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Sweet and Sour Chicken

Sweet and Sour Chicken is a classic Chinese takeout dish well-loved all over the world. In our homemade version, chicken is lightly coated in flour mixture, panfried (slightly healthier than deep fried ones) and then tossed in a delicious sauce that is tangy, sweet and sour.

Our homemade sweet and sour chicken recipe is so good, much healthier, and easy to make. It will have you saying goodbye to Chinese takeout!

A bowl of sweet and sour chicken on top of rice, fork on the side

Don’t forget to also chicken out other Chinese takeout recipes on the blog, such as Beef and Broccoli, Mongolian Beef Noodles, Baked Orange Chicken and Kung Pao Shrimp.

Chinese Sweet and Sour Chicken

If you have visited any Chinese restaurants in the United States, you will very likely have come across sweet and sour chicken on their menu.

This sweet and sour chicken recipe is an American Chinese recipe, similar to the ones you’ll find at these Chinese restaurants in the states. And while it is not an authentic Chinese recipe it is so dang delicious it doesn’t matter! (says the person who also loves her authentic Chinese dishes!)

I love the flavors of from the sticky sweet and sour sauce that coated those crispy, juicy chicken pieces. Enjoy with some white rice that will soak up the juices and you’ll be licking your plate clean before you know it!

When I make sweet and sour chicken at home, I like to make mine a tad bit healthier. Therefore, instead of deep frying chicken in a pool of oil I am simply pan frying them.

Other than that, I would say this is very similar to sweet and sour chicken I have at restaurants.

I may be bias but I think it also happens to be far superior in taste and freshness! But you give it a try and tell me what you think! 😉

Top down view of a bowl of sweet and sour chicken with rice

Ingredients

To make sweet and sour chicken, here are the key ingredients you will need:

  • chicken pieces – cube chicken breast or chicken thighs
  • corn starch – used as the coating for chicken pieces
  • all-purpose flour – also used as a coating for chicken pieces
  • salt – used to season the coating for chicken pieces so that there’s a little bit of flavor on there
  • bell peppers – red, green, yellow…any bell peppers work!
  • onions – red, yellow, white, sweet onions work!

We make our own delicious homemade sweet and sour sauce, which I think is pretty fantastic and makes this dish what it is. It calls for just a few pantry-friendly ingredients below:

  • ketchup – contributes to the tangy/sour flavors, with a hint of sweetness
  • rice vinegar – typically found in the Asian section of the grocery store. If you cannot find this, white vinegar works as well.
  • granulated sugar – this will offset the tanginess in the vinegar
  • soy sauce – this gives the sweet and sour sauce an umami, Chinese-inspired taste.
  • garlic – use fresh minced garlic for best taste. Try to avoid using garlic powder!

How to make sweet and sour chicken

Let’s get cooking and make some sweet and sour chicken!

Pan-fried healthier chicken

As mentioned earlier, the chicken in Sweet and Sour Chicken is usually deep fried. Most of us will probably not heat up a pot full of hot oil and deep fry chicken at home very often.

Also, let’s be honest, it’s a lot of oil and a whole lot more unhealthy.

This dish tastes just as good, or even better, when you pan fry the chicken.

What I do is I coat the chicken in an egg mixture, then a corn starch/flour/salt mixture, and then panfry them on a skillet.

dipping chicken pieces into flour mixture

When panfrying, make sure the oil is hot and bubbly before adding the chicken.

Also, do not overcrowd the chicken, and make this in two batches if necessary.

I like to find my biggest skillet possible and make it on there because it will go faster, and less batches are needed.

When cooking the chicken, I typically like to start with medium heat and then cover the skillet so that chicken will be cooked through on the inside before it gets burned on the outside.

Also, warning: Because these chicken pieces are cut into small 1-inch sizes, they fry quickly! Don’t overcook chicken because overcook chicken is spongy and not yummy!

Pro tip: use a pair of tongs to pick up chicken pieces. It is much easier than using a spatula.

Crispy breaded chicken pieces on a plate lined with paper towel

Sti fried veggies

Once chicken is done, remove from skillet, drain access oil on the skillet, and stir fry onions and bell peppers until they are soft.

Remove veggies from skillet and it’s time to make the sauce for our sweet and sour chicken recipe!

A small bowl of sweet onions and bell peppers, pineapple and chicken in the background

Sweet and Sour Sauce

When I started making my own sweet and sour sauce for this recipe, I knew exactly how I wanted it – not too sweet, not too sour, but packs a flavorful punch. I wanted the sauce to compliment to chicken, not overpower it.

We all know how important the sauce is when it comes sweet and sour chicken.

Sure, you need to not overcook the chicken, and the veggies add to the texture, but let’s be real here. We all know the real MVP of this dish. THE SAUCE. It makes or breaks it.

Well, the good news is the sauce is made out of easy-to-find, pantry-friendly ingredients.

All you need is tomato ketchup, soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, sugar, and sesame oil (but this is optional).

Just heat them up and you get yourself a solid, delicious sweet and sour sauce. Stir until sweet and sour sauce comes to a boil.

Combine everything!

Once sauce is done, toss chicken pieces and veggies in sauce to coat.

And there you have it, your very own homemade sweet and sour chicken, which is, I must say, much tastier and healthier than the ones you get at Chinese restaurants!

Sweet and sour chicken along with bell peppers and pineapple in a skillet

If you make more sauce than you need, you can even use leftovers as dipping sauce for egg rolls, chicken nuggets, veggies, or my Baked Cream Cheese Wontons. Because it is THAT GOOD.

This Sweet and Sour Chicken recipe hits the spot every. single. time. Seriously LEGIT.

How to Serve

Best way to serve this yum thing is with Jasmine brown or white rice. That sticky sauce coated all over the juicy, slightly crispy chicken, and combined with crunchy veggies.

It can be also served with fried rice or noodles.

For a lower carb option, serve with cauliflower rice or wrap sweet and sour chicken in lettuce to make a sweet and sour chicken lettuce wrap!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I bake the chicken?

To bake chicken, generously spray baking sheet with cooking oil, then place breaded chicken pieces on baking sheet. Bake at 350℉ for 30 minutes, flipping halfway through.

How do I make ahead?

If making ahead, do not toss chicken and veggies in sauce and store them separately. Reheat chicken in toaster oven so that it is crispy, and reheat sauce and veggies in microwave. Toss chicken and veggies in sauce only when ready to serve.

Closeup of sweet and sour chicken tossed in sticky sauce in a bowl

DID YOU ENJOY THIS RECIPE? Please comment below and give us a 5-star rating! This will help others find this recipe on Google and Pinterest. We very much appreciate your help! 🤍

More Chinese Takeout Copycats

Do you like Chinese takeout? Check out some of these other recipes on the blog!

CLoseup of sweet and sour chicken with wooden spatula on the side

Sweet and Sour Chicken

Make this classic Chinese takeout at home! Crispy, juicy perfectly seasoned chicken tossed in a sweet, sour and tangy sauce, combine with crunchy veggies. Serve with white or brown rice!
4.97 from 30 votes
Print Pin
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Chinese
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 3 people
Calories: 534kcal
Author: MinShien

Ingredients

  • 1 lbs chicken breast boneless, skinless
  • 1/3 cup corn starch
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg
  • vegetable oil
  • 1 cup onions sliced
  • 1 cup bell peppers sliced
  • 1 cup pineapple pieces

Sweet and Sour Sauce

  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil optional

Instructions

  • Cut chicken into ~1-inch pieces. Pat dry.
  • In a flat plate or bowl, combine flour, corn flour and salt. In a bowl, whisk egg.
  • Add chicken to egg mixture. Mix to coat well. Then coat each piece of chicken with flour mixture.
    Coating chicken in flour mixture to make Sweet and Sour Chicken
  • Heat up large skillet with vegetable oil. Make sure there is a thin layer of oil covering the entire surface of the skillet.
  • Once oil is heated up, add chicken pieces to skillet. Do not overlap or overcrowd skillet; cook in two (or three) batches if necessary. Cook under medium heat and cover if necessary,
  • Flip chicken over once one side is cooked. Cover again if necessary. Do not overcook chicken. Chicken is cooked once internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. Remove chicken from skillet and set aside.
    Pan-fried chicken for Sweet and Sour Chicken
  • If skillet has a lot of burned flour pieces from cooking the chicken, use a paper towel to remove/wipe it off before proceeding. 
  • Heat skillet and add more vegetable oil if necessary (we don’t need a lot for this). Once oil is heated, add bell peppers and onions to skillet and stir fry for ~1 minute under medium heat. Do not overcook the vegetables. The goal is to slightly soften the vegetables so it is not completely raw. Remove promptly. 
  • Add sauce ingredients to skillet, stir and let it come to a boil. Lower heat and let it simmer for a minute or so, or until sauce thickens slightly. 
  • Bring cooked chicken, cooked bell peppers, cooked onions, and pineapple pieces back to skillet. Toss chicken and veggies with sauce. Remove from heat promptly.
  • Serve with rice. Enjoy!

Nutrition

Calories: 534kcal | Carbohydrates: 79g | Protein: 38g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 151mg | Sodium: 1443mg | Potassium: 935mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 48g | Vitamin A: 1815IU | Vitamin C: 97mg | Calcium: 52mg | Iron: 2mg
Did you make this recipe?Take a pic and tag me at @joyous.apron, or hashtag #joyousapron on Instagram!

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Recipe Rating




40 Comments

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      I’m sure yours will be delicious as well!! πŸ™‚ Let me know how it goes!

  1. Christina says:

    5 stars
    The Sweet and Sour Chicken was AMAZING!!!!! Your directions were so incredibly helpful. I made this after I made the chicken stir fry (which was also delish), and it helped me keep the peppers nice and crunchy.

    We’ve just finished eating – he’s so impressed that HE’S doing the dishes!!!

    YOU ARE BRILLIANT!!!

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      Haha!! LOVE IT! Thank you so much Christina! I am so glad you all enjoyed it!! πŸ™‚

  2. 5 stars
    I made this dish last night for dinner, and my family loved it!

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      Yay! I am so glad! Thank you for letting me know! πŸ™‚

  3. 5 stars
    Love this recipe..so delicious and easy πŸ˜‹ the family loved it

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      That’s awesome!! Thank you for sharing!! πŸ™‚

  4. 5 stars
    This recipe is absolutely amazing! I’ve made it a few times the our family love it!
    Do you think this would freeze OK?
    Thanks

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      So glad to hear you’ve been enjoying this recipe! It should freeze fine, but I recommend freezing the chicken and sauce separately! If you want the chicken to be crispy reheat in the oven instead of the microwave before tossing it in the sauce.

  5. 5 stars
    OMG! Absolutely delicious! A new weekly recipe. So much flavour. I have made it a few times now for different people and everyone loves it!

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      I’m so glad to hear that everyone is loving it, Liz!

  6. 5 stars
    Made this tonight and it was a hit! Even the kids loved it. Your directions were easy to follow and read.

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      Thank you Kevin! So glad to hear!

  7. Hi,
    When you say pineapple pieces, do you mean the pineapple in juice in a can?
    Thanks!

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      Yes! Or you can also cut up a fresh pineapple. Hope that helps! Let me know how it goes πŸ™‚

  8. Erlene Johnson says:

    Recipe says 1 cup of pineapple pieces, do you use the juice also?

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      I do not use the juice.

  9. 5 stars
    This was the best thing I’ve cooked in 10 years!!! It was perfect and is definitely worthy of a β€œcompany meal!”
    Thanks πŸ˜ƒ

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      What a compliment! I’m honored! πŸ™‚ Thank YOU!

  10. Shirly Williams says:

    5 stars
    made this last night. it was so good. my husband had 3 helpings. and said we had to keep this recipe.

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      Nice!! πŸ™‚ I’m so glad you both enjoyed it!

  11. 5 stars
    My whole family loved this sweet and sour chicken. Just as good as any restaurant, and I’ll be making it again and again. Thank you!

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      Thanks Colleen! Happy to hear that!

  12. 5 stars
    I made this Sweet and Sour Chicken recipe, and it was a total hit! The chicken was perfectly crispy and tender, and the sweet and sour sauce was incredibly flavorful. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it Natalia! Thanks so much for sharing πŸ™‚

  13. rachel webster says:

    5 stars
    I just love that this is healthier than the takeout version! πŸ™‚ And so easy to make too.

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      Thanks Rachel! Happy to hear that!

  14. 5 stars
    We love this sweet and sour chicken recipe. it is great that the chicken is pan fried the chicken with the dredge of flour. We love how colorful it is and such a great family style meal.

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      Thank you so much, Nicole! Happy to hear that!

  15. 5 stars
    The BEST sweet and sour chicken recipe! I’ve tried a few and this is my favorite! Love that the chicken is pan fried and that sauce was amazing!

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      Thank you Amy!! Such a compliment!! πŸ™‚

  16. 5 stars
    I’ve been on the lookout for a recipe that tastes just like my favourite Chinese takeaway. This recipe came out absolutely perfect! A+++!

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      Thank you so much, Hayley!

  17. 5 stars
    Thank you SO MUCH for all the work you put into creating this post. Your directions are so easy to follow and this dish was so good! Take out never again thanks to you!

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      Happy to hear that! I’m so glad.

  18. 5 stars
    Wow! It was so delicious and very yummy! Just the sauce itself will make you fall in love with this recipe. Totally love it! An all-time classic favorite Chinese dish.

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      I’m so glad you love the sauce and the recipe!

  19. 5 stars
    I always love ordering this dish for takeout but I’ve ever tried making it on my own until now. Great recipe! So glad I gave it a try.

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      I’m so glad you did too!!