Hot Braised Chicken Vs. General Tso – What’s the difference?

Chinese restaurants have a range of chicken dishes, making it hard to pick one and order.

Hot braised chicken and General Tso’s chicken are two delicious chicken dishes from China, so most people get confused while ordering and wonder if there’s any difference.

So, what’s the difference between hot braised chicken and General Tso?

When compared to General Tso, hot braised chicken is slightly sweeter. Some places also make candied hot braised chicken, whereas General Tso’s chicken is hot and spicy. Also, hot braised chicken has a thin, breaded coating, and General Tso’s chicken has a thicker batter. 

In this article, we’ll cover key differences between hot braised and general Tso’s chicken, including texture, appearance, ingredients, and overall flavor profile.

What is Hot Braised Chicken

There are a handful of restaurants with a dish called hot braised chicken. Hot braised chicken isn’t exclusive to St. Louis and isn’t as popular as General Tso’s chicken.

You may also find recipes online for hot braised chicken wings, but they’re different from hot braised chicken served at places like Mandarin Garden.

Hot braised is quick and easy to make and turns out delicious. In China, hot braised chicken is made in a clay pot. But, you can also cook hot braised chicken in a slow cooker, crockpot, and an oven.

It has simple ingredients, including crispy fried chicken and sweet sauce. For more flavor, chicken is braised with ingredients like ginger root, rice wine vinegar, garlic, honey, soy sauce, and chilies for a bit of spice.

Some chefs will also braise chicken with mushrooms, depending on the customer’s preference.

What Does Hot Braised Chicken Taste Like?

This dish is hot, sweet, and flavorful. Its simple ingredients give the braised chicken a magical flavor. A big part of the overall flavor profile is browning the chicken before braising. Caramelized skin adds a ton of flavor and also gives the dish its appealing color.

One Pan Hot Braised Chicken Recipe

What is General Tso’s Chicken?

This is one of the most popular chicken dishes out there. General Tso’s chicken is credited to a Chinese chef named Peng Chang-kuei, who cooked this dish for a special envoy to the Chinese National government in 1952.

According to chef Peng, General Tso’s chicken is reminiscent of rural Hunan cuisine. Hunan is a province in mainland China, and Tso chicken is named in honor of a Hunanese war hero, Zuo Zongtang (or Tso Tsung-t’ang).

What Does General Tso Chicken Taste Like?

General Tso’s chicken has a sweet and spicy flavor profile. It has a base of soy sauce and chili sauce with a touch of white vinegar and honey.

Nutrition Information for General Tso’s Chicken vs. Hot Braised Chicken

The table below contains the nutritional value per 100 g serving of General Tso’s chicken.

Protein13 g
Carbohydrate24 g
Fat16 g
Sugar12 g
Fiber0.9 g

The table below contains the nutritional value per 100 g serving of Hot Braised Chicken.

Protein25 g
Carbohydrate14.9 g
Fat13 g
Sugar14 g
Fiber0.8 g

Key Differences between Hot Braised Chicken & General Tso’s Chicken

Cooking method         

Hot braised chicken and General Tso have different cooking methods. To make hot braised chicken, you have to braise chicken with other ingredients on low heat and then stew it slowly in a closed container.

On the other hand, General Tso’s chicken is deep-fried until crispy and then tossed into the sauce before serving.  


Hot braised chicken has a tender, melt-in-your-mouth texture. Also, it is soupy.

The General Tso sauce usually penetrates into the meat, so the chicken looks glazed with a crispy texture. Keep in mind general, Tso isn’t watery like hot braised chicken.


Hot braised chicken is richer and sweeter, whereas General Tso’s chicken is sweet, savory, and spicy.

Is hot braised chicken similar to General Tso?

Hot braised chicken and General Tso chicken are two types of Chinese chicken dishes.

Despite the differences between these two dishes, they share some similarities, as shared below:


Both dishes are popular in American Chinese cuisine.

Hot braised chicken and General Tso’s chicken are two popular chicken dishes in China.

Although there are many conflicting stories behind the true origins of hot braised chicken and general Tso, they are a part of Chinese cuisine.

Due to many Chinese immigrants in America, hot braised chicken, and General Tso’s chicken have become staples in American Chinese cuisine.


Hot braised chicken and General Tso use similar Chinese staples like chicken, ginger, and soy sauce.

The main ingredient in these dishes is chicken, a popular meat choice in Chinese cooking.

Serving Method

Another key similarity between hot braised chicken and General Tso is how they are served.

Both dishes can be served with dishes like steamed white rice and stir-fried vegetables. You can also have these dishes alone.

Which dish is better?

Like any other food, this choice depends on your preferences and taste. But nevertheless, we can still help you decide on your next order.

The orange chicken will better suit people who like extra sweet sauces, whereas Tso chicken is better for those who enjoy spicy flavors.

Hot Braised Chicken Vs. General TSO – What’s More Popular?

When it comes to popularity, General Tso’s chicken is more popular than hot braised chicken. According to GrubHub, 

General Tso’s chicken was the most ordered takeout dish in 2014, beating other chicken dishes like Tong Cho and hot braised chicken.

Overall, General Tso’s deep-fried boneless chicken pieces tossed in sweet-spicy sauce and served on a bed of stir-fried veggies make America’s most popular Chinese dish.

Final Thoughts

Although there are countless chicken dishes in every Chinese restaurant, only a few of them are as delicious as General Tso chicken and hot braised chicken. Both dishes are unique in their own ways.

These dishes both use chicken in crispy breading, mixed with other ingredients, and served with rice and veggies.

General Tso uses an additional sauce, making it different from hot braised chicken.

Now you know how these two dishes differ, I hope that making your final selection will be easier.

Which of these mouth-watering chicken dishes sounds best for you? Let me know in the comments!

Frequently Asked Questions

What goes well with braised chicken?

A simple side of Lebanese rice pairs well with braised chicken. Drizzle some braising liquid on the rice for heavenly taste!

You can also pair braised chicken with a bright side salad like Greek green bean salad or Fattoush Salad.

Can you braise the chicken for too long?

It’s hard to mess up braising chicken. The slow cooking process keeps the meat from drying out, even if you leave the pot in the oven a few minutes too long.

Is General Tso Chicken Hot?

Yes, General Tso’s Chicken is a popular Chinese food takeout choice that is sweet with a spicy kick from garlic and ginger. It’s a great option when you’re looking to change your Chinese food routine.

Can you overcook braised chicken?

Braised chicken is nearly impossible to overcook. If you leave braised chicken 10 minutes longer in the oven, it’ll just have more tenderness.

Can I braise skinless chicken?

Yes, you can braise boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Make flavorful braised chicken by placing the chicken breasts in a large skillet and adding sherry and bay leaf.

What is the best dish from the Chinese?

They are many mouth-watering Chinese dishes, making it hard to name the best one. The best dishes include Kung Pao Chicken, Sweet and Sour Pork, Dim Sum, and Dragon chicken. If you’re trying out Chinese cuisine for the first time, try one of these dishes!

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