This easy Sweet and Sour Chicken Recipe is a popular Asian-inspired dish that can easily be recreated at home! The combination of crispy chicken, crunchy peppers, and tropical pineapple chunks smothered in a homemade sweet and tangy sauce tastes better than Chinese takeout.
Sweet and Sour Chicken
Recreating this restaurant-style Sweet and Sour Chicken at home is simpler and faster than you think. The chicken is fried until crisp and juicy, then coated in a lightly sweet and tangy sauce. The onions and peppers balance the sweetness of the pineapple chunks in the dish. Skip the trip to Panda Express next time and make this healthier, homemade takeout!
Sweet and Sour Chicken VIDEO-
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Why You’ll Love This Recipe:
- Save money. Cheaper to make at home than going out!
- Quick to make. Comes together in 30 minutes for an easy weeknight dinner!
- No additives. Great flavor without the additives found in traditional restaurant meals.
- Healthier than fried. The chicken is sauteed not deep fried, making it healthier than takeout!
- Chicken breasts- for this recipe, we use boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into 1” chunks. You can also use chicken thighs.
- Eggs- whisked to help the breading adhere.
- Seasonings- salt and pepper are all you need to season the chicken. If you are not using low-sodium soy sauce, decrease the salt here to control the sodium.
- Cornstarch and flour- corn starch gives the chicken a light and crispy coating for the sauce to adhere to and flour adds crispiness.
- Oil- use extra-light olive oil or canola oil to fry the chicken.
- Garlic- helps to balance the sweetness of the sauce.
- Bell peppers- red and green bell peppers or your favorite colored pepper.
- Pineapple chunks- you can use fresh pineapple, canned pineapple with the juice drained, or even frozen pineapple chunks, thawed.
- Onions- the onion helps to balance the sweetness of the pineapple.
- Butter- adds richness to the sauce.
- Sugar and brown sugar- sweeten the sauce.
- White vinegar- provides the sourness for the sauce.
- Ketchup- a sweet and sour condiment, making it the perfect sauce ingredient.
- Soy sauce- use a low-sodium soy sauce to control the level of salt in the final dish.
- Green onion- chopped and used as a garnish, optional.
- Sesame seeds- toasted, for garnish, optional.
How to Make Sweet and Sour Chicken:
This classic recipe for traditional chicken sweet and sour requires little prep time and cook time, so make sure all your ingredients are prepped in advance. I like to cut the chicken, vegetables and pineapple before I start cooking.
- Chicken into egg mixture: Beat the eggs and season with salt and pepper. Add the chicken pieces and stir to coat the chicken in the eggs.
- Prep dredging: In a separate bowl, combine the cornstarch and flour.
- Coat chicken: Dredge chicken in the mixture until well covered.
- Cook chicken: Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat to high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the chicken in batches and cook until the chicken is cooked through on all sides. Transfer cooked chicken to a baking sheet or platter and cover to keep warm.
- Cook vegetables: Add the butter, bell peppers, onions, and pineapples to the same skillet. Cook until the veggies are tender, or for about 3-4 minutes.
- Add garlic: Add the garlic, stir, and cook just until fragrant.
- Prepare sauce: In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, brown sugar, vinegar, ketchup, and soy sauce.
- Combine: Add the chicken back into the pan. Pour the sauce over the chicken and veggies and cook until it starts to bubble and thicken and the chicken reheats.
- Garnish: Finally, top with sesame seeds or chopped green onion if desired.
- Serve and enjoy, friends!
|Expert Tip: Be sure the oil is hot before adding the chicken to saute to achieve a crispy finish.|
Substitutions and Variations-
Asian-Inspired recipes are different everywhere you try them. Create your own version by trying some of these variations:
- Different veggies: The American twist on Chinese sweet and sour chicken is traditionally made with bell peppers, onions, and pineapple, but you can throw in other vegetables you have. Try adding broccoli, mushrooms, chopped carrots, or peas!
- Adjust heat: If you’d like the sauce to be spicy, add red pepper flakes or some hot sauce to the prepared sauce.
- Use ACV: You can substitute the white vinegar for Apple Cider Vinegar if you prefer.
The sweet and sour chicken may easily be made up to one day in advance. Be sure to keep the different ingredients in a separate bowl until ready to serve.
1. Cube chicken and add to egg and seasoning mixture. Cover and refrigerate.
2. Cut the vegetables and pineapple and keep them refrigerated.
3. Combine ingredients in the sauce and keep in the fridge.
4. Before serving, finish the recipe per instructions and enjoy.
Since this recipe already has protein, it’s satisfying on its own. If you want to add something to the side, you can try these options:
- Grains: Serve over a bed of White Rice, brown rice, or quinoa for a healthier option.
- Egg rolls: Pair with your favorite egg rolls, either frozen or homemade!
- Fried Rice: Serve over Fried Rice (omit the chicken) for extra flavor.
- Noodles: This chicken would pair well with your favorite noodles!
frequently asked questions?
The two dishes are similar, but General Tso’s has more ginger and spice, while sweet and sour chicken has more sweet elements from the sugar and ketchup.
Yes! Add the breaded chicken to a lightly oiled air fryer basket and lightly spray the chicken with cooking oil spray. Cook at 400°F for 12-15 minutes, flipping halfway through for an even crisp on the coating.
If you prefer a thicker sauce, make a cornstarch slurry by mixing 2 tablespoons of cold water with a tablespoon of cornstarch. Add to the sauce to thicken.
Store & Reheat:
- STORE: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days. You may want to store pineapple separately as it could break down the chicken and make it mushy.
- FREEZE: We do not recommend freezing this recipe.
- REHEAT: Reheat in a pan over low-medium heat. Keep in mind that leftovers will be less crisp than when the meal is fresh.
More Asian-Inspired Recipes:
Easy Sweet and Sour Chicken Recipe
- 1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts, cut into 1" chunks
- 2 eggs beaten
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp ground pepper
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 Tbsp extra-light olive oil, for sauteing
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/2 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2" to 1" chunks
- 1 green bell pepper, cut into 1/2" to 1" chunks
- 1 cup pineapple chunks
- 1/2 sweet onion cut, cut into 1/2" to 1" chunks
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- In a bowl, whisk eggs and season with the salt and pepper. Add the chicken pieces and stir to coat in egg mixture.
- In a different mixing bowl, add the cornstarch and flour and combine.
- Coat the chicken with the cornstarch/flour mixture on all sides.
- Heat the oil over medium-high to high heat.
- Once the oil is hot, add chicken in batches and cook until all of the chicken is cooked. Transfer cooked chicken to a baking sheet.
- In the same skillet, add the butter, bell peppers, pineapples and onion and cook until tender 3-4 minutes.
- Add garlic and cook for another 30 seconds or until fragrant.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the ingredients for the sauce: the sugar, brown sugar, vinegar, ketchup and soy sauce until combined.
- Add the chicken to the vegetables, pour in the sauce and cook until it starts to bubble and thickens and the chicken is reheated.
- Serve with sesame seeds or green onion to garnish, totally optional.