This Sweet and Sour Chicken Recipe is made with chicken thighs, bell peppers, sugar, vinegar, ketchup, soy sauce, sesame oil, and maple syrup.
This Sweet and Sour chicken tastes like pure heaven. It has every flavor you can imagine: salty, sweet, spicy and sour! This is such an easy stir fry that you can pair with the potstickers with sesame ground pork. It is an easy recipe but you HAVE to prep everything before you begin. Since everything cooks so quickly, its smart to measure out each ingredient prior to cooking!
Take out food can have a ton of food chemicals you do not want to consume. This is a quick stir fry that is homemade, healthier and can be made in under thirty minutes.
- What is Sweet and Sour Chicken?
- Can I Prep Sweet and Sour Chicken in Advance?
- What you will need
- How to make Sweet and Sour Chicken Recipe
- Can bake the sweet and sour chicken instead of frying it?
- Can I add Pineapple to Sweet and Sour Chicken?
- What to serve with Sweet and Sour Chicken
- Sweet and Sour Chicken Recipe Variations
- Equipment needed to make Sweet and Sour Chicken
- How to store Sweet and Sour Chicken
- Sweet and Sour Chicken Recipe Top tips
- Sweet and Sour Chicken Recipe
- Food safety
What is Sweet and Sour Chicken?
Sweet and Sour Chicken is a popular Chinese dish that is often served in Chinese restaurants around the world. It is made by stir-frying battered pieces of chicken with vegetables such as bell peppers, onions, and pineapple, and then coating them in a sweet and sour sauce. The sauce is typically made from a mixture of sugar, vinegar, ketchup, soy sauce, and sometimes other ingredients like cornstarch or pineapple juice. The result is a dish that has a balance of sweet, tangy, and savory flavors, and a crispy texture from the batter on the chicken. Sweet and Sour Chicken can be served over rice or noodles and is a favorite among many people who enjoy Chinese cuisine.
Can I Prep Sweet and Sour Chicken in Advance?
- Chicken: You can marinate the chicken in the sweet and sour sauce for up to 24 hours in the refrigerator. This will help infuse the chicken with flavor and make it more tender. However, it is not recommended to bread or batter the chicken in advance, as the coating can become soggy.
- Vegetables: You can chop the vegetables in advance and store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook the dish.
- Sauce: You can also prepare the sweet and sour sauce in advance and store it in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook the dish.
- Breading and Frying: The breading and frying of the chicken should be done right before serving. If you batter the chicken in advance, the coating will become soggy, and the chicken will lose its crispy texture.
What you will need
- Chicken Thighs
- Vegetable oil
- Bell pepper
- Granulated sugar
- Rice vinegar
- Soy Sauce
- Sesame oil
- Maple syrup
- Sesame seeds
See recipe card for quantities.
How to make Sweet and Sour Chicken Recipe
Toss the chicken in the cornstarch. Leave it in the refrigerator for one hour.
Add sugar, rice vinegar, ketchup, soy sauce, sesame oil, maple syrup, water, cornstarch and garlic in a bowl and stir. This is your sauce!
Bring a large skillet of oil to simmer on medium heat. You may need to use two skillets as there is a lot of chicken. Add the chicken on medium heat and cook until they’re crispy, about 5 minutes. Remove and set on a plate and in the same skillet, add the diced bell pepper. Cook until the pepper skins start to blister and turn brown in spots.
Remove on a plate for a second and pour in the sauce for 30 seconds and then add the pepper and chicken back into the pot. Cook until the sauce starts to caramelize, thicken, and coat the chicken, about 5 minutes. Garnish with scallions and sesame seeds.
Can bake the sweet and sour chicken instead of frying it?
Yes, you can bake Sweet and Sour Chicken instead of frying it. Baking is a healthier cooking method than frying and can produce similar results to frying. After coating chicken in cornstarch, add the chicken in the oven at 400°F for 20-25 minutes. Meanwhile in a small saucepan, simmer the sauce for 3-5 minutes. Pour this sauce over the chicken when it is ready. Baking the chicken instead of frying it will result in a slightly different texture, but it will still be delicious and healthier.
Can I add Pineapple to Sweet and Sour Chicken?
Yes, adding pineapple to Sweet and Sour Chicken is a common variation of the recipe. I personally prefer to omit, but people think pineapple adds a sweet and tangy flavor that complements the savory chicken and pour sauce. Pineapple also adds a nice texture to the dish.
To add pineapple to Sweet and Sour Chicken, you can use canned pineapple chunks or fresh pineapple. If using canned pineapple, drain the juice before adding it to the dish. If using fresh pineapple, cut it into small pieces and add it towards the end of cooking to prevent it from becoming too soft.
To balance the sweetness of the pineapple, you may need to adjust the amount of sugar and vinegar in the sauce. Taste the sauce as you go and adjust the seasoning as needed.
Chicken: Feel free to use chicken thighs or chicken breasts for this recipe.
Cornstarch: Cornstarch is a great way to thicken the sauce and make the chicken crispy. You can also use flour or xanthan gum.
Vegetable oil: If you don't have any vegetable oil on hand, you can substitute another neutral high-heat oil. Canola, safflower, peanut or grapeseed oils are all great choices.
Sugar: Feel free to use brown or granulated sugar. You can also use equal parts honey or maple syrup.
Soy Sauce: Instead of soy sauce you can use Tamari, Worcestershire sauce, Miso, Maggi seasoning, Salt, Coconut aminos, or Liquid aminos.
Garlic: For best quality, use fresh garlic instead of garlic from a jar.
Maple Syrup: You can use maple syrup or honey.
What to serve with Sweet and Sour Chicken
Sweet and Sour Chicken is a versatile dish that can be paired with many different side dishes. Here are a few options:
- Rice: Sweet and Sour Chicken is traditionally served over rice, and it is a classic and delicious option.
- Noodles: Another option is to serve the Sweet and Sour Chicken with noodles, such as lo mein or chow mein.
- Stir-fried Vegetables: You can also serve Sweet and Sour Chicken with stir-fried vegetables, such as bell peppers, onions, carrots, and broccoli. These vegetables will provide a nice contrast to the sweet and sour flavors of the chicken.
- Steamed Vegetables: Alternatively, you could serve Sweet and Sour Chicken with steamed vegetables, such as snow peas, green beans, or bok choy.
- Egg Rolls or Spring Rolls: For an appetizer or side dish, you could serve Sweet and Sour Chicken with egg rolls or spring rolls. These crispy and savory snacks will complement the sweet and sour flavors of the chicken.
- Fried Rice: Another classic Chinese side dish is fried rice, and it pairs well with Sweet and Sour Chicken. The rice will absorb the sweet and sour sauce and add an additional layer of flavor to the dish.
Sweet and Sour Chicken Recipe Variations
There are many different variations of Sweet and Sour Chicken, and you can modify the recipe to suit your taste preferences. Here are some recipe variations that you can try:
- Pineapple Sweet and Sour Chicken: Add more pineapple to the recipe to enhance the sweetness of the dish. You can also use fresh pineapple instead of canned pineapple for a fresher taste.
- Spicy Sweet and Sour Chicken: Add some heat to the dish by adding chili flakes, Sriracha sauce, or red pepper flakes to the sweet and sour sauce. This will give the dish a nice kick.
- Healthy Sweet and Sour Chicken: Use whole-grain flour instead of all-purpose flour, and bake the chicken instead of frying it to make the dish healthier. You can also use low-sodium soy sauce and reduce the amount of sugar in the sweet and sour sauce.
- Vegetarian Sweet and Sour Chicken: Use tofu instead of chicken to make a vegetarian version of the dish. You can also add more vegetables, such as mushrooms, zucchini, and carrots.
- Gluten-free Sweet and Sour Chicken: Use gluten-free flour instead of all-purpose flour to make the dish gluten-free. You can also use tamari instead of soy sauce to make the dish gluten-free.
- Orange Sweet and Sour Chicken: Add orange zest and orange juice to the sweet and sour sauce to give the dish a citrusy flavor. You can also garnish the dish with orange slices for an extra pop of color.
Equipment needed to make Sweet and Sour Chicken
Here are the basic equipment and tools you will need to make Sweet and Sour Chicken:
- Cutting board: You will need a cutting board to chop the chicken and vegetables.
- Knife: A sharp knife is essential for cutting the chicken and vegetables.
- Bowls: You will need several bowls for coating the chicken with flour and eggs.
- Baking sheet or frying pan: You will need a baking sheet if you plan to bake the chicken, or a frying pan if you plan to fry the chicken.
- Tongs or a spatula: Tongs or a spatula will come in handy for flipping the chicken when frying or transferring it from the baking sheet to a serving dish.
- Wooden spoon: You will need a wooden spoon to stir the sauce while it is cooking.
- Saucepan: You will need a saucepan to cook the sweet and sour sauce.
- Measuring cups and spoons: Measuring cups and spoons are essential for measuring the ingredients accurately.
- Can opener: If you are using canned pineapple, you will need a can opener to open the can.
- Whisk: You may need a whisk to combine the sweet and sour sauce ingredients.
How to store Sweet and Sour Chicken
To store Sweet and Sour Chicken, you should follow these simple steps:
- Let the Sweet and Sour Chicken cool down to room temperature.
- Transfer the chicken and sauce to an airtight container.
- Store the container in the refrigerator. The Sweet and Sour Chicken will last for 3 to 4 days in the fridge.
- To reheat the Sweet and Sour Chicken, you can either microwave it or reheat it in a skillet over medium heat until it is heated through.
It is important to note that if you have already reheated the Sweet and Sour Chicken, you should not store it again. Reheating the chicken multiple times can increase the risk of foodborne illness. Therefore, it is best to only reheat the amount of Sweet and Sour Chicken you plan to eat.
If you have leftover Sweet and Sour Chicken that you know you won't eat within 3 to 4 days, you can freeze it for later use. To freeze Sweet and Sour Chicken, let it cool down to room temperature, then transfer it to a freezer-safe container. Label the container with the date and freeze it. The Sweet and Sour Chicken will last for up to 3 months in the freezer. When you are ready to eat it, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight, and then reheat it following the instructions above.
Sweet and Sour Chicken Recipe Top tips
Here are some top tips to help you make the perfect Sweet and Sour Chicken recipe:
- Use boneless, skinless chicken thighs for the best flavor and texture. Chicken breasts can become dry and tough when cooked for a long time.
- Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces that are similar in size to ensure even cooking.
- Marinate the chicken in soy sauce, rice wine, and cornstarch for at least 30 minutes before cooking to add flavor and tenderize the meat.
- Use cornstarch instead of flour to coat the chicken. Cornstarch will give the chicken a crispy texture and help it hold its shape when cooked.
- Fry the chicken in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan, which can cause the chicken to steam instead of fry.
- Use a thermometer to check the temperature of the oil when frying the chicken. The ideal temperature is between 350°F and 375°F.
- Cook the sauce until it thickens and becomes glossy. This will ensure that the sauce coats the chicken evenly and has a nice texture.
- Add the pineapple and vegetables towards the end of cooking to prevent them from becoming mushy.
- Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning as needed. If it is too sweet, add more vinegar. If it is too sour, add more sugar.
- Serve the Sweet and Sour Chicken with steamed rice and garnish it with green onions and sesame seeds for added flavor and texture.
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove