Sweet and Sour Sauce

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

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.

Sweet and Sour Sauce
 Sweet and Sour Sauce

If you’ve followed along with the blog for more than a couple days you know that we love Chinese food around here.

How do I make a simple sweet and sour sauce?

This is a classic version of your favorite sauce. I also made 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.

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).

Dipping Sauce Sweet and Sour

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. I do have a Sweet and Sour Chicken on the blog 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

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Sweet and Sour Sauce Recipe

5 from 12 votes
  • Yield: 4 Servings
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Course: Sauce
  • Cuisine: Chinese
  • Author: Sabrina Snyder
Sweet and Sour Sauce is the classic tangy and sweet dipping sauce of Chinese takeout restaurants that has just six ingredients and takes less than 10 minutes to make!



Note: click on times in the instructions to start a kitchen timer while cooking.

  1. Add the pineapple juice, light brown sugar, rice vinegar, ketchup, soy sauce and food coloring to a saucepan on medium heat.
  2. Stir well until it comes to a boil.
  3. Mix the water and cornstarch together and add it to the saucepan.

  4. Whisk well until the cornstarch is fully incorporated and the sauce has thickened.
  5. Allow to cool before serving.

Nutrition Information

Yield: 4 Servings, Amount per serving: 168 calories, Calories: 168g, Carbohydrates: 40g, Sodium: 279mg, Potassium: 160mg, Sugar: 35g, Vitamin A: 75g, Vitamin C: 6.5g, Calcium: 31g, Iron: 0.5g

All images and text © for Dinner, then Dessert.

Keyword: Sweet and Sour Sauce
Sweet and Sour Sauce Recipe

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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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. 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.

  4. 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!

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

  6. 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.

  7. 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.