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Sesame Chicken vs General Tso Difference Comparison

Lisa Price
Last Updated on
by Lisa Price

Sesame chicken and general tso chicken are two similar dishes many people love. Although they seem interchangeable, there are many factors to consider when deciding which one to choose. 

Difference between Sesame Chicken and General Tso Chicken

The main difference between sesame chicken and general tso chicken is that general tso chicken is spicy and made from chicken breast and thighs, while sesame chicken is sweet and made from chicken thighs.

Sesame Chicken vs General Tso Chicken Comparison

Here’s how they compare:

  • Appearance: Sesame chicken has visible sesame seeds, while general tso chicken does not
  • Flavor: Both are sweet and tangy, but general tso chicken is spicier than sesame chicken
  • Use Cases: General tso chicken
  • Health: Sesame chicken is fewer calories than general tso chicken

Comparison Table

 FlavorPart of ChickenSpice LevelMajor IngredientsOrigin
General Tso ChickenSpicy, Sweet, TangyChicken, breast, thighMedium/HighVinegar, soy sauce, ginger, sugar, cornstarch, dried red chilis, garlicChinese American
Sesame ChickenSweet, TangyChicken thighLowVinegar, soy sauce, sugar, ginger, chicken stock, sesame seeds, various veggiesChinese American
Above is a table to outline the difference between general tso and sesame chicken

Can You Substitute Sesame for General Tso Chicken?

Because of the significant difference in spice level, it is not recommended to substitute sesame chick for general tso chicken. Although these two dishes seem very similar on the surface, it is quickly evident that they are different once you taste the food.

Many people who like one of these dishes also like the other. Therefore, even though they are not direct substitutes, you could order one if the other is out of stock or unavailable.

The spice level is why these dishes cannot be directly substituted for one another. General tso chicken contains dried red peppers to give it a kick. Sesame chicken does not use these, nor anything in its place that would make the dish spicy.

Another reason that these dishes are difficult to substitute for one another is that general tso chicken is a much heavier dish. It is higher in calories and more of a “comfort food” than sesame chicken.

Some restaurants add more heat than others to their general tso chicken, so this major difference between the two styles of chicken will be more pronounced in different restaurants. Some places will also add a little bit of heat to their sesame chicken, but not all restaurants do this.

What is Sesame Chicken?

Sesame Chicken
Sesame Chicken

Sesame chicken is a Chinese-American dish popular throughout North America. It comes in many different variations, but all contain a similar sweet and tangy sauce that Chinese food eaters everywhere love.

How to Make Sesame Chicken

To make sesame chicken, create a batter for the chicken using cornstarch and eggs. Douse the chicken in the batter and fry it up. You’ll want to use boneless chicken thighs for this recipe.

Sesame chicken is known for its thick, sweet, and tangy sauce. Create the sauce by combining soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, ginger, and chicken stock. You can also add brown sugar or honey to make the sauce even sweeter. Finally, coat the entire dish in sesame seeds for garnish.

Sesame chicken is almost always served with a side of broccoli and some type of rice. Some restaurants will incorporate other veggies into the dish, such as baby corn, to make it unique. Regardless of specific add-ins, the famous sauce makes sesame chicken easily recognizable to anyone who eats it regularly.

What Does Sesame Chicken Taste Like?

Sesame chicken is sweet and tangy. The chicken is fried, skinless, and boneless, giving it a soft texture. The sauce is thick and rich. Sesame seeds provide a garnish that complements the taste and texture of the overall dish.

What are the Origins of Sesame Chicken?

Although the origins of the original dish are unclear, it became popular in North America and is a staple in Chinese-American restaurants throughout the United States. Different restaurants will put their own spin on sesame chicken, adjusting the heat levels and including various vegetables.

When to Choose Sesame Chicken?

If you are looking for a delicious chicken dish without too much heat, sesame chicken is likely the right choice for you. The sauce brings a thick sweetness, and the absence of chilis or other intense spices makes this easy-to-eat for many people.

Sesame chicken is one of the most popular dishes in Chinese-American cuisine. It is a safe choice if you are ordering for a crowd, as there is a good chance at least some of your guests will enjoy it. There are other variations of sesame chicken out there, such as sesame shrimp and vegetarian options that also use a sweet, tangy sauce.

If you love general tso chicken but find it too spicy to eat regularly, sesame chicken is the right order for you. It brings much of the same flavors without the dried chilis and intense heat.

Sesame chicken is also an excellent choice if you want general tso chicken but are looking for a healthier option. Sesame chicken is lighter and lower in calories than the heavier general tso chicken.

What is General Tso Chicken?

General Tso Chicken
General Tso Chicken

General tso chicken is a Chinese-American dish popular throughout the United States and North America. It is known for its thick sauce, which is tangy, sweet, and spicy.

How to Make General Tso Chicken

You’ll need boneless chicken thighs to make general tso’s chicken. Batter them with egg yolks and cornstarch and fry the chicken. Use vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, sugar, cornstarch, whole dried red chili peppers, and garlic for the sauce.

The dried red chili peppers give this dish its signature spice. Different chefs and recipes will use different amounts of chili to bring the dish to their desired spice amount. If you like it extra spicy, add more chilis. If you want to tone it down, add less. This is one of the many ways to put your own unique spin on this popular dish.

General tso chicken is typically served with a side of broccoli and rice. You can serve it with a side of fried rice for added flavor or a side of white rice to keep the focus on the delicious chicken.

What Does General Tso Chicken Taste Like?

General tso chicken tastes sweet, tangy, and spicy. The thick sauce is the source of the sweet and tangy flavor, while the dried chilis make the dish extra spicy. The chicken is deep-fried and usually served skinless and boneless, making it soft and easy to eat.

Variations of General Tso Chicken

You can adjust general tso chicken by using other types of chicken (not just the chicken thighs), adding more vegetables, or adjusting the spice level. While this dish is found all around North America and the world, you will see many variations as chefs put their own touch on the dish.

One popular adjustment is the Taiwanese variation. In Taiwan, sesame chicken is cooked with the skin on the chicken instead of removing it before cooking. It also incorporates more soy sauce to remove some of the signature sweetness from the sauce. You’ll also notice more veggies in the Taiwanese general tso chicken than in the popular North American version.

What is the Origin of General Tso Chicken?

Contrary to popular belief, general tso chicken probably did not come from the famous General Tso. Some people believe that it came from the Hunan province of China, which is associated with General Tso. Others claim that it came from Taiwan, named after Tso Kai-ming. Regardless of its origins, it is a modern staple of Chinese-American cuisine in North America.

If you are interested in learning more about general tso’s chicken and its role in Chinese-American cooking, check out the Netflix documentary, “The Search for General Tso.”

When to Choose General Tso Chicken?

General tso chicken is an excellent option if you are looking for an immensely flavorful chicken dish. It is simultaneously sweet, tangy, and spicy, making it fun to eat.

Like sesame chicken, general tso chicken is one of the most popular Chinese-American dishes. It is a crowd-pleaser and can be a good choice if you are ordering for people but aren’t sure what everyone likes.

General tso chicken is also a good option for people who like sesame chicken but are looking for something a little more adventurous or spicy. This dish brings the same sweetness as sesame chicken, with a spicy flare from the dried red chilis.

General tso chicken is often seen as a comfort dish because of its intense flavor and heaviness. If you are looking for good comfort food from your local Chinese takeout, this might be the best choice for you.

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About Lisa Price
Lisa Price
Lisa is Food Champ's resident fitness enthusiast and nutrition expert. She holds a nutrition degree in her home state of Florida and works for a large health system to ensure sound nutrition and dietetics information is passed on to all members.
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