General Tso Goes Vegan

By the Gracious Vegan

General Tso square.jpg

My husband is an omnivore who eats my vegan meals but sometimes longs for General Tso's Chicken (and indulges that longing at the local food cart pod). I worked very hard to come up with this plant-based version. Honestly, sometimes he likes it and sometimes he doesn’t—he’s a very picky eater. In the meantime I love it! This version is significantly healthier than the original—no meat, no deep-frying, no oil in the sauce, a whole-food-based chicken substitute, and dates instead of sugar in the sauce. A guilt-free, incredibly delicious General’s!

Makes 6 servings

Make the chicken-like nuggets. If you have a favorite chicken substitute, cook it up. For those who need one, here is my go-to recipe with Asian flavors. This recipe makes 12 patties. They can be broken or sliced up to create chicken-like nuggets for 6 servings. 

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line two large sheet pans with parchment paper. Spray lightly with oil (optional). 

Sauté the following ingredients in a skillet with water (start with 2 Tablespoons water) for 5-10 minutes, until the onions are transparent and soft and the pan is dry. (Microwaving can result in too much moisture.)

  • 1/2 cup chopped onion

  • 1 clove garlic, minced

  • 1 cup chopped white mushrooms (4 mushrooms)

  • 1 stalk celery, chopped 

  • 1/2 large green or red pepper, chopped

Transfer the vegetables to a food processor and pulse with the following ingredients until nicely combined but still chunky. 

  • 1.5 cups chickpeas (equivalent to one can; drain and rinse if using canned)

  • 1 cup rolled oats or dried bread crumbs (whole wheat crumbs work well)

  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

  • 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten

  • 1 Tablespoon hoisin sauce

  • 1 Tablespoon Chinese roasted sesame paste (or tahini)

  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce

  • 2 teaspoons spices of your choice (e.g., ground ginger, mushroom powder, Chinese five spice)

Form 3-4" patties (fairly thin) with your hands and lay them on the parchment paper. Spray the tops with spray-oil (optional). Bake for 12 minutes, then flip them over and bake 8-10 minutes more or until firm with brown surfaces. 

Make your rice. I prefer brown rice – follow rice package directions for 6 servings.

Get your vegetable ready. I prefer broccoli but feel free to experiment. Cut the crowns into florets. Boil or steam to your desired level of tenderness.

  • Two crowns of broccoli

Make the sauce. Combine these in a Nutribullet or with a whisk and bowl until the sugar and cornstarch are dissolved.

  • 1 cup water

  • 6 Tablespoons (3/8 cup) tomato paste

  • 3 Tablespoons soy sauce

  • 3 Tablespoons rice vinegar

  • ¼ cup date paste, or 6 soft dates and 2 Tablespoons additional water (or 3 Tablespoons sugar)

  • 1 Tablespoon hoisin sauce

  • 1 Tablespoon Chinese roasted sesame paste (or tahini)

  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch

  • 1.5 teaspoons garlic powder

  • 1.5 teaspoon chili paste (or more to taste)

Heat the sauce mixture in a medium-large skillet and stir until thickened and darker, about 2-3 minutes.

Bringing it all together. Add the vegan chicken nuggets to the sauce and stir gently to coat with sauce. Transfer the balls to a serving dish or individual bowls. Garnish with white sesame seeds and scallions, if desired.

  • Steamed rice (brown rice if possible)

  • 1 Tablespoon roasted sesame seeds

  • 4-5 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal


Timing: 60 minutes

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Contains vital wheat gluten

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