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If you love classic Chinese take-out, you’ll love this homemade Sweet and Sour Pork! Pan-fried crispy pork is combined with red and green bell peppers, sauteed onion, and fresh pineapple in the most delicious sweet & sour sauce you’ve ever tasted in this easy weeknight dinner.
Sweet and Sour Pork
As much as my family loves going out for Chinese food, we prefer this Sweet and Sour Pork with a homemade sauce and lightly breaded crispy pork instead of the soggy, densely battered chunks of restaurant pork that leave me feeling underwhelmed.
My secret to tasty and crispy pork is to first marinate bite-size chunks of pork tenderloin, allowing it to absorb the flavor of soy sauce and green onion, before tossing the meat with cornstarch.
The 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.
What does Sweet and Sour Pork taste like?
Sweet and Sour Pork has a wonderfully unique flavor with a sour tang from vinegar and sweetness from sugar. Some people like to use pineapple juice from a can of pineapple, but I feel like the flavors are much better with chicken stock and fresh pineapple instead.
What cut of meat do you use for Sweet and Sour Pork?
Technically you could make Sweet and Sour Pork by cutting up pork chops, pork loin, or pork butt into bite-size chunks. But pork tenderloin is my favorite in terms of ease and also the flavor and tenderness.
How to Make Sweet and Sour Pork
Marinate. Cut pork into bite size pieces and add to a large bowl or gallon-size ziplock bag. Stir to combine or massage the marinade into the meat and set aside to absorb the flavors.
- Prepare the sauce. The sweet and sour sauce that will coat the pork is made by whisking together chicken broth, apple cider vinegar, granulated sugar (brown sugar would work as well), ketchup, garlic, ginger, salt, and the white parts of some chopped green onions. In a separate bowl prepare the cornstarch slurry which is just whisking together cornstarch and water.
- Prepare the meat. Once the pork has had a chance to absorb the flavors of the marinade, sprinkle it with a little salt and pepper, then add half of a cup cornstarch. Reseal the lid or bag and shake well until each piece of meat is evenly coated with a light layer of cornstarch. This is all the breading the pork gets, but trust me, it’s just right!
Cook the meat. 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, without crowding (leave space between each piece, otherwise it will just steam instead of brown). Let it cook without moving or stirring the meat for 2-3 minutes until nicely browned on the bottom. You might want to loosely cover the pan with a splatter guard or a piece of foil, just because this step can make a bit of a mess on your stove. 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 and tent with foil to keep warm.
Stir fry veggies. 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 so the vegetables aren’t going into a dry pan. Add peppers and onions and stir-fry over medium-high heat for 1 minute. 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 sweet & sour sauce and let the sauce heat until it comes to a simmer. Stir 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.
How do you thicken the Sweet and Sour Pork sauce?
I like to thicken the sauce with a simple cornstarch slurry. You can start by using half of the slurry and continue to add until you get the thickness you like. I use the full amount of cornstarch which gives a wonderful juicy sauce that coats everything perfectly.
Can I make this recipe with chicken instead?
Absolutely you could make Sweet and Sour Chicken using this same recipe. It tastes delicious!
We always serve Sweet and Sour Pork 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. If you double the sauce, you can thicken half of it in a small saucepan and serve it as a delicious dipping sauce for homemade egg rolls!
If you loved this Sweet and Sour Pork recipe, you’ll also love these other delicious pork recipes:
- Crock Pot Pork Green Chili
- Pork Fried Rice
- Slow Cooker Garlic & Brown Sugar Teriyaki Pork
- Pan Roasted Pork Loin
- Baked Pork Chops
- Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Chimichurri Sauce
- Easy Oven Braised French Onion Pork Chops
Sweet and Sour Pork
- 1 pound pork tenderloin cut into bite-size chunks
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Pinch of black pepper
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil, for frying
- 3/4 cup chicken broth
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup ketchup
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 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 large bowl with a lid or a large ziplock bag, combine the meat with the water, sesame oil, soy sauce, garlic powder, and onion powder. 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, 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 the salt and pepper, then add the 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.