This sweet and spicy Vegan General Tso’s Chicken is a delicious veganized Chinese takeout inspired dish. Gluten-free and packed with flavor and vegetables, this fast and easy dinner is as healthy as it is tasty!
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Hey Internet, I’ve got kind of a vegan Chinese food schtick now. What, I’m Jewish, we love Chinese food! Hah. But really. I am and I do love it.
So, while this vegan General Tso’s is not authentic Chinese cuisine, or even veganized authentic Chinese cuisine, it does taste like the Chinese takeout I grew up loving, and it’s totally easy and delicious just like my other Chinese-takeout inspired recipes.
General Tso’s is very similar to sesame chicken, though it’s a little spicy and the flavor is a bit more savory-sweet, whereas sesame is much more sweet-sweet, if that makes sense.
Basically, there’s a really nice depth of flavor in this vegan General Tso’s and I know you’re gonna love it.
This less than 30 minute dinner is easy to make and it may just become a favorite in your house and it has mine. I just made this 2 nights ago and my husband is already asking for it again.
Actually, this would make a great meal prep option to those of you who like to prepare lunches or dinners throughout the week. Or, you could make a big batch and freeze it in individual portions for when you’re ravenous and have nothing to eat.
Let’s talk about this amazing, sticky, sweet yet savory and a little spicy sauce for another second. It’s SO GOOD.
It’s packed with goodies like sauteed ginger and garlic, hoisin, and a little sweet and tangy action due to the coconut sugar and rice vinegar.
Alright, you know I’m not about that all talk no action life. Let’s get down to business.
What You’ll Need
First, the base of your dish, you’ll need some kind of vegan protein to hold all that delicious sticky vegan General Tso’s sauce.
For this, I used soy curls. Soy curls are just amazing. All you have to do is rehydrate them in a little broth or water and you can use them in soups, curries, you-name-it.
Substitutes for soy curls include extra firm (or pressed firm) tofu, seitan chicken chunks, chickpeas, or prepared vegan chicken pieces.
Next, it’s optional, but I like to include a couple veggies for some crunch, color, and extra nutrients. I used baby broccoli / broccolini and red bell peppers here, but you could use regular broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, mushrooms, matchstick cut carrots (so they cook fast enough), etc.
I cut the garlic two different ways in this recipe because I LOVE garlic. I sliced some to saute with my vegetables and minced the rest for my sauce. If you’re not as big of a fan of garlic, just use the minced or grated garlic in your sauce.
Speaking of that sauce, you’ll also need some ginger. I highly recommend fresh or jarred grated ginger for this recipe for the flavor profile, but you can use ground ginger in a pinch.
You’ll also need unseasoned rice vinegar, reduced sodium soy sauce or gluten-free tamari if gluten-free, or No-Soy, if soy-free and using a different protein), coconut sugar, red pepper flakes, smoked paprika, and a bit of vegan hoisin(use gluten-free if needed).
If you can’t find hoisin, you could add just a little bit of peanut butter (or sunflower seed butter), and a little splash of more vinegar and tamari / soy sauce.
Finally, you’ll need arrowroot powder or cornstarch to mix with a little water to thicken the sauce toward the end.
I recommend grabbing some green onions / scallions and sesame seeds for garnish, too!
Tips for Making Vegan General Tso’s Chicken
- I like to saute the vegetables first and then add them back in at the end, that way they have a nice texture to them and don’t get too mushy with everything else--but feel free to cook the vegetables as you please.
- In a large nonstick pot over medium high heat, add the sliced garlic if using, cook 1-3 minutes until fragrant and translucent, adding water or broth as needed (of course you may cook with oil if you prefer). Then add your veggies. For me, I sauteed the broccolini for about 5 minutes but NOT the red bell pepper because I prefer my red bell peppers crunchy, not soft. I put a lid on for part of those 5 minutes to give the broccolini a little steaming action. Cook according to your preferences. Either way, take your cooked veggies out of the pot and place them in a bowl and cover either with a small plate or aluminum foil.
- While your veggies are cooking, rehydrate the soy curls by placing them in a medium bowl and adding vegetable broth or water just so the top soy curls are floating just a little, for me, about 1 ¾ cups broth for 8 oz soy curls. It should absorb all the water in about 6-8 minutes, but if it doesn’t, drain off the water well before cooking them.
- Saute the minced or grated ginger and garlic next over medium high heat for about 1-2 minutes or until fragrant in your large nonstick pot. Remember to add just a little water or broth to keep them from sticking.
- Now, add the (drained if needed) soy curls to your pot and turn up the heat to high. Cook them for about 5-7 minutes, stirring only occasionally. You want to get a little brown color on the soy curls.
- Now add your other sauce ingredients to a small bowl or measuring cup: rice vinegar, soy sauce / GF tamari / No Soy, hoisin sauce, coconut sugar, smoked paprika, and red pepper flakes. Whisk until combined and pour into the pot. Stir well and bring to a high simmer. This only took about a minute for me.
- In a small bowl or jar, whisk together the water and arrowroot powder or cornstarch until it’s a smooth slurry. Pour it into the pot and stir in well. It will thicken within 30-60 seconds. You can continue to cook it on medium if you’d like to cook down the sauce even further, but I didn’t need to as it was quite thick and sticky.
- Now add the vegetables back in to get them hot again and covered in the sauce, about 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Serve with rice if desired and top with green onions, sesame seeds, and more red pepper flakes if you wish. Enjoy!
- Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days or freeze in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months.
More Vegan Chinese-Takeout Inspired Recipes
I love vegan Chinese takeout inspired food. While this vegan General Tso’s is definitely not authentic Chinese food, more like American Chinese restaurant food, many people including myself grew up loving some of these dishes and I decided it was definitely worthwhile to veganize and share my favorites.
If you like this vegan General Tso’s, you’ll probably like my:
- Vegan Kung Pao Chicken
- Vegan Orange Chicken
- Veggie Lo Mein (only takes 15 minutes!)
- Vegan Beef and Broccoli
- Vegan Teriyaki Chicken with optional Brussels sprouts
- Garlic Noodles
- Teriyaki Cauliflower Wings (more like Chinese takeout and American fusion, oops)
As always, I hope you love this recipe--I know I do, and Mr. Zardyplants does too.
This Vegan General Tso’s Chicken is:
- Spicy -- easy to make mild, though
- Surprisingly healthy
- Perfect for meal prep
- And oh so delicious!
Let me know in the comments below if you make this recipe or tag me @Zardyplants on Instagram so I can see your beautiful recreations! If you tag me on IG, I will share your post in my stories :)
Also, one quick request: if you love how this recipe looks or tastes, please leave me a 5-star rating and a nice comment–ratings help more people find my recipes which helps me keep providing them! Thank you!