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Sweet and Sour Chicken: the best recipe for the popular Chinese takeaway dish

Total time: 20 Min
Difficulty: Low
Serves: 6 people
By Cookist

For a fast, easy, flavorful dinner that takes less than 15 minutes to make, nothing beats sweet and sour chicken. This amazingly tasty Chinese take out fake out recipe is a perfect inexpensive meal to make on busy weeknights.

Made from succulent pieces of chicken tossed in a sticky sweet, tangy sauce, homemade sweet and sour chicken is one dish that's sure to put a smile on everyone's face. Serve your sweet and sour chicken with egg noodles, rice, or cauliflower rice for a hearty, delicious meal you'll make on repeat.


Sweet and Sour Chicken Ingredients

You don't need any special ingredients to make copycat sweet and sour chicken at home. You probably already have most of the ingredients in your pantry! To bring sweetness to the sweet and sour sauce, you'll need white sugar, brown sugar, and ketchup. Apple cider vinegar adds tanginess, while soy sauce brings a delicious salty, savory element. Sesame oil also adds a wonderful umami flavor to the sauce. Use cornstarch to thicken the sauce.

For the chicken, you'll need boneless, skinless chicken breasts, which you'll season with salt and pepper and coat with more cornstarch, which makes the chicken slightly crispy.

For a garnish, add chopped scallions and sesame seeds.

How to Make Sweet and Sour Chicken

Making homemade sweet and sour chicken is a breeze. Start by making a cornstarch slurry in a small bowl. Simply whisk the water and cornstarch together, then set it aside. Pour the rest of the ingredients for the sauce into a pot, then bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Whisk the sauce constantly to dissolve the sugars. Once boiled, turn down the heat to a gentle simmer and whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Cook the sauce for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While the sauce is simmering, make the chicken. Pour the chicken, cornstarch, salt, and pepper into a large sealable bag and shake it well to coat. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, making sure to turn the chicken over so it cooks evenly. Turn down the heat and pour the sauce over the chicken. Stir well to coat, then cook for an additional minute or so. Garnish the chicken with sesame seeds and scallions, and serve with fried rice, steamed rice, noodles, or whatever side you prefer.


Tips for the Best Sweet and Sour Chicken

Cut down the sugar in the recipe if you'd like your sweet and sour sauce slightly less sweet.

If you don't have apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, or white wine vinegar work perfectly fine in this recipe.

Add some red chili flakes for a spicy kick.

To make keto-friendly sweet and sour chicken, use sweetener instead of sugar and sugar-free ketchup instead of regular ketchup.

What to Serve with Sweet and Sour Chicken

Sweet and sour chicken goes great with a side of steamed jasmine rice, egg fried rice, or stir-fried egg noodles. Opt for cauliflower rice or zucchini noodles for a low-carb, keto-friendly option.

Serve it with steamed veggies like carrots, broccoli, or bok choy. Classic Chinese takeaway sides like spring rolls, wontons, and potstickers go great with sweet and sour chicken, too.

How to Store Sweet and Sour Chicken

Keep your sweet and sour chicken in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

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for the sauce
White sugar
3/4 cup
Apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup
1/4 cup
Soy sauce
2 tbsp
Sesame oil
1 tbsp
light brown sugar
1 tbsp
garlic, finely minced
3 cloves
Cold Water
2 tbsp
1 tbsp
for the chicken
chicken breasts, boneless and skinless, cubed
1.25 pounds
3 tbsp
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
3 to 4 tbsp
scallions, sliced
Sesame seeds
1 tbsp


Combine water and cornstarch in a bowl. Whisk to combine.

Put apple cider vinegar, sugar, ketchup, soy sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar, and garlic into a pot.

Heat over medium-high, whisking constantly as you bring the sauce to a boil. Lower the heat to a gentle simmer.

Whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In a bowl, add the chicken, cornstarch, salt, and pepper.

Coat it well.

Heat oil in a skillet. Add the chicken and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, flipping occasionally until completely cooked through.

Lower the heat and pour the sauce over the chicken.

Stir to coat, then cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Garnish with sesame seeds and scallions.

Serve and enjoy!


Add more oil when cooking the chicken if the skillet appears to dry out.

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