This healthier homemade Sweet and Sour Chicken recipe is a fantastic substitute for any Chinese restaurant version. And in about the time it takes to have it delivered, you could already be eating!
In addition to my Easy Cashew Chicken and Cranberry Chicken, this Sweet and Sour Chicken recipe is in constant rotation at my house for dinner. It’s so flavorful and super easy to make. Everyone asks for it all the time. Sometimes I serve it with a side salad, but it’s very substantial on its own.
When I was growing up, my mom made the best sweet and sour chicken with the most amazing sauce. And she would always – ALWAYS – serve it in the same beautiful ornate ceramic bowl. Actually, I think that was the only time she ever used that bowl (which now sits on a shelf, more as a statue than a way to serve food.) She cooked up her recipe the authentic way, by battering and deep-frying the chicken.
Sweet and Sour Chicken – Simplified
I’ve simplified this classic dish (and also made it slightly healthier) by omitting the batter and massive oil needed for deep-frying. The chicken pieces do still get coated in cornstarch, though, and pan-fried in a skillet without being touched for a few minutes to develop a nice brown crisp exterior.
How to Make Sweet and Sour Chicken
- Cut the chicken and vegetables the same size. This ensures they’ll cook at the same rate. You’ll also be able to get a little taste of everything on your fork at the same time!
- Have everything chopped and ready to go. Stir fry recipes comes together so quickly if you’ve got all your ingredients ready before you start at the stovetop.
- No need to use a wok. Just make sure you’re using a nonstick skillet so the chicken browns, but doesn’t stick.
- Serve with cooked steamed rice to soak up all that delicious sweet and sour sauce!
- Use canned or fresh pineapple. I almost always use canned pineapple so this meal can be made year-round, plus the pineapple is already cut into cubes, eliminating another step in the process. But if you want to use fresh pineapple, go fo it! If you do use canned pineapple, grab the kind that is in 100% juice. This dish is sweet enough without needing pineapple in syrup.
- Chicken breasts or thighs can be used. This recipe calls for chicken breasts, but chicken thighs work just as well.
- The vegetables are adaptable. Red and green bell pepper and onions are included in my recipe, but you could easily swap them out for broccoli or snap peas, if you prefer.
- If you can’t find rice wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar is a great substitute.
This version is easier and less messy than deep-frying, and quicker than baking. The chicken still ends up moist and so delicious!
Other Asian Stir Fry Recipes I make all the time!
Sweet and Sour Chicken Recipe Video
Homemade Sweet and Sour Chicken
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch , divided
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons ketchup
- 1 1/2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
- 8 ounce can pineapple chunks , drained, juice reserved
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts , cut into 1 1/4-inch bite sized pieces
- salt and pepper , to taste
- 1 small red bell pepper , seeded and ribs removed, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 small green bell pepper , seeded and ribs removed, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 small sweet onion , cut into 1-inch pieces
- cooked white rice , for serving
- In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon of the cornstarch and water, until combined. Whisk in the rice wine vinegar, brown sugar, ketchup, soy sauce, and reserved pineapple juice. Set aside.
- In a large nonstick skillet, warm the vegetable oil over medium-high. Toss the chicken with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch, and season with salt and pepper. Add to the skillet and cook, without stirring, for 2-3 minutes. Mix and continue to sauté for another 6-7 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer chicken to a plate.
- Add red bell pepper, green bell pepper, and onion to the skillet; cook for 3 minutes until vegetables soften and get a bit charred. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Pour in the sweet and sour sauce mixture, along with the pineapple chunks. Cook for another 1-2 minutes to warm through and allow sauce to thicken slightly.
- Add chicken back to skillet and stir to combine.
- Taste and sprinkle with a little more salt and pepper, if necessary. Serve over cooked white rice and enjoy!