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

4.9 from 94 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. A great, easy recipe—the best sweet-and-sour recipe I’ve tried. I love how the chicken was golden and crispy, but still light. It was a bit sweet for me, but no sweeter than you’d get in a restaurant.

  2. Hi, this recipe sounds yum!!! I usually bake chicken coated in corn flake crumbs on 475 for about 23 minutes instead of frying, so that it’s healthier. Would that work for this kind of recipe?

      1. Tried it tonight and it was perfect. Much better than take out. The only thing i didn’t use was soy sauce (didn’t have any). Will definitely be making this again. Thanks for the recipe.

  3. So delicious!! I didn’t have chicken breast, so I used thighs. I also used a bit of pineapple juice in the sauce. Definitely will make again.

  4. Made this for my daughter and I. She loves Chinese food but I have had little success making sweet and sour in the past. This recipe was a triumph. I only made two changes I used a slightly over ripe pineapple and rice flour instead of cornstarch. The chicken came out crispy and not at all oily. My daughter liked that the batter meant it kept it’s fresh chicken flavour. I liked the sauce even though it was a different colour to the takeaway version. The only other thing I can say is that we’re having the same meal tomorrow!

  5. Absolutely love this recipe the chicken was so beautiful, I almost couldn’t cover it with the sauce but I am glad I did.

  6. Made your Sweet and Sour Chicken today and it is delicious! Made it exactly how the recipe said and I would not change a thing! It is a keeper! Thank you for a great recipe. I will be checking out more of your recipes!

  7. Absolute delicious. I followed the recipe only thing I did different was added the pineapple juice to the sauce from the 8oz fan. So yummy. Definitely don’t skip the onions ?.

  8. This was the best sweet and sour chicken recipe I have found. My family loved this recipe. I only had canned chunk pineapple and used that and it turned out great. Otherwise I followed the recipe and wouldn’t change a thing. Will be making again. It did take me about 2 hours but definitely worth it!

  9. This was the best sweet and sour chicken recipe I have found. My family loved this recipe. I only had canned chunk pineapple and used that and it turned out great. Otherwise I followed the recipe and wouldn’t change a thing. Will be making again.

  10. I made this for my family and one of our members is a former military “brat.” She lived in a few Asian countries. She said this rivaled their sweet n sour chicken sauce. We all love this so much and I make it often. Thanks for a great recipe!

  11. Wow, this recipe was spot on! Definitely as good or better than any sweet & sour chicken I’ve had anywhere, much less made. I was skeptical about the ketchup in the the sauce and the corn starch, egg, flour order for the chicken but decided to follow the directions as the reviews were so good. The sauce was excellent and I could not believe how crispy the chicken turned out. I’ve NEVER had that happen before.

    A couple things I will change for next time… I feel that the chicken could have been more seasoned with salt & pepper. I would make more sauce as it was so delicious and there wasn’t much extra for rice. I undercooked the veggies just a bit too much. Lastly, I cut the apple cider vinegar in half (1/8 cup) as it was recommended in the reviews… I feel that was just right.

    This is definitely going into the keeper recipe book. We will be making it again next time we want Chinese ?

  12. Delish! Selected this recipe as it looked the most vibrant when I did a search. The first time I made it ,I followed the steps to the letter. I felt that the chicken step took too long and really didn’t add extra flavour. So, now I sautee the chicken add the onions, peppers and finally the pineapple. When I whisk the ingredients for the sauce, I add the corn starch. This recipe has become part of our dinner rotation, and yes it looks just as good as the original.
    Thank you for sharing Sabrina!

  13. Just made the sweet & sour chicken for dinner, my husband said at least 5 times while eating THIS IS SO GOOD! I will want you to make this again!
    I didn’t change anything,it was delicious.

  14. I had been searching for a delicious and easy to prepare sweet and sour recipe. I have used this for pork, shrimp, and scallops. I can sum this recipe with two words….Simply Flawless!!!

    1. Glad you enjoyed it. In the recipe card, click on the green (US Customary) and it’ll bring the recipe back to US measuring system.

      1. Amazing, we keep making it. It is a site bug. We don’t use the US system, its a bug by the site developers as the systems need a bit more care to convert metric to imperial – as some imperial measurments such as cup can be used with liquids or solids, though in metric the conventions are different (and measuring devices in the kitchen), so to convert, the softeare would also need to be written to be aware of what is being converted (flour vinegar etc), and not just the unit of measure. I’m a coder… 😉

    2. Jus finished making this and I would give the flavor 5 stars but man its a lot of work lol I used 4 chicken breast and doubled the sauce and bell peppers and it took me about 2 hours. I will probably make again but maybe only once a month because of the time. I loved the chicken though it looks basically like restaurant fried chicken. Thanks!

  15. Well, I don’t feel like I can actually rate the recipe because I made several changes per other reviewers’ comments and my own changes too: I skipped the flour step and just coated the chicken in egg and then in cornstarch and I added fresh ginger to the sauce (prob about 1.5 teaspoons) and I left out the onion because of time and used a cup of crushed pineapple because I didn’t have chunks. I only added the sauce at the end, after the veggies had cooked for a few minutes and cooked it down to a good thickness before adding the chicken bits to stir it all up before serving. (I also added a bit of Worcestershire to the sauce but kept the amount of sugars as per the recipe.) It tastes amazing!! There’s hardly any leftovers and we’re already deciding (i.e. fighting about) who gets to eat it for lunch tomorrow. I prefer my sweet and sour to not be overly sweet and this was perfect!! But…I will probably never make this again because it’s just ALOT of work with the separate batches of fried chicken and it took a long time for this all to come together. I will keep the sauce recipe though and cook my chicken some other way that doesn’t involve hot oil burns 🙂

  16. Amazing! Thank you. The chicken crisped up nicely as opposed to other recipes I’ve tried! We thought the acv was just a bit much too…not so much in the taste but in the stirring and right when you are about to take a bite..it just hits you! Bravo on a great recipe and thanks for sharing

  17. I really love sweet and sour chicken, and this tasted exactly like some of the best sweet and sour chicken I’ve ever had at any restaurant, but this recipe was way too labor intensive.

  18. This recipe was amazing!!!! My mom used to make sweet-and-sour chicken a lot when I was little. I wanted to see if I could make something as good. So I tried this and had her over for dinner. I was scared it wasn’t going to be as good and she wasn’t gonna like it, but by surprise she actually loved it she said it was better then hers. She did teach me something so I wouldn’t make my chicken soggy for lunch the next day instead of adding the chicken to the sauce I just added some cornstarch to the sauce and thicken it up. It was amazing!! Thank you for sharing this recipe!!!

    1. Great recipe! Today I made it for the second time. The chicken crisps up nicely (my family enjoys eating the chicken by itself) and the sauce is very good! I am a pretty good, efficient cook and it took me over an hour in total time. I don’t see how it could possibly take 25 minutes in total time. Again, great recipe though, thank you!

    1. Amazing!! The best sweet & sour I ever tasted???? what if I need to make it for 25 persons? Do I need only to multiply the recipe by 6?

      Thanks for sharing.

  19. Excellent recipe! I made it for my husband and I and we both really enjoyed it a great deal! the ssuce was great and pulled it sll together! My only sughedtion would be to slightly brown the meat. It was terrific! I will definitely make it again!

  20. Am always on the lookout for a good recipe – and this did not disappoint! It surpassed expectations! It’s absolutely amazing!! Sooo much better than any sweet and sour I’ve ever had! Thanks so much! Wow!

  21. I followed the recipe but after reading the reviews i put alittle less apple cider vinegar than the receipe(just removed a small amount) and this came out fantastic! It tasted so delicious i am so happy for this receipe. If i was able to upload a pic i would. Thanks for sharing this.

  22. I have never felt the need to comment -ever. But, this was amazing. I didn’t change a thing (never do the 1st time). Perfection.

  23. OMG!!!! I had a few things in the fridge and cabinets. This was by far the best recipe I’ve ever had on such short notice . Took a little longer to prepare but soooooo worth it !!!! Its in my recipe box now