Easy Homemade Sweet and Sour Chicken

sweet and sour chicken with gravy in a black wok

This delicious saucy homemade sweet and sour chicken is easy, better-than-takeout, with no food coloring, and is made from simple panty ingredients!

Saucy Sweet and Sour Chicken

Sweet ‘n Sour chicken is a classic restaurant style Asian main. The chicken is lightly coated tossed into a classic sweet and tangy sauce along with some veggies to balance the flavors. I love making fake-outs at home! It gives me so much more control over the taste.

sweet and sour chicken on a bed of rice in a white plate with chopsticks on the side.

Here’s why making this recipe is MORE NUTRITIOUS than ordering it in!

  • It is more nutritious because you are skipping the MSG (Chinese Salt) that restaurants use.
  • The takeout Sweet ‘n Sour is usually loaded with artificial orange food coloring, that WE are going to skip
  • This version of Sweet ‘n Sour is rather saucy (like saucy Asian meatballs) rather than dry and works perfectly with chow mein noodles or rice
  • You can use low Sodium sauces when you cook Chinese at home.
  • The chicken! When you cook at home, you have the option to bake or fry the chicken, which again adds to my health narrative.

Ingredients

Here’s what you’ll need to make the perfect Saucy Sweet n Sour chicken

an ingredient shot of all the ingredients needed to make sweet and sour chicken
  • Veggies – Bell Peppers and onions are non-negotiable guys! sorry! And yellow bell pepper is even better! You can ADD pineapples and delete carrots if you want, but the onions and bell peppers balance the flavors, so no way are you skipping that ok?
  • Boneless Chicken
  • Sauces – Oyster sauce, Soy sauce and Sriracha Sauce
  • Dark Brown sugar – Brown sugar brings out a slight bitterness along with sweetness in the recipe. Don’t you dare use white sugar for this recipe!
  • Cornstarch – You will need this to coat the chicken and to thicken in the sauce. I’ve experimented with all kinds of coating for this recipe, the cornstarch and egg coating works the best. Its light, and holds well whether baked or fried.
  • Egg – You will need this for coating the chicken
  • Garlic and Ginger – Lifelong flavor enhancers, need I say more? You can also use galangal instead of ginger.
  • Seasoning – Your usual salt and black pepper
  • Garnish – I use the usual scallions (green onions) and sesame seeds to garnish this recipe. But I also use the bulb or the white portion of the green onion in the gravy.

Substitutions

  • Eggs – Some of you have mentioned time and again that you avoid eggs due to dietary restrictions. If you can’t add eggs, simply skip it. Eggs adds a slight binding element to the batter, but you can do without it if you need to.
  • Tomato Paste – You can totally use regular ketchup instead of tomato paste in this recipe
  • Sauces – You can use hot sauce (half quantity) instead of Sriracha and a dash of BBQ sauce instead of Oyster sauce.

Instructions

Here’s a simple rundown of all the steps you’ll come across while cooking, so that there are no surprises!

You marinate chicken in egg, spices, vinegar and cornflour for 10 mins and fry it in oil until its golden brown.

I also baked a small batch of chicken to show you that you can opt for both. This chicken is not crispy, but it has a specific texture that comes with the coating. Its light and airy. The best part is, it doesn’t become soggy or “doughy” once it hits the sauce.

baked boneless chicken pieces on a baking tray

You can set the chicken aside and start with your sweet n sour sauce. Simply saute garlic, ginger and the white bulb portion of green onions in oil. After it turns golden, add tomato paste with water

NOTE: Tomato paste sputters when added to oil, make sure you add about 1/4 cup of water before adding the paste to avoid excessive sputtering.

And then everything just goes in 1 by 1. I like to mix all the sauces with cornflour to make a slurry rather than adding it 1 by 1 to the dish.

a white bowl with red sauce slurry and a spoon in it

Add water and vegetables to your tomato garlic base. Allow it to boil and then drop in cornflour sauce mix and the chicken pieces.

Give your cornflour some time to thicken up and your chicken pieces to heat up again. And thats it! Do a taste test and serve warm with garnishes!

simmering red gravy with vegetables and chicken in a black wok

FAQS

Can I make this recipe Vegetarian?

Totally! Like all recipes, this one is totally adaptable. You can use tofu or cauliflower florets insteads of chicken.

Can I make this recipe with some other protein like beef or fish?

Ofcourse! Sweet ‘n Sour Fish would turn out amazing! You can follow the same instructions for fish. For beef, if you are using flank beef, then you can use the same steps. If you are using a more tough cut of the beef, boil it for 20 mins in salt, black pepper and garlic and then proceed the recipe as is.

Can I reheat it in the microwave?

Yes! Most cornflour based gravies tend to clump when they are kept in the fridge. But this recipe has enough water content to prevent that from happening. So yes go ahead heat it up in the microwave.

Can I make a Lite version of Sweet and Sour chicken?

Ofcourse! Here’s what you can do to make this recipe Lite

  • Use Low sodium Soy sauce instead of regular one.
  • Use fresh organic tomato paste.
  • Bake the chicken instead of frying.
  • Use tapioca flour instead of cornflour
  • You can also use Pink salt instead of regular table salt
a piece of sweet and sour chicken held with chopsticks, with a plate or rice and sweet and sour chicken in the background

Expert Tips

  • While frying, make sure your wok or pan is wide enough to allow the chicken pieces to fry separately.
  • Keep everything chopped and prepared before starting to work on the sauce. Things happen very quickly once you start prepping the sauce so it’s best that you have everything ready by your side.
  • Use good quality tomato paste!
  • For dinners or parties, you can prepare the chicken a day in advance and simply prepare the sauce on the day of the event.

Similar Recipes

Asian Chicken meatballs
Dragon Chicken
Dynamite Shrimps
More Chinese/Indo-Chinese Recipes

a piece of sweet and sour chicken held with chopsticks, with a plate or rice and sweet and sour chicken in the background

Sweet And Sour Chicken

Yield: 5 to 6 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

Chicken Marinade

  • 400 gms of boneless chicken breast cut up in small 1/2 inch cubes
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 pinch of baking soda (see notes)
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper powder
  • 3 tbsp vinegar
  • Oil as needed or frying (or to grease for baking)

Sweet 'n Sour Gravy

  • 3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • White end of 1 green onion stalk sliced.
  • 1/2 inch piece of ginger finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp Soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp Oyster Sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp Sriracha Sauce
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 5 tbsp Vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch (see notes)
  • 1 cup bell peppers (cut in 1/2 inch squares)
  • 1/2 cup shallots cut in 1/2 inch squares
  • 1/2 a carrot thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • sesame seeds for garnish
  • chopped green onion for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a bowl, add all the ingredients for the chicken marinade. Mix everything together and coat the chicken well. Set aside for 10 mins
  2. Cook the chicken by frying or baking. To fry, add the chicken in hot vegetable oil and fry until golden brown. Remove from oil and set aside. Make sure to have a large enough frying pan so that the chicken pieces don't stick together. To bake, preheat the oven to 220°C (430 F). Grease a large baking tray and place your chicken pieces on to the tray, making sure the pieces don't touch. Spray with an oil spray and bake for 20 mins, flipping the chicken pieces after 10 mins. Set the baked/fried chicken aside
  3. In a bowl, mix vinegar, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sriracha sauce and cornstarch. Set aside.
  4. In a wok or a large deep pan, add oil, chopped garlic and ginger and sliced white end of the green onion. Saute at medium flame until the ginger garlic turns light golden brown.
  5. Add a splash of water, tomato paste, brown sugar and salt. Stir for 2 mins to allow tomato paste to cook for a bit. Add more water if the paste splatters a lot.
  6. Drop in all your vegetables and saute for another minute.
  7. Add 2 cups of water and allow the the water to come to a boil.
  8. After the water boil, add the cornstarch sauce mix and the fried/baked chicken.
  9. Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes or until gravy thickens.
  10. Turn off flame and sprinkle sesame seeds and green onions for garnish
  11. Serve with fried rice.

Notes

  • You can use regular tomato ketchup instead of tomato paste
  • You can also add more cornstarch if you feel you need a thicker gravy.
  • You can prepare the chicken a day in advance and keep in the refrigerator and just bring it out on the day of assembly. Just give it 2 3 extra minutes to cook so that it heats up.
  • You can use any veggies that you like. Fruits like pineapple or apples both go very well in this recipe.

Did you make this recipe?

Tag @butteroverbae on Instagram and hashtag it #butteroverbae

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Zilehuma Malik
Zilehuma Malik
14 days ago

I tried and it turned out delicious

Sana
Sana
12 days ago

Turned out incredibly delicious 😋

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