This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

Sweet and sour chicken is a classic Chinese takeout recipe that you can now make at home. The sweet and tangy sauce is mouthwatering and better than takeout!

overhead image of sweet and sour chicken in a bowl on top of vegetable fried rice with wooden chopsticks resting on top. a plate of edamame and wooden chopsticks can be seen next to the sweet and sour chicken
Want to save this recipe?
Enter your email and we’ll send this recipe directly to your inbox! Plus, we’ll send you fresh recipes weekly to inspire you in the kitchen!
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Truth be told, Chinese sweet and sour chicken is not at the top of my list of things to order whenever I order takeout. BUT if this recipe were what was on the menu, I 100% would order it. It has the ideal amount of breading and the perfect balance between sweet and sour.

In my version, I omit the bell peppers and pineapple, so it’s just chicken and sauce. A bit un-traditional but let’s be real – we all doctor up some of our favorite Chinese takeout recipes sometimes!

Also… if Asian-inspired chicken is your thing, check out this crispy Japanese Chicken Katsu recipe! It’s so easy to make, and pairs perfectly with tonkatsu sauce.

Why You’ll Love This Sweet and Sour Chicken Recipe

This Chinese chicken with homemade sweet and sour sauce will knock your socks off! Here’s why:

  • Juicy Chicken. The exterior of this sauce-covered chicken is fairly crispy, but the interior is so juicy and tender. No need to worry about dry chicken today!
  • Fantastic Flavor. This recipe is PACKED with umami flavor from the soy sauce, vinegar, and ketchup combination in the sauce.
  • Classic Comfort Food. The whole family will love digging into this takeout classic. Who could turn down breaded chicken served in a tangy-sweet sauce?

Want to try a vegetarian version? Check out this sweet and sour tofu.

a large bowl of sweet and sour chicken

What is Sweet and Sour Chicken?

Sweet and sour chicken is a classic Chinese takeout dish that is very popular at Chinese restaurants. The chicken is usually battered and deep fried to create a crunchy exterior, then tossed in a sweet and tangy sauce usually made from ketchup and vinegar. Bell peppers, pineapple chunks, and onion pieces can be in this popular dish as well.

Ingredients for sweet and sour chicken.

Ingredients You’ll Need

There aren’t too many ingredients required to make this easy chicken dinner! Note that you can find the exact quantities for each one in the recipe card below.

  • Boneless skinless chicken breasts – Boneless skinless chicken thighs will also work here, if you would rather use those.
  • Cornstarch – This helps the coated chicken become extra crispy. Potato starch can be used as a substitute if necessary.
  • Eggs – To help bind the cornstarch to the chicken so it can fry up nicely.
  • Oil – Canola oil is my go-to for this recipe, but you could also use vegetable oil.
  • Bell peppers, pineapple chunks, and onion pieces – This is optional in my version, but if you want to make it just like Chinese restaurants, add these in during the cooking process and cook until crisp-tender.

For the Sauce:

  • Sugar – You could use either granulated sugar or brown sugar.
  • Ketchup – Adds both tangy flavor and bright color to the sauce!
  • Vinegar – I usually add in white vinegar, but rice vinegar will work as well.
  • Soy sauce – This gives it an umami flavor and balances out the sweet and sour.
  • Garlic salt – You could use regular salt instead, but I like the added taste of garlic.

How to Make Chinese Sweet and Sour Chicken

Let’s get into how this sweet and sour chicken recipe comes together! Follow this step-by-step guide for the best results (note that the full set of directions is in the recipe card below):

  • Dredge the chicken to make the crispy coating. In a plastic bag, add the cornstarch and the cubed chicken. Shake vigorously to coat the chicken in the cornstarch, then put the coated chicken on a large plate and place it in the fridge for 20 minutes.
  • Set the oven and heat the oil. In the meantime, preheat your oven to 325 degrees F and lightly spray a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Additionally, in a large skillet, heat up the canola oil.
  • Pan fry the chicken. When the chicken has been in the refrigerator for 20 minutes, take it out and dip it in the egg in batches, then shallow fry the chicken. It doesn’t need to cook completely through. Remove the chicken from the oil with a slotted spoon or strainer and place it on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat until all of the chicken has been done.
  • Bake the chicken. Bake for 30-40 minutes, rotating and shaking the baking sheet every now and then.
  • Make the sauce. While the chicken is baking, mix the sauce ingredients together.
  • Toss the chicken and sauce together. Once the chicken is done baking, put it into a large bowl and pour the sauce all over it, tossing to coat everything evenly.
up close image of sweet and sour chicken on top of fried rice with wooden chopsticks picking up the piece of chicken

Tips for Success

That’s pretty much all there is to it! I do, however, have just a few more tips and tricks to share with you on sweet and sour chicken before you get started.

  • Cut the Chicken Into Same Size Cubes. If the chicken pieces are different sizes, they may cook unevenly with some coming out overcooked and some undercooked.
  • Don’t Over-Fry the Chicken. The chicken doesn’t have to cook all the way through when you fry it in the pan, because you’ll put it in the oven to cook the rest of the way.
  • Don’t Skip Putting the Cornstarch-Coated Chicken in the Fridge. This is an important step that allows the cornstarch to adhere to the surface of the chicken so it doesn’t come off when you fry it.

Common Questions

Is sweet and sour chicken the same as orange chicken?

They’re similar but the sauce ingredients vary. Orange chicken is sweet and tangy and can have a spicy kick to it whereas sweet and sour chicken is primarily just sweet and sour.

What’s the difference between sweet and sour chicken and General Tso’s chicken?

Again, they’re very similar but it’s the sauce that makes them different. General Tso’s chicken is sweet but more spicy and sweet and sour is just its namesake.

overhead image of sweet and sour chicken in a bowl with fried rice and wooden chopsticks resting on the bowl

What Goes With Sweet and Sour Chicken?

When it comes to side dishes for this Chinese chicken dinner, you’ve got options! These are some of my favorites:

  • Fried Rice. Chicken Fried Rice and Pineapple Fried Rice are perfect for this meal. If you’d rather do steamed white rice, though, that works too!
  • Scallion Pancakes. These crispy yet chewy Homemade Scallion Pancakes go with all sorts of Chinese takeout meals, just like this one.
  • Spring Rolls. These crunchy Spring Rolls, made with ground chicken and fresh veggies, are an easy takeout appetizer that pairs super well with sweet and sour chicken.

How to Store and Reheat Leftovers

Sweet and sour chicken is best enjoyed on the day it’s made, but you can still save some for later if you have leftovers. Here’s how to do it:

  • To Store. Keep any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.
  • To Reheat. Simply use the microwave if you don’t mind forfeiting the crispiness, or pop the chicken back in the oven for a few minutes and bake until it is warmed through.

More Chinese Takeout Recipes

Ready to test out some more classic Chinese takeout recipes in your own kitchen? Try these ones!

Want to save this recipe?
Enter your email and we’ll send this recipe directly to your inbox! Plus, we’ll send you fresh recipes weekly to inspire you in the kitchen!
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.
5 from 2 votes

Sweet and Sour Chicken

Put down that phone because you definitely won't have to place an online order ever again for sweet and sour chicken after trying this homemade version!
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients 

For the chicken coating:

  • 2 pounds (907 g) boneless skinless, chicken breasts, cubed into 1-inch pieces
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup (128 g) cornstarch
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • ¼ cup (59 ml) canola oil

For the sauce:

  • ¾ cup (150 g) white sugar
  • 4 tablespoons (60 g) ketchup
  • ½ cup (118 ml) white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt

Optional add-ins:

  • 1 cup pineapple chunks, drained of liquid
  • ½ cup red and green bell peppers, cut into 1" pieces
  • ½ white onion, cut into 1" pieces

Instructions 

  • In a plastic bag, add the cornstarch and the cubed chicken. Shake vigorously to coat the chicken in the cornstarch. Put coated chicken on a large plate then place in the fridge for 20 minutes.
  • Set the oven and heat the oil. In the meantime, preheat oven to 325 °F (163 °C) and lightly spray a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Additionally, in a large skillet, heat up the canola oil.
  • Pan fry the chicken. When the chicken has been in the refrigerator for 20 minutes, take out and dip the cubed chicken in egg in batches, then shallow fry the chicken. It doesn't need to cook completely through. Remove the chicken from the oil with a slotted spoon or strainer and place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat until all chicken has been done.
  • Bake the chicken. Bake for 30-40 minutes, rotating and shaking the baking sheet every now and then.
  • Make the sauce. While the chicken is baking, make the sauce.
  • Toss chicken and sauce together. Once the chicken is done baking, put chicken into a large bowl and pour sauce all over and toss to coat.
  • If adding in bell peppers, pineapple chunks, and onions: while the chicken is cooking, sauté the vegetables in a skillet until crisp tender then when the chicken is done, add the chicken into the skillet then pour the sauce all over and toss everything to coat.

Notes

  • To Store. Keep any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.
  • To Reheat. Simply use the microwave if you don’t mind forfeiting the crispiness, or pop the chicken back in the oven for a few minutes and bake until it is warmed through.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving, Calories: 465kcal, Carbohydrates: 71g, Protein: 5g, Fat: 17g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 124mg, Sodium: 1022mg, Potassium: 112mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 41g

This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.

The default measuring system for this website is US Customary. Unit conversions are provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. While we strive to provide accurate unit conversions, please be aware that there may be some discrepancies.

Like this? Leave a comment below!

You May Also Like...

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




59 Comments