Sweet and Sour Chicken


Sweet and Sour Chicken is a beloved dish that offers a perfect balance of tangy, sweet, and savory flavors. This classic Chinese-American recipe features tender chicken pieces coated in a crispy exterior, sautéed with colorful bell peppers and juicy pineapple chunks, and smothered in a flavorful sweet and sour sauce. Whether you’re making it for a family dinner or a special occasion, this dish is sure to be a hit.

Overview of the Recipe

Sweet and Sour Chicken is made by coating bite-sized chicken pieces in cornstarch, dipping them in beaten eggs, and frying them until golden and crispy. The chicken is then combined with sautéed bell peppers and pineapple chunks, and tossed in a homemade sweet and sour sauce. This dish is quick to prepare and offers a delightful combination of textures and flavors that are both satisfying and refreshing.

History and Origin

Sweet and Sour Chicken has its roots in Chinese cuisine, specifically in the Cantonese culinary tradition. The concept of sweet and sour flavors dates back centuries in Chinese cooking, where sugar and vinegar were often used to create a harmonious balance of tastes. The dish gained popularity in Western countries through Chinese-American restaurants, where it was adapted to suit local tastes and became a staple in Chinese takeout menus.


  • 1 lb chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup pineapple chunks
  • 1/2 cup sweet and sour sauce
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Green onions and sesame seeds for garnish


  1. Prepare the Chicken:
    • In a bowl, toss the bite-sized chicken pieces with cornstarch until fully coated.
    • Dip each piece of coated chicken into the beaten eggs, ensuring they are evenly coated.
  2. Cook the Chicken:
    • Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
    • Add the chicken pieces to the skillet, cooking until they are golden brown and crispy, about 5-7 minutes.
    • Remove the chicken from the skillet and set aside on a plate lined with paper towels to drain excess oil.
  3. Sauté the Vegetables:
    • In the same skillet, add the diced red, green, and yellow bell peppers along with the pineapple chunks.
    • Sauté for 3-4 minutes until the vegetables are slightly tender but still crisp.
  4. Make the Sauce:
    • In a small bowl, whisk together the sweet and sour sauce, soy sauce, rice vinegar, ketchup, brown sugar, garlic powder, ginger powder, and red pepper flakes (if using).
    • Ensure the mixture is well combined and smooth.
  5. Combine and Cook:
    • Return the cooked chicken to the skillet with the sautéed vegetables.
    • Pour the sauce mixture over the chicken and vegetables.
    • Toss everything together to coat evenly with the sauce.
    • Cook for an additional 3-5 minutes until the sauce thickens and everything is heated through.
  6. Serve:
    • Garnish with chopped green onions and sesame seeds before serving.
    • Serve hot over steamed rice or noodles for a complete meal.


This recipe yields approximately 4 servings, making it a perfect dish for a family dinner or a small gathering. Serve the Sweet and Sour Chicken over a bed of steamed white or brown rice to soak up the delicious sauce.

Pairing and Serving Suggestions

Sweet and Sour Chicken pairs well with:

  • Steamed jasmine rice or brown rice
  • Stir-fried vegetables such as broccoli, snow peas, or bok choy
  • Egg rolls or spring rolls as an appetizer
  • A light Asian-inspired salad with a sesame dressing

For a beverage pairing, consider:

  • Green tea or jasmine tea for a refreshing complement
  • A citrusy lemonade or sparkling water with lime

Variations of the Recipe

  1. Vegetarian Sweet and Sour: Substitute the chicken with firm tofu or tempeh for a vegetarian version. Follow the same steps for coating and cooking.
  2. Spicy Sweet and Sour Chicken: Add extra red pepper flakes or a diced fresh chili to the sauce for a spicy kick.
  3. Gluten-Free Sweet and Sour Chicken: Use gluten-free soy sauce and ensure the cornstarch is certified gluten-free.
  4. Honey Sweet and Sour Chicken: Replace the brown sugar with honey for a slightly different sweetness and a hint of floral flavor.

Health Benefits

  • High in Protein: Chicken breast is a lean source of protein, which is essential for muscle growth and repair.
  • Rich in Vitamins and Minerals: Bell peppers and pineapple are high in vitamins C and A, as well as essential minerals like potassium.
  • Low in Fat: This recipe uses minimal oil, making it lower in fat compared to deep-fried versions.
  • Balanced Flavors: The combination of sweet and sour helps stimulate appetite and digestion.


  1. Can I use chicken thighs instead of chicken breast? Yes, you can use boneless, skinless chicken thighs for a juicier and more flavorful alternative.
  2. Can I make this dish ahead of time? The chicken can be prepared and cooked in advance. Store the cooked chicken and sauce separately and combine just before serving.
  3. What can I use if I don’t have sweet and sour sauce? You can make a simple homemade sweet and sour sauce using a combination of ketchup, rice vinegar, brown sugar, and soy sauce.
  4. How do I store leftovers? Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in a skillet over medium heat until warmed through.
  5. Can I freeze Sweet and Sour Chicken? Yes, you can freeze the cooked chicken and sauce in separate containers. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and reheat in a skillet before serving.


Sweet and Sour Chicken is a delightful dish that combines crispy chicken, colorful vegetables, and a tangy, sweet sauce for a truly satisfying meal. With its vibrant flavors and appealing textures, it’s no wonder this dish is a favorite in many households. Whether you’re making it for a weeknight dinner or a special occasion, this recipe is sure to please. Enjoy experimenting with different variations and pairings to make it your own, and savor the delicious blend of sweet and sour in every bite.

Leave a Comment