Sweet and Sour Chicken Recipes

Sweet and sour chicken noodles
Sweet and sour chicken noodles

Sweet and sour chicken is probably one of the most popular Chinese style dishes in the Western world. While this can partly be explained by the popularity of chicken in general, it must also be attributed to the unique flavours of the sweet and sour sauce. The problem often encountered by home cooks hoping to prepare this dish is that the variety of recipes published for sweet and sour sauce are so numerous and so diverse that determining which one to follow can be mind blowing.

The sweet and sour sauce recipe on this page came about following several hours' experimentation with a variety of ingredients and quantities until a satisfactory combination was achieved. The recipe for this basic sweet and sour sauce is immediately below but the page then goes on to explore different ways of embellishing this sauce as well as different ways of preparing and serving sweet and sour chicken in general.

How to Make Sweet and Sour Sauce

Quick, easy and basic sweet and sour sauce
Quick, easy and basic sweet and sour sauce

Cook Time

  • Prep time: 5 min
  • Cook time: 5 min
  • Ready in: 10 min
  • Yields: Approximately 8 fl oz

Ingredients

  • ¼ pint fresh pineapple juice
  • 4 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 1½ tbsp caster/superfine sugar
  • 2 tsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp cornflour/corn starch, mixed to a paste with a little cold water
  • Black pepper, (optional)
Click thumbnail to view full-size
Principal ingredients for sweet and sour sauceTomato ketchup is added to the pineapple juice and rice vinegarCornflour paste for thickening sauceCornflour paste is added to sweet and sour sauce
Principal ingredients for sweet and sour sauce
Principal ingredients for sweet and sour sauce
Tomato ketchup is added to the pineapple juice and rice vinegar
Tomato ketchup is added to the pineapple juice and rice vinegar
Cornflour paste for thickening sauce
Cornflour paste for thickening sauce
Cornflour paste is added to sweet and sour sauce
Cornflour paste is added to sweet and sour sauce

Tip for Sweet and Sour Sauce

People's tastes very when it comes to food in general and perhaps sauces like sweet and sour in particular. For this reason, it is important to remember to taste the sauce as you prepare it and make the necessary adjustments to suit your own requirements. By doing this and recording the precise ingredients you include - in their specific quantities - you can quickly develop your perfect sweet and sour sauce. Similarly, try experimenting with the additions suggested further down this page. The effort will more than repay itself in the longer term.

  1. Pour the pineapple juice and the rice vinegar in to a saucepan and put the pan on to a medium heat.
  2. Add the sugar, tomato ketchup and soy sauce and stir well with a wooden spoon to combine.
  3. Put the cornflour/starch in to a small bowl and add a couple of teaspoons of cold water. Mix to a smooth paste.
  4. When the sauce just reaches a simmer, reduce the heat further and pour in the cornflour paste. Stir continuously for a couple of minutes until the sauce has started to thicken.
  5. Taste the sauce and determine whether you wish to add the black pepper. The sauce can now be used immediately or cooled and stored in the fridge in an appropriate container for up to two or three days.

Which of the recipes featured below do you prefer?

  • Sweet and sour chicken kebab with pitta bread
  • Sweet and sour chicken tagliatelle pasta
  • Sweet and sour battered chicken balls
  • Sweet and sour chicken stir fry
  • Sweet and sour chicken thighs with noodles
See results without voting

Sweet and Sour Chicken Kebab with Pitta Bread

Chicken and vegetables are grilled on a skewer, stuffed in to a pitta bread and drizzled with sweet and sour sauce
Chicken and vegetables are grilled on a skewer, stuffed in to a pitta bread and drizzled with sweet and sour sauce

This dish is in a sense Middle East meets Far East. A Turkish doner kebab is usually a meat such as lamb packed around a large metal skewer and cooked as the skewer revolves around a heat source. The meat is then thinly sliced and served in a pitta bread pocket with optional salad and spicy kebab sauce. This alternative idea sees marinated chicken and vegetables cooked on a wooden skewer under an overhead grill/broiler, before being added to the pitta bread pocket with some sweet and sour sauce. The idea would of course work equally well on an outdoor grill or barbecue.

Cook Time

Prep time: 40 min

Cook time: 10 min

Ready in: 50 min

Yields: One kebab

Ingredients

  • 6 1" chicken breast meat cubes
  • 2 tbsp light sauce sauce
  • 1 tsp Chinese 5 spice
  • 3 button mushrooms, stalks trimmed
  • 3 ½" cross slices from a sweet pointed pepper, seeded
  • OIl for greasing cooking tray
  • 1 pitta bread
  • 2 tbsp sweet and sour sauce
  • 2 torn basil leaves to garnish (optional)

Instructions

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Chicken for kebab is marinatedButton mushrooms and a sweet pointed pepperChicken is drained from marinadeTrimmed button mushrooms and sweet pointed pepper slicesAssembled kebab ready to be grilled/broiledChicken and vegetables are slid from skewerPitta breadPocket is cut in pitta breadChicken and vegetables are carefully stuffed in to pitta breadTucking in to a sweet and sour chicken kebab
Chicken for kebab is marinated
Chicken for kebab is marinated
Button mushrooms and a sweet pointed pepper
Button mushrooms and a sweet pointed pepper
Chicken is drained from marinade
Chicken is drained from marinade
Trimmed button mushrooms and sweet pointed pepper slices
Trimmed button mushrooms and sweet pointed pepper slices
Assembled kebab ready to be grilled/broiled
Assembled kebab ready to be grilled/broiled
Chicken and vegetables are slid from skewer
Chicken and vegetables are slid from skewer
Pitta bread
Pitta bread
Pocket is cut in pitta bread
Pocket is cut in pitta bread
Chicken and vegetables are carefully stuffed in to pitta bread
Chicken and vegetables are carefully stuffed in to pitta bread
Tucking in to a sweet and sour chicken kebab
Tucking in to a sweet and sour chicken kebab
  1. Combine the light soy sauce and 5 spice in a bowl. Add the chicken pieces, stir and cover with clingfilm. Set aside for half an hour to marinate. (Note: do not put the bowl in the fridge. The chicken should be cooked from room temperature.)
  2. Put the skewer(s) in to a dish of cold water. If you fail to soak wooden skewers before cooking with them they will burn on or under the heat source, potentially causing a fire and certainly affecting the taste of the food.
  3. After half an hour, put your grill/broiler on to reach a very high heat. Drain the chicken from the marinade and shake the excess water off the skewer. Lightly oil the cooking tray. You will see in the relevant picture above that the tray in this instance was firstly covered in foil. This is not necessary - it is simply the lazy man's way of cleaning up afterwards...
  4. Skewer a piece of chicken, followed by a mushroom, a second piece of chicken and a pepper. Repeat until only about an inch of wood remains at each end of the skewer. The different components should be flush against one another but not too tightly compacted or this will affect the cooking time.
  5. Lay the skewer on the tray and cook under the heat for three minutes on each side. Check with a second skewer that the chicken is fully cooked. Holding one end of the skewer with an oven glove, slide the meat and vegetables off with a fork and in to a small bowl or on to a plate.
  6. Gently heat the sweet and sour sauce in a small saucepan.
  7. Put the pitta bread under the heat for around thirty seconds each side until you see it noticeably puff up. Remove from the heat and hold it vertically in one hand (using paper towels to cover your hand makes this easier). Carefully make a slit along the upper edge to form a pocket, ensuring you don't go all the way through.
  8. Add the chicken and vegetables to the pitta bread pocket and spoon over the sweet and sour sauce. Finally, add the basil leaves if desired and eat immediately.

Sweet and Sour Chicken Tagliatelle Pasta Recipe

Fried chicken strips and tagliatelle pasta are stirred through sweet and sour sauce
Fried chicken strips and tagliatelle pasta are stirred through sweet and sour sauce

Cook Time

Prep time: 5 min

Cook time: 15 min

Ready in: 20 min

Yields: One serving

Ingredients

  • One small nest of dried tagliatelle pasta (approx 3oz)
  • Salt
  • 6 1" cubes of chicken breast meat
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 1 portion of sweet and sour sauce as prepared at top of this page

Instructions

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Tagliatelle is simmered in salted waterPreparing to pound and flatten chicken cubesChicken pieces have been gently pounded to flattenPan frying the chicken stripsPan fried chicken piecesTagliatelle should be drained thoroughlyChicken strips and drained tagliatelle are added to sweet and sour sauceTagliatelle is carefully coated in sweet and sour sauce
Tagliatelle is simmered in salted water
Tagliatelle is simmered in salted water
Preparing to pound and flatten chicken cubes
Preparing to pound and flatten chicken cubes
Chicken pieces have been gently pounded to flatten
Chicken pieces have been gently pounded to flatten
Pan frying the chicken strips
Pan frying the chicken strips
Pan fried chicken pieces
Pan fried chicken pieces
Tagliatelle should be drained thoroughly
Tagliatelle should be drained thoroughly
Chicken strips and drained tagliatelle are added to sweet and sour sauce
Chicken strips and drained tagliatelle are added to sweet and sour sauce
Tagliatelle is carefully coated in sweet and sour sauce
Tagliatelle is carefully coated in sweet and sour sauce
  1. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a rolling boil. Add the tagliatelle and simmer for about twelve minutes or until al dente.
  2. When the pasta is in the pot, lay the chicken pieces between two sheets of clingfilm on a chopping board. Very gently, pound with a rolling pin or similar until they are evenly about ¼" thick.
  3. Fry the chicken for a couple of minutes on each side in vegetable oil over a medium heat and remove to a plate.
  4. Drain the tagliatelle and heat the sweet and sour sauce in a saucepan.
  5. Add the chicken and tagliatelle to the sweet and sour sauce. Using cooking tongs, lift and gently stir the tagliatelle to evenly coat with the sauce before serving.

Sweet and Sour Chicken Recipe - Deep Fried Chicken in Batter

Deep fried battered chicken balls served on a bed of fried rice with sweet and sour sauce
Deep fried battered chicken balls served on a bed of fried rice with sweet and sour sauce

This familiar sweet and sour chicken recipe sees the sweet and sour sauce used exactly as prepared further up this page. Further additions as suggested below can of course be made if desired.

Cook Time

Prep time: 1 hour

Cook time: 20 min

Ready in: 1 hour 20 min

Yields: One serving

Ingredients

  • 3oz basmati or long grain rice, washed
  • 2 tbsp self-raising/self-rising flour
  • 4 tbsp cornflour/corn starch, half for batter and half for dusting chicken
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 chicken breast fillet, chopped in to 1" cubes
  • Vegetable Oil for Frying
  • 4 tbsp sweet and sour sauce, or as required

Instructions

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Skinless chicken breast filletChicken is chopped in to one inch piecesVegetable oil in deep frying pan for frying chickenCornflour and batter for coating chickenChicken pieces are tossed in cornflour before being dipped in batterDeep frying chicken ballsDeep fried chicken is drained on kitchen paperBed of fried rice for chicken ballsBattered chicken is laid on bed of fried rice
Skinless chicken breast fillet
Skinless chicken breast fillet
Chicken is chopped in to one inch pieces
Chicken is chopped in to one inch pieces
Vegetable oil in deep frying pan for frying chicken
Vegetable oil in deep frying pan for frying chicken
Cornflour and batter for coating chicken
Cornflour and batter for coating chicken
Chicken pieces are tossed in cornflour before being dipped in batter
Chicken pieces are tossed in cornflour before being dipped in batter
Deep frying chicken balls
Deep frying chicken balls
Deep fried chicken is drained on kitchen paper
Deep fried chicken is drained on kitchen paper
Bed of fried rice for chicken balls
Bed of fried rice for chicken balls
Battered chicken is laid on bed of fried rice
Battered chicken is laid on bed of fried rice
  1. The rice needs firstly to be cooked by boiling it. Wash it thoroughly in a sieve under running cold water before adding it to a pot of boiling, salted water to simmer for ten minutes. Drain, spread it out on a plate, cover and leave to cool.
  2. Put the flour, half the cornflour, the sugar and salt in to a bowl and carefully stir to combine. Slowly add cold water, whisking gently with a fork until you have a batter the consistency of thick cream. Put it in the fridge to rest for fifteen minutes.
  3. The chicken could be deep fried in a wok but in this instance the oil is added to a deep frying pan and brought up to a fairly high heat.
  4. While the oil is heating, pour the reamining cornflour in to a small bowl and take the batter from the fridge.
  5. When the oil is hot, toss the chicken portions in the cornflour. Working quickly but carefully, dip each one in the batter, allow the excess to drip off for a second or two and gently deposit in the oil. Fry for around six minutes, until the batter is golden and crisp.
  6. The sweet and sour sauce should be added to a small saucepan and very gently reheated.
  7. Heat your wok and add a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil. Tip in the cooled rice and stir fry for two or three minutes. Splash in some light soy sauce and stir fry for a few more seconds.
  8. Use a metal slotted spoon to remove the chicken balls from the frying pan and sit them on a plate covered with kitchen paper to drain.
  9. Spread the fried rice out on the base of a deep plate before laying on the chicken pieces and spooning over the sweet and sour sauce.

Easy Sweet and Sour Chicken with Boiled Rice Recipe

Wok prepared sweet and sour chicken with a side serving of simple boiled rice
Wok prepared sweet and sour chicken with a side serving of simple boiled rice

Cook Time

Prep time: 25 min

Cook time: 10 min

Ready in: 35 min

Yields: One serving

Ingredients

  • 1 large, skinless chicken breast fillet, chopped to 1" chunks
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 tsp corn flour/starch
  • Generous pinch of salt
  • 3oz basmati rice
  • ½ green bell pepper, seeded and sliced in to strips
  • ½ medium white onion, peeled and halved again
  • 1 ring of pineapple canned in own juice, cut in to six segments
  • Vegetable oil for stir frying
  • 8 fl oz sweet and sour sauce (portion prepared earlier on this page)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Velveting ingredients are combinedChicken is added to egg white and cornflour mixChicken is stirred through egg white and ready for the fridgeChicken accompaniments for sweet and sour stir fryStir fry ingredients prepared for fryingClingfilm lines small bowl for shaping riceOnce fried chicken piecesSweet and sour sauce is added to wok last of allShaping boiled rice for platingSweet and sour chicken with boiled rice is ready to eat
Velveting ingredients are combined
Velveting ingredients are combined
Chicken is added to egg white and cornflour mix
Chicken is added to egg white and cornflour mix
Chicken is stirred through egg white and ready for the fridge
Chicken is stirred through egg white and ready for the fridge
Chicken accompaniments for sweet and sour stir fry
Chicken accompaniments for sweet and sour stir fry
Stir fry ingredients prepared for frying
Stir fry ingredients prepared for frying
Clingfilm lines small bowl for shaping rice
Clingfilm lines small bowl for shaping rice
Once fried chicken pieces
Once fried chicken pieces
Sweet and sour sauce is added to wok last of all
Sweet and sour sauce is added to wok last of all
Shaping boiled rice for plating
Shaping boiled rice for plating
Sweet and sour chicken with boiled rice is ready to eat
Sweet and sour chicken with boiled rice is ready to eat
  1. Put the egg white in to a bowl and stir in the cornflour/starch and salt until a smooth past is formed. Add the chicken, stir to ensure even coating, cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for fifteen minutes. This is a procedure called velveting and ultimately protects the chicken from overcooking in the wok.
  2. Wash the rice and add it to a large pot of salted, boiling water. Bring it back to a simmer and cook for ten minutes.
  3. Take the chicken from the fridge and drain very thoroughly. Add some vegetable oil to a hot wok. Add the chicken pieces and stir fry until sealed and they have turned evenly white. Remove to a plate with a slotted spoon.
  4. Add a little more oil to the wok (if necessary) and fry the onion and bell pepper for about a minute to soften. Add the pineapple, re-add the chicken and stir fry briefly before pouring in the sweet and sour sauce. Cook for a further minute until the chicken is cooked and everything is piping hot.
  5. Drain the rice through a sieve. Line a small glass bowl (about 3 or 4" diameter) with clingfilm and pack in the rice. Lay your serving plate on top of the bowl and carefully invert. Lift off the bowl and peel away the clingfilm.
  6. Pour the sweet and sour chicken in to a heated serving dish and lay it beside the rice for service.

Sweet and Sour Chicken Thighs with Egg Noodles

Chicken thigh meat and egg noodles stirred through homemade sweet and sour sauce
Chicken thigh meat and egg noodles stirred through homemade sweet and sour sauce

Cook Time

Prep time: 20 min

Cook time: 40 min

Ready in: 1 hour

Yields: One generous serving

Ingredients

  • 4 small chicken thighs, skin on
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • 1 nest of dried egg noodles (approx 3 or 4oz)
  • Portion of sweet and sour sauce as prepared above
  • 1 small tomato, cut in to six segments
  • 1 pineapple ring canned in own juice, cut in to six segments
  • 1 large, torn basil leaf, to garnish (optional)

Instructions

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Chicken thighs ready for roastingRoast chicken thighsSkin is removed from the chicken thighs and meat plucked from the bonesMedium tomato and pineapple ringTomato and pineapple for sweet and sour sauceChicken and noodles are added to sweet and sour sauceTomato and pineapple are added to sweet and sour sauceSweet and sour chicken thigh noodles ready for garnish and service
Chicken thighs ready for roasting
Chicken thighs ready for roasting
Roast chicken thighs
Roast chicken thighs
Skin is removed from the chicken thighs and meat plucked from the bones
Skin is removed from the chicken thighs and meat plucked from the bones
Medium tomato and pineapple ring
Medium tomato and pineapple ring
Tomato and pineapple for sweet and sour sauce
Tomato and pineapple for sweet and sour sauce
Chicken and noodles are added to sweet and sour sauce
Chicken and noodles are added to sweet and sour sauce
Tomato and pineapple are added to sweet and sour sauce
Tomato and pineapple are added to sweet and sour sauce
Sweet and sour chicken thigh noodles ready for garnish and service
Sweet and sour chicken thigh noodles ready for garnish and service
  1. Put your oven on to preheat to 400F/200C.
  2. Lightly oil a roasting tray with olive oil.
  3. Rub the chicken thighs with olive oil and lay them skin sides up on the roasting tray. Season with salt. Cook for twenty-five to thirty minutes until just done and the juices run clear.
  4. Let the chicken thighs rest for fifteen minutes and until they are cool enough to handle.
  5. Cook the noodles per the instructions on the packet. These noodles required only five minutes in simmering water. Drain well.
  6. Peel the skin from the chicken thighs and pluck the meat from the bones in chunks.
  7. Add the noodles and the chicken to the pot of hot sweet and sour sauce and fold to combine. Add the tomato and pineapple and combine in a similar way. Simmer for about a minute to ensure everything is heated through.
  8. Pour the sweet and sour chicken in to a deep plate and garnish if desired with the basil.

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5 stars from 2 ratings of these sweet and sour chicken recipes

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12 comments

Gordon Hamilton profile image

Gordon Hamilton 3 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom Author

Hi, Nell and thanks. Sweet and sour chicken is one of those dishes that is often grossly over-complicated - as well as stuffed with MSG! Fortunately, it needn't be. Hope you enjoy it again soon.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

Hi Gordon, I haven't had sweet and sour chicken for years, and I never realised how easy it was to make, this is great! voted up and shared, nell


Gordon Hamilton profile image

Gordon Hamilton 3 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom Author

Hi, Carly. Really sorry for late reply. I hope your family enjoy sweet and sour chicken cooked in any of these ways. Thanks for stopping by.


Gordon Hamilton profile image

Gordon Hamilton 3 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom Author

HI, countryboyjchef52. I think it's important to know different ways of cooking dishes. Hope you enjoy one of them if you give them a try.


CarlySullens profile image

CarlySullens 3 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

Wow, everything looks delicious. You worked really hard on this hub and it shows. I would like to try to make your recipe for my family. My kids love sweet and sour chicken.


Gordon Hamilton profile image

Gordon Hamilton 3 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom Author

Hi, randomcreative. Some of the recipes online for sweet and sour sauce frankly astounded me. They were so complex and time consuming to prepare. This one comes through experimentation and was ultimately both easy and delicious. Hope you enjoy it. Thanks as always for visiting and leaving your comment.


countryboychef52 3 years ago from Lexington, KY

I liked how you gave several ideas for cooking the dish as well. Great Job!


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 3 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

I had no idea that sweet and sour sauce is so easy to put together. Thanks for all of the great tips for making this recipe!


Gordon Hamilton profile image

Gordon Hamilton 3 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom Author

Thanks Carol. Incredibly simple - the sauce takes literally less than ten minutes from starting the prep to being ready. Hope you get a chance to give it a try.


Gordon Hamilton profile image

Gordon Hamilton 3 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom Author

Thanks for visiting and leaving your comment, Kasman. I hope you do give these ideas a try to enjoy them when you do.


carol7777 profile image

carol7777 3 years ago from Arizona

Sounds like a tasty recipe and easy enough to do. Voting UP.


Kasman profile image

Kasman 3 years ago from Bartlett, Tennessee

I liked this because you included several ways to cook. Sweet n sour is one of My favorite dishes......and you're right about chicken being a big reason. Im going to have to try this. Good job, voting up!

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