Sweet and Sour Chicken

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Sweet and Sour Chicken with crispy chicken, pineapple and bell peppers just like your favorite takeout place without the food coloring.

Sweet and Sour Chicken with crispy chicken, pineapple and bell peppers.

Sweet and Sour Chicken, A Classic

Sweet and Sour Chicken is a classic Chinese takeout option most of us are too afraid to make at home. Something about woks and cooking with pineapple make it intimidating for most, but it is so much easier to make than you would think.

Of the classic Chinese Recipes that most people ask for on my blog the one I hear about the absolute most is sweet and sour chicken. I totally get it, it isn’t even just the recipe, but THAT SAUCE. When I was a teenager and I made this sauce for the first time I also actually started learning how to use chopsticks. So for a solid month (I kid you not, my mom was not thrilled with this), I used chopsticks for every meal and had a tiny little bowl of Sweet and Sour Chicken Sauce to dip everything into it.

Sweet and Sour Chicken sauce with sesame seeds

How to make Sweet and Sour Chicken

When it comes to making a good Sweet and Sour Chicken recipe there are a few tips I love to give out.

  • Keep the breading super crispy and light. I have experimented with this recipe both in a tempura batter and a straight cornstarch coating. I prefer cornstarch for ease of use, but either way, you don’t want something doughy that will absorb your sauce like a sponge.
  • Make sure you’re using GOOD pineapple chunks. I like either a super sweet fresh pineapple or the frozen chunks you get at Costco. They always have high quality frozen pineapple I’ve never been disappointed with.
  • Don’t skip the onions. I know people may have aversions to them, but the onions and the bell peppers play an important role in balancing the flavors of the dish. Without them, you would have a completely sweet entree with only a sour punch from the pineapple. Adding a bit of bitter from the peppers and onions helps cut through the sweetness. Trust me, you’ll be trying to snag extra onion pieces (assuming you don’t already really hate onions).

How to make Sweet and Sour Chicken like your favorite takeout place

Want more Chinese Food Recipes?

Sweet and Sour Chicken tossed in sweet and sour chicken sauce

Tools used in this Sweet and Sour Chicken recipe:

  • Wok: Great for high heat, quick cooking. This wok is a great addition to your kitchen if you love cooking Chinese food or stir fries in general.
  • Large Frying Pan: I use this Cuisinart for most of my non cast iron cooking unless I am going with a stainless steel option, then I choose my All Clad.
  • Low Sodium Soy Sauce: I find regular soy sauce much too salty, remember you can always add salt but you can’t subtract it. Starting with low sodium allows you to alter to your tastes if necessary.
  • Frying Spider Strainer: This frying spider strainer is the quickest and easiest way to scoop out items that are fried without wasting too much time or getting too much oil out of the pan. You won’t have pieces burning like you would with a smaller strainer, plus it is SO inexpensive. I use it for almost all of my small fried items.

 

Recipe

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Sweet and Sour Chicken

4.95 from 181 votes
  • Yield: 4
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Course: Main Course
  • Cuisine: Chinese
  • Author: Sabrina Snyder
Sweet and Sour Chicken with crispy chicken, pineapple and bell peppers that tastes just like your favorite takeout place without the food coloring.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts cut into 1” chunks
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • canola oil for frying
  • 1 cup pineapple chunks
  • 1 red bell pepper cut into 1” chunks
  • 1 green bell pepper cut into 1” chunks
  • 1/2 yellow onion cut into 1” chunks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 4 teaspoons reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic minced

Instructions

Note: click on times in the instructions to start a kitchen timer while cooking.

  1. To make the sauce, whisk together the sugar, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, ketchup, soy sauce and garlic into a small bowl.
  2. Pour enough canola oil into a dutch oven or frying pan that is comes up from the bottom about an inch to an inch and a half.
  3. Heat the oil on medium high to high heat, you’re looking for the chicken to cook and brown in about 2-3 minutes.

  4. Add the cornstarch to a large ziplock bag.
  5. Add the chicken pieces to the large ziplock bag and shake until all the pieces are well coated.
  6. Dip the pieces into the egg, then into the flour before adding to the hot oil.
  7. Cook the chicken for 2-3 minutes, until cooked through and crispy.

  8. Remove to a cookie sheet (no paper towels!) and continue cooking all the chicken pieces.
  9. When done cooking remove all but a tablespoon of the oil.
  10. Add the bell peppers, onion and pineapple and cook for 1-2 minutes, until crisp-tender.

  11. Add the sauce back in and stir to coat the pieces and cook for 30 seconds to help the garlic warm through.

  12. Add the chicken pieces back in and stir until the sauce has thickened and bubbling.
  13. Serve immediately, with optional garnishes of sesame seeds or green onions.

Nutrition Information

Yield: 4 , Amount per serving: 602 calories, Calories: 602g, Carbohydrates: 92g, Protein: 41g, Fat: 6g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 190mg, Sodium: 588mg, Potassium: 1082mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 65g, Vitamin A: 1385g, Vitamin C: 79.5g, Calcium: 67g, Iron: 2.4g

All images and text © for Dinner, then Dessert.

Keyword: Sweet and Sour Chicken
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Sweet and Sour Chicken dish ready to serve

Sweet and Sour Chicken with crispy chicken, pineapple and bell peppers that tastes just like your favorite takeout place without the food coloring.
Sweet and Sour Chicken with crispy chicken, pineapple and bell peppers that tastes just like your favorite takeout place without the food coloring.

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Comments

  1. This recipe was great! I added a 4 ounce jar of Hot Pepper Jelly to add some spice. Will be making this more often. Thanks for the recipe!

  2. I love this recipe! I have made it at least 5 times . The only thing I change was to double the sauce part of this recipe. We love the sauce! I keep the chicken in the oven at 175 degrees to keep the.chicken warm. (It does not dry out the chicken.)

  3. I made this recipe tonight. I only had canned pineapple tidbits. So I used them. I also added drained petite canned tomatoes with chili’s for color. This was the only change I made to the recipe. The recipe was perfect. Thank you, I will add it to my menu to make again!

  4. Yum! Made this it was very good perfect amount of tang! Will make again and again its a keeper! Have made a few of your asian recipes so far. Been making your pad thai since atleast a year now. Thanks?

    1. I’m not entirely sure because it’s using a wet batter and I haven’t tried air frying a wet batter. Maybe a reader can hop in after me who may have tried this?

  5. Excellent recipe for authentic flavour .. only thing I found was the sauce was too liquidy .. I think you have to spit the steps up .. first boil the sauce in a separate saucepan till it reduces to 1/2 .. then stir fry the veggies in a wok .. add the sauce back in along with chicken.. this won’t make the stir fried veggies overcook.. don’t try to reduce the sauce ingredients coz its actually has the correct tang.. just a suggestion

  6. Excellent recipe for authentic flavour .. only thing I found was the sauce was too liquidy .. I think you have to spit the steps up .. first boil the sauce in a separate saucepan till it reduces to 1/2 .. then stir fry the veggies in a wok .. add the sauce back in along with chicken.. this won’t make the stir fried veggies overcook.. don’t try to reduce the sauce ingredients coz its actually has the correct tang.. just a suggestion

  7. Made this recipe for my husband tonight. I substituted the apple cider vinegar with white vinegar. Added about 3 tablespoons of pineapple juice and 4 tbsp of hoisin sauce. He loved it. We will definitely have this again.

  8. Wonderful recipe it was very good had all the ingredients except pineapples or sesame oil it still came out good. Thanks for sharing will make this again soon with all the ingredients ????

  9. Hello Sabrina I made this recipe and it came wonderful. Some family members tried it after I finished it and thought it was wonderful although I didn’t have all the ingredients on hand such as green bell pepper, pineapples, sesame oil; I used red, yellow, and orange bell peppers, onions it came good but the next time I make it I will have all the ingredients on hand this is a great recipe. I had a stroke and is somewhat limited to what I can make but this recipe was quite easy next time I will cut veggies and onions ahead of time cause I don’t move as fast now so it took me a little longer time wise. Thank you and look forward to more recipes from you glad I found you

  10. hello Sabrina, I made this recipe and o my goodness it was a hit some family members said that it tasted like they were at a Chinese Restaurant although I did not have some of the ingredients like no green pepper but had orange yellow and red so I used those instead no pineapples no sesame oil but nevertheless it turned out great and was hit with everyone the onions were great in it also. Next time I make I will double recipe because it got gone so fast, I was told to make this recipe for our next potluck dinner will be glad to because this a great and easy recipe Thank you for sharing will be looking forward to more

  11. This is the tastiest sweet and sour chicken dish we’ve ever enjoyed. I once tried to substitute bottled sweet and sour sauce, but it wasn’t nearly as good as the sauce in the recipe. It doesn’t take much longer to make the homemade sauce and it’s much thicker and tastier than anything off the shelf. It even presents well with the colorful vegetables and pineapple.

  12. The recipe was nice, but took a long time for a not-so-good cook as myself, and the vinegar ended up being a bit overpowering. Would halve if I ever try again

  13. I agree; the sauce is too vinegar-y. I’ll try this one again, though, with a few modifications to the sauce. 😉

  14. I made this recently and WOW! I was so shocked I was able to make something so wonderful as this and on my first try! My family was super impressed and loved each and every bite. I cant wait to make it again.. I doubled the sauce because its the best ever. I even bought one of those strainers through Amazon for the next time I make this.. Thank you Sabrina for sharing this with us.. Amazing!

  15. Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner! This was a smash hit! We substituted GF 1 to 1 flour so our kids could finally enjoy this meal and it came out great.

  16. I found it a but confusing because of the amount of times I had to take out the chicken and cook and cook and cook! But overall taste was fantastic

  17. Really great! Will never buy a jar again!! I added seasoning to the flour and corn starch and soy sauce to the egg mix. Also added carrots and zucchini for extra vegetables! My family including 3 teenage sons and Husband loved it!

  18. This recipe came out fantastic for me! My chicken was still very slightly frozen when I added it to the skillet. I think that was a good thing because I had to cook it longer than the recommended time to get it golden. My oil probably should have been a little hotter. Luckily, it came out perfect, nice and tender, not extremely golden but it was crispy and crispy and looked beautiful when I got it in the sauce. I used fresh pineapple and it was fantastic. Although I did have apple cider vinegar, I decided to use my rice wine vinegar that I also had. Thank you so much for this recipe. It really didn’t take that long to make, and it was restaurant quality. Most of all, it is a very inexpensive dish to make, and I already had all the ingredients on hand.

    1. I made the sweet and sour chicken on Tuesday of this week and it was delicious my brother fell in love with it and said this is the dish to bring to family potlucks I didn’t have any pineapples or green bell pepper but I had the yellow red and orange bell peppers with the onions boy was it yummy I will probably double the recipe next time because it got gone so dang on fast glad I found this recipe will be looking for more Thank You

  19. I have 3 kids that are insanely picky!! I have even started a recipe book to add in food all 3 will eat. This is the first recipe I can add! This is delicious!

  20. Thanks to this recipe have our new favorite Chinese place. I’m calling it Trish’s Kitchen.

    I am definitely going to look for other recipes by Sabrina!

  21. Thank you for this experience. It was a little work but the results were worth it. My with and I loved it and the recipe will be on the top of our make again list.

    1. This recipe I used a dutch oven or large frying pan for it all. I was just listing some other pans that are useful. Sorry if it was confusing. Enjoy!

  22. This was absolutely delicious!! I didn’t have any apple cider vinegar, but even with substituting white wine vinegar the taste was fantastic. My only issue is with the prep and cook time, but being more of a novice than some may account for the extra time it took me. Then again, had I known what it was going to involve I might not have attempted it, so it’s all good. 😉