General Tso vs. Governor’s Chicken: Differences & Which Is Better?

General Tso vs. Governors Chicken
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If you’ve ever wondered about the differences between General Tso and Governor’s chicken, you’re not alone. It is no secret that these two dishes have gained tremendous popularity in Chinese restaurants worldwide. Both are also very popular in my household. But what is the difference between General Tso and Governor’s chicken?

General Tso’s chicken is usually orange-red in color, while Governor’s chicken usually appears to be a lighter shade of brown. Taste-wise, General Tso has a sweet and spicy flavor, while Governor’s chicken has savory and smoky notes.

No matter which one you choose to go with, you will surely have an enjoyable experience! In the end, the dichotomy between General Tso chicken and Governor’s chicken boils down to the taste of the one who is eating them!


Both are delicious dishes best enjoyed with family and friends. While General Tso’s chicken is a bit spicier and includes more unique ingredients and flavors, you will best enjoy Governor’s chicken if you have a milder palate. 

Both dishes have a wide range of variations, so there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Ultimately, the winner of the debate will depend on your individual taste. So what are you waiting for? Grab a plate and give them both a try!


Hunan Chicken vs. General Tso: Differences & Which Is Better?


Are you trying to decide between General Tso’s and Governor’s chicken? Comparing these two dishes is tricky because they both have a similar flavor profile yet different textures and ingredients. To make a fair comparison, let’s start by looking at their origin stories.

Both are Chinese-American fusion dishes. General Tso was invented in the 1950s by Taiwanese chef Peng Chang-kuei, who named it after his former employer Tso Tsung-tang. The dish moved to mainland America where it was popularized with slight variations from restaurant to restaurant. 

On the other hand, Governor’s chicken is a Taiwanese dish that originated during the late 1800s to 1900s. John Tyler, the Governor of Virginia in the mid-1800s, even ordered that every citizen eat at least one chicken dinner weekly.


At first glance, you might need help to tell the difference between General Tso and Governor’s chicken. 

But a closer look reveals some subtle differences between the two. The main difference is in color: General Tso’s chicken is more orange-red, while Governor’s chicken tends to be an earthier brown. 

This difference comes from the sauce – General Tso chicken is made with a sweeter sauce containing ingredients like tomato paste and red chili pepper flakes, giving it its characteristically orange hue. Governor’s chicken uses soy sauce as its main ingredient, which gives it a darker appearance.


One of the biggest differences between General Tso chicken and Governor’s chicken is the ingredients. 

General Tso chicken typically contains some combination of garlic, cornstarch, red chili pepper flakes, vinegar, sugar, green onions, and a ginger-based sauce. In contrast, Governor’s chicken is made with a combination of different types of pepper (black or white pepper), garlic, mushrooms, and a ginger-based sauce.

Another key difference between the two dishes can be found in the chicken itself – General Tso chicken typically consists of battered and deep-fried pieces of dark chicken meat, while Governor’s chicken is boneless white meat and sauteed but not battered or deep-fried. This gives it a lighter flavor and texture than General Tso chicken.

While General Tso chicken uses red chili pepper flakes to give it a spicy kick, Governor’s chicken uses different types of peppers to provide flavor without all that heat. 


Appearance of General Tso and Governors Chicken 1

When it comes to the preparation of General Tso and Governor’s chicken, there are some major differences.

General Tso chicken is typically deep-fried in a wok with a seasoned batter, while Governor’s chicken is stir-fried in a skillet. This difference plays a big role in the texture of the dish, as General Tso chicken has a crispy outside and tender inside thanks to the deep-frying process. Governor’s chicken, on the other hand, is drier as oil is not used during the cooking process.

The cooking techniques also make a difference regarding the sauces used. General Tso chicken uses a spicy sauce made primarily of red chili peppers and garlic, while Governor’s chicken uses a sweeter sauce made with honey, soy sauce, and chili paste. 

This difference comes into play when it comes to the overall flavor profile of each dish – something you’ll undoubtedly want to consider when deciding which dish you’ll prepare for dinner!


General Tso chicken is sweet and tangy, with a slightly spicy kick. I adore its mild flavor overall, along with those who don’t like too much spice. 

On the other hand, I like Governor’s chicken for its more complex flavor profile with a bolder taste and subtle smokiness from the use of Szechuan peppers. The sauce is slightly spicy and very garlicky, which some people may find overpowering.

Regardless of your preference in taste, both dishes provide unique flavors that come from their unique recipes. 


While you would often pair General Tso chicken with steamed white rice or egg-fried rice, Governor’s chicken is usually served on its own as an appetizer or side dish, just topped with some cashew nuts or spring onions. 

Besides, Governor’s chicken can also be paired with rice, while General Tso can be served with some fried veggies.

If you’re looking for something to set the tone of a meal, Governor’s chicken is the way to go. On the other hand, General Tso’s chicken offers more variety – it can easily be served as part of a multi-course meal or even as a snack between meals. 

Lastly, while Governor’s chicken can be served either hot or cold, General Tso’s is always served hot.


Appearance of General Tso and Governors Chicken

When it comes to comparing variations of General Tso and Governor’s chicken, you may be surprised to know that there are a lot of differences to consider.

General Tso is wildly popular, so it’s no surprise that there are wild variations available. Sweet and spicy variations are popular, but you can also find the dish prepared with other flavors like garlic or even mango. There are even vegan versions of the dish available, using plant-based proteins instead of chicken.

On the other hand, Governor’s chicken is a bit more straightforward – it generally only comes served in one or two styles: lightly breaded and fried and served over steamed rice. Now, depending on where you get your Governor’s chicken from, you may stumble upon some unique variation – but for the most part, this one is pretty cut & dry.

All in all, if you’re looking for flavor diversity, General Tso should be your go-to dish. On the other hand, if you’re looking for something more straightforward and more traditional, then opt for the classic Governor’s chicken.

Which Is Better, General Tso or Governor’s Chicken?

When it comes down to it, which is the better dish: General Tso or Governor’s chicken? It all comes down to personal preference.

If you love your chicken sweet and savory, then General Tso might be your go-to. Its signature combination of garlic, ginger, vinegar, and soy sauce gives it a tangy and slightly sweet taste that can’t be beaten – plus crunchy vegetables like carrots and peppers take this dish to another level.

But if you’re a fan of smoky, spicy flavors – Governor’s chicken could be your winner. The combination of black bean sauce with chili peppers and other spices gives it an intense flavor that packs a punch! Plus, the inclusion of pepper makes this dish a bit more daring than General Tso. 

So which is better? Well, that might just depend on your personal preferences! I encourage you to try both and taste the difference for yourself – if you don’t like one of them, at least you can use it for future reference.

DifferencesGeneral TsoGovernor’s Chicken
OriginTaiwanese dish that originated during the late 1800s to 1900sInvented by Taiwanese chef Peng Chang-Kuei in the 1950s
Key Ingredients and PreparationDifferent types of pepper, garlic, mushrooms, ginger-based sauce
Chili peppers, garlic, cornstarch, vinegar, sugar

AppearanceEarthier brownOrange-red
ServingSteamed white rice topped with cashew nuts and spring onions
Served either hot or cold
Steamed white rice, egg-fried rice, fried vegetables
Always served hot
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