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. Add chicken in batches so as not to have more than a single layer of it in the oil at a time.
  • Cook the chicken for 2-3 minutes, until cooked through and crispy.
  • Remove to a cookie sheet (no paper towels!) and continue cooking the remaining batches of 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. Love your recipe!!! So simple to follow. My hubby doesn’t like pineapple in dishes so I substitute with some carrots. Absolute keeper! Thanks for sharing this recipe:D

  2. I was gifted a pineapple and immediately knew I wanted to make Sweet-n-Sour Chicken with it. First time to make and first time to use my wok. Very successful recipe! I temped my oil to 375° between batches and all the chicken was perfectly cooked. Very excited to make this again!! Good job, Chef!

  3. Absolutely delicious and will definitely make it again and again! Very easy and the sweet and sour sauce was perfect!

  4. I want to try this recipe but number seven and number eight in the instructions confuse me. Seven says “Cook the chicken for 2-3 minutes, until cooked through and crispy”…then eight says “Remove to a cookie sheet (no paper towels!) and continue cooking all the chicken pieces.”
    If I have removed the chicken to a baking sheet, what chicken do I continue cooking?
    Yes, I am an amateur wannabe cook and it shows.

    1. Sorry for the confusing wording! You’ll want to cook the chicken in batches so as not to have too much of it in the oil at a time; if you crowd the chicken in the oil too much then it won’t cook evenly. So the first batch should be cooked through and removed to the pan, then start cooking the next batch. Hope that helps clear things up for you!

  5. Thank you for this delicious recipe! Sweet and sour chicken is my favorite and I love that I can now make it at home!

  6. One of my favorite ways to eat chicken! This is a go-to recipe in our house! We never have any left over. SO TASTY and the recipe is super easy to follow!

  7. Thank you for this recipe. Though I like deep fried food, I tend to shy away from deep frying due to the smell and mess. But I do like sweet & sour chicken and this one sounded doable to me, so I made this last night for my family and found was fairly easy to make – and it turned out pretty good and looked just like the picture. Here are a few comments: 1.) I followed the recipe exactly, except that I put in only half the white sugar as some comments said the sauce was too sweet. That was a good decision as I wouldn’t have wanted it to be any sweeter than it was. 2.) The chicken came out with a surprisingly beautiful, crispy coating – just like the restaurants. But in the end it was very bland tasting. Even the sauce couldn’t help the chicken’s lack of flavor. Suggest first tossing the raw chicken pieces with a bit of seasoning before cooking, and/or adding seasoning to the coatings, for example salt & pepper, maybe also a little garlic & onion powders, and a perhaps a small bit of ground red pepper. 3.) The sauce seemed thin. I tried adding about 2-3 tbs. of cornstarch and cooked a little longer to thicken it up, but it wasn’t enough as the sauce was still a bit too thin when served. 4.) And though the sauce taste was good, it was very simple, sweet, and very light on flavor. I would have liked a bit more complexity. Not sure what would do it. Maybe more soy? Chinese seasoning? 5.) I did find that it was very messy to prepare!!! Had to cook the chicken in three batches and by the time I was finished, my kitchen was a greasy, flour-y disaster! 6.) Some commenters said that the recipe took longer to make than the total 50 minutes noted at top of recipe. I agree. My prep & cook time was closer to two hours mostly due to having to cook the chicken in multiple batches and deal with the mess it created. 7.) Recipe says it serves four. We have a family of three adults with good appetites, and we had plenty of leftovers for another one or two nights. So I’d say it actually serves 6-8. Overall, a very good recipe, but if I made it again, I would make the adjustments above. However, it did confirm my aversion to deep frying, so for that reason only, I would probably order out next time.

  8. This dish tasted great, but took way more than 25 minutes to prepare. My kitchen is a wreck! ? at least it tasted good.

  9. I made this tonight and my family really enjoyed it! I used fresh green and orange peppers as well as the onions and garlic from my garden. Delicious! I will definitely cook this again.

  10. Best recipe ever. I tried different sweet and sour recipes and the chicken never comes out crispy enough. This recipe was just perfect. Everything balanced each other and my family ate it all up!

  11. You’re bouncing all around with the recipe and it’s truly confusing. Definitely ruined the anniversary dinner! ?

  12. You’re bouncing all around with the recipe and it’s truly confusing. Definitely ruined the anniversary dinner! ?

  13. This is the best chicken jam recipe
    I’ve ever met. Everything is good except the amount of sugar. Had to add plenty of chicken stock, chili, lime juice, soy sauce trying to fix it. I do not believe that sugar here in Finland is more sweet than somewhere else, but this beautiful dish tastes now like “double sweet & nothing else” chicken.

  14. The best sweet and sour chicken I’ve ever had, and we made it on on the first try! I had a little over 2 pounds of chicken strips that I cut into thirds. They ended up being the perfect size. I left out the white sugar (didn’t want it too sweet), used regular Kikkoman Soy (doubled), 4 times the garlic and doubled the onion. I worried about the garlic not being cooked enough but it was fine. The vegetables were spot on at 3 minutes. This made a lot of food and I was hoping for leftovers but my family of 3 (1 is a very picky eater) ate all of it and asked if we could have this again. That’s a big deal at my house. TRY THIS RECIPE! It’s easy, quick and the taste is so much better than takeout.

    1. Thank you Sharon. I plan on making this for dinner tonight. I will be following your directions. I can imagine the smell and taste. I really appreciate your providing/sharing your twist to the recipe.

      Happy holidays!

  15. I made this tonight. Instead of frying the chicken breast, I air fried it instead . I need to watch my sugar and used Splenda white sugar and Splenda brown sugar. My whole family loved it. My best sweet and sour recipe yet .

    1. I made this tonight. Instead of frying the chicken breast, I air fried it instead . I need to watch my sugar and used Splenda white sugar and Splenda brown sugar. My whole family loved it. My best sweet and sour recipe yet .

  16. Although this recipe is absolutely delicious, it takes about an hour to complete not the 25 minutes in the recipe. I’m not slow at cooking but no way could I complete this in 25 minutes

  17. I tried this recipe which I followed to the letter and found that it was waaaay too sweet. What a disaster.

  18. Hands down one of the best recipes! You will never order take out again! I have made this multiple times exactly as written and it is perfect! Delicious!

  19. The best and delicious! My husband loves it. Way better than in a Chinese restaurant. Thank you for sharing. God bless.

    1. Personally it was way too sweet and I didn’t even use the full amount of sugar in the recipe. The pineapple soaked up the sugar and it was overtly sweet. I feel like the recipe could use less sugar and still have that sweet and sour feel. Also I think more soy sauce wouldn’t hurt but I’d add it after tasting the original recipe if you find it too salty. Id also add extra garlic if you’re fond of it. The rest was good but imo there is too much sugar when the sweetness of ketchup and pineapple is already present. I would just make these changes but overall it was ok.

      1. I agree even my kids found it too sweet, yes my pineapple was very ripe but I could have completely done without the white sugar

  20. This was great! I did need an extra cup of flour when breading the chicken but I think I used more chicken also.

    Very delicious!!

  21. Wonderful, flavorful fast and easy! Well the prep took a bit longer but heightened my anticipation.

    I used pork trimmings from a loin/center cut pork. I added zucchini and carrots for color.

    When we were finished there was nothing left on our plates.

    Thank you for posting this recipe.

    1. I loved this although my family found it a little too sweet. The prep time took quite a bit longer than suggested but was delicious

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