Cooking Guide

What Is The Difference Between Sesame Chicken And General Tso’s Chicken?

There are two types of chicken dishes that originated in China that are popular in the United States: sesame chicken and General Tso chicken.

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They differ in many ways and if you don’t know how to differentiate between these two dishes, let’s figure it out in this article.

What is sesame chicken?

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Sesame chicken is a dish that consists of breaded and deep-fried pieces of chicken, coated with sesame seeds.

The coating is usually sweetened by corn syrup or honey.

The origins of this dish are not entirely clear but it seems to have originated in the United States during the 20th century as an Americanized Chinese food dish.

It has been adopted into many cuisines all over the world and now appears on menus as far away as Africa, India, Brazil, and Australia.

In China, it’s called “chicken with sesame”, while in Korea it’s known as “sangchu kalbi”.

In Thailand, they call these fried bites “gai tao”.

What is General Tso chicken?

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General Tso’s chicken is a type of sweet and sour dish that is often served with broccoli.

It was created in the United States by Chinese immigrants, so it isn’t actually a traditional Chinese dish.

It usually consists of chunks of dark meat deep-fried in an egg batter and then tossed in a spicy sauce made from soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, and sugar.

What are the differences between sesame chicken and General Tso?

Sesame chicken and General Tso counterpart certainly differ in many criteria, as you can delve into in this comparison table below.

 Sesame chickenGeneral Tso chicken
OriginTaiwan The origin of sesame chicken is unclear but it is believed that the dish was created in Taiwan in the 1950sAmerica It was believed to be created in a Chinese restaurant in America, by a Chinese cook
SauceMore in brown color, contain more garlic and gingerMore in red color  
TasteSpicier and saltier, also has a hint of nutty flavor from the sesame seedsSweeter due to more sugar content
Additional ingredientsSprinkled with either roasted or non-roasted sesame seeds before servingServed with more vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, or onions

What are the similarities between sesame chicken vs General Tso?

Sesame chicken and General Tso are two different dishes, but they also use chicken as the main ingredient.

So now let’s see if they also share any similarities besides the aforementioned distinctions:

1. They use deep-fried chicken chunks

Chicken in these two recipes is both portioned into bite-sized chunks and deep-fried until crispy.

The right texture should be crispy outside and moist inside.

2. They are both delicious to enjoy with rice or other similar side dishes

No matter what the difference is, sesame chicken and General Tso are all flavorful thanks to the diverse ingredients.

They can be eaten alone as a snack or appetizer or served with other side dishes such as egg rolls and fried rice.

3. They have many variations

There are numerous variations of both dishes in different cuisines.

They can be made from either beef, pork, or even seafood such as fish or shrimp.

The finished dishes are then served with other kinds of greens as alternatives for the original recipes.

Which one is better?

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We hope that this article has helped you understand the difference between these two types of delicious chicken dishes.

If you cannot make a decision, go with your gut and pick one!

Which dish is preferred will actually come down to your personal taste.

Emily W.

Emily Wong is an Asian-American food writer the founder of With nearly 8 years of experience, she has a passion for making cooking accessible to everyone and sharing her personal experiences with food. Emily's vision for is to create a community of food lovers who are passionate about cooking, eating, and sharing their experiences with others. Read my story
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