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.
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
- Panda Express Orange Chicken
- Panda Express Mushroom Chicken
- Panda Express Firecracker Chicken Breast
- Panda Express Chow Mein
- Panda Express Fried Rice
- Panda Express Black Pepper Chicken
- Panda Express Kung Pao Chicken
- Panda Express Beijing Beef
- Panda Express Mandarin Teriyaki Chicken
- Panda Express Sweet and Sour Sauce (you’re here!)
- Panda Express String Bean Chicken Breast
- Panda Express Honey Walnut Shrimp
- Panda Express Cream Cheese Rangoon
- Panda Express Beef and Broccoli
- Panda Express Sweetfire Chicken Breast
- 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.
I have searched high and low, test a few recipes, and just not quite right, until….
This one works great! Easy, quick, and fairly accurate… used a wee bit of ketchup for color.
I have tried recipes with pineapple juice, rice vinegar, brown sugar… and so on; they just don’t quite seem right… good but not quite it. One again, this one works great… may try and tweek it at some point, but as is, every one liked it just fine!
I’m glad the recipe met your expectations!
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!
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
Does this work with distilled vinegar like white vinegar ?
distilled vinegar = white vinegar
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?
Either way should work fine!
Finally!! You nailed it Sabrina. This is the sauce that we all love or hate at our local Chinese restaurant. I love it.
Thank you, Karen!
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
Hey Toby! US vinegar tends to be between 4 and 6 % acidity. But check your bottle to know for sure.
I added a few slices of pineapple and boiled it for the last 2 minutes. This made the flavor even better!
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.
I think the sauce itself was great but I decided to add some ketchup.
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!
Wow! Thanks, Kim.
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!
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!
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!
You’re welcome, Nicky.
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!
Yay!! So glad you enjoyed it, Melinda.
Did you have to refrigte it?
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.
You’re welcome, Christina.
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.
Maybe cut back on the sweet instead of increasing the sour?
One of the best things about this recipe, other than it being yummy, is that you can make it any color you want.
Glad you’re enjoying the recipe, Dawn.
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!
They put ketchup in theirs not food coloring.. I used to make it for many yrs at Panda Express
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?
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!
Thanks! So glad you liked it!
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!
You’re welcome, Suzzette!
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?
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.
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
Oh no! Glad it still tasted great but next time, I would try adding less cornstarch. Sorry that happened to you.
Add more water and thin it down to what you like
I can’t wait to try this. I was curious as to how long you think the extra sauce could be stored in the fridge? Thanks!
If in an air tight container, I would think it would last up to a week. I hope you enjoy it!
Thanks Sabrina. I added 1T of Char Sui sauce instead of the red food coloring, and it turned out really well.
I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Audrey!
I’ve tried this and it looks/tasted like jelly sugar
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
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!
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!
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!
This is the best sweet and sour I’ve ever found…..and so easy to make!!!
Thanks for the 5 stars Serena! Glad you loved it!
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
That’s exactly how mine turned out too, but my family loved it. 🙂
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.
Thanks for coming back to let me know how much you enjoyed it.
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
Great recipe. The only thing I added was a few squeezes of ketchup. Awesomeness!
Thanks for the 5 stars Sean! So glad you enjoyed it!!
Loved it..very easy to make
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!!!!
Thanks for the suggestion. I’ll have to try that!
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?
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 @ dinnerthendessert.com
Sweet sour sauce.has apple juice.white vinegar. Ketchup.sugar.you 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..
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.
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.
Your Right Edward , Too Bad We Can’t Follow Your Instructions , HUH , !!!
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 🙂
Yum! This sauce looks like dipping perfection!
I had no clue that sweet & sour sauce is so easy to make at home! 🙂 Definitely trying this soon.
I had no idea it was so easy to make! Thanks for the recipe!
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!
Thanks, Chrisy! It’s one of my favorite sauces too!
What an easy peasy copy cat recipe.
I’m obsessed with sweet and sour sauce, so this recipe is just perfect!!
Wow you are the Panda Express Queen! These look delicious.
I’ve never tried Panda Express, but I adore a good sweet and sour sauce.
oj wow.. I think this is the dipping sauce I was looking for… gonna try it soon Sabrina.. thx for sharing