Sweet and Sour Chicken Recipe

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This Easy Sweet and sour chicken recipe is made with fresh pineapples, bell peppers, red onions and juicy crispy chicken. It’s tossed in a sweet and savory sauce then served over rice. No need to buy Chinese food when you can make it homemade!  

A plate of sweet and sour chicken with bell peppers, onions, pineapples tossed in a sweet and savory sauce over rice.

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WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT THIS SWEET AND SOUR CHICKEN

This was delicious!!” – Rina

This is soo good! Recommending to real full recipe before you start;) I cut recipe in half for 3 people.” – Lenka

“Oh my gord.”- Camille

HOMEMADE SWEET AND SOUR CHICKEN

Sweet and sour chicken is one of those epic takeout meals that everyone loves. But what is it about it that people love? Is it the crispy breaded chicken or the tangy Chinese sweet and sour sauce, or a combo of both that makes it so enjoyable.

I love the tangy flavors of  sweet and sour chicken. The sauce is still the star of the dish even if you omit the chicken and additional veggies like broccoli or mushrooms

I’ve been craving Chinese food lately but it can get expensive.  So what’s a girl to do? Make it of course.  This sweet and sour chicken is amazing. My family loves it. And the best part, its homemade so you know what’s in it! My picky 6 year old, who’s palate only consists of hamburgers, pizza, noodles and fries actually loves this too!

WHY THIS SWEET N SOUR CHICKEN RECIPE WORKS

For starters, you can make your sweet and sour chicken in the comfort of your home without all the food coloring, extra additives and grease you’d find in some Chinese restaurants, plus you’ll know exactly what your eating.

This dish not only looks good but it tastes way better than takeout! 

This recipe is made with mostly fresh fruit and vegetables. I used fresh pineapple and canned pineapple juice

Don’t worry about making a mess with batter. The flour and cornstarch mixture in this recipe does the job just fine. No batter needed.

This recipe can be easily adapted. Add crushed peppers and red pepper if you like a spicier sweet and sour sauce. Ditch the pineapples if you don’t like them.

Make a stir fry instead. I love broccoli, so sometimes I’ll toss them into this dish too. 

 This recipe makes a big batch. Perfect for big families and great as leftovers. 

Crispy fried chicken fresh out of the oil

SWEET AND SOUR CHICKEN INGREDIENTS

My homemade sweet and sour chicken recipe consists of  bell peppers, pineapples, onions, and  chicken thighs and a combo of cornstarch and flour.  The sweet and sour sauce ingredients include, pineapple juice, ketchup, brown and white sugar, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger, salt and pepper and a chicken base for even more flavor.

It’ll take some time to prep the ingredients but after that, the steps will move much faster. 

  • To prep – Cut the vegetables and fruit into 1 inch pieces. Set the grated ginger and garlic to the side. Add all of the sweet and sour chicken sauce ingredients into a medium sized bowl and mix well.To make the slurry which will thicken the sauce, take 4 tbsp of the sauce and pour it into a small bowl then add 2 tbsp of cornstarch to the same bowl.Mix well until the clumps are gone.Set to the side.  Cut the chicken into 1 inch pieces as well. Place the chicken into a bowl. Season with salt and pepper and a dash of onion powder. Crack two eggs into the bowl with the chicken. Stir to coat all the chicken with the eggs. Cover and place the chicken into the fridge. (pic 1-2)

    HOW TO MAKE IT

  • To make this sweet and sour chicken – Set up the dredging station. Have a baking sheet lined with parchment paper ready.
    To make the sweet and sour chicken batter, add cornstarch and flour to a ziplock bag or large enough bowl. Add 1/8 tsp salt to the mixture. Mix to combine. Stir the the chicken to coat with the egg. Add a couple pieces of chicken into the ziplock or bowl to dredge.  Place the coated chicken on the parchment lined baking sheet to rest. Continue to dredge the rest of the chicken.  (pic 3)
      
  • Fry the chicken – Add oil to a large skillet. Just enough to barely cover the chicken, about 1 1/2 – 2 inches of oil. Once the oil heats up to 350 F add the chicken to the oil. You can add several pieces at a one time.Using a heat proof spoon or spatula, spread the chicken out so it’s not touching. Fry for 3-4 minutes. Once the chicken is done, place the chicken on the parchment lined baking sheet. Remove all but a tablespoon and a half of oil from the skillet. (pic 4)
  • Vegetables – In the skillet with the oil over medium high heat, saute the vegetables until softened to your preference.  (pic 5)

Step by step pics on how to make sweet and sour chicken

  • To make the sweet and sour sauce for the chicken- Pour the sauce ingredients into the skillet with the vegetables. Let it come to a boil over medium high heat. Once boiling add the slurry. Mix well.  (pic 6)
  • Once the sauce has thickened, add the chicken and cook for 2 minutes. At this point you can add cayenne pepper or crushed red peppers if you want a more spicier sauce. Serve over rice. (pic 7-8)sweet and sour step by step directions with pictures

HOW TO MAKE SWEET AND SOUR CHICKEN HEALTHY

You can also enjoy homemade sweet and sour chicken in a healthier way. Swap out a few ingredients for healthier options. 

  • Substitute chicken thighs for chicken breast or shrimp.
  • Grill the chicken instead of frying in oil. I haven’t tried this yet, but some people said they’ve had good results with air fried chicken.
  • Use a sugar substitute, such as honey, stevia or a different sweetener
  • Substitute avocado, coconut or grapeseed oil for the vegetable oil

As I mentioned earlier in the post, this sweet n sour chicken takes some time to prep. To make things easy it’s BEST to prep EVERYTHING first. Get all the ingredients out, dice the veggies, grate the ginger, dice the pineapples and so on.

SWEET AND SOUR CHICKEN TIPS AND TRICKS

If you don’t like pineapples or if you’re allergic to them, you can substitute the pineapple for mangoes.

For more variety, you can use shredded carrots or broccoli. 

FYI, I  seasoned the chicken with 1 3/4 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of pepper. I also added about 1/8 tsp of salt to the flour mixture then mixed to combine. 

Give the chicken in the bowl a good stir before you dredge it into the flour, or the egg may sink to the bottom of the bowl.  We want to make sure the there’s egg on all of the chicken, so every now and then stir.

Fry the chicken for 3-4 minutes. Fry several pieces of chicken at a time but don’t overcrowd the skillet. Use a heat proof strainer or spoon, spread the chicken out so it’s not touching.

Don’t overcook the chicken or the pieces may become tough and no one likes tough chicken.

When the temperature on a meat thermometer reads 165 F it’s done. 

Serve with basmati or jasmine rice. I served this dish with coconut rice. 

Shortcuts – Substitute store brand sweet chili sauce for the homemade Chinese sweet and sour sauce. Sometimes I like to keep sweet chili sauce on hand to make easy Chinese takeout at home.

When I’m in a rush, I reach for the ginger in the tube, however I used 2 inches of fresh ginger in this recipe. You can also substitute fresh bell peppers for a bag of the frozen ones. Feel free to use canned Pineapple if you like as well. 

Tools used to make this sweet and sour chicken 

15 Inch Cast iron skillet

Chop sticks

Mixing bowls

Double burner griddle 

A bowl of sweet and sour chicken over rice

Sweet and Sour Chicken with Pineapples

April Boller Wright
Homemade sweet and sour chicken that's tossed in a thick sweet and sour sauce. No need for Chinese takeout when you can make it fresh in the comfort of your home. 
5 from 19 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine Chinese

Ingredients
  

Prep

  • 2.5 cups pineapple cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2.5 cups bell peppers cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 1/4 cup red onions cut into 1 inch pieces

Sweet and Sour Sauce

  • 1 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2 inch grated ginger
  • 3 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar plus an additional two tbsp
  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper
  • 1 tsp Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base

For the chicken dredge

  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 3/4 tsp salt plus 1/8 tsp for later for dredging the chicken
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder

Slurry

  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup of the sweet and sour sauce Take 2 tbsp from the sauce you made

Instructions
 

Prep

  • Cut the boneless, skinless chicken thighs into 1 inch pieces. Next, place chicken into a large bowl season with 1 3/4 tsp salt and also season with pepper. Add the eggs to the bowl with the chicken. Mix well. Make sure all of the chicken is coated with the eggs. Cover and place the chicken into the fridge.
  • Cut the bell peppers, pineapple and onions into 1 inch pieces. Set them to the side separately. 
  • Add all of the sweet and sour sauce ingredients to a medium sized bowl and mix well. Set to the side 

Slurry

  • To make the slurry which will thicken the sauce, take 4 tbsp of the sweet sour sauce and pour it into a small bowl then add 2 tbsp of cornstarch to the same bowl. Mix very well until the clumps are gone. Set to the side. 

Chicken

  • Have a baking sheet lined with parchment paper ready. Set up the dredging station. Next, add cornstarch and flour to a ziplock bag or bowl with 1/8 tsp of salt. Mix to combine.
  • Add a couple pieces of chicken into the flour/cornstarch or bowl and dredge. Shake of the excess flour mixture. Place each coated chicken on the parchment lined baking sheet to rest. Dredge the rest of the chicken. 
  • Add oil to a large skillet. Just enough to barely cover the chicken, about 1 1/2 - 2 inches of oil. Once the oil heats up to 350 F add the chicken to the oil. You can add several pieces at one time but don't overcrowd the skillet or the oil temperature will go down and the chicken won't turn out crispy. Using a heat proof spoon or spatula, spread the chicken out so it's not touching. 
  • Fry for 3-4 minutes. Once the chicken is done, place the chicken on the parchment lined baking sheet. Remove all but a tablespoon and a half of oil from the skillet. 
  • In the skillet with the oil, over medium high heat, saute the vegetables until softened to your preference. Keep the vegetables in the skillet.

To make the sauce

  • Pour the sauce into the skillet with the cooked vegetables. Let it come to a boil over medium high heat. Once boiling add the slurry. Mix well.  Once the sauce has thickened, add the chicken and cook for 2 minutes. 
    At this point, you can add cayenne pepper or crushed red peppers if you want a more spicier sauce. Serve over rice. 

Notes

TIPS AND TRICKS TO MAKE SWEET AND SOUR CHICKEN 

As I mentioned earlier in the post, this homemade sweet n sour chicken takes some time to prep. To make things easy it's BEST to prep EVERYTHING first. Get all the ingredients out, dice the veggies, grate the ginger, dice the pineapples and so on.
If you don't like pineapples or if you're allergic to them, you can substitute the pineapple for mangoes.
For more variety, you can use shredded carrots or broccoli. 
FYI, I  seasoned the chicken with 1 3/4 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of pepper. I also added about 1/8 tsp of salt to the flour mixture then mixed to combine. 
Give the chicken in the bowl a good stir before you dredge it into the flour, or the egg may sink to the bottom of the bowl.  We want to make sure the there's egg on all of the chicken. So every now and then stir.
The dredge: When coating the chicken with the flour there's no need to worry about whether the chicken is coated enough. Just dredge the chicken one time shake off excess and place it on the baking sheet. If you dredge the chicken too much you may run out of the flour mixture. 
Fry the chicken for 3-4 minutes. You can fry several pieces of chicken at a time but don't overcrowd the skillet. Using a heat proof strainer or spoon, spread the chicken out so it's not touching on another.
Try not to overcook the chicken or the pieces may become tough and no one likes tough chicken.
The chicken is done when the temperature on a meat thermometer reads 165 F.  Serve with basmati or jasmine rice. I made this dish with the coconut rice.
Shortcuts - Substitute store brand sweet chili sauce for the homemade Chinese sweet and sour sauce. Sometimes I like to keep sweet chili sauce on hand to make easy Chinese takeout at home.
When I'm in a rush, I reach for the ginger in the tube, however I used 2 inches of fresh ginger in this recipe. You can also substitute fresh bell peppers for a bag of the frozen ones. Feel free to use canned Pineapple if you like as well. 
Keyword chinese sweet and sour chicken, sweet and sour chicken, sweet n sour chicken
Like this? Leave a comment below!Let us know how it was!

A plate of sweet and sour chicken with bell peppers, onions, pineapples tossed in a sweet and savory sauce over rice.

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47 Comments

  1. I don’t like sweet and sour chicken so much any more but now that you mentioned it, I remember loving it as a child. I think my child will love this recipe. Thanks for giving me another idea for a recipe that is filled with really great fresh veggies and even fruit!

  2. Great recipe! Sweet and sour chicken is so delicious and I love that it can be made so quickly. And subbing mangoes for pineapple is such a tasty idea! Thanks for the tip!5 stars

  3. I’ve been craving Chinese food lately too and I’ve been wanting to make sweet and sour chicken. This was my favorite childhood meal at the local Chinese restaurant but I’ve never attempted to make it. I’m excited to make a delicious classic at home.5 stars

  4. Sign me up for takeout at home! Sweet and sour chicken is always one of my go-to orders when we get takeout, so I love that I can now make this delicious recipe at home. Thanks for sharing!5 stars

  5. This sweet and sour chicken is fantabulous! Who needs take away! I am so going to make this soon. Pinning for later!5 stars

  6. Oh, my family loves homemade chinese food, especially sweet and sour dishes. I’ll have to put this recipe on our meal plan for this week. Thank you!5 stars

  7. I love making sweet n sour chicken. I always find that it tastes so much better at home than in a restaurant because I can better control the sauce ingredients. This recipe looks great!5 stars

  8. Sweet & Sour Chicken is always a winner of a dinner! One I’m sure the whole family will love!5 stars

  9. Oh my that glaze on the chicken is just mesmerizing. This looks absolutely incredible April. A perfect make at home take-out dish!

  10. Stine Mari says:

    That sweet and sour sauce clings to the chicken and veg perfectly. I love this dish! I’ve been thinking about making a sweet and sour chicken for a long time, and now I really want to try this recipe. Thank you!5 stars

  11. My my my! All of this goodness and flavor. This is WAAYY better than takeout. I’m sure my kids will love this too. Thanks for the meal plan idea.5 stars

  12. Mmmm mine have to be the best of both worlds, sauced and crispy!! Love that you use chicken thighs for it as well, so much more flavor and overall a cheaper meal option. We are Chinese take-out lovers so I will be trying this asap!

  13. I love that you made the chicken crispy. I am not overly keen on sweet and sour but when the chicken is cooked in a crispy batter, it can make all the difference!5 stars

  14. O wow! What a flavor combo! Yum! Sounds so delicious and looks beyond words amazing. Must give this recipe a try. It’s perfect weekdays family dinner.5 stars

  15. I love this sweet and sour chicken recipe. I love the addition of the peppers and pineapple in this recipe as well. This is a favorite of my kiddos!5 stars

  16. I am so not into Chinese takeout. The food is just “ok”, but most of the time not. Making this at home, on the other hand, is PERFECT!! It always tastes better homemade. I can play with the seasonings too. Leftovers would we a warm welcome down the road.5 stars

    1. You’re right about just okay. There are some really good restaurants but it’s rare to find a mind blowing one. Luckily, I know of a few restaurants that make pretty amazing food!