Slow Cooker General Tso’s Chicken makes the perfect easy weeknight meal. Best of all, this healthier popular takeout has the same amazing flavors as your local restaurant. Made in your crock-pot or Instant Pot pressure cooker! Plus step-by-step video!
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Whether you spell it General Tso’s or General Tsao’s Chicken – this happens to be my husband’s all-time favorite takeout dish. He loves anything with a sweet, savory and spicy combo.
This particular Slow Cooker General Tso’s Chicken recipe has alternatives to lighten it up with gluten free and Paleo-friendly substitute. And I’ve even included directions to make it in your Instant Pot pressure cooker.
Allergy Friendly & Paleo Options for General Tso’s Chicken
General Tso’s Chicken usually gets dunked in a breaded coating to get that crispy coating we all love. For this homemade version, there’s no deep frying but to achieve that restaurant quality texture, the chicken gets coated in some cornstarch before lightly browning in some oil.
- Substitute with arrowroot powder for a Paleo-friendly version
- Use coconut, ghee or avocado oil for a Paleo-friendly option
You can also completely skip the browning step and add chicken directly into the crock-pot if you prefer. Browning is an additional step but makes a HUGE difference in taste and texture.
The sauce usually calls for low-sodium soy sauce, hoisin sauce and ketchup:
- Gluten-free Tamari and Coconut Aminos (paleo) are great substitutes.
- Hoisin sauce comes in a gluten free version or you can make your own at home HERE.
- Ketchup gives this that deep red color but if you can either make your own gluten free paleo version HERE or just sub with concentrated tomato paste + more honey instead.
Combine the sauce ingredients together and toss with the chicken. Cook on low for a few hours you’ve got dinner on the table the whole family will LOVE!
Enjoy this alone or serve it with some quinoa, rice or even zoodles or cauliflower rice for a lower carb option.
Either way you choose, it’s so much easier and healthier than takeout! Plus you can pack them for lunch in these handy lunch containers. These are the ones I use —-> lunch container
Weekly meal prep-tips for your school or work lunch bowls.
- Delicious for leftovers or make a batch on Sunday meal prep and pack for your weekly school or work lunch bowls
- Add your favorite roasted or stir-fried vegetables to the your lunch bowls – I used broccoli, zucchini and red bell peppers
- For easier weekly meal prep – chop all the vegetables ahead of time and store in an airtight container the night before.
- Pack with your favorite side – Jasmine rice, brown rice, cauliflower rice or spiralized vegetables – zoodles – I use this lunch container
More lunch bowls:
More takeout favorites:
Slow Cooker General Tso’s Chicken (+ Instant Pot) MEAL PREP + VIDEO
Slow Cooker General Tso’s Chicken makes the perfect easy weeknight meal. Best of all, this popular takeout favorite is lightened up with the same amazing as your local restaurant.
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch (use arrowroot powder for paleo-friendly)
- 1/8 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)
- 1 - 1 1/4 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts (about 2-3 pieces), cut into bite-sized chunks
- Oil for browning (about 3-4 tablespoons + more as needed)
- **4 - 5 dried red chili peppers (to taste or leave out if desired) found in Asian supermarkets or the International section of a large chain grocery store - see NOTE)
- Toasted sesame seeds and chopped green onions, for garnish (optional)
- SAUCE: (If you like this dish saucier - feel free to double the amount and save the rest for another dish)
- 1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce (can substitute with gluten free tamari or coconut aminos for paleo)
- 1/3 cup water
- 3 tablespoons honey (or coconut sugar or stevia for low carb))
- 3 tablespoons Hoisin sauce (use gluten free hoisin sauce or a homemade paleo version instead - see NOTES)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoons vinegar
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste or ketchup (for paleo or gluten free - use the homemade ketchup recipe - see NOTES)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper chili flakes (to taste)
- 1-2 teaspoons red chili garlic paste (for gluten free or paleo use 1/2 - 1 teaspoon dried red pepper chili flakes instead - use more if you prefer it spicier)
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot powder
- 3 tablespoons water
FOR MEAL PREP
- Rice, cauliflower rice, zoodles or noodles
- Roasted or Stir-fried zucchini, broccoli and red bell peppers
- Lunch containers
- In a large bowl or large zip-top bag, combine chicken, corn starch, salt and black pepper until well-coated. Set aside.
- Make the sauce In a medium bowl, whisk together all the ingredients for the sauce, set aside.
- For the Slow Cooker Version
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.(You can skip this stove-top step if you prefer or are in a pinch. Just add chicken directly to slow cooker. Chicken will not have that crispy coating) Cook chicken (in batches) about 2-3 minutes on each side, until lightly browned. Transfer chicken into the slow cooker. Pour sauce over top.
- Cover and cook on LOW for 2.5 - 4 hours or HIGH for 1.5 - 3 hours. (SEE NOTES)
- About 30 minutes before serving, whisk together the corn starch and water in a small bowl and very gently stir into the slow cooker (This is to avoid breaking up the breading on the chicken). Toss in the dried red chili peppers or red pepper chili flakes. Cover and cook on HIGH for another 20-30 minutes or until the sauce has thickened up. (if your slow cooker is not hot enough to thicken the sauce - pour sauce into a pot and heat on stovetop on high to thicken sauce or you can just skip the cornstarch slurry instead)
- Sprinkle with sesame seeds, green onions and serve over rice, quinoa or zoodles, if desired.
- For the Instant Pot Version
- Turn Instant Pot to SAUTE (skip this step and just cook on MANUAL or PRESSURE COOK (high) for 5 minutes if you are in a pinch or prefer. The chicken won't have that crispy coating.) Allow pan to heat up for a few minutes then add oil. Cook chicken in batches (placing the browned chicken on a paper-towel lined plate) about 3-4 minutes on each side, until lightly browned. Once all the chicken is browned, add back to the Instant Pot and pour sauce over top.
- Close and seal Instant Pot and set the valve to sealing.
- Press MANUAL or PRESSURE COOK (high) and set for 3 minutes. Once the 3 minutes is up and the Instant Pot beeps, allow to naturally release for 15-20 minutes. Open lid and press the SAUTE button. Toss in the dried red chili peppers or red pepper chili flakes. Combine the corn starch with water and stir into the Instant Pot. Cook and allow the sauce to bubble and thicken up.
- Sprinkle with sesame seeds, green onions and serve over rice, quinoa or zoodles, if desired
- For meal prep: Prepare your favorite carb (rice, quinoa, cauliflower rice, roasted potatoes, rice noodles) and add to containers. Divide chicken among containers and add your favorite roasted or stir-fried vegetables.
*For homemade hoisin sauce --> https://goo.gl/4hWHV9
**For homemade ketchup sauce -> https://goo.gl/OA23dq
**If you can't find dried red chili peppers, leave out and add an additional 1 teaspoon red pepper chili flakes
***If your slow cooker runs hot, be sure to check on chicken earlier as it may cook faster than the suggested cooking times.
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