Sesame Chicken vs General Tso Chicken: Which is Better?

Save for later!

It’s Chinese takeout night and you can’t seem to decide whether to order sesame chicken or General Tso chicken. Chock full of umami flavors, these Chinese dishes feature juicy chicken tossed in a sauce and served over broccoli or rice.

If you’re craving Chinese food for dinner you may have trouble deciding between sesame chicken and General Tso chicken. 

So, what’s the difference between sesame chicken vs General Tso chicken? Sesame chicken and General Tso chicken are Chinese chicken dishes. The spiciness level is the main difference between these two dishes. Sesame chicken is a sweet and mild dish without an ounce of heat. General Tso chicken is a sweet and spicy dish made with red hot chili peppers. 

This article tells you everything you need to know about General Tso chicken and sesame chicken.

What is Sesame Chicken?

The crispy sesame chicken is a popular Chinese dish served in restaurants throughout the States. Sesame chicken is one of the most commonly consumed Chinese chicken dishes around the world. But its exact origin is unknown. 

Sesame chicken is a simple and versatile dish that can be prepared using different spices and ingredients. 

The most basic version of sesame chicken consists of bite-sized pieces of deboned chicken thighs or chicken breasts. Chicken meat is first battered in a mixture of cornstarch, regular flour, and eggs. Once nicely coated the bite-sized pieces are deep-fried until they turn crispy and golden. 

After the chicken is fried, it’s time to make the sauce. Most chefs combine vinegar, soy sauce, chicken broth, and sugar with cornstarch which works as a thickening agent.

The sauce is the ingredient that makes sesame chicken irresistible. It’s usually a mix of sweet and sour flavors, from sugar and soy sauce that give the chicken a sweet umami flavor with hints of tanginess from the vinegar. 

Once coated in sauce, the chicken is topped with sesame seeds. These tiny white seeds add a hint of sweetness and a distinctive nutty and earthy flavor to the dish. 

Depending on the recipe and the chef, sesame chicken can be a bit spicy, but that usually isn’t the focus of this dish. The combination of sweet and sour flavors in addition to the sticky and thick sauce is what sets sesame chicken apart from other fried chicken dishes. 

What is General Tso’s Chicken?

General Tso’s chicken is a popular Chinese dish with an interesting name. Although named after statesman Tso Tsung-tang, this dish doesn’t have any real connection to General Tso. 

In fact, it’s still unclear how this dish came to be. Some culinary experts argue that General Tso’s chicken was invented by a Taiwan-based chef named Peng Chang-Kuei. Others believe that a Chinese immigrant chef called T.T Wang invented this dish. 

Like sesame chicken, General Tso’s chicken is made from simple ingredients, which when combined together in the right way, create a truly spectacular dish. 

General Tso’s chicken is made from chicken breasts cut into cubes that are battered and deep-fried until they become crispy and golden. The chicken is then tossed in a sauce made from vinegar, cornstarch, soy sauce, sugar, garlic, and dried red chili peppers. 

This recipe combines sweet and tangy flavors with heat and is an excellent choice if you’re a fan of spicy food. 

Differences between Sesame Chicken vs General Tso’s Chicken?

Let’s see what are the main differences between these two popular chicken dishes:

Nutritional Value

General Tso’s chicken and sesame chicken are made from similar ingredients and have a similar nutritional profile. 

Sesame Chicken

One cup (227g) of sesame chicken contains:

  • Calories: 665
  • Total Fat: 32g
  • Cholesterol: 134mg
  • Sodium: 1093mg
  • Total Carbohydrate: 61g
    • Dietary Fiber: 1.6g
    • Sugar: 36g
  • Protein: 33g

General Tso’s Chicken

One cup (227g) of General Tso’s chicken contains:

  • Calories: 669
  • Total Fat: 37g
  • Cholesterol: 120mg
  • Sodium: 987mg
  • Total Carbohydrate: 54g
    • Dietary Fiber: 2g
    • Sugar: 26g
  • Protein: 29g

Spice Level

The main difference between General Tso’s chicken and sesame chicken is the spiciness level. 

General Tso chicken is a spicy dish because it’s made with dried red hot chili peppers. The spiciness profile of this dish may vary from intensely hot to mild depending on who prepares it. 

If you aren’t a fan of spicy food, sesame chicken is the right dish for you. The majority of sesame chicken recipes don’t list red hot chili peppers as an ingredient, making it a great option if you’re looking for a sweet and mild meal. 


Although they are made from similar ingredients, sesame chicken and General Tso’s chicken don’t taste the same. 

The thing that makes sesame chicken a popular dish is the contrast between sweet and tangy flavors. On the other hand, General Tso’s chicken is a spicy dish with a tangy and earthy aroma. 

What is Better: Sesame Chicken or General Tso?

The answer to this question depends on what kind of meal you’re craving. Both sesame chicken and General Tso’s chicken feature crispy fried chicken.

The light sesame chicken is a better choice if you’re craving a milder-tasting dish. On the other hand, choose the spicy and tangy General Tso’s chicken if you’re in the mood for a spicy and hearty meal.

Does General Tso Chicken have sesame?

The original General Tso chicken isn’t made with sesame seeds. But, in some variations of this popular recipe, the chicken is coated and served with sesame seeds. 

What’s similar to General Tso Chicken?

La Zi Ji is a great alternative to General Tso’s chicken. This Sichuan dish is made of deep-fried chicken pieces. The chicken is then stir-fried with hot chili peppers, ginger, garlic, scallion, and sesame oil to achieve the dish’s signature spicy and hearty flavor. 

La Zi Ji is as hot as General Tso’s chicken and is an excellent option if you’re craving a spicy chicken dish. 


General Tso and sesame chicken are extremely popular Chinese dishes. If you can’t decide which one to choose, remember that General Tso is a spicier and heavier dish made with red hot chili peppers. Sesame chicken is a mild, sweet-flavored dish suitable for children and adults alike. 

Related Articles:

Save for later!

Leave a Comment