What Does General Tso Taste Like? It’s Everything at Once!

What Does General Tso Taste Like
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One trip to your local Chinese takeout (or even your local Panda Express) is all you need to see the name “General Tso’s Chicken.” After all, it’s such a quintessential Chinese-American dish that it’s almost a crime for a restaurant not to serve it. But what does it taste like?

General Tso’s sauce is primarily sweet and spicy, with a bit of tanginess kicking in. Its flavor mainly comes from soy sauce, hoisin sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger, and dried red pepper flakes.

Does that sound mouthwatering to you? If so, keep reading to learn more about it and see what other sauces are similar.

What Flavors Can You Taste in General Tso Sauce?

General Tso sauce is quite similar to sauces for dishes like Sesame Chicken – sweet and tangy. But the main difference is the spice level. Dried red pepper flakes or chili sauce kicks the heat level a few notches up.

Of course, you can always leave out the pepper flakes, but that won’t be General Tso’s sauce anymore. That would just be another sweet and tangy sauce you can add to your cooking.

Thanks to the lovely combination of soy and hoisin sauce, it’s also quite savory. Both sauces provide a world of flavor to any dish, so putting them together is always a winner. What I love the most about this meal is the peanut flavor from the hoisin sauce. It’s very subtle, but you can taste it just enough. And if you want to make it taste even better, use a bit of stock to add depth to the flavor.


General Tso’s Chicken with Fried Rice [Recipe]

Is General Tso Sauce Sweet or Spicy?

General Tso sauce is both sweet and spicy. If it’s just sweet, it’s closer to what you would use for other chicken-based dishes like Orange Chicken or Sesame Chicken. And if it’s just spicy, well, that’s just unpleasant.

For the sauce to be considered General Tso, it has to have some kick to it. You don’t need to make it so spicy that it’ll burn your taste buds off, and there’s no need to use red pepper flakes or chili oil if you can’t tolerate it. A sprinkle of cayenne pepper can also work.

As long as you get some tingle with every bite you take, that’ll count.

Does It Taste Good?

Considering how popular General Tso’s chicken is, it’s safe to assume that General Tso sauce tastes good. It earned the approval of millions of diners, and that’s not an easy feat when it comes to food.

If we look at the sauce’s ingredients, it’s easy to see why people love it. Soy sauce and hoisin sauce create a flavor bomb that immediately improves anything it coats. Adding garlic and ginger gives it a zing that’ll make you reach for more.

Sugar and vinegar round out the sauce ingredients; sugar for its signature sweetness (and to counter any overwhelming savory flavors) and vinegar to ensure everything is balanced. Those ingredients create a deliciously rich symphony once the corn starch thickens everything.

Certain restaurants may have their secret recipes for General Tso sauce, which usually involves the addition of a particular ingredient or seasoning to enhance the flavor. However, the base ingredients remain the same.

What Is Similar to General Tso Sauce?

If the idea of using red peppers doesn’t appeal to you but you still crave that certain savory, saucy goodness, I have good news for you. Quite a few sauces out there can help that General Tso’s sauce itch without the spiciness. Here are some of them:

Sweet and Sour Sauce may not share the same color, but it has that certain sweetness that can match (or even exceed) General Tso’s. It’s primarily made from ketchup, sugar, vinegar, and some sort of tart fruit juice – usually pineapple.

Chinese-style Sesame Sauce is perhaps the closest to General Tso’s in terms of ingredients, sesame sauce is another excellent sauce to coat chicken with. Combine soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, and ginger to create the sauce, then garnish the final product liberally with sesame seeds.

Orange Sauce is another sweet alternative that’s very similar to Sweet and Sour Sauce. The main difference is in the name: Orange Sauce uses orange juice and zest for its signature flavor. Add soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, and garlic to round out the ingredients. As always, use cornstarch to thicken the sauce.

What Goes Well with General Tso Sauce?

The beauty of General Tso sauce is its versatility, and you’re only limited by your willingness to try things out. Chicken is the most common accompaniment for General Tso sauce, but you can also use the following:

Tofu is a great option if you’re vegetarian or just want to switch things up. Pan-fry it with a coat of cornstarch before pouring the sauce over them.

If you want more colors in your dish, veggies such as broccoli, carrots, zucchini, and eggplants are great with General Tso sauce. Not only are they nutritious, but they also absorb the sauce well.

For a seafood twist on the classic dish, why not use shrimp instead of chicken? Peel and devein each one before pan-frying them, then let the sauce do the rest of the work.

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