Sweet and Sour Sauce

Sweet and Sour Sauce is the classic tangy sweet dipping sauce of Chinese restaurants with just six ingredients ready in less than 10 minutes!

If you’ve followed along with the site, you’ve learned that we love bringing you classic Chinese Food recipes to make at home, along with flavorful sauces like Spicy Mayo.

Sweet and Sour Sauce

This is a classic version of your favorite takeout sauce. You can also try making a Panda Express Sweet and Sour Sauce if you’re looking for that distinct flavor. That sauce is based on a completely different recipe using white vinegar and plain sugar, while this is sweet and sour pineapple juice recipe with brown sugar and rice vinegar as the base. Because of the white vinegar in the Panda Express version, the flavors in that recipe are much sharper than the flavors in this one.

Make this with Crab Rangoon for dipping as an appetizer and this makes for an easy Chinese takeout meal at home! Pairs well with Orange Chicken and Chicken Lo Mein or Classic Chinese Chow Mein.

Dipping Sauce Sweet and Sour

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you make Chinese sweet and sour sauce?

Sweet and Sour Sauce is as easy as bringing a few ingredients including pineapple juice, brown sugar, and soy sauce to a boil before adding a cornstarch slurry to the mixture to thicken it. The classic red color from sweet and sour sauce comes from red food coloring (which is completely optional).

How do you make sweet and sour sauce thicker?

A mixture of cornstarch and water is added to the pot of ingredients to thicken the sweet and sour sauce. If you are missing cornstarch, do not boil down the sauce before adding in the cornstarch mixture as it can become much too overpowering with the amount of sugar and vinegar in the sauce. Instead use arrowroot powder, or if all else fails, a mixture of flour and water.

Can you use this sweet and sour sauce for chicken or pork?

YES, absolutely. There is a Sweet and Sour Chicken on the site but this recipe for the sauce would be a perfect swap for the sauce in the recipe. If you have tempura battered chicken or pork, all you have to do is quickly sauté some onion and bell pepper chunks with come pineapple chunks and toss it with this sauce.

Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce

More Classic Chinese Food Recipes

How to Store Sweet and Sour Sauce

  • Serve: Sweet and Sour Sauce can be kept at room temperature for up to 2 hours.
  • Store: Sealed in an airtight container, Sweet and Sour Sauce can be kept in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks.
  • Freeze: Sealed in an airtight container, Sweet and Sour Sauce can be kept in the freezer up to 3 months.

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Sweet and Sour Sauce Recipe

Sweet and Sour Sauce is the classic tangy sweet dipping sauce of Chinese restaurants with just six ingredients ready in less than 10 minutes!
Yield 4 Servings
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Sauce
Cuisine Chinese
Author Sabrina Snyder

Ingredients
 

  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
  • 3 drops red food coloring , optional
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons water

Instructions

  • Add the pineapple juice, light brown sugar, rice vinegar, ketchup, soy sauce and food coloring to a saucepan on medium heat.
  • Stir well until it comes to a boil.
  • Mix the water and cornstarch together and add it to the saucepan.
  • Whisk well until the cornstarch is fully incorporated and the sauce has thickened.
  • Allow to cool before serving.

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 168kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Sodium: 279mg | Potassium: 160mg | Sugar: 35g | Vitamin A: 75IU | Vitamin C: 6.5mg | Calcium: 31mg | Iron: 0.5mg
Keyword: Sweet and Sour Sauce
Sweet and Sour Sauce Collage
Sweet and Sour Sauce Recipe

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. Made it, didn’t use food coloring (blech) added some bits of pineapple, delicious!
    Thank you. I couldn’t remember my recipe (I never write them down. But this had all the ingredients I remember, except the rice vinegar.

  2. This is the BEST Sweet & Sour Sauce I’ve ever made!!!!! 5 Stars
    I no longer experiment making sweet & sour sauce this is the only kind I will make!

  3. This is by far the best ever sweet and sour sauce recipe I’ve used in my 50 years of cooking! Thank you for this perfect balance of flavors. My entire family gobbled it down and there was silence at the table because they were happily eating tonight

  4. Great and easy recipe! To make it even better add 1 to 4 Tablespoons roasted sesame seeds, really brightens up the flavor.

  5. Just like the restaurants. I reduced the brown sugar to 1/4 cup and it was still sweet enough for me. Thanks!

  6. I never leave comments, but this is the best sauce! My hubby things it’s better than anything I have ever purchased. I’ve made it multiple times..it’s the best! Try it, you saint be sorry!

  7. Used apple cider vinegar and orange juice. Was great!
    Left out red food coloring because of dye allergy.
    Thanks. So inexpensive and used what was around the pantry

  8. Sabrina this sauce was so good. I read all of the reviews and adjusted the vinegar and ketchup by half. I also added 2 thin slices of fresh ginger. I didn’t add any food coloring, and it was still an appetizing color. We had sweet and sour chicken with rice and spring onions and it was fantastic!!! Thank you for sharing.

  9. I actually could not find just plain pineapple juice in a container of reasonable size so I used pine/orange juice and reduced the amount of rice vinegar to 1/4 cup and made up the difference with the juice and it turned out wonderfully.

  10. 1 cup cold water, 1 cup white sugar, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, 2 tablespoons white vinegar. Whisk. Cook until clear, then remove from heat. Whisk in red food coloring. This is what they serve you at Chinese restaurants. No brown sugar, no pineapple juice, no soy sauce.

    1. Tried this tonight (didn’t have the ingredients for Sabrina’s recipe) and it turned out great! Thank you for posting!!!

    2. Alicia, do you know how restaurants marinate pork butt for char siu or how they make tasty cabbage (mostly) eggrolls? I think they may put cabbage, some shrimp, little carrots and onions and little peanut butter or ground peanuts to absorb juices…

    3. I’m wondering if the 1 Tbsp corn starch and 2 Tbsp vinegar ratio is backwards. It was too thin and the vinegar aroma was too noticeable. I’m going to try it again but with 1 Tbsp vinegar and 2 Tbsp cornstarch.
      This helps me understand why they give this out in such big quantities. The ingredients are super cheap.

  11. What are the crispy things you dip in sweet and sour that is showed in the picture at the very top of this page?

    1. Fried strips of egg roll (won ton) wrappers. Fry in 350° veg oil until crispy. You can also fill squares of won ton wrappers with a teaspoon of cream cheese (add a bit of garlic salt for flavor), fold it in half and seal edges by rubbing a water wet finger along the edges to seal the cream cheese inside. Fry in the hot oil until golden and drain on a rack or paper towel. Also, you can blend even amounts of imitation (or real) crab meat with the cream cheese. It’s a version of a Chinese restaurant appetizer called ‘Crab Rangoon’. They are favorites with us. I recently read a tip to double fry the rangoons, after they have cooled to make them stay crispy longer.

    1. I’d say about 2 weeks but you can put it in a freezer safe container and freeze it to extend the life of it.

      1. Get wonton or eggroll wraps (can often find the in the produce section), cut them to size, and fry them in oil. Just drop them in, fish them out when golden brown, put them on some paper towels to reduce grease, and sprinkle with salt while still hot. The uncooked portions will dry quickly, which makes me suspect that using the leftover wraps is how that sort of thing became a common side.

  12. I thought the vinegar was a little heavy and the sauce wasn’t quite sweet enough, so I added 1 T honey and 1 T Splenda, and we loved it!

  13. FAR superior to bottled sauces. Delicious flavor. Next time, I’ll use a little less vinegar. But, this recipe is definitely a keeper.

  14. I love this dipping sauce, I have tried it several times without the pineapple juice but this one is just the right sweet and sour. You will not be disappointed with this recipe.

  15. My grandkids love this sauce! If I make a large batch, how long can I keep it in the refrigerator? Can I freeze it?

    1. So glad they love it! I would suggest keeping it in an air tight container in the refrigerator and it should last up to 2 weeks. I haven’t tried freezing this recipe because it’s so easy to whip up but it would work. Maybe freeze it in single size portions to defrost in the refrigerator when you’re ready to use. Hope this helps!

    1. Ha! Thanks for pointing that out. I used to have it in the recipe but it was such a hard ingredient for people to find and with more recipe testing I was able to remove it with no issues so I removed it from the recipe card but forgot to take it out of that paragraph.

    1. Best substitute is cider vinegar, if you have it. Other vinegars might be too strong as a substitute and may change up the flavor too much.