Sweet and Sour Chicken

Sweet and Sour Chicken – in this popular dish bite size chicken pieces, fresh bell pepper and sweet pineapple are sautéed and tossed together with an incredibly flavorful, easy to make sweet and tangy sauce. It’s a recipe you’ll crave time and time again!
Two servings of sweet and sour chicken over white rice grey serving bowls.

Sweet and Sour Chicken Recipe

Sweet and sour chicken has always been one of my favorite Chinese take-out dishes. It just as that irresistible, bright flavor plus a great blend of textures and colors.
It calls for basic ingredients but together they create something totally crave-able.
And it doesn’t take much effort to make so it’s perfect for a busy weeknight. Plus it’s a chicken dinner everyone can agree on! Kids and adults alike.
All you have to do is pair it with white or brown rice, or cauliflower rice to complete the meal.
Then while you’re at it you may as well make extra rice and use what’s left for Chicken Fried Rice the next day! Who could complain about Chinese take-out style food two days in a row? Sounds like the perfect plan to me!
Sweet and Sour Chicken Ingredients shown here including chicken breasts, bell pepper, green onions, garlic, ginger, oranges, egg, pineapple, cornstarch, honey, red wine vinegar, soy sauce and vegetable oil.

Sweet and Sour Chicken Ingredients:

  • Boneless skinless chicken breasts – chicken thighs will work too. Increase cook time slightly.
  • Egg white – this is used to create a coating on the chicken.
  • Cornstarch – this helps the sauce stick to the chicken and also helps thicken the sauce.
  • Vegetable oil – only a little is needed for sautéing, light olive oil will work well too.
  • Orange juice – preferably use fresh or at least not from concentrate refrigerated.
  • Ketchup – this adds flavor and a nice color to the sauce.
  • Red wine vinegar – the majority of the tartness comes from the vinegar for that traditional tangy flavor.
  • Honey – brown sugar or white sugar will work fine too. You’d need about 1 Tbsp more since honey is sweeter per volume.
  • Soy sauce – this offers that salty umami flavor, so you shouldn’t need much salt here.
  • Bell pepper – I use red but any color will work if you already have one on hand.
  • Green onion – I like to cut into strips but smaller sliced will be fine too.
  • Ginger – use fresh minced not dry.
  • Garlic – again, use freshly minced.
  • Pineapple – to save time you can use pre-cut pineapple from the store. It is more expensive so to save money cut your own. HERE is a good how-to.
Tossing chicken with egg white and cornstarch mixture

How to Make Sweet and Sour Chicken:

  • Coat chicken with cornstarch mixture: in a medium mixing bowl whisk egg white and 2 Tbsp cornstarch until well combined and slightly frothy (about 30 seconds). Add chicken, season lightly with salt and toss to evenly coat, set aside.
  • Make sauce: in a small bowl whisk together orange juice, ketchup, red wine vinegar, honey, soy sauce and remaining 2 tsp cornstarch. Set aside.
Whisking sweet and sour sauce in mixing bowl
  • Saute chicken, transfer: heat 1 1/2 Tbsp oil in a 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add chicken and cook about 3 minutes until golden brown on bottom then flip and continue to cook until cooked through, about 3 minutes longer.
  • Transfer chicken to a plate. Heat remaining 1/2 Tbsp oil in same skillet over medium-high heat.
Searing chicken breasts pieces in a skillet
  • Saute vegetables: add bell pepper and saute until crisp tender, about 2 – 3 minutes.
  • Add in about 3/4 of the green onions, ginger and garlic and saute 30 seconds longer.
Sauteing bell pepper, onion, garlic and chicken in skillet
  • Add sauce and cook until thickened: pour in orange juice mixture and cook and stir constantly until sauce has thickened, about 30 – 60 seconds.
  • Return chicken, add pineapple: toss in chicken and pineapple and serve warm garnished with remaining green onions.
Cooking sauce with chicken, vegetables and pineapple in skillet to finish sweet and sour chicken.

Tips for the Best Sweet and Sour Chicken:

  • Cut chicken into even pieces so smaller pieces don’t end up cooking quicker and dry. Also careful not to overcook it or it will dry.
  • Cook at a moderately high heat so chicken can get some color and flavor.
  • Use fresh fruit and vegetables for best flavor. Skip canned pineapple if possible.
  • Make it saucy. Here we are generous with the sauce.
  • Don’t skip or reduce the sweetener this balances out the acidity of the vinegar. It wouldn’t be sweet and sour without it. You could even add a little extra honey to taste if preferred.
Overhead image of sweet and sour chicken in skillet.

Possible Variations:

  • Substitute sirloin steak in place of chicken. Cut in about 3/4-1-inch cubes. It will cook in about half the time.
  • Try adding another vegetable such as snow peas.
  • Add peanuts or cashews for a nice crunch.
  • Use a different vinegar in place of red wine vinegar such as apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar.
  • Make it spicy with red pepper flakes or a few teaspoons of sriracha.
Sweet and Sour Chicken in serving bowl with white rice.

More Chinese Recipes You’ll Love:

Sweet and Sour Chicken

4.5 from 2 votes
In this popular dish bite size chicken pieces, fresh bell pepper and sweet pineapple are sautéed and tossed together with an incredibly flavorful, easy to make sweet and tangy sauce. Perfect for a busy day and even better than take-out!
Servings: 4
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 large egg white
  • 2 Tbsp + 2 tsp cornstarch
  • Salt
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil or light olive oil, divided
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, cored and chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 green onions, ends trimmed, chopped into 1-inch pieces, divided
  • 1 Tbsp peeled and minced fresh ginger
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic (3 cloves)
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh pineapple chunks

Instructions

  1. In a medium mixing bowl whisk egg white and 2 Tbsp cornstarch until well combined and slightly frothy (about 30 seconds). Add chicken, season lightly with salt and toss to evenly coat, set aside.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together orange juice, ketchup, red wine vinegar, honey, soy sauce and remaining 2 tsp cornstarch. Set aside.
  3. Heat 1 1/2 Tbsp oil in a 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook about 3 minutes until golden brown on bottom then flip and continue to cook until cooked through, about 3 minutes longer. 
  4. Transfer chicken to a plate. Heat remaining 1/2 Tbsp oil in same skillet over medium-high heat. 
  5. Add bell pepper and saute until crisp tender, about 2 - 3 minutes. Add in about 3/4 of the green onions, ginger and garlic and saute 30 seconds longer.
  6. Pour in orange juice mixture and cook and stir constantly until sauce has thickened, about 30 - 60 seconds.
  7. Toss in chicken and pineapple and serve warm garnished with remaining green onions.
Nutrition Facts
Sweet and Sour Chicken
Amount Per Serving
Calories 346Calories from Fat 90
% Daily Value*
Fat 10g15%
Saturated Fat 6g38%
Cholesterol 73mg24%
Sodium 599mg26%
Potassium 714mg20%
Carbohydrates 38g13%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 27g30%
Protein 27g54%
Vitamin A 1265IU25%
Vitamin C 83mg101%
Calcium 29mg3%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
COURSE: MAIN COURSE
CUISINE: CHINESE
KEYWORD: SWEET AND SOUR CHICKEN
AUTHOR: JACLYN

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