Sweet and sour chicken is a beloved dish that encapsulates the vibrant flavors and colors of Chinese cuisine. Known for its succulent pieces of chicken coated in a delectable tangy sauce, sweet and sour chicken is a dish you can find on the menu of Chinese takeouts around the world.

Sweet and Sour Chicken

In this instructional post, we'll walk you through the process of creating your own sweet and sour chicken at home. You don't need any specialized cooking skills; just follow these step-by-step instructions and you'll be able to savor this classic dish without leaving your kitchen!

List of Ingredients

For the Chicken

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of black pepper

For the Sweet and Sour Sauce

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, freshly grated
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 cups water

For the Vegetables

  • 1 bell pepper, cut into 1-inch squares
  • 1 cup pineapple chunks (fresh or canned)
  • 1/2 cup onion, cut into 1-inch squares
  • 1 cup carrots, thinly sliced

Preparation Steps

Preparing the Chicken

  1. In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg and soy sauce together.
  2. Add the chicken pieces to the egg mixture and marinate for at least 10 minutes.
  3. In another bowl, mix the cornstarch with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  4. After marinating, drain the chicken from the egg mixture and coat each piece in the cornstarch mixture, shaking off any excess.

Making the Sweet and Sour Sauce

  1. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, ketchup, white vinegar, soy sauce, garlic powder, and grated ginger.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix the cornstarch with a little of the water to create a slurry with no lumps.
  3. Add the remaining water to the slurry and then pour the mixture into the saucepan.
  4. Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly to prevent any lumps, until the sauce thickens. This should take about 5-7 minutes.

Preparing the Vegetables

  1. Cut the bell pepper, onion, and carrots as instructed and set aside.
  2. If you're using fresh pineapple, cut it into chunks now.
  3. You can also prepare your choice of rice during this time, as it will complement the dish perfectly!

Cooking Instructions

Cooking the Chicken

  1. Heat a couple of inches of oil in a wok or deep pan to about 350°F.
  2. Carefully add the chicken to the pan, a few pieces at a time, to avoid overcrowding, which can reduce the oil's temperature and make the chicken greasy.
  3. Cook the chicken until golden brown, which should take about 3-4 minutes. Make sure the chicken is cooked through, and the internal temperature reaches 165°F.
  4. Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon and place it on a paper towel to drain the excess oil.

Cooking the Vegetables and Finishing the Dish

  1. In the same wok, you fried the chicken in, add a little oil if necessary.
  2. Over high heat, stir-fry the vegetables until they are just tender-crisp. This should take about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add the fried chicken back into the wok.
  4. Pour the sweet and sour sauce over the chicken and vegetables.
  5. Mix everything to ensure the chicken and vegetables are fully coated with the sauce.

Serving Suggestions

Sweet and sour chicken is typically served with steamed white rice, but you can also use other rice varieties like jasmine rice, brown rice, or even fried rice for a delicious twist. The contrast of the sweet and tangy sauce with the fluffy rice is a delightful combination.

Garnishing options can include sliced green onions, toasted sesame seeds, or even some chopped cilantro for an added kick of freshness.

Tips and Tricks

  • Use a meat thermometer to check for the doneness of the chicken. The safe internal temperature for chicken is 165°F.
  • For a gluten-free version, you can replace the soy sauce with tamari and ensure that all ingredients used are gluten-free, including the cornstarch and vinegar.
  • To make your sweet and sour sauce more colorful, you can add a few drops of red food coloring, but this is entirely optional.
  • If you prefer your sauce thicker, you can increase the amount of cornstarch.


Cooking sweet and sour chicken at home is not only rewarding but can be tailored to your own tastes. Adjust the balance of sweet and sour to suit your palate and enjoy a delightful meal that you've made from scratch. Personalize it further by adding more of your favorite vegetables or changing the protein to shrimp, pork, or tofu.

With these detailed instructions, you're ready to create a beautiful plate of sweet and sour chicken that is sure to impress your family and friends. Don't hesitate to experiment and have fun with your cooking, and remember, practice makes perfect!

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