m looking forward to trying this recipe. Also, congrats on boy #4! We have 4 boys too. I never thought I would be a mom to all boys but it is great! Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy! 🙂

  25. You girls are rocking the dinner post and I’m loving them!! This is sure to be a hit at my house. Thanks so much for sharing your talents 🙂