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Sesame Chicken vs General Tso’s Chicken vs Orange Chicken

If you’re a fan of Chinese food, one thing that you must have encountered at some point is the classic comparison between three delicious dishes: Sesame Chicken, General Tso’s Chicken and Orange Chicken.

With all of these delightful options on hand, debate has raged forever over which holds the title as the ultimate winner in flavour battle – but what are the differences?

You might be surprised by how subtle yet significant each dish is! Join us today as we dive deep into this roiling discussion to find out what makes these culinary titans so special.

Summary of key points

  • Sesame Chicken: Known for its sweeter taste with a hint of smokiness from toasted sesame. It tends to have a more balanced sweetness and a subtle savory flavor.
  • General Tso’s Chicken: Offers a more complex flavor profile with a combination of sweet, spicy, and tangy elements. It is characterized by a milder, spicier, and more savory flavor compared to orange chicken. The sauce typically includes Sichuan peppercorns, vinegar, Shaoxing wine, and a touch of sugar.
  • Orange Chicken: Features a lighter-colored sweet, sour, and savory glaze. It is generally less spicy and has a predominant citrus flavor. The sauce often contains dried red peppers for a slight heat element.

What is Sesame Chicken?

Sesame Chicken is a popular Chinese-American dish that consists of battered and deep-fried chicken pieces coated in a sweet and savory sauce made with soy sauce, sesame oil, honey, and other ingredients.

The dish is typically garnished with toasted sesame seeds and chopped scallions for added flavor and crunch.

Sesame Chicken is believed to have originated in New York City in the 1970s as a way to cater to American tastes while still offering a nod to traditional Chinese cuisine.

When considering Sesame Chicken as a dish option, it’s important to note that it is on the sweeter side due to the presence of honey in the sauce.

Additionally, the batter coating on the chicken provides a crispy texture that pairs well with the saucy exterior.

What is General Tso’s Chicken?

General Tso’s Chicken is a popular Chinese-American dish made with crispy fried chicken, a sweet and savory sauce, and vegetables.

It is named after the Qing Dynasty general, Zuo Zongtang, but is not actually a traditional Chinese dish.

The dish gained popularity as Chinese immigrants opened restaurants in America that catered to local tastes.

Various versions exist of this dish with some restaurants offering spicy versions or adding different vegetables like bell peppers or carrots.

Despite its name and continued association with General Tso himself by many Americans, it has no connection to him.

In fact, neither the chicken nor the sauce used bears any resemblance to authentic Hunan cuisine which was General Tso’s place of origin.

What is Orange Chicken?

Orange Chicken is a popular Chinese-American dish that originated in the United States.

It consists of battered and fried chicken pieces tossed in a tangy, sweet, and slightly spicy orange sauce made with orange juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes.

The dish is usually served with steamed rice or noodles.

As you can see from the table above, Orange Chicken is made up of various flavours that combine to give it its unique taste.

The fried chicken provides a crispy texture while the orange sauce balances out the saltiness of the soy sauce with sweetness from brown sugar and sourness from vinegar.

The addition of garlic and ginger adds an aromatic element to the dish, while red pepper flakes add some heat.

Overall, Orange Chicken is a dish that pleases many palates because of its flavour combinations.

Its popularity in Western countries has led it to be a common menu item at many Chinese takeout restaurants due to its approachable taste.

Differences Between Sesame Chicken, General Tso’s Chicken, and Orange Chicken

Sesame chicken, General Tso’s chicken, and orange chicken are all popular Chinese-American dishes that have become a staple in many households.

Although they may look similar at first glance, there are subtle differences between them that distinguish one from the other.

Let’s take a closer look at the differences between these three dishes:

Dish Origins: The first difference is their origin.

Sesame chicken has its roots in the Cantonese cuisine of Southern China, whereas General Tso’s chicken is a Hunanese dish created by chefs in Taiwan.

Orange chicken originated in Northern China, specifically in the Hunan province.

Preparation Method: Another significant difference lies in how each dish is prepared.

Sesame chicken is typically breaded and fried before being coated in a sweet sesame sauce.

In contrast, General Tso’s chicken is made with bite-sized pieces of battered and deep-fried chicken breasts and seasoned with a spicy-sweet sauce that includes ginger and garlic.

Finally, orange chicken is also breaded and fried but has an orange-flavored sauce instead of sesame or spicy-sweet sauces.

Ingredients: While all three dishes feature similar ingredients such as soy sauce, ginger, garlic, cornstarch, vinegar to name just a few; the differing spices like coriander powder and turmeric for sesame chicken along with black bean paste usage for General Tso’s varies them subtly along with different coloring ingredients used on them.

Seasoning Flavors: Sesame chicken usually has earthy flavors due to the sesame seeds used while Generals’ Tso features spicier notes produced by Szechuan peppercorns or chilli flakes added; on the other hand Orange Chicken has sweet-citrusy zest influenced by honey/ brown sugar/chinese rice wine vinegar/spices used making it more tangy than others.

Flavor and Taste Comparison

When it comes to Chinese American cuisine, Sesame Chicken, General Tso’s Chicken, and Orange Chicken are all popular choices.

While they may seem similar at first glance, these three dishes have distinct differences when it comes to flavor and taste.

As you can see from the table, each dish has its own unique flavor profile.

Sesame Chicken is savory with nutty notes while General Tso’s Chicken is spicy and tangy.

Orange Chicken is sweet and tangy – perfect for those who love a lot of sweetness in their meals.

In terms of spice level, Sesame Chicken has the mildest level of spice whereas General Tso’s Chicken has a medium level of spice.

Orange Chicken also has a mild level of spice but compensates for it with its high sweetness level.

Overall, the three dishes differ greatly in terms of flavor and taste.

It all comes down to personal preference – whether you prefer savory or sweet dishes or like your food on the spicier side.

Ingredients Used

The ingredients used for each dish play a crucial role in determining the flavor and taste.

Let’s take a closer look at the ingredients of Sesame Chicken, General Tso, and Orange Chicken.

Sesame chicken is usually made from lightly coated chicken breasts or thighs that are stir-fried with bell peppers, onions, carrots.

The sauce includes sweet and savory tones along with sesame oil and soy sauce that complements the vegetables perfectly.

General Tso’s chicken is usually made from heavily coated fried chicken thighs or dark meat which can be quite crispy on the outside.

The sauce has a combination of sweetness and spiciness along with garlic and chili flakes giving it an intense flavor.

It is served with broccoli florets, peppers, green onions that adds to its overall taste.

Orange chicken is prepared by deep-frying battered chicken breast or thighs pieces that are then covered in a tangy orange juice-based glaze.

The bright citrus flavors add zing to this dish accompanied by ginger-garlic flavors.

Orange zest is sprinkled over it to give an extra burst of flavor.

Preparation Methods

To prepare Sesame Chicken, start by marinating the chicken in a mixture of soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sesame oil.

Then, coat the chicken in cornstarch and fry until golden brown.

In a separate pan, heat up honey, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, and garlic until it becomes thick and syrupy.

Toss the fried chicken with the sauce and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

For General Tso’s Chicken, dredge bite-sized pieces of chicken in a mixture of egg whites and cornstarch before frying them.

In another pan, cook ginger and garlic in hot oil for a few seconds before adding sugar to caramelize.

Pour in hot chicken broth along with rice vinegar and soy sauce.

Lastly, thicken the sauce with cornstarch mixed with water before tossing it over the crispy chicken pieces.

To make Orange Chicken, bread chunks of chicken in flour then dip into an egg batter.

Fry until crispy then set aside while making the orange sauce by cooking minced garlic and ginger into some oil until fragrant.

Then add fresh orange juice mixed with sugar and soy sauce to create the tangy flavor.

Finally, toss the fried chicken bites into this delightful sauce.

Nutritional Value

All three dishes are high in calories, sodium and fat.

However, between the three dishes, General Tso’s chicken is the least healthy option as it has higher values for all of these nutrients per serving.

Sesame chicken and orange chicken have a lower number of calories and sodium than General Tso’s chicken.

When looking at carbohydrates and protein, Orange Chicken has the highest amount of carbohydrates while General Tso’s chicken has the highest amount of protein.

Sesame chicken falls somewhere in between the other two dishes for both categories.

It should be noted that some restaurants may cook these dishes differently or vary their ingredients which could affect their nutritional values.

It is important to check with the restaurant or recipe to ensure accurate nutrition information.

Similarities Between Sesame Chicken, General Tso’s Chicken, and Orange Chicken

The similarities between Sesame Chicken, General Tso’s Chicken, and Orange Chicken are worth exploring.

Each of these dishes is a popular choice in Chinese cuisine and can be found in many Chinese restaurants around the world.

They share several common elements that make them easy to recognize and differentiate from other dishes.

To better understand the similarities between these three dishes, let’s take a look at some common features they all share.

We can start with their origins, which all come from Hunan province in China.

They are also made with boneless chicken pieces that are coated with batter and then deep-fried until crispy before being coated in a sweet and savory sauce.

Another similarity shared by these three dishes is that they all contain ingredients like soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and vinegar.

These ingredients provide a rich flavor profile that complements the fried chicken pieces perfectly.

In terms of appearance, Sesame Chicken, General Tso’s Chicken, and Orange Chicken all have a similar glossy appearance to their sauce-coated chicken pieces.

But while Sesame Chicken has sesame seeds sprinkled on top of its sauce-coated chicken pieces; Orange Chicken has orange zest for an added citrus tang to its flavors while General Tso’s has no particular toppings.

Finally, these three dishes also share a similar nutritional value as well as caloric intake per serving size (around 1200 calories) induced by their respective deep-frying methods.

Popular Sesame Chicken, General Tso’s Chicken, and Orange Chicken Brands

Popular Sesame Chicken, General Tso’s Chicken, and Orange Chicken Brands are widely available in most restaurants that serve Chinese cuisine.

These three dishes have been enjoyed by people of all ages across different cultures.

Sesame Chicken, General Tso’s chicken, and Orange chicken all provide distinct flavors and textures that have made them popular among customers worldwide.

If you prefer dishes with a subtle nutty flavor combined with soy sauce and vegetables or crispy fried chicken coated with a sweet tangy sauce, then Sesame chicken is perfect for you.

For those who want to experience intense heat and spice coupled with a hint of sweetness, General Tso’s chicken is the go-to option.

On the other hand, if you love savory flavors complemented by orange-based sauce that provides the right balance of sourness and sweetness, then Orange chicken is your best bet.

Some popular brands for Sesame chicken include P.


Chang’s, Panda Express and Panda House Cafe while Au Bon Pain and No.

1 Chinese Kitchen offer great options for General Tso’s chicken.

For Orange chicken, brands like Trader Joe’s and Vons Deli & Restaurant offer excellent alternatives.

Which One to Choose?

When it comes to choosing between Sesame Chicken, General Tso’s Chicken, and Orange Chicken, it can be challenging to pick just one.

Each dish has its unique flavor profile that appeals to different taste buds.

To help you make an informed decision, let’s take a look at the characteristics of each dish.

Each dish has a unique set of characteristics that make it stand out.

Sesame chicken is perfect for those who prefer sweet and nutty flavors in their dishes.

General Tso’s chicken lovers relish its spicy kick and tanginess.

On the other hand, Orange chicken aficionados savor its sweet notes with a hint of spiciness.

When making your decision about which dish to choose, consider your own preferences for flavor profiles.

Do you like sweet or spicy dishes? Are you looking for something tangy or savory? Your answer will help guide your choice.

Sesame Chicken vs General Tso’s Chicken vs Orange Chicken

Andrew Gray
Interested in understanding the differences between Sesame Chicken, General Tso's Chicken, and Orange Chicken? We'll dissect the flavors and characteristics of each popular Chinese-American dish.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course This vs That
Servings 1 Serving


  • Sesame Chicken
  • General Tso’s Chicken
  • Orange Chicke


  • Choose between Sesame Chicken, General Tso’s Chicken, or Orange Chicken based on your preference.
  • Follow the recipe instructions for your selected dish, ensuring you have all the necessary ingredients.
  • Prepare the ingredients according to the recipe, such as marinating the chicken or preparing the sauce.
  • Cook the chicken according to the specified method, whether it’s frying, baking, or stir-frying.
  • Add the respective sauce or glaze to the cooked chicken, ensuring it coats the pieces evenly.
  • Serve the Sesame Chicken, General Tso’s Chicken, or Orange Chicken with steamed rice or your preferred accompaniments.
  • Enjoy the distinct flavors of your chosen chicken dish and savor the deliciousness!
Keyword Sesame Chicken vs General Tso’s Chicken vs Orange Chicken
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