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Sweet and Sour Pork is a homemade copycat of classic Chinese take-out. Made with lightly breaded, pan-fried crispy pork, bell peppers, onions and fresh pineapple in a tangy sweet and sour sauce.
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Sweet and Sour Pork Recipe
As much as my family loves going out for Chinese food, we prefer this homemade version of the popular Chinese dish. The homemade sauce and lightly breaded crispy pork just hits different than the often soggy, densely battered chunks of restaurant pork that leave me feeling underwhelmed.
My personal trick for achieving delightfully crispy pork involves marinating bite-sized pieces of pork tenderloin first. This allows them to soak up the flavors of the marinade before they’re coated with cornstarch.
Just a light dusting of cornstarch helps to keep the meat tender as it fries in a thin layer of oil, rather than in a deep fryer, and it provides the perfect amount of crispy coating, without weighing everything down or getting soggy.
Don’t let the ingredients list scare you off. The instructions are clear and quite easy to follow.
- Pork Tenderloin – A tender cut of pork with very little fat.
- Marinade – Sesame oil, soy sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper and cornstarch.
- Vegetable Oil – For frying the breaded pork.
- Sauce – Chicken broth, ketchup, apple cider vinegar, sugar, garlic, fresh ginger, soy sauce and green onions.
- Bell Peppers – Use your favorite colors, but traditionally green and red are used.
- Onion – White onion is slightly sweeter and the preferred variety.
- Pineapple – I highly recommend using fresh pineapple if you have it available, well-drained canned pineapple is fine.
How to Make Sweet and Sour Pork
See recipe card below for ingredient quantities and full instructions.
- Marinate pork. Cut pork into bite-sized chunks. Mix up the marinade and marinate pork for 20 minutes.
- Prepare the sauce. Whisk together sauce ingredients, including just the whites of a couple of green onions and set aside. In a separate bowl whisk cornstarch and water to form a slurry.
- Prepare the meat. Season pork with salt and pepper and coat with cornstarch. This is all the breading the pork gets, but trust me, it’s just right!
- Cook the meat. Heat a thin layer of oil in a cast iron pan or skillet and add pork in a single layer, leaving space between each piece. Fry for a few minutes, untouched, then flip and cook through.
- Stir fry veggies. If needed add more oil to the pan and quickly stir fry the bell peppers and onion. You don’t want them to soften too much, since they should still have some texture and bite.
- Make the sauce. Add the pineapple and the sauce and let the sauce heat until it comes to a simmer. Stir in the cornstarch slurry, then drizzle it over the vegetables and sauce, stirring until the sauce has thickened slightly.
- Serve. Return the pork to the pan and toss with the sauce, vegetables, and pineapple until everything is coated well. Sprinkle with the reserved green parts of the chopped green onions and serve with white or brown rice.
Sweet and Sour Pork is a popular Chinese dish that features deep-fried pork in a tangy and sweet sauce made from sugar, vinegar, and assorted fruits or vegetables.
Technically you could make this dish with pork chops, pork loin, or pork butt. But pork tenderloin is my favorite in terms of ease, flavor and tenderness.
To make a healthier version of Sweet and Sour Pork, you can opt to omit the cornstarch coating and stir-fry the marinated pork instead of pan-frying it and add more vegetables.
Whisk together cornstarch and water to form a “slurry” and then stir it into the sauce. As it simmers, the cornstarch will thicken the sauce.
Absolutely you could make Sweet and Sour Chicken using this same recipe. It tastes delicious!
We always serve the recipe over white rice made in the rice cooker. It would also be good with cauliflower rice if you are looking for a low carb option, or brown rice, which I like for its nutty flavor. Pan Fried Noodles are also a delicious option.
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or the freezer for up to 4 months. Make sure to thaw it in the refrigerator before reheating in the oven, on the stovetop, or in an air fryer.
- Make sure your pork is cut into uniform sizes for even cooking.
- Stir-fry the vegetables until just tender to maintain their crunch.
- Don’t overcook the pork; it should be tender and juicy.
- For a healthier version, opt to stir-fry instead of deep-frying the pork.
- Experiment with other proteins like chicken or tofu.
More Asian-Inspired Recipes
Sweet and Sour Pork
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 pound pork tenderloin cut into bite-size chunks
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Pinch of black pepper
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil, for frying
- 3/4 cup chicken broth
- 1/3 cup ketchup
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 green onions, chopped, with green and white parts separated
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 1/2 tablespoons water
- 1/2 green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/2 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/2 white onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/4 pineapple, cut into 1-inch chunks
- In a small bowl, whisk together the marinade: water, sesame oil, soy sauce, garlic powder, and onion powder.
- Add the pork chunks to a large bowl with a lid or a large ziplock bag. Pour in the marinade and stir or squish to combine, then set aside for 20 minutes to marinate.
- While the meat marinates, make the sauce in a small bowl by combining the chicken broth, ketchup, apple cider vinegar, sugar, garlic, ginger, salt, soy sauce and the white parts of the green onions. Whisk well.
- In a separate bowl, combine the cornstarch and water, then set both aside.
- Once the meat has had a chance to absorb the flavors of the marinade, sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon salt and a pinch of black pepper. Add ½ cup cornstarch and shake well until each piece of meat is evenly coated with a light layer of cornstarch.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet or cast iron pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the meat in a single layer. Let it cook without moving or stirring the meat for 2-3 minutes until nicely browned on the bottom. Flip each piece of meat with tongs and cook on the other side for another 2-3 minutes until nicely browned and the meat is cooked through. Transfer to a plate.
- There should be about 1 tablespoon of oil left in the bottom of the pan from cooking the pork. If not, add a little more oil. Add the peppers and onions to the pan and stir-fry over medium-high heat for 1 minute.
- Add the pineapple and sauce and let this cook until the sauce comes to a simmer. Give the cornstarch and water mixture another good stir, then drizzle this slurry over the vegetables and sauce, stirring until the sauce has thickened slightly.
- Return the pork to the pan and toss with the sauce, vegetables, and pineapple until everything is coated in the sauce. Sprinkle with the reserved green parts of the chopped green onions and serve with rice.