EDITOR’S NOTE: View our roundup of some of the takeout-style options at Aldi here.
Chinese takeout is one of my family’s favorite types of food, and there’s a little restaurant a few blocks from our house that we frequently visit. When takeout isn’t in the budget, though, Aldi can help curb our cravings. The discount grocer sells several types of Asian-inspired frozen entrees and sides year round, and they rotate in a variety of products as limited-time specials at different times throughout the year.
Today, we’re looking at one of the Chinese takeout options that is available at Aldi as a year-round Regular Buy: General Tso’s chicken.
General Tso’s chicken, according to Wikipedia, is a popular dish served in North American Chinese restaurants that is named after Zuo Zongtang (also known as Tso Tsung-t’ang), who was a nineteenth century Qing dynasty statesman and military leader from Hunan Province. However, it’s not a dish known to his home province and he would not have known of it or eaten it. The dish was invented in the 1950s by Peng Chang-kuei, a chef from the Hunan province, and it initially didn’t include sugar and wasn’t deep fried. A New York City chef named Tsung Ting Wang was the one who later, in the 1970s, gave us the sweet fried version we know.
Fusia Asian Inspirations General Tso’s Chicken at Aldi cost $5.49 for a 26-ounce package at the the time of publication. The package describes this as “tempura white meat chicken in a zesty Asian-style sauce.”
This is loaded with fat and sodium, so it’s something we enjoy in moderation. Also, what may come as a surprise to some people is the high sugar content in this entrée, mostly because of the included sauce. With 15 grams of added sugars (30% of your daily limit) per serving, this has a sugar content comparable to many desserts.
This is a processed food with a fairly lengthy ingredients list, with primary ingredients being white meat chicken, enriched wheat flour, cornstarch, and vegetable oil.
If you’re avoiding allergens, this contains eggs, soy, and wheat.
One package contains about 5 five-ounce (140-gram) servings. A single serving will net you 290 calories, 14 grams of total fat (18% DV), 2 grams of saturated fat (10% DV), 30 mg of cholesterol (10% DV), 1,020 mg of sodium (44% DV), 31 grams of total carbohydrates (11% DV), no dietary fiber, 16 grams of total sugars, 15 grams of added sugars (30% DV), and 11 grams of protein.
The chicken is sold frozen and should be kept frozen until ready to use.
The bag has directions for heating this chicken in a conventional oven (but I bet you could air fry it as well). Start by preheating the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the sauce pouch and place it unopened into a bowl of hot water to thaw. Evenly lay the chicken on a baking sheet and place in the preheated oven. Bake the chicken for 18-20 minutes or until the internal temperature of one of the largest pieces reads 165 degrees when pierced with an instant-read food thermometer. Toss the sauce with chicken or drizzle over the top if desired. For a gourmet touch, add a garnish of your choice.
This always comes out of my oven crispy and flavorful. I usually drizzle the sauce over the baked chicken on the baking sheet. The sauce often has a small frozen clump in the middle even after sitting in a bowl of hot water while the chicken is baking, but once I pour it onto the chicken on the hot baking sheet, it thaws and warms up.
If you’re feeding a family, you may find that there is not nearly enough chicken in one bag to satisfy everyone. In my family of four, we have to carefully divide the chicken to make it fair, and no one gets a very large portion. One solution would be to make two bags of chicken, but instead I make other things to serve alongside the chicken. Our favorites include Aldi’s Regular Buy egg rolls found in stores year round and Aldi’s pot stickers that show up for a limited time at certain times of year. Sometimes I also make a rice or noodle side dish.
Nutrition concerns and small portions aside, this is a family favorite even if it isn’t quite the same as what we’d get from a restaurant. It’s good on its own merits, and it’s only mildly spicy and appeals to even the picky eaters in my family. I usually keep a bag in the freezer for evenings when we want something easy for dinner.
Fusia Asian Inspirations General Tso’s Chicken is a flavorful option if you’re looking for takeout-style food at the grocery store. Just keep in mind it’s loaded with fat, sodium, and sugar. One bag doesn’t make a lot either, so if you’re feeding a large family you might need to buy extra.