Sweet and Sour Chicken. Crispy chicken coated in a sticky sweet and tangy sauce. A popular Chinese dish ready in 30 minutes.
Popular in Chinese Restaurants
Sweet and sour chicken stir fry is a common chicken dish served at many Chinese restaurants and takeaways. It pairs deliciously with steamed rice and greens - a favourite in my books!
Why make my version?
There are many sweet and sour chicken recipes online but you should make mine because it’s:
- Delicious and tastes like take out!
- Easy to make
- Ready in 30 minutes or less
- No deep frying involved and therefore less oil wasted!
- No heavy batter required (just cornstarch!)
- Can be made in a skillet (no wok required)
- Ingredients are accessible and can be found at most Western grocers
- Pineapples are optional and can be omitted
Easy Sweet and Sour Chicken
My sweet and sour chicken recipe is very easy to make. You’re simply combining the minimal sauce ingredients, seasoning the chicken and then coating it in cornstarch (no batter here!). Then shallow frying the meat in a bit of oil. Then finally you’ll fry your vegetables and pineapples (optional) and pour your sauce into the pan. Mix in your fried chicken and that’s it!
No Deep Frying & No Heavy Batter
This sweet and sour chicken stir fry is not heavy battered or deep fried like how they do it at the Chinese restaurants making it slightly healthier. The coating is simply made of cornstarch and then shallow fried in oil, making it slightly healthier and there will be less oil to use or discard.
Pineapples can be omitted
This sweet and sour chicken with pineapple is just as delicious without the pineapples! I like adding pineapples for some added fibre and flavour but you can omit it.
What you’ll need
For this recipe you’ll need the following sweet and sour chicken ingredients:
- boneless skinless chicken thighs
- red bell pepper
- pineapple (optiona)
- yellow onion
- vegetable oil, or avocado oil
- garlic powder
Sweet and sour chicken sauce:
- brown sugar
- regular soy sauce
- white vinegar
- sesame seeds
- green onion
How to make Sweet and Sour Chicken
Below are brief steps with visuals to show you how to make the best sweet and sour chicken. Please scroll down to the recipe card below to find full instructions and details.
Cut chicken thighs into bite sized pieces, about 4-6 pieces per thigh.
In a small bowl combine sauce ingredients. Set aside.
In a large bowl with your diced chicken thighs, season with salt and garlic powder and mix well.
Then add cornstarch and mix until each piece is coated in starch.
Over medium heat, add oil. Once oil is hot enough (test with wooden chopstick and look for bubbles), add coated chicken.
Fry on each side for 4-5 minutes or until golden crispy brown on both sides. Remove chicken from pan and place on a paper towel lined plate or a cooling rack.
Discard excess oil, reserving 1 tsp.
Over medium heat and into the same pan, fry onions, red bell pepper and pineapples for 30 – 45 seconds.
Pour in sauce and let it simmer to thicken and reduce, a couple minutes.
Once thick, add back in fried chicken and mix to coat evenly. Remove off heat.
Garnish with green onions and sesame seeds. Enjoy!
Below are tips on making crispy sweet and sour chicken at home:
Dice chicken into equal size pieces
This will allow for an even cooking time. I usually cut each thigh if they’re the same size into 6-8 pieces. If it’s a smaller thigh, about 4 bite size pieces.
Do not constantly move chicken as your fry
This prevents your chicken from becoming crispy as the exterior doesn't get enough time to fry. Instead, allow the chicken and fry in the pan for a 4-5 minutes per side, in a non-stick pan or 3-4 minutes per side, in a carbon steel wok.
Do not overcook vegetables
At the Chinese restaurant, the bell peppers and onions are not overcooked nor caramelized because we want them to hold shape. In fact, the bell peppers remain crunchy. So only cook for 30-45 seconds.
Pre-mix the sauce ahead of time
This is important and prevents overcooking of the bell peppers and onions.
Below are frequently asked questions about this Chinese sweet and sour chicken:
Can I reheat this dish?
Yes you can definitely keep them for leftovers, however because the coating is light the chicken may not be as crispy the next day. But it still tastes great!
What is Chinese sweet and sour chicken made of?
It’s typically made of chicken thigh coated in cornstarch (or a heavy batter) and fried. It’s then coated in a sauce made of ketchup, vinegar, sugar, water and cornstarch (sometimes pineapple juice). Finally stir fried with bell peppers, onions and pineapple.
What's the difference between General Tso chicken and sweet and sour chicken?
Sweet and sour chicken is sweet and tangy as the name suggests. However, General Tso is more sweet and less sour and has a darker brown colour thanks to the hoisin. Whereas sweet and sour chicken is red in colour, thanks to the ketchup.
Where does sweet and sour chicken originate from?
It originates from China!
What does sweet and sour chicken taste like?
It tastes like fried battered chicken coated in a sweet tangy sauce with crunchy red bell pepper, pineapple and onion.
Other Chicken recipes you may like!
If you enjoyed this dish, you may enjoy these other Asian chicken recipes:
Well, I hope you give my Sweet and Sour Chicken a try! It always excites me when you make my recipes and I hope this is one you try and most importantly, enjoy.
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Easy Sweet and Sour Chicken
- ½ tsp sesame seeds
- 1 stalk green onion finely chopped
- Cut chicken thighs into bite sized pieces, about 4-6 pieces per thigh.
- In a small bowl combine sauce ingredients. Set aside.
- In a large bowl with your diced chicken thighs, season with salt and garlic powder. Then add cornstarch and mix until each piece is coated in starch.
- Over medium heat, add oil. Once oil is hot enough (test with wooden chopstick and look for bubbles), add coated chicken.
- Fry on each side for 4-5 minutes or until golden crispy brown on both sides.
- Remove chicken from pan and place on a paper towel lined plate or a cooling rack. Discard excess oil, reserving 1 tsp of it.
- Over medium heat and into the same pan, fry onions, red bell pepper and pineapples for 30 – 45 seconds.
- Pour in sauce and let it simmer to thicken and reduce, a couple minutes.
- Once thick, add back in fried chicken and mix to coat evenly. Remove off heat.
- Optional: Garnish with green onions and sesame seeds. Enjoy!