Sweet and Sour Chicken


August 2, 2023

Chinese Main Dishes Recipes Tastier Than Takeout Wok

Sweet and Sour Chicken is super popular Chinese American takeout dish! The ultra crispy chicken is nicely seasoned, juicy, and coated in a classic sweet and sour sauce that pairs deliciously with some freshly steamed rice.

If you’re a fan of Sweet and Sour Chicken, you’ll never need to order takeout again after trying this recipe!

Watch the Sweet and Sour Chicken Recipe Video Below!

Sweet and Sour chicken close up on a plate

Ingredients for Sweet and Sour Chicken

This Sweet and Sour Chicken recipe is such a winner and perfect for a weeknight meal with a freshly steamed bowl of rice! Here is what you’ll need for the recipe:

  • Chicken Thigh (You can also use chicken breast for this recipe)
  • Kosher Salt
  • White Pepper
  • Light soy sauce (low sodium)
  • Egg
  • All Purpose Flour
  • Cornstarch
  • Chicken Stock – I always recommend Kettle & Fire – use code CJPINS for 20% off your order here!
  • Ketchup
  • Brown Sugar
  • Distilled White Vinegar
  • Baking Powder
  • Neutral Oil for Frying (canola, avocado, or vegetable work well!)
  • Onion
  • Bell Pepper (Yellow, Green, Red)
  • Pineapple
Sweet and Sour chicken raw ingredients


I like to use chicken thigh in this recipe but if you prefer chicken breast, feel free to substitute here!

My favorite neutral oil is avocado oil, but you can also use canola or vegetable oil! I don’t use olive oil when cooking Chinese food for two reasons: 1. It has a low burning point and 2. I find that the flavor profile does not usually go with the dish. 

Sweet and Sour Chicken: Recipe Instructions

Cut the Chicken

The first step in making this recipe is cutting the chicken into 2″ pieces. Cut the chicken into uniform pieces so they cook evenly when we fry them.

Cutting chicken on a cutting board

Next, place the sliced chicken into a bowl with light soy sauce, kosher salt, white pepper, egg, and flour. Mix well with your hands and let marinate for at least 20 minutes.

Marinated chicken in a wet batter

Next, mix the sauce by combining chicken stock (I always use Kettle & Fire – get 20% off your order when you use code CJPINS!), ketchup, brown sugar, distilled white vinegar, and cornstarch. I always like to premix my sauce to have it ready to go during the fast cooking process.

Mixing sweet and sour sauce in a bowl

Dredge the chicken

Mix together flour, cornstarch, kosher salt, white pepper, and baking powder in a large bowl. Give the chicken a final mix to redistribute the wet batter and let any drip off the chicken. Individually coat the chicken pieces in the dry seasoning mix so that there are no dry spots!

Sweet and sour chicken dry seasoning mix

Be sure to pack the dry mix in to the chicken with your hands (I like squeezing it in) to properly coat the chicken so the batter sticks.

Sweet and sour chicken dredged in seasoning mix

Fry (and double fry) the chicken

Heat a few quarts of neutral oil over high heat until the temperature reaches 350F. Carefully fry the chicken in batches for 3-4 minutes until golden brown. I highly recommend a thermometer to accurately measure your oil temperature, as you do not want the oil temperature to drop below 325F.

Remove the chicken then bring the oil temperature back up to 350F and fry a second time for an additional 1-2 minutes until the chicken is dark golden brown and crispy!

chicken frying in oil

Cook Peppers and Onions

Heat 1 tbsp of neutral oil in a wok or large pan over high heat and sauté the peppers and onions for 1 minute.

Cooking peppers in a wok

Add the premixed sauce to the peppers and onions and mix until the sauce has thickened slightly. Add back the chicken and give it a good mix to combine and the pieces are thoroughly coated!

Adding chicken in the wok with peppers
Sweet and sour chicken close up in a wok

If you liked this Sweet and Sour Chicken recipe, check out some of the most popular Chinese Take-Out recipes on the blog!

Sweet and Sour chicken on a plate


Do not let your frying oil drop below 325F when frying! I highly recommend you use a thermometer to keep an eye on the temperature. If you see it dropping below 325F, fry your wings in batches. Frying at a low temperature will result in too much moisture (AKA SOGGY!)

The cooking process for the sauce is FAST so it’s a great idea to premix your sauce together, then add it straight into the pan! The corn starch will help thicken the sauce into that velvety texture that Chinese restaurants made so famous.

For a recipe that comes together extremely quickly, the key to pulling this recipe off successfully is having your ingredients prepped and in bowls right next to your wok or pan! Have your premixed sauce, chicken, and vegetables ready and easily accessible during the cooking process.

Sweet and Sour chicken on a plate

Sweet and Sour Chicken

by Chris Joe
This Sweet and Sour Chicken is perfectly crispy glazed in a sweet and tangy sauce and so much better than takeout!
5 from 8 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 3


Sweet and Sour Sauce

Dry Seasoning Mix

Vegetables and Fruit

  • 3 cups bell pepper I used red, yellow and green bell pepper, cut to 2" pieces
  • 1/2 onion cut into 2" pieces
  • 1/2 cup pineapple cut into 2" pieces


  • Cut the chicken thigh into similar size 2" pieces and place in a mixing bowl.
  • Season the chicken with light soy sauce, salt, white pepper, egg and flour. Mix until combined and marinate for 20 minutes.
  • In a bowl, mix together ketchup, brown sugar, white vinegar, chicken stock and cornstarch.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the Dry Seasoning Mix ingredients. Give the chicken another mix to evenly distribute the wet batter, then let any excess drip off and dredge the chicken in the dry mix. Pat the chicken pieces well to ensure there are no bald spots.
  • In a large dutch oven or wok, heat neutral oil to 350F and fry the chicken for 3-4 minutes until golden brown and remove.
  • Bring the oil temperature back to 350F and fry the chicken again for 1-2 minutes until dark golden brown and crispy.
  • In a wok or large pan over high heat, add 1 tbsp of neutral oil and cook the peppers and onions for 1 minute. Add pineapple and cook for another 30 seconds.
  • Add the premixed sauce and combine with peppers and onions until the sauce has thickened slightly. Add back the chicken and toss to combine and enjoy!
Keyword chicken, chinese food, chinese takeout, sweet and sour
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Recipe Rating

  1. 5 stars
    there’s one thing that i always order from panda express which is sweet and sour chicken. so glad i can just make it at home now and 10x more delicious!

  2. 5 stars
    We make this at least twice a month, so easy to follow and most of all so freaking delicious! Even my picky toddlers devour it!

  3. 5 stars
    This recipe is one that we look forward to making each week and has been saved as one of my favorites. The sauce pairs together nicely with the chicken and peppers. I usually don’t prefer pineapple in my dishes, but this recipe changed my cooking perspective in a whole different way. It is super easy to make and would recommend this recipe to anyone.

    Thank you for sharing all your wonderful recipes!

  4. 5 stars
    I made this tonight and it was delicious. My husband and I both enjoyed it very much. Every recipe of yours that I’ve made has been wonderful!!

  5. 5 stars
    Made a big batch for my daughter’s sleepover friends, for a homemade take-out experience. Absolutely loved it “Sooo niiice!”. Just the right amount of sweet and sour. The marinade really makes the chicken so juicy.