Sweet and Sour Chicken

Sweet and Sour Chicken with crispy chicken, pineapple and bell peppers just like your favorite takeout place without the food coloring.

Sweet and Sour Chicken with crispy chicken, pineapple and bell peppers.

Sweet and Sour Chicken, A Classic

Sweet and Sour Chicken is a classic Chinese takeout option most of us are too afraid to make at home. Something about woks and cooking with pineapple make it intimidating for most, but it is so much easier to make than you would think.

Of the classic Chinese Recipes that most people ask for on my blog the one I hear about the absolute most is sweet and sour chicken. I totally get it, it isn’t even just the recipe, but THAT SAUCE. When I was a teenager and I made this sauce for the first time I also actually started learning how to use chopsticks. So for a solid month (I kid you not, my mom was not thrilled with this), I used chopsticks for every meal and had a tiny little bowl of Sweet and Sour Chicken Sauce to dip everything into it.

Sweet and Sour Chicken sauce with sesame seeds

How to make Sweet and Sour Chicken

When it comes to making a good Sweet and Sour Chicken recipe there are a few tips I love to give out.

  • Keep the breading super crispy and light. I have experimented with this recipe both in a tempura batter and a straight cornstarch coating. I prefer cornstarch for ease of use, but either way, you don’t want something doughy that will absorb your sauce like a sponge.
  • Make sure you’re using GOOD pineapple chunks. I like either a super sweet fresh pineapple or the frozen chunks you get at Costco. They always have high quality frozen pineapple I’ve never been disappointed with.
  • Don’t skip the onions. I know people may have aversions to them, but the onions and the bell peppers play an important role in balancing the flavors of the dish. Without them, you would have a completely sweet entree with only a sour punch from the pineapple. Adding a bit of bitter from the peppers and onions helps cut through the sweetness. Trust me, you’ll be trying to snag extra onion pieces (assuming you don’t already really hate onions).

How to make Sweet and Sour Chicken like your favorite takeout place

Want more Chinese Food Recipes?

Sweet and Sour Chicken tossed in sweet and sour chicken sauce

Tools used in this Sweet and Sour Chicken recipe:

  • Wok: Great for high heat, quick cooking. This wok is a great addition to your kitchen if you love cooking Chinese food or stir fries in general.
  • Large Frying Pan: I use this Cuisinart for most of my non cast iron cooking unless I am going with a stainless steel option, then I choose my All Clad.
  • Low Sodium Soy Sauce: I find regular soy sauce much too salty, remember you can always add salt but you can’t subtract it. Starting with low sodium allows you to alter to your tastes if necessary.
  • Frying Spider Strainer: This frying spider strainer is the quickest and easiest way to scoop out items that are fried without wasting too much time or getting too much oil out of the pan. You won’t have pieces burning like you would with a smaller strainer, plus it is SO inexpensive. I use it for almost all of my small fried items.


Sweet and Sour Chicken with crispy chicken, pineapple and bell peppers that tastes just like your favorite takeout place without the food coloring.
4.94 from 151 votes

Sweet and Sour Chicken

Sweet and Sour Chicken with crispy chicken, pineapple and bell peppers that tastes just like your favorite takeout place without the food coloring.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Chinese
Keyword Sweet and Sour Chicken
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 602 kcal
Author Sabrina Snyder


  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts cut into 1” chunks
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • canola oil for frying
  • 1 cup pineapple chunks
  • 1 red bell pepper cut into 1” chunks
  • 1 green bell pepper cut into 1” chunks
  • 1/2 yellow onion cut into 1” chunks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 4 teaspoons reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic minced


  1. To make the sauce, whisk together the sugar, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, ketchup, soy sauce and garlic into a small bowl.
  2. Pour enough canola oil into a dutch oven or frying pan that is comes up from the bottom about an inch to an inch and a half.
  3. Heat the oil on medium high to high heat, you’re looking for the chicken to cook and brown in about 2-3 minutes.

  4. Add the cornstarch to a large ziplock bag.
  5. Add the chicken pieces to the large ziplock bag and shake until all the pieces are well coated.
  6. Dip the pieces into the egg, then into the flour before adding to the hot oil.
  7. Cook the chicken for 2-3 minutes, until cooked through and crispy.

  8. Remove to a cookie sheet (no paper towels!) and continue cooking all the chicken pieces.
  9. When done cooking remove all but a tablespoon of the oil.
  10. Add the bell peppers, onion and pineapple and cook for 1-2 minutes, until crisp-tender.

  11. Add the sauce back in and stir to coat the pieces and cook for 30 seconds to help the garlic warm through.

  12. Add the chicken pieces back in and stir until the sauce has thickened and bubbling.
  13. Serve immediately, with optional garnishes of sesame seeds or green onions.
Nutrition Facts
Sweet and Sour Chicken
Amount Per Serving
Calories 602 Calories from Fat 54
% Daily Value*
Fat 6g9%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Cholesterol 190mg63%
Sodium 588mg26%
Potassium 1082mg31%
Carbohydrates 92g31%
Fiber 3g13%
Sugar 65g72%
Protein 41g82%
Vitamin A 1385IU28%
Vitamin C 79.5mg96%
Calcium 67mg7%
Iron 2.4mg13%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Sweet and Sour Chicken dish ready to serve

Sweet and Sour Chicken with crispy chicken, pineapple and bell peppers that tastes just like your favorite takeout place without the food coloring.
Sweet and Sour Chicken with crispy chicken, pineapple and bell peppers that tastes just like your favorite takeout place without the food coloring.

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.


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  1. I just recently started liking Chinese food. I ran across this recipe to make one of my favorite dishes at home. I made this and it was delicious!!!! Ive never made a Chinese dish in my life and it was perfect on the first try. The only thing I had to do was substitute white vinegar for the Apple cider vinegar because I didn’t have it and it was great Thank you for sharing this!

  2. I had a “plethora” of whole RIPE pineapples that needed used… so we juiced some of them. Had a TON of Leftover “PINEAPPLE PULP”… in search of a sweet and sour recipe that maybe i could change up a little…. Found this one and tried it. Substituted the 1 cup of sugar with 1 cup Pineapple Pulp in the sauce. The chicken was messy to make (always when dredging with kids) … but i was amazed at how crispy it was!! I also left the chicken and sauce separate at the end and let everyone put their own sauce on their “rice & chicken” bowl. I actually used 5 lbs of chicken, doubled the sauce recipe and the ratio was fine.

  3. Loved this, although it will probably taste better with breaded chicken, I cooked the chicken without coating, added salt & pepper, then the veggies, pineapple, and sauce. You can do a cornstarch slurry to thicken the sauce, too. Added over cooked rice and topped with green onions. My husband and I really loved this! Thank you so much for a great recipe! I’m gluten free and I could have used a different flour, I thought this was a lot easier and cut down on time and it tasted great!

  4. Added some fresh crushed ginger, orange juice and red pepper flake to the sauce. Amazing. Thanks! I have a health condition where I can’t consume oil. I cooked chicken breast cubes on a skillet seasoned with fresh ground pepper (key ingredient go a tad heavy), garlic and onion powder and salt and Ancho chili pepper with some baking powder. Grilled with onions and added in the pineapple. I forgot to add the scallions I bought at the end. ? I can’t ever order Chinese because of my condition, but so happy to have this great recipe to modify at home. Loved building on this. Thanks!

  5. It is so tasty, I made it again but replaced the apple cider vinegar with rice vinegar and juice of half an orange… and it is even better!

  6. Very easy recipe, but very bland. Chicken especially was very good, but definitely needed salt. Sauce needed some spice. How about some peppers

    1. True! I added the salt in the flour coating the chicken and that was perfect. Second time I cooked it I used a spicy ketchup (available in Turkey) that made it so good, not too spicy but a hint 🙂

  7. This recipe is absolutely incredible! It was easy to follow and so delicious. It definitely impressed my family who were over for dinner. Thank you for making me look like an amazing cook ? will most certainly be making this again!

  8. Hello Sabrina,

    Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe! I have a question: I am inviting some friends over and will not be able to serve immediately. I’ll at least have to prepare two hours prior. I am thinking of adding the chicken at the very end after heating the sauce. What do you think? What is the best way to keep the chicken crispy for this long? Or is that impossible?

    Many thanks!

    1. Unfortunately, this recipe just won’t work made ahead of time. I’d suggest making the PF Chang’s Orange Chicken recipe instead. It’s delicious and will stay longer. Good luck!

  9. This is the best sweet and sour chicken recipe on the market! I always make more sauce, because it is so authentic tasting.

    Making it tonight with half chicken and half tofu.

    Thanks so much!

  10. I just made this delicious easy meal for dinner. Absolutely better than Chinese sweet and sour chicken. I added a dash of scotch bonnet pepper, enhancing its savory taste.
    Do you have an orange chicken recipe?

    1. Yes, I actually a few different versions. You can use the search bar at the top right of the corner of the website and it’ll show you all the options. Enjoy!

  11. This was delicious! Even my daughter who is not a fan of peppers and isn’t sure about pineapple liked it. This one’s definitely a keeper.

  12. We LOVE this recipe! I discovered it this summer, and have made 3 times since then. I am about to make it again tonight for dinner 🙂 . It’s a seriously tasty and easy recipe to follow. Thank you Sabrina!

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