Thursday, October 1, 2015

Slow Cooker Healthier General Tso's Chicken

General Tso's Chicken is irresistible and a favorite by almost everyone who has been in a Chinese buffet. The chicken covered by its batter is deep fried before it is doused with the delectable sauce.  The deep frying process results in the high calorie content per serving of this dish which is around 1100 to 1300 calories.

Daphne Oz of the popular show The Chew has a recipe which she calls the Healthier General Tso's Chicken. My version is inspired by her approach in the preparation of the batter covered chicken namely by shallow pan frying as opposed to deep frying.  I tweaked her sauce recipe and added orange marmalade to give the characteristic sweetness associated with the original recipe plus an added tangy flavor.  I also decided to cook the chicken with the sauce in the slow cooker first then take out the cooked chicken and cube it, then coat it with the batter and shallow fry it.

One can always skip the pan frying of the cooked chicken and eat it straight from the slow cooker as is with the delicious sauce.  I thought that would help in case I run out of steam and decide I did not have the energy to shallow fry or the time to do so.  But of course the shallow fried version with the sauce is the bomb and would you believe the dish has only half the calories of the original Chinese buffet version.

Slow Cooker Healthier General Tso's Chicken

6 servings

For the chicken and sauce cooked in the slow cooker
  • 2.5 lbs chicken breasts, whole
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp chili garlic sauce
  • 2 tbsp chicken broth or water
  • 2 tbsp orange juice
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp sugar or splenda
  • 3 tbsp orange marmalade (I used sugar free)
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch 
For the batter and pan frying
  • 6 tbsp cornstarch
  • 3 egg whites
  • 2 tbsp oil (might need more)
Place all the ingredients except the ones for the batter and pan frying step in the slow cooker and cook for 4 hours at high setting or 8 hours at low.  I cooked mine in an Aroma brand rice cooker/slow cooker for 2 hours at slow cooker setting.  At the end of cooking, take out the chicken and cut it into large cubes.  

Mix the 6 tbsp cornstarch and 3 egg whites in a bowl.  Place the chicken cubes in this batter.  Pan fry in two batches or more the batter coated chicken. Pan fry the battered chicken in 1 tbsp oil that has been heated at medium heat in a pan.  Pan fry for 3-5 minutes per side.  Remove the first batch and add 1 tbsp of oil in the heated pan and pan fry the next batch of coated chicken.  

Place all the pan fried chicken into the pan and pour the sauce from the slow cooker to the chicken and if you prefer evaporate some of the liquid to thicken the sauce.  Serve over rice.


1) Daphne Oz did everything on the stove.  She cut the raw uncooked chicken into cubes and coated it with the same batter ingredients, then pan fried it and set it aside.  Then she cooked the sauce and then mix the cooked chicken with it. 

2)  Another online source pan fried the chicken with the batter first and then placed it in the slow cooker with the sauce ingredients.  However, I read some comments mentioned the chicken being soggy.  Thus I decided to cook the chicken in the crock pot and then pan fry it in the batter.

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