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.



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Sweet and Sour Chicken

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


  • 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


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: 0 , Amount per serving: calories

All images and text © for Dinner, then Dessert, Inc.

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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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      1. It came out fantastic. The only thing I added was thinly Sliced carrots and zucchini. I would recommend making this for sure. The chicken was very tender and moist in the coating. Thanks!

  1. I just made this just like the recipe said. And it was absolutely DELICIOUS. Thank you for this recipe. I will never eat at a restaurant again. Even cheaper at home because I had all the ingredients at home except chicken. ???

    1. You can but it will product a different taste. Balsamic is slightly sweet where apple cider vinegar is more tart and acidic.

  2. Wow I just made this dish. It looks and smells fantastic. My 7,8 and 4 yr old are excited to taste it too. Thank you ? 

    Rating: 5
    1. If you decide to substitute the ketchup for tomato sauce, you may need to adjust the amount of brown sugar and apple cider vinegar because tomato sauce isn’t as sweet as ketchup. I’d love to know how it turns out for you after trying it though. Enjoy!

  3. Best sweet and sour chicken recipe I’ve made yet. I added more of the veggies and also shredded carrots.

    Rating: 5
  4. This recipe is awesome, I made it for lunch on Newyear. Happy new year with love from Nigeria and thank you so much for the recipe. 

    Rating: 5
  5. This tasted better than the chinese restaurant, everyone in my house loved it , I added a little sesame oil , fantastic , ??

    Rating: 5
  6. I’m excited to try this recipe, but I notice it’s got a high concentration of vinegar in regards to the rest of the ingredients in the sauce, and that worries me. I’m really not a fan of vinegar and I’d like to cut down the amount used. Do you have any suggestions for substitute ingredients?

    1. Unfortunately that is one of the prominent flavors in sweet and sour chicken (as well as orange chicken). Perhaps a different recipe? Have you considered maybe a General tso’s chicken or sesame chicken? Both are available on the blog.

  7. This was absolutely Great! It will be on my dinner rotation of favorites! Thanks! I always made sweet and sour pork from a cook book but now I go to Pinterest and so glad it’s here!  Delicious! Happy family! 

    Rating: 5
  8. Do you know, roughly, how many this recipe serves? I would love to make this for a family get together but need to feed quite a few mouths. 

  9. I made this tonight. It was delious! When I made the sauce it was so good I doubled it because I knew I was not going to keep my spoon out of it til dinner. Thanks.

    Rating: 5
  10. Excellent! I used honey rather than white sugar for the sauce, adding some pineapple juice from the canned pineapples.

    Rating: 5
  11. Wonderful recipe. I’ve tried lots of sweet n sour recipes and this one is the best. Thanks for sharing. Deb

    Rating: 5
  12. I love this!! I made it today and it is wwwaaaaayyyy better than take out!!! It is delish!!! I can’t wait to have it at lunch at school !!!

    Rating: 5
  13. Made this tonight for dinner. It was amazing! I would not have thought that sauce would taste as good as it did. Just the right amount of sweetness. Lots of flavor.The only thing I changed is the type of oil. I used avocado oil with a little grapeseed oil to fry the chicken.

    Rating: 5