Panda Express Sweet and Sour Sauce (Copycat)

8 servings
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes

Panda Express Sweet and Sour Sauce – a homemade sweet and sour sauce that tastes just like the classic Chinese takeout dipping sauce you know that is bright red in color, sweet, and acidic.

Egg roll dipped in Sweet and Sour Sauce

Sweet and Sour Sauce

Panda Express Sweet and Sour Sauce is a quick recipe you’ll want to keep on hand for your favorite Chinese appetizers or even for a quick awesome appetizer on its own (block of cream cheese, sweet and sour sauce and wonton strips for dipping…you’ll thank me later).

How to Use Your Homemade Sweet and Sour Sauce

Today’s recipe is just a quick one, I’m still enjoying the mini vacation from my amazing Mother’s Day weekend. But even though this easy sweet and sour sauce recipe is short and quick, it is still totally versatile!

  • The appetizer recipe above makes for a fun option. I sometimes will fry wonton wrappers I’ve cut in half into triangles so they’re a bit bigger and able to scoop more of the cream cheese (which needs to be softened before serving).
  • Add a bit of soy sauce (2 tablespoons) and sesame oil (2 teaspoons) and use in a stir-fry.
  • Use for Sweet and Sour Chicken or Pork.
  • Make it spicy with a bit of Chili Sauce.

Other Panda Express copycat recipes on the blog

fried wonton dipped in homemade sweet and sour sauce

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Panda Express Sweet and Sour Sauce (Copycat)

Panda Express Sweet and Sour Sauce is the perfect classic Chinese takeout dipping sauce that is bright red in color, sweet and acidic. The perfect dipping sauce for egg rolls, wontons and crispy wonton strips.
Yield 8 servings
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Sauce
Cuisine Chinese
Author Sabrina Snyder


  • 1 1/4 cups water , divided
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • red food coloring (optional, but for authentic color I had to add a few drops)


  • Add 1 cup water, white vinegar and sugar to a saucepan and bring to a boil.
  • Add the cornstarch to the remaining ¼ cup of water in a small bowl and whisk until the cornstarch is dissolved.
  • Add the cornstarch slurry to the saucepan and whisk it all together.
  • Reduce to a simmer and cook until thickened, about 5-7 minutes.


Calories: 114kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Sodium: 2mg | Sugar: 24g


Panda Express Sweet and Sour Sauce is the perfect classic Chinese takeout dipping sauce that is bright red in color, sweet and acidic. The perfect dipping sauce for egg rolls, wontons and crispy wonton strips.
Panda Express Sweet and Sour Sauce is the perfect classic Chinese takeout dipping sauce that is bright red in color, sweet and acidic. The perfect dipping sauce for egg rolls, wontons and crispy wonton strips.

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.


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  1. I love Panda Express it’s my favorite food. I’m so happy to be able to make them at home, hopefully the right way. Lol
    Thank you so much

  2. This recipe is fantastic; thank you! It was really easy to put together. As a Novice, I’m hesatant to over use cornstarch (I used 3 Tablespoons; just a tad less than the recipe) and added the juice from 1/4 lime and a couple of sqirts of Ketchup for color. Next time I think I’ll use food color to get the color right and a tad less sugar. I was really amazed at how much this tasted like the original. Again, thank you for your efforts!

  3. I have made this recipe twice with the same result. It tastes very much like the Panda express SS sauce but when I add the cornstarch slurry it jells the whole batch. I reduced the cornstarch on the second try and had the same result. I don’t know what I am doing wrong.

    1. Hi Cathy… Next time, before you boil it, mix them all including the cornstarch. Don’t separate the cornstarch mixture for last. I used to make the same mistake.

  4. I love it!! However, with no red food coloring, my eyes tricked my brain which tricked my taste buds and couldn’t fully appreciate how identical this sauce is to Panda’s. So I’m looking at the 2 remaining packets of Cholula I had left from Qdoba last night and think hmmm.. sweet, sour.. AND spice! My fav flavs together are sweet & spicy so why not all 3?? I added the 2 packets (1.5 tsp in each) and mix it into the still warm sauce I just made and holy cow! It’s amazing PLUS gives it a tinge of spice. I’m a wimp to spicy so if I say tinge then most others may not even notice. So if you’re up to a tiny kick at the end after a perfect sweet & sour sauce, add this! As much or as little you want! I first taste tested on my plate with literally a drop then kept adding until I used all 3 tsp’s.. or 1 tbsp total at that point. Amazing! Thank you for this very easy to make recipe. The only problem I had was it immediately thickened upon adding cornstarch & water to the boil so I added water in order to allow it to cook together 5 mins. Was it supposed to do that? Directions say to “cook until thickened, about 5-7 mins” Did anyone else have this problem?

    1. Hi Angie, You’re a creative cook! I’m sure you measured your cornstarch precisely. Not sure why that happened.

  5. Recipe was really great as written, but I can never leave well enough alone so I added ketchup as others suggested, which added a bit more flavor. I also added a tablespoon of fresh blood orange juice and a pinch of ground ginger. The blood orange really enhanced the flavor and color, without making it too citrusy. Im sure it deviated a bit from a traditional sweet and sour, but it sure was yummy!

  6. Omg!!! This is the second recipe I tried because I wanted to bring the Chinese food experience home and this sauce turned out amazing!!! I also added the 1 1/2 Tbsp of ketchup for color but this sauce is amazing!!! Thank you Sabrina

  7. I loved this sauce! I’m a huge fan of panda express and I’ve been dying to have my own sweet and sour sauce and finally found it!

    I had a question though on the best way to reheat it, just in the microwave or back on the stove top?

  8. Hi! Love your site! Being from northern europe, sweden we use white vinegar a lot. It is usually found in the local grocery at 12% or 24%. The white vinegar above, is it around 6%? Not too completely shock my family! /Cheers Toby

  9. I added a few slices of pineapple and boiled it for the last 2 minutes. This made the flavor even better!

  10. That’s it! It’s the ketchup!!! I had made this before and found it too vinegary. This time I added the suggestion of 11/2ish tablespoons of ketchup, which I added after the slurry. It has a more orange color but tastes exactly like Panda Express!! Thanks for the and the ketchip suggestion.

  11. Just tried this! It was so easy and it tasted so good! Hubs loves S/S dishes from the Chinese restaurants and he was absolutely delighted with this. Asked me to make it again.
    I loved that it has ingredients that are always in my pantry. I added some ketchup during the cooking process, then added a little more to get a better color after cooking.
    Thanks for the recipe…it now has a prominent place in my recipe box!

  12. This is delicious! But when compared side by side with the original sweet and sour sauce from panda express… the original sauce has a citrus hint in it… and it’s a little thinner. What can/could we add to this to get the hint of citrus?? That would be ideal. Thank you!

    1. You could add a squeeze of orange or lemon to get the citrus you’re looking for. The extra liquid might help to thin it out to fit more to your liking too. Hope this helps!

  13. Thank you for such a quick and EASY version of sauce—I definitely don’t have to purchase the grocery store bottles any longer!!

    I love that this included everyday ingredients I always have in my kitchen!! Delicious and simple!!

    I added a little crushed pineapple and frozen (thawed first) peppers and onions, then re-simmered and it thickened right up!!

    Very versatile recipe!! Thanks Sabrina!

  14. Made it. Came out great! However, I turned the pot on the lowest setting and didn’t think it was simmering because of the lack of steam and movement in the pot. I went to stir and noticed it was thinkened, didn’t burn! Thank you Jesus! Not use to using cornstarch! Lol.

    I added about a tablespoon and a half of ketchup and a sprinkle of salt. The ketchup help turn the color and I just wanted a pinch of salt. The recipe was great thank you!

  15. Made as directed but halved the recipe. I added a dash of garlic powder for flavor and a squirt of ketchup for coloring . I usually make the pineapple version but didn’t feel like opening a can and so I found this recipe! Had it with homemade egg rolls and homemade cream cheese wontons! So easy and good, thank you.

  16. Just made this and it was entirely too sweet for my family and I. I guess we prefer sour & sweet chicken. ?
    We tried adding more vinegar and that helped cut the sweet, but it was still too sweet for us.

    1. Loved this comment to much! I made this for Halloween and made it green. Paired with some skinny shrimp egg roll witch fingers(little almonds as the nail haha) and battered chicken breast as well…anything you want. I said ogars stones, but anything goes! Super yummy!

    1. Is it the same recipe but at the end add ketchup instead of food coloring or do you cook the ketchup with the sugar, vinegar and water?

  17. Oh my gosh, this is fantastic. So easy to make and I think just as good or better the the Chinese restaurants I have had. Great job, it’s a keeper!

  18. THANK YOU!!! I will never buy sweet and sour sauce from the grocery again lol this is delicious!!! Now I just need the meat for it to go with lol seriously thank you. I’m a single mom and can’t afford many extras and now we can keep our fav sauce in our home. You’re awesome!

      1. Umm so I put it in the fridge and now it is jelled lol it’s in a sealed container and when reheated it is a thicker sauce then when I first made it. Did I do something wrong by putting it in the fridge or possibly cook it to long. I only did 5 mins. Also, how long is this sauce good for?

        1. No, you didn’t do anything wrong. It’ll get thicker in the fridge. You can just warm it up a bit before using once you take it out. If store properly, I would think it should last a week.

          1. Hello Sabrina,

            I made this recipe and the taste was absolutely amazing, however I had the super thick problem. As soon as I added the corn starch solution portion, the boiling sauce congealed and turned into a very thick jelly almost instantly. The taste was spot on, but the consistency was anything but… Perhaps too much corn starch added? Your insight would be most appreciated

          2. Oh no! Glad it still tasted great but next time, I would try adding less cornstarch. Sorry that happened to you.

  19. Thanks Sabrina. I added 1T of Char Sui sauce instead of the red food coloring, and it turned out really well.

    1. it tasted like jelly sugar? Im thinking you forgot to add the vinegar, its like making ketchup without the tomato’s. you shouldn’t review something if you didnt make it right :/
      i on the other hand made this and it turned out great

  20. And i forgot to mention that I also tried to add stake sauce, hp sauce, worchestire sauce but every time it ends up with a waste of time and money and big disappointment!

  21. You don’t know how much I have searched and tried to copycat the chinese takeaway sweet and sour sauce reciepe.
    I tried to add pineapple juice, plum, sweet chilly sauce, orange juice! But none of them gave me that delicious taste of the takeaway sauce!
    Ok why now I’m impressed with this simple recipe? Because I know that chinese restaurants use the most inexpensive and quick seasonings to their dishes! Will try it and get back to you soon!

  22. This was a fairly good recipe. Im from Sweden so I never had Panda Express Sweet and sour sauce. I also only had white wine vinegar though so the taste might not be accurate. Still impressed with the simplicity. Thanks and great job!

  23. Sooo good! Although next time, I think I’ll use yellow food colouring, or a combination of red and yellow. The red food colouring made it look like a neon pink dipping sauce. Tasted delicious, though! And so easy to make

      1. I am a diabetic. I made this recipe and halved the sugar. It made it a little more sour but this was fabulous on chicken, rice, and mushrooms. Thank you for sharing this with us.

        1. Try making it with Splenda (the bagged kind that can be used to substitute white granulated sugar in baking) instead of sugar. It honestly tastes great!!!
          1 cup Splenda= 1 cup granulated sugar

  24. You forgot a piece of ginger root. As it is boiling they add a piece of ginger root. Before they serve it to there customers they reheat the sauce in the wok adding pieces of pineapple chunks and bell pepper… trust me!!!!

  25. This came out tasting like jellied sugar water. I didn’t taste any sour so I’m not sure why that is. I followed the directions exactly. Help?

    1. Oh no 🙁 Not sure what would have happened if nothing was changed but I’d be happy to trouble shoot with you to try and figure it out, if you’d like. Email me at contact @

  26. Sweet sour sauce.has apple juice.white vinegar. don’t have to add red coloring to it.when it boils add corn starch.i worked in 4 star chinese restaurant. All stuff served in American restaurants is not authentic. Half of items are left out.some have items that are not even in it..

    1. Daniel, I totally agree, but this is a copycat recipe, not the authentic version. I was recreating the color of Panda Express’s sweet and sour sauce. I do make a version that doesn’t include most of these ingredients and while that would be a more authentic recipe to most restaurants, it wouldn’t be a copycat.

    2. daniel no one is forcing you to make this. people need to stop flooding the comments with either “this recipe doesnt look right” or “i cant wait to try it!” would be nice to see comments from those who actually make the stuff.

  27. Glad I ran across this recipe… been looking for a good sweet and sour sauce, and I can’t believe it’s so easy! Trying soon 🙂

  28. I had no clue that sweet & sour sauce is so easy to make at home! 🙂 Definitely trying this soon.

  29. Oh my goodness, you cracked the code on that sauce – YES! 😀 I could seriously put this on everything. Can’t wait to try making it!

  30. I’m obsessed with sweet and sour sauce, so this recipe is just perfect!!

  31. I’ve never tried Panda Express, but I adore a good sweet and sour sauce.

  32. oj wow.. I think this is the dipping sauce I was looking for… gonna try it soon Sabrina.. thx for sharing