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.
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.
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Frequently Asked Questions
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).
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.
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.
More Classic Chinese Food Recipes
- Crispy Sesame Chicken
- Chinese Honey Chicken
- Easy Mongolian Beef
- Panda Express Recipes… every single one in fact: Panda Express Recipes Index
- Many more Chinese food options…
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.
- 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
- 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.
Thank you for listing the nutritional values…but would you please consider adding the serving size these represent?….many of us are on serious health diets and have to count these carefully. Thank you!!
The issue is that people will have ingredients of different sizes. Packaged products are weighed and measured at the time of creation which makes their measurements accurate. The only way to accurately know the measurements of meals is to weigh and divide.
Perfect? Made it according to the recipe, but didn’t add the food coloring. I like this better than store-bought. Good balance of sweet and sour.
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.
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!
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
Thank You for all the great recipes and tips.
The Picture does NOT match this recipe. Sigh. I’ll have to try the other one.
Tasted was too sweet, waaaay to sweet. Almost could not eat it. Will not use this one again!
Great and easy recipe! To make it even better add 1 to 4 Tablespoons roasted sesame seeds, really brightens up the flavor.
Has an excellent taste. I made it for the egg rolls I fixed.
Just like the restaurants. I reduced the brown sugar to 1/4 cup and it was still sweet enough for me. Thanks!
This had a little too much soy sauce and not as sweet as the restaurant ones. How can it be adjusted?
Should we be using unseasoned or seasoned rice vinegar?
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!
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
Thank you so much, Posy!
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.
Why is your sauce a beautiful read and mine is dark brown.. with a red tint…taste great…..
I used a red food coloring but that’s completely optional, just for aesthetics.
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.
Thanks for the tip, Lani!
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.
I will try yours the next time. I found the rice vinegar way too potent.
Tried this tonight (didn’t have the ingredients for Sabrina’s recipe) and it turned out great! Thank you for posting!!!
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…
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.
What are the crispy things you dip in sweet and sour that is showed in the picture at the very top of this page?
These are wonton chips. I don’t have a recipe but someone left instructions in the comments below.
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.
what can I use if I do not have pineapple juice
I haven’t tested this using any other juice.
How long is this good for in the fridge? Can you freeze it?
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.
Came out perfectly!? I didn’t use the food color and didn’t miss it. Thanks so much ?
You’re welcome, Faith.
Now… the question is: how do you make those wanton chips to dip into the sauce!?
I’ll add that to my list. Thanks for the suggestion.
I second the need for the wanton chip recipe!!
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.
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!
Glad you were able to customize it more to your liking.
FAR superior to bottled sauces. Delicious flavor. Next time, I’ll use a little less vinegar. But, this recipe is definitely a keeper.
What food color brand did you use for Recipes?
I used Wilton but use any brand you prefer.
Ive used juice from red beets to color before. Haven’t made you recipe yet though.
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.
Thanks so much for the 5 stars, Jerry.
This recipe was SO easy and quick! It was perfectly tasty, too!
Thanks for dropping by to let me know! I’m so glad you enjoyed it!
this turned out amazing!!!!
thank you, you saved the day!
How long will the sweet & sour sauce last in the frig?
If kept in an air tight container, it should last up to two weeks in the refrigerator. Enjoy!
My grandkids love this sauce! If I make a large batch, how long can I keep it in the refrigerator? Can I freeze it?
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!
Why is mirin mentioned exactly once on this page?
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.
do you have a recipe for wonton filling ? pork or shrimp?
I don’t but I’ll add it to my to do list. 🙂 Thanks for the suggestion!
The only issue I have is the ketchup flavor is too strong. But I can tweek it and it’ll be perfect!!
This sauce is better than what l have been served at the Chinese place
I used white vinegar and instead of 1/2 c brown sugar I used 1 cup. It was delicious!
I don’t have rice vinegar. Is there something I can use instead?
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.
How do you make the chips?
I only made the sauce for this recipe. 🙂
Looks delicious and so easy to make! !
Thank you Erin!
Great addition an any Chinese night! Love when I can eat in and not out!
I love sweet and sour sauce!! This sounds SO delicious!!
Yummy! Sweet and sour sauce is one of my favorite dipping sauces!
Looks so tasty! I love sweet and sour sauce!
SO easy to make, and delicious!!!
This is my favorite sauce ever! I can’t wait to make this!!