Sweet and Sour Chicken

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

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

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

  • To make the sauce, whisk together the sugar, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, ketchup, soy sauce and garlic into a small bowl.
  • 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.
  • Heat the oil on medium high to high heat, you’re looking for the chicken to cook and brown in about 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the cornstarch to a large ziplock bag.
  • Add the chicken pieces to the large ziplock bag and shake until all the pieces are well coated.
  • Dip the pieces into the egg, then into the flour before adding to the hot oil.
  • Cook the chicken for 2-3 minutes, until cooked through and crispy.
  • Remove to a cookie sheet (no paper towels!) and continue cooking all the chicken pieces.
  • When done cooking remove all but a tablespoon of the oil.
  • Add the bell peppers, onion and pineapple and cook for 1-2 minutes, until crisp-tender.
  • Add the sauce back in and stir to coat the pieces and cook for 30 seconds to help the garlic warm through.
  • Add the chicken pieces back in and stir until the sauce has thickened and bubbling.
  • Serve immediately, with optional garnishes of sesame seeds or green onions.

Nutrition

Calories: 602kcal | Carbohydrates: 92g | Protein: 41g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 190mg | Sodium: 588mg | Potassium: 1082mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 65g | Vitamin A: 1385IU | Vitamin C: 79.5mg | Calcium: 67mg | Iron: 2.4mg
Keyword: Sweet and Sour Chicken

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.

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 upcoming cookbook: Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients which is being 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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Comments

  1. This was an outstanding sweet and sour chicken recipe with a few modifications. As a couple of people commented that the details of how to cook the sauce were missing, and also some commented that the sauce was too vinegary. I reduced the apple cider vinegar down to 1/3 cup and added 1/8 cup of brown sugar to the sauce. Being that part of the sauce-cooking instructions are missing, I put the sauce ingredients in a saucepan on medium to medium-low and let it simmer for 5 to 10 minutes to a slow boil and then I set it aside to thicken for a few minutes and resumed following the recipe…With these modifications the sauce was excellent… just like takeout!!

  2. Good recipe and good instructions.
    The problem I always have with the bagging of cornstarch then dipping into the egg is EVERY time I have done this the cornstarch comes off the chicken. When you dredge the meat in the flour the flour gets clotted up with the egg and the whole thing becomes a mess.
    I have found it to be helpful to use a spoon to sprinkle the flour over the chicken rather than drag it through the flour and foul it all up.
    Actually, the whole thing would be much faster,easier and better to just use a prepared tempura batter.

  3. When did the sauce get introduced so Step 11 makes sense? How can add back in if it wasn’t in there to begin with?

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

  4. Oh. My. God. This was so easy and absolutely DELICIOUS. The only thing I did differently was use chicken thighs instead of breasts. Amazing.

  5. Took me 40mins skipping the cornfllour and egg steps, 4 5 6, less calories!
    Great recipe, thank you!!!

  6. Most disorganized sweet n sour recipe ever, did not even have ingredients in order to put in AND it sucked. Simple recipes I’ve seen were way so much better then this .

  7. My husband said it was the first recipe I got from the internet that he liked, and had three helpings! I will definitely make it again, but the 15 minute prep time is way off! Next time I will try to find an easier way to coat the chicken because it took forever.

  8. Probably the best sweet and sour chicken that I have ever had. But it took me closer to 45+ minutes to make. But definitely worth it.

  9. Seriously the BEST recipe ever!!! It’s even better as leftovers! I love it so much and so does my family!

  10. This dish turned out perfect. Followed the recipe exactly as written and it didn’t disappoint. Hubby, who is a picky eater, loved it.

  11. Excellent. You will need more than a quarter of a cup of flour. I made too much and have way too many leftovers for my small family. Can I freeze the rest of the fried chicken pieces? I did not put them all in the sauce because I didn’t want them to get mushy. Let me know if you can freeze the chicken pieces.

  12. Make no substitutes to this recipe! It’s delicious! Prepping the veggies, sauce and chicken makes it easy and serve with Jasmine or Basmati rice…a keeper!

  13. I made this Sweet and Sour chicken for dinner exactly as written except for substituting boneless, skinless chicken thighs. It is absolutely delicious! My family enjoyed it very much and said it is far superior to our only local Chinese restaurant’s! I will definitely make this again.

  14. This chicken came out so good. It certainly looked like the picture. It was magazine worthy in flavor and looks. This recipe will stay among my staples from now on. My son cooks sometimes at his fraternity, and I sent him the recipe to try. So easy and flavorful. I am sure it will work out even with bagged popcorn chicken.

  15. Really delicious and easy. I used 2 boneless thighs, broccoli and red onion because that was all I had! Had a bag if frozen mixed fruit and picked out the pineapple-accidentally got some mango in?. I halved everything except the egg and flour. I am a senior and live alone. Served over rice, this will make 3 yummy meals. Definitely will do again. Also, I used less than the suggested amount if canola when cooking the chicken… because I am cheap? Just took about 3 minutes on each side. I will definitely make this again!

  16. This was delicious. I doubled the sauce recipe. You’ll also need more flour than is listed. I used spicy ketchup from whataburger and that was great.

  17. This was so good! I used whataburger spicy ketchup instead of regular ketchup ?. I also doubled the sauce recipe. You’ll definitely need more flour than the recipe lists, too. But overall, awesome.

  18. My daughter made this for me and it blew me out of the water! Beats any restaurant I’ve had this in! Keep posting more recipes!!

  19. Added Zucchini, broccoli and mushrooms in place of the red and green peppers (still had the orange pepper). Turned out great, good way to use up extra veggies without spoiling the theme.

  20. When you are “cooking” the chicken and the oil, I take it in the oven…what temp, how long please? Then you remove all but 1 tablespoon oil and you cook with the pepper, onion, pineapple. What is that temp? Same as before but what was it? Thanks. My first time doing anything like this. No mention of the cooking part in the directions that I can see. Thanks for answering.

    1. Hi! For this recipe when I put ” cook the remaining chicken you are cooking it all in the oil, no oven needed at all for this recipe. The wording is a little confusing, sorry!

  21. So very yummy. Sweet and sour chicken is a favorite of mine. I made this recipe with using chicken, and tonight I used shrimp …same process, just with shrimp. Worked out perfectly! I am allergic to pineapple, so I cubed up mango instead.

    1. I’m not sure but I must have done something wrong by reading the other contents. I followed recipe but it was so strong of vinegar, it was terrible. So disappointed.

      1. Really delicious and easy. I used 2 boneless thighs, broccoli and red onion because that was all I had! Had a bag if frozen mixed fruit and picked out the pineapple-accidentally got some mango in?. I halved everything except the egg and flour. I am a senior and live alone. Served over rice, this will make 3 yummy meals. Definitely will do again. Also, I used less than the suggested amount if canola when cooking the chicken… because I am cheap? Just took about 3 minutes on each side. I will definitely make this again!

      2. Same thing happened to me- I thought maybe my apple cider vinegar was stronger than the normal or something like that because I followed all measurements correctly and it was SO vinegary and my whole house smells like vinegar now 🙁

  22. I made the sweet n sour chicken for dinner tonight, is one of the Best recipes I’ve made. It’s a keeper. Thanks for sharing

  23. I will make more sauce next time, but this recipe on a bed of jasmine rice and an egg roll on the side was delish!! I did have to cook the chicken pieces way longer than stated. I had them in cornstarch for quite a while and they didnt brown for a very long time(5 to 8 mins) That could’ve been why?

  24. Thank you very much the sweet and sour chicken it looks very nice I never cooked I will today for lunch for my Family please keep sending me your receipt also deserts, I like to cook

  25. My Family said it’s the best sweet and sour chicken I have ever made! They even liked it better than the Hong Kong! The Only change I made is I added the Pineapple Juice from the canned pineapple chunks into the sauce. It’s a lot of work, but so worth it.

  26. This is my second time making this! It’s excellent! My husband also says it’s the best he’s ever had! It’s hard to eat takeout after making this!

    1. I made the sweet n sour chicken for dinner tonight, is one of the Best recipes I’ve made. It’s a keeper. Thanks for sharing

  27. This is an excellent Sweet & Sour Chicken! We loved it, thought it was better than restaurant made, & it will definitely go into my recipe rotation.

  28. Even though it took my chicken longer to get golden, I needn’t have worried. It was exceptionally tasty and tender, and my husband declared it the best he had ever had, including restaurants! The sauce was perfect! I served all this over rice, and it was absolutely delicious. Using fresh pineapple is a real plus!

  29. I made this last night and it was excellent! I was wondering if it would be possible to cook the chicken in an air fryer instead of deep frying in so much oil?

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