Sweet and Sour Chicken – Just Like Takeout! (VIDEO)

5 from 24 votes
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Sweet and Sour Chicken is a popular American Chinese dish that is surprisingly easy to make at home! Super crispy chicken pieces are coated in the classic sweet and sour sauce that you’ll want to pour over everything. Don’t order takeout when you can make it just like Chinese take-out (but better) at home!

Sweet and Sour chicken close up on a plate

Watch the Sweet and Sour Chicken Recipe Video Below!

Sweet and Sour chicken raw ingredients

Ingredients for better than takeout 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 – I like to use boneless, skinless chicken thigh for mySweet and Sour Chicken .
    • You can use bone-in or skin-in chicken thigh, just make sure to remove both the skin and bone.
    • You can also use chicken breast, if you prefer. Keep an eye on cooking time, as chicken breast dries out faster than chicken thigh.
  • Kosher Salt
  • White Pepper- This is one of my favorite pantry items; many Chinese and American-Chinese dishes uses white pepper, so if you enjoy cooking Asian food at home, I highly recommend purchasing some for your pantry! The flavor is earthier and spicier than black pepper – I absolutely love it and use it all the time!
    • If you don’t have white pepper, you can substitute with black pepper.
  • Light Soy Sauce – Light Soy Sauce or All-Purpose Soy Sauce; do NOT use dark soy sauce, as it’s too thick and sweet for the flavors in Sweet and Sour Chicken
  • Egg
  • All Purpose Flour
  • Cornstarch
  • Chicken Stock – You can use chicken stock or broth. If you need to substitute with a different stock or broth, that is OK.
  • Ketchup
  • Brown Sugar
  • Distilled White Vinegar – This is for the tangy flavor; if you don’t have Distilled White Vinegar on hand, you can substitute with Apple Cider Vinegar or Rice Vinegar.
  • Baking Powder This is one of my favorite tricks in frying foods that still taste light and airy. The baking powder reacts with the oil and creates tiny air bubbles, which helps the outer layer get crispy while keeping it light and airy.
  • Neutral Oil – my go-to neutral oil is always Avocado Oil. You can also use Canola or Vegetable Oil. Do NOT use Olive Oil or Sesame Oil! The flavor profiles and low smoking points make both oils not good for frying.
  • Onion
  • Bell Pepper – I love how colorful Sweet and Sour Chicken is, so I like to use all three colors, yellow, red, and green. If you can only find one color, that is totally ok!
  • Pineapple – I use freshly cut pineapple because I personally prefer it and we usually have cut pineapple at home. If you don’t have freshly cut pineapple, you can use canned pineapple. Make sure to drain the liquid well.

Sweet and Sour Chicken: Recipe Instructions

1. Cut and Marinate The Chicken

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

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.

2. Mix Your sauce

Next, mix the sauce by combining chicken stock, ketchup, brown sugar, distilled white vinegar, and cornstarch.

Sweet and Sour Chicken is one of those dishes where once you start cooking, it GOES FAST — therefore, I like to have my sauce pre-mixed and ready to go.

Mixing sweet and sour sauce in a bowl

3. Dredge the chicken

Mix together flour, cornstarch, kosher salt, white pepper, and baking powder in a large bowl.

Before you begin dredging, I recommend you mix the chicken one more time to re-distribute the wet batter and let any excess drip off the chicken.

Individually coat the chicken pieces in the dry seasoning mix so that there are no dry spots. 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.

4. 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!

5. Cook the Onions, Peppers, and Pineapples

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.

6. Finishing Cooking and Serve!

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 your Sweet and Sour Chicken!

PRO TIPS

Expert Tips for the BEST Sweet and Sour Chicken!

Cut the Chicken into Uniform Pieces

Whether you use chicken breast or thigh, make sure to cut your chicken into uniform pieces to ensure that they cook evenly.

Coat Your Chicken Thoroughly

Individually coat the chicken pieces in the dry seasoning mix so that there are no dry spots. 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.

Monitor the Oil Temperature

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 chicken in batches. Frying at a low temperature will result in too much moisture (AKA SOGGY!)

Pre-mix Your Sauce

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.

Success is in the Prep!

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

Storage and Reheating

You can keep this in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. The texture of the chicken will change as it’s refrigerated but the flavor will be even better as it sits and melds!

I like to reheat Sweet and Sour Chicken in a hot pan or wok – I give it a quick stir-fry to get all of the chicken warmed up and revitalize some of the texture.

What to Serve with Sweet and Sour Chicken

If you’re going to make better-than-takeout Sweet and Sour Chicken at home, I recommend you go all-out and recreate your perfect Chinese Take-Out meal!

You can’t have take-out without making my crispiest Egg Rolls! You’ll also need some kind of carb – I would make Chicken Fried Rice (if you want shrimp instead, try Shrimp Fried Rice)and Shrimp Lo Mein (if you need a chicken option, try Chicken Lo Mein) to go with Sesame Chicken. Take-out isn’t complete without a comforting bowl of soup -try my Egg Drop Soup or Hot and Sour Soup! If you want another chicken dish to make, try General Tso’s Chicken!

Cooking With a Wok (Alternatives)

By now, you know that I LOVE cooking with my wok! It is my #1 most recommended kitchen tool, as I believe it is perfect for high-heat cooking and results in restaurant quality Chinese food!

If it is your first time cooking with a wok, make sure to read my “How To Season a Wok” post. There is a video included that shows exactly how to season your brand new wok and how to maintain it so it lasts for years.

If you cannot or do not want to use a wok, you can use a large pan, cast iron, or even a dutch oven.

My KEY TIP would be to avoid crowding your pan – crowding can lead to your Sweet and Sour Chicken not cooking thoroughly and becoming mushy. If you think your dish will be crowded, use a larger pan, cast iron, or dutch oven, OR cook in batches.

If you tried this Sweet and Sour Chicken or any other recipe on my website, please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it went in the comments below!

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5 from 24 votes

Sweet and Sour Chicken

Servings: 3
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Sweet and Sour chicken on a plate
This Sweet and Sour Chicken is perfectly crispy glazed in a sweet and tangy sauce and so much better than takeout!

Equipment

Ingredients 

Chicken

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

Instructions 

  • 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!

Notes

KEY TIPS:
Cut the Chicken into Uniform Pieces
  • Whether you use chicken breast or thigh, make sure to cut your chicken into uniform pieces to ensure that they cook evenly.
Coat Your Chicken Thoroughly
  • Individually coat the chicken pieces in the dry seasoning mix so that there are no dry spots. 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.
Monitor the Oil Temperature
  • 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 chicken in batches. Frying at a low temperature will result in too much moisture (AKA SOGGY!)
Pre-mix Your Sauce
  • 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.
Success is in the Prep!
  • 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.
 
STORAGE & REHEATING
You can keep this in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. The texture of the chicken will change as it’s refrigerated but the flavor will be even better as it sits and melds!
I like to reheat Sweet and Sour Chicken in a hot pan or wok – I give it a quick stir-fry to get all of the chicken warmed up and revitalize some of the texture.

Nutrition

Calories: 663kcalCarbohydrates: 73gProtein: 31gFat: 27gSaturated Fat: 7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 6gMonounsaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 203mgSodium: 2023mgPotassium: 803mgFiber: 5gSugar: 26gVitamin A: 4981IUVitamin C: 206mgCalcium: 138mgIron: 4mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Chinese
Tried this recipe?Mention @cj.eats_ or tag #cjeatsrecipes!

About CJ

I’m a third generation Chinese-American home cook who has always loved cooking & eating! Welcome to my food blog, where you can find trusted, tested, easy & approachable recipes for the everyday home cook that taste delicious! I am so glad you're here!

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Recipe Rating




22 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Followed exactly and got an awesome meal. Was not expecting the foam from the wok with chicken but recovered. Meal was a hit and exactly like the expensive Chinese we get delivered