This Sweet and Sour Chicken recipe is so easy to make and lets you recreate your favorite Chinese takeout dish at home. Crispy chicken, sticky sweet and sour sauce, and pineapple and veggies is the best combination.
The Sweet and Sour Chicken sauce uses simple pantry ingredients and is perfectly sticky and sweet. Serve with white or brown rice or try some Easy Egg Fried Rice or Chow Mein for a complete dinner that the whole family will love.
Why We Love It
I love an easy weeknight dinner and this recipe checks all of the boxes.
It uses all simple pantry ingredients and is ready in less than 30 minutes.
The sweet and sour chicken sauce is the right level of sweet and coats the chicken, peppers, and pineapple in the sticky sauce.
The sauce is really the star of the dish and you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to make!
Ingredients for Sweet and Sour Chicken
You only need some simple, easy to find ingredients to make this recipe. You can find everything at your regular grocery store.
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts – You could swap in boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Cornstarch – This is the base of the breading that gives the chicken that crunchy coating.
All-purpose flour – mixed with the cornstarch, creates the breading.
Spices – Salt and pepper – that’s it!
Oil – for frying such as a vegetable oil or canola oil.
Veggies and Fruit – Red bell pepper (or other color), green onions, pineapple chunks (Pro tip: if you use canned pineapple, drain and reserve the juice for the sweet and sour sauce).
Sweet and sour sauce – Reserved pineapple juice, apple cider vinegar, ketchup, soy sauce (I like using low sodium), brown sugar (light or dark), and sesame seeds.
How to Make Crispy Sweet and Sour Chicken
It takes less than 30 minutes to prepare and cook the crispy chicken and the sauce. See the simple steps below:
Bread chicken: Start by making the dry breading mixture and whisk together the cornstarch, flour, salt, and pepper. Coat the chicken in the dry mixture, then dredge in the beaten eggs, and finish with one more coating in the flour mixture. Set the breaded chicken aside.
Fry chicken: Heat oil in a large, deep pan to 350 degrees F. Fry the chicken for about 5 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oil and set aside. You may need to do this in batches.
Cook veggies: Heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium in a large skillet and saute the bell pepper and green onions until tender.
Sweet and sour sauce: To the softened veggies, add the pineapple juice, apple cider vinegar, ketchup, soy sauce, and brown sugar. Whisk to combine and continue to whisk while you bring it to a simmer. To thicken, remove about 2 tablespoons of the sauce mixture from the pan and mix with 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. Add back to the skillet and cook for about 1 minutes until the sauce is thickened.
Serve: Add the chicken back to the skillet and toss with the sauce and veggies. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve with white rice and thinly sliced green onion, if desired.
Expert Tips and FAQs
Brown Sugar – The recipe includes a range for the brown sugar as you can easily adjust the level of sweetness in the sauce.
Cornstarch Breading – The cornstarch breading is key to getting the chicken that crispy coating. I recommend doing the double dredge (flour, egg, flour) for the best breading results.
What is Chinese Sweet and Sour Chicken made of?
At its core, sweet and sour chicken is simply breaded and fried chicken chunks coated in a sweet and sour sauce and mixed with peppers and pineapple.
Is orange chicken the same as Sweet and Sour?
The crispy chicken is prepared in a way that’s similar to the crispy take-out orange chicken or Chinese Lemon Chicken you might be used to. The sauces are also prepared in similar ways, but the flavors are completely different.
Storage and Reheating
Leftovers – The chicken is best served warm and fresh when the breading is still crispy, but leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Reheating: Place chicken in an oven safe dish and bake at 350℉ until heated through. Cover with foil to keep from drying out, but it may also increase moisture, making the breading soggy. If covering, cut a few slits in the foil to let steam escape.
1 ½poundsboneless skinless chicken breastscut into bite-sized pieces
¼teaspoonground black pepper
2large eggslightly beaten
oil for frying
½cupred bell pepperchopped
½cupsliced green onions
1cancanned pineapple chunksdrained – juice reserved
Sweet & Sour Sauce
½reserved pineapple juice
1tablespoonapple cider vinegar
In a medium bowl, whisk together the cornstarch, flour, salt, and pepper.
Lightly coat the chicken in the flour mixture, then dip into the beaten eggs and coat again in the flour mixture. Set aside. (Flour, egg, flour)
In a large deep pan, heat oil to 350 degrees for frying. Cook the coated chicken for about 5 minutes or until golden brown, remove from oil and set aside.
In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Saute the red bell pepper, pineapple and green onion for 3 minutes or until tender.
Add the reserved pineapple juice, apple cider vinegar, ketchup, soy sauce, and brown sugar, whisking constantly until thoroughly mixed and simmering.
Remove 2 tablespoons of the sauce and whisk with 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, then add the mixture back to the skillet, cooking until the sauce is thickened. (About 1 minute)
Add the chicken back into the skillet along with the sesame seeds and toss in sauce to coat.
Serve with white rice and fresh green onion slices, if desired.
Leftovers – The chicken is best served warm and fresh when the breading is still crispy, but leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.Reheating: Place chicken in an oven safe dish and bake at 350℉ until heated through. Cover with foil to keep from drying out, but it may also increase moisture, making the breading soggy. If covering, cut a few slits in the foil to let steam escape.
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Kristin Maxwell is the creator and main recipe developer, writer, and photographer of Yellow Bliss Road. A self-taught cook and self-appointed foodie, she specializes in easy, flavorful and approachable recipes for any home cook.