A Chinese take out classic, this crispy sweet and sour chicken features bites of golden brown fried chicken and tender vegetables topped with a tangy sauce. It's an easy delicious dish to make at home and always a family favorite!
I'm always looking for delicious, quick meals that are family friendly. This sweet and sour chicken recipe is an easy weeknight meal that the whole family will love. Best of all there are no hard to find ingredients and you can have it ready in around 30 minutes.
What chicken to use for sweet and sour chicken?
I prefer to use boneless skinless chicken breasts in this recipe to get nice large, even bite sized pieces. Boneless skinless thighs will also work for this recipe. They have a little more flavor and are a little harder to over cook but the pieces will be smaller and thinner than you will get with breast meat.
How to bread your chicken
For a breading that is light and super crispy I use a half and half mixture of corn starch and flour. Begin by mixing the flour and corn starch along with salt and pepper on a large plate. Then lightly beat two eggs in a bowl. Dip your chicken pieces into the eggs then roll in the cornstarch and flour mixture until thoroughly coated. Shake off any excess and set aside and repeat with the remaining chicken.
How to fry the chicken
I like to use a deep pot or dutch oven to fry the chicken in approximately 1 inch of oil. Heat the oil to 350 degrees F. Working in batches add the chicken in a single layer and cook for about 5 minutes, flipping occasionally, until it's golden brown and cooked through. After cooking let the chicken drain on paper towels to soak up the excess oil.
Can I make this dish lighter?
If you want to make a lighter sweet and sour chicken recipe you can skip the breading and cook the chicken in 1 to 2 tablespoons of hot oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Cook for 4 to 6 minutes, flipping occasionally, until cooked through.
Fresh or Canned Pineapple?
I prefer to use canned pineapple in 100% juice for this dish so that I can use some of the juice in the sauce and also save a little time. The juice adds a nice fruity sweetness to the sauce and lets you use a little less sugar.
You can use fresh pineapple if you prefer but you may need to add another 2-3 tablespoons of sugar and a tablespoon or two of water in the sauce depending on how sweet you want it. Frozen pineapple will work too but I would let it thaw before using. As with fresh, you may need to add a little more sugar and some water if using frozen pineapple.
What vegetables can I use?
In most Chinese restaurants sweet and sour chicken is served with onion and bell peppers. They provide a nice crunch and some bitterness which helps to balance out the sweetness of the dish. Snow peas, carrots, broccoli, and zucchini are other great options.
Stir frying your vegetables
While the chicken cooks you'll stir fry the vegetables in a large pan or wok with a tablespoon of oil over medium high heat for 2 minutes or until slightly softened. Next you'll add minced garlic and cook for 30 to 45 seconds until it becomes fragrant. Stir constantly to avoid burning the garlic. Next add the drained pineapple chunks and cook for another minute before adding the sauce.
How to make sweet and sour sauce
For the sauce you simply combine apple cider vinegar, sugar, pineapple juice, ketchup, soy sauce and corn starch in a bowl and whisk to combine. I typically do this before I start cooking and set it aside so it's ready to go when needed.
After stir frying the vegetables you'll add the sauce mixture to the pan and reduce the heat to medium. Bring the sauce to a low simmer and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until it is thickened.
What to serve with sweet and sour chicken
The sweet and sour sauce is thick and super flavorful so I recommend serving it with mild flavored sides like a bowl of steamed rice and steamed vegetables like broccoli or zucchini.
How to store and reheat leftovers
Store any leftovers is a sealed airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. It will loose the crispiness from sitting in the sauce but is still tasty. For small batches reheat in the microwave and for larger batches heat in a 350 degree F oven until warmed through.
Other Asian recipes to try
- Honey Garlic Shrimp Stir Fry
- Soy Ginger Glazed Salmon with Broccoli
- Grilled Asian Short Ribs
- Easy Sesame Chicken
Sweet and Sour Chicken
For the Chicken
- 1½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breast or thighs cut into bite size pieces
- ½ cup corn starch
- ½ cup flour
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- 2 eggs lightly beaten
- vegetable oil
Sweet and Sour Sauce
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ cup pineapple juice from canned pineapple
- ¼ cup ketchup
- 2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 tbsp corn starch
Stir Fry Vegetables
- 1 cup yellow onion cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 medium green pepper cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 medium red pepper cut into 1 inch pieces
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1 can pineapple chunks in juice
- Add all of the sauce ingredients to a bowl and whisk to combine then set aside.
- For the chicken breading, add the corn starch, flour, salt, and pepper to a small plate and stir to combine.
- Add the eggs to a bowl and beat lightly.
- Bread the chicken by first dipping into the egg mixture then rolling in the flour mixture to coat. Then set aside and repeat process with the remaining chicken.
- Heat approximately 1 inch of oil in a deep heavy pan or dutch oven to 350 degrees F
- Add chicken to the hot oil in batches and cook in a single later for around 5-6 minutes, flipping occasionally until cooked through and golden brown on all sides. Remove with a wire frying strainer and let drain on paper towels.
- While the chicken cooks heat 2 tbsp of oil in a pan over medium high heat then add the onions and peppers and cook for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for around 30-45 seconds until fragrant. Add the pineapple chunks and cook for 1 minute.
- Give the reserved sauce mixture a quick stir then add it to the pan and reduce the heat to medium. Bring to a low simmer and cook around 2 to 3 minutes until the sauce is thickened. Then add cooked chicken to the pan with the sauce and vegetables and stir until well coated then serve immediately.
* All nutrition information we provide are estimates based on third party calculators. We encourage you to calculate these on your own for accurate results.