General Tso shrimp is a quick and easy copycat Chinese takeout recipe that tastes just like the real deal. Made in one-skillet in just 10 minutes with that sweet and slightly spicy sticky sauce you love, there’s no need to order out anymore!
Despite there being pretty much only pizza and Chinese as the only takeout options within a 20 minute radius of where we live, it’s actually been years since I’ve ordered actual Chinese takeout.
That’s because I’ve found making homemade versions of the classics to not only be stupidly easy but quicker, tastier and healthier!
This general tso shrimp is no exception.
From start to finish this is a 10 minute recipe. Maybe 15 if you take your time pulling ingredients out of the fridge and pantry.
The resulting general tso sauce is that perfect sticky sweet consistency and taste with a hint of spice. Basically, everything you love about this classic Chinese takeout dish.
And because you’re making it at home, you can swap out soy sauce for tamari to make it gluten-free, use coconut sugar instead of granulated or brown sugar and generally just make a few healthier swaps you know they don’t do at the local Chinese place.
It’s really a win all around.
If you keep frozen shrimp on hand at all times like I do for easy meals (like air fryer frozen shrimp), you can have general tso shrimp on the table faster than it would take to place the takeout order and have it delivered.
INGREDIENTS TO MAKE GENERAL TSO SHRIMP
- raw shrimp (peeled, deveined and tails removed)
- chicken or vegetable broth
- tamari sauce
- rice vinegar
- hoisin sauce (check out this article if you need a sub for hoisin sauce)
- coconut sugar
- minced garlic
- minced ginger
- red pepper flakes
- arrowroot starch/powder
- sesame oil
Raw shrimp – frozen thawed shrimp are perfectly fine to use in this recipe. Just make sure to thaw completely and pat the shrimp dry using a paper towel. If you need to devein the shrimp yourself, I can’t recommend this tool enough. It’s a HUGE timesaver!
Broth – water can be substituted for the broth in a pinch but broth produces a more flavorful sauce.
Tamari – I always use low-sodium tamari in my cooking instead of soy sauce to ensure the recipe is gluten-free but soy sauce can definitely be used in its place if gluten-free isn’t of concern. Coconut aminos can also be substituted.
Coconut sugar – swap out with brown sugar or honey if desired.
Arrowroot powder – I prefer this to cornstarch but both cornstarch and tapioca starch can be swapped out in its place.
WHAT IS GENERAL TSO SAUCE MADE OF?
While I take some liberties to make some healthier swaps, the classic general tso sauce is primarily made of these few simple ingredients: soy sauce, rice vinegar, hoisin sauce, sugar, red pepper flakes and cornstarch.
Most times, the shrimp are sautéed in the sesame oil with garlic and ginger. I’ve added those ingredients to the general tso sauce instead in this recipe to keep things even simpler.
The resulting flavor is the same and there’s one less cooking step with this approach. If making the sauce seems too daunting, try this shrimp lo mein recipe instead which uses just soy sauce and teriyaki for that rich savory takeout noodle sauce.
HOW TO MAKE HOMEMADE GENERAL TSO’S SHRIMP
Prep the shrimp and pat dry if necessary.
Add the broth, tamari, rice vinegar, hoisin, sugar, garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes and arrowroot powder to a small bowl. Whisk until combined.
Place the sesame oil in a skillet on the stovetop over medium heat. Once hot, add the shrimp and cook for 1 minute per side until opaque and starting to turn pink.
Give the sauce another stir then pour it into the skillet with the shrimp. Toss to coat the shrimp then cook for another 1-2 minutes until the sauce has thickened and the shrimp are fully cooked through.
Garnish with sesame seeds and chopped scallions while in the pan.
Serve with cooked white rice and steamed broccoli (or air fryer frozen broccoli if you prefer things crispy) for the full Chinese takeout effect!
THE BEST GENERAL TSO SHRIMP RECIPE
One shrimp into this meal and you’ll quickly wonder why you ever bothered paying $10+ for takeout.
Firstly, the shrimp are cooked to perfection and retain some bite. If you’ve ever ordered shrimp in your Chinese takeout before, you know soggy shrimp can be a real buzzkill.
Secondly, the sauce has all that lovely sticky sweet flavor but without the excess gumminess Chinese takeout is unfortunately known for (hello, copious amounts of cornstarch).
Don’t get me wrong, the texture of this sauce is spot on and coats the shrimp perfectly, the goop factor is just kept to a minimum.
And lastly, what’s great about any general tso meal is how pantry friendly the ingredients are.
There’s no obscure Asian sauces needed to recreate general tso shrimp at home. Tamari (or soy sauce) and hoisin are two ingredients you likely have on hand if you ever cook any Asian cuisine.
With this recipe in your reportoire along with some other classics like sweet and sour tofu, kung pao chickpeas and my personal favorite, Chinese boneless spareribs there’s literally no reason to ever order out again!
CAN YOU USE THIS SAUCE WITH OTHER TYPES OF MEAT?
Yes, you can! If you don’t want shrimp, simply swap it out for another meat or plant based option like tofu or tempeh.
In fact, using this crispy air fryer tofu recipe as the base would mimic the fried effect of takeout general tso dishes really well in a much healthier way.
You can even replace the tofu with shrimp in that recipe for that same fried texture. Simply toss the air fried shrimp with the general tso’s sauce in a hot skillet to coat then serve.
Cubed chicken breasts or thighs are probably the most popular swap but the protein is completely interchangeable.
STORING AND REHEATING
This recipe will make enough for about 2-3 servings so unless you’re eating alone, there may not be much leftover!
That said, you can definitely double or triple the recipe if needed.
Once cooked, let the shrimp cool completely and transfer to a glass container. The general tso shrimp will keep stored in the fridge for 3-4 days.
To reheat, I suggest warming back up in a skillet with a lid. You may want to add a splash of water or broth to loosen up the sauce a touch.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH GENERAL TSO SHRIMP
For the classic takeout meal, round out the shrimp with cooked white rice and some steamed broccoli. I like to make my rice in the Instant Pot. It’s so hands off, easy and has yet to fail me.
You can also do a Chinese noodle like udon instead of rice. These spicy udon noodles are one of my favorite easy takeout-fakeout kind of meals.
I also love the cool crispness of this bok choy salad paired with the sweetness of the general tso sauce.
MORE CHINESE DISHES TO TRY:
- 1 pound raw shrimp (peeled, deveined and tails removed)
- 1/3 cup chicken or vegetable broth (or substitute water)
- 2 tablespoons Tamari (or soy sauce if not GF)
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
- 1 tablespoon coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
- 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon minced ginger
- pinch red pepper flakes
- scant 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- chopped scalions
- sesame seeds
- Combine the broth, Tamari, rice vinegar, hoisin sauce, sugar, garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes in a small bowl and whisk together until combined.
- Place the sesame oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the shrimp and cook for 1 minute per side.
- Give the sauce a stir once more then pour it into the skillet with the shrimp. Stir to combine and cook for another 1-2 minutes until sauce thickens and shrimp are fully cooked.
- Garnish with scallions and sesame seeds. Serve with cooked white rice and broccoli.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 415Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 307mgSodium: 2771mgCarbohydrates: 18gFiber: 2gSugar: 9gProtein: 41g
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.