Note to self: BUY HOISIN SAUCE

Pinch of Yum had a recipe for a healthier version of General Tso’s Chicken (my all-time favorite chinese take-out dish) that it got outta the new America’s Test Kitchen cookbook Comfort Food Makeovers.

thought I had everything on hand to go ahead and make this dish.


Alas, I didn’t have any Hoisin Sauce. After speaking with my best friend Google, I attempted to make my own.

Yes, it was good.

Yes, there are no leftovers.

And YES, true to form, I made 4,370 substitutions to this entire recipe.

But still…it could’ve been BETTER if I’d had real Hoisin Sauce. And cornflakes. And Apricot Jam. And a better sauce-to-chicken ratio.

BTW – Grandma & Poppa weren’t planning on staying for dinner – but who can resist the allure of the faux-Chinese chicken?

No one in this family – from Grandparents down to Toddlers. This was enjoyed BY ALL.

Served straight outta the skillet.

Served straight outta the skillet.

Healthier General Tso’s Chicken adapted from Pinch of Yum

Printable Recipe HERE

Dairy-FREE, 7 year old/Toddler/Grandparent approved!


Vegetable Oil Spray

1/4 cup Flour

3 large Egg Whites **I ended up needing 2 more.

5 cups Kellogg’s Corn Flakes cereal, finely crushed **I didn’t have any, so I opted for a Panko/Breadcrumb mix. GO INVEST IN THE CEREAL.

1 1/2 lb. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of all visible fat, cut into 1″ pieces **I used 4 quite thick breasts that I sliced thinly then cut into the 1″ chunks.

1 2/3 cups Water

1/3 cup low-sodium Soy Sauce

1/4 cup Apricot Jam **I used some leftover Orange Glaze. GO INVEST IN APRICOT JAM.

3 Tablespoons Hoisin Sauce **I created my own (see recipe below). GO INVEST IN HOISIN SAUCE.

2 Tablespoons Cornstarch

1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar

2 teaspoons Canola Oil

4 Garlic cloves, minced

1 Tablespoon Grated Fresh Ginger

1/4 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes **I used 1/3 of a small dried chili as I was worried about overpowering the small children in this house.

Served over white rice.

Served over white rice.

How To:

1- Oven to 475ºF. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, top with a wire rack and spray rack with oil spray. **I skipped the rack and baked the chicken straight on the oil-sprayed foil.

2- Spread flour in a shallow dish. Whisk egg whites until foamy in a 2d dish. Spread Cereal crumbs in a 3rd dish.

3- Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Working in batches, dredge the chicken in flour, dip in eggs, then coat with cereal, pressing gently to adhere. Lay pieces on sheet/rack.

4- Spray chicken with oil spray. Bake until chicken registers 160ºF and coating is brown and crisp, 12-15 minutes. **At 6 minutes I rotated the pans and they were PERFECT at 15 minutes.

5- Meanwhile, whisk water, soy sauce, apricot jam, hoisin, corn-starch and vinegar together in a bowl.

6- Heat oil in 12″ skillet over medium heat until shimmering. **I used my cast iron skillet. Add in garlic, ginger, and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

7- Whisk in soy sauce mixture, bring to a simmer, and cook until thickened, about 2 minutes Remove from heat, cover, and keep warm.

8- When chicken is cooked, return sauce to simmer over medium-low heat. Add cooked chicken and toss to coat. Serve.

Whole skillet full o' chicken!

Whole skillet full o’ chicken!

Homemade Hoisin Sauce by Judy on

Printable Recipe HERE



4 Tablespoons Soy Sauce

2 Tablespoons Black Bean Paste or Peanut Butter **YAY!! I got to use my JiangYang Fermented Black Beans!

1 Tablespoons Honey or Molasses **I used closer to 1 1/2 Tablespoons.

2 teaspoons White Wine Vinegar

1/8 teaspoon Garlic Powder

2 teaspoons Sesame Oil **I added 1 more.

20 drops Hot Sauce **I used Tabasco…maybe Sriracha woulda been a better choice.

1/8 teaspoon Black Pepper

How To:

1- If you’re using the fermented black beans, rinse and drain them, then mash them well with a fork or spoon til you get a paste.

2- Combine everything in a bowl and stir, adjusting to your taste as you go. **It’s been a looooong time since I had any Hoisin sauce, so trying to remember what it tasted like was…tricky.

End Result for the Hoisin? GO INVEST IN HOISIN SAUCE.

FIL's plate. Said he wanted only a bit to taste. This was his second helping.

FIL’s plate. Said he wanted only a bit to taste. This was his second helping.

Over dinner with Grandma and Poppa, I asked what everyone thought. After many full-mouths cheering this meal, E looked me dead in the eye and said, “I bet Nolan will really like this. I think his mommy should make this for him too.”

Batter up Mrs. Baker!


3 thoughts on “Note to self: BUY HOISIN SAUCE

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s