How to Make Authentic Chinese-Take Out

A Plate of General Tso's Chicken

For many, Chinese food has become a traditional go-to for alternative holiday food. This tradition seems to have begun in New York City as early as the 1800s, where many immigrants from cultures that don't typically celebrate Christmas had the time to spend with family but did not have the same Christmas traditions. The combination of Christmas Eve or Christmas day and Chinese food has become iconic for many Americans.

Today, we would love to share with you some recipes for you to be able to make some of the most famous American Chinese dishes in your very own home this year, whether it's to carry on the tradition or to create a new Christmas tradition!

General Tso's Chicken

There are several stories about the origin of this beloved American-Chinese dish. Some believe the dish originates from a simple Hunan chicken dish, while others argue the recipe was invented by a Taiwan-based Hunane cuisine chef Pen Chang-Kuei. Further, New York's Shun Lee Palaces was the first restaurant to serve General Tso's chicken, created by a Chinese immigrant chef, T.T. Wang, in 1972. Wherever the origin and whoever invented it, General Tso's has become one of the most popular, widely known American-Chinese dishes to be ordered around the country. Here's how you can make this sizzling, delicious dish at home.


For the Chicken Marinade:

  • 3 tablespoons of soy sauce, light or all-purpose
  • 1 tablespoon Hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon chili paste, such as Sambal Oelek
  • 1 teaspoon of toasted sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornflour or cornstarch
  • ¾ cup chicken stock or broth
  • 1 pinch of white pepper

For the Chicken Batter and deep frying:

  • 4 cups vegetable or peanut oil for frying
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 and ½ pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into 1 and ½ inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pinch of white pepper
  • 1 cup of cornstarch

For the Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons chopped green onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 6 dried whole Thai chilis or dried red chilis
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 strip of orange zest
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • ¼ cup of water

How to Make:

  1. Mix the marinade ingredients in a large container for the chicken with a lid.
  2. Chop chicken into the marinade, and cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to an hour.
  3. Prepare the sauce, and set aside. Preheat the vegetable or peanut oil in a deep fryer or large saucepan to 375 degrees F or 190 degrees C.
  4. Remove chicken from the fridge, drain excess liquid, and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the egg. Add the marinated chicken, salt, brown sugar, and pepper, and mix well. Add the cornstarch, mixing a bit at a time until the chicken is thoroughly coated.
  5. Work in batches, carefully dropping one piece of chicken at a time into the hot oil. Fry until it turns golden brown and begins to float for about 3 minutes. Remove to a paper towel-covered plate and allow to cook as you continue to fry the next batch.
  6. Once all chicken is fried, refry the chicken, starting with the batch you first cooked. Fry for about 2 minutes more each, drain on another paper towel-lined plate and set aside.
  7. In a wok or large skillet over high heat with two tablespoons of oil, stir in green onions, garlic, whole chiles, and orange zest until garlic begins to turn golden and chiles brighten, roughly 1-2 minutes. Add sugar, soy sauce, chicken broth, peanut oil, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and ginger, and boil for another 3 minutes.
  8. Whisk two teaspoons of cornstarch in water until dissolved. Stir into the boiling sauce. Return to a boil if needed and cook until the sauce thickens and is no longer cloudy for about one minute.
  9. Add the chicken to the sauce and toss to coat quickly. The quicker you work, the more likely the chicken will remain crispy. Transfer to a plate, garnish with more green onion or chilis, and serve immediately with rice or dishes of your choice.

Crab Rangoon

This appetizer is another star of many Chinese restaurants around the country and is surprisingly easy to make at home! Tangy, a little sweet, and made with real, imitation, or canned crab, it's always a hit.


  • 1 8 oz block of cream cheese, room temperature.
  • 2 oz of crab meat, fresh, canned, or imitation crab meat, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 20 wonton wrappers
  • 1 green onion, green part thinly sliced
  • Oil for frying

How to Make:

  • Mix room-temperature cream cheese, crab meat, sugar, salt, and green onion in a bowl. Stir to blend well until the cream cheese is smooth.
  • Fill a small bowl with water, and set aside.
  • On a wonton wrapper, place about 1 tablespoon into the center of the wrapper.
  • Taking your fingers, dab into the water and dampen the edges of the wonton wrapper.
  • Fold the two ends of the wrapper together.
  • Fold the other two ends of the wrapper to make a tiny parcel.
  • Pinch the ends to seal tightly to ensure there is no leakage.
  • In a large pot for deep-frying, heat the pot over medium heat or until the oil reaches 325 degrees F.
  • Drop the wontons into the oil for 2-3 minutes until brown and crispy. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels before serving.

While this tradition originated within immigrant families and communities, it has now become a time-honored tradition for the holidays for many Americans. Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, this year, why not continue a modern American tradition with the help of Wholey? This year, don't worry about whether your favorite restaurant is fully booked or has a long wait; let us help you make these mouth-wateringly delicious dishes at home with fresh ingredients delivered right to your door!