Sweet and Sour Chicken is a delicious dinner made with flavors of pineapple, vegetables, and a mouthwatering sweet and sour sauce. This is an easy version of the beloved restaurant staple, where the chicken is simply tossed in cornstarch and seared before cooking it with the famous sweet and sour sauce.
Easy Sweet and Sour Chicken
Maybe it’s due to my laziness on weeknights or constantly running out of time, but I almost never want to spend time frying the chicken first, then cooking it with sauce. For that reason, I’ve been making this simplified version of sweet and sour chicken for years, and the whole family loves it!
So if you’re feeling like you want to skip the frying step, or if you want to make sweet and sour chicken a bit healthier, this is the version for you!
I call this my take-out fake-out! It’s got all the goodness of the sweet and sour chicken that comes to your door in a little red and white paper box, but with way better ingredients, no excess oils, and higher quality chicken. Plus, this easy sauce tastes WAY better!
Next time you’re facing a hectic weeknight and the day has already bested you, don’t turn to that take-out menu on your fridge. Instead, treat yourself to the comfort dish you deserve that won’t make you feel bad afterwards! From start to finish, this recipe takes about half an hour, which is likely faster than take-out would get to your house anyways. It’s quick, easy, health-conscious, and downright delicious!
How to Make Sweet and Sour Chicken
Ingredients You Need:
For the chicken:
- Chicken thigh meat – For this recipe, you’ll want to use boneless, skinless chicken thigh meat.
- Cornstarch – You’ll need this for that nicely crispy exterior.
- Peanut Oil – It’s great to measure your ingredients out before cooking, but you may need to add more of this oil as needed.
- Seasoning – The sauce is the main source of flavor here, so keep the chicken simply seasoned with a sprinkle of salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
- Onion – yellow or white onion will work well.
- Red Bell Pepper – A red pepper is great for an extra kick of vibrant color.
For the sauce:
- Chicken Stock – If you have any on hand, try to use Homemade Chicken Stock.
- Pineapples – use canned and separate the juice from the fruit.
- Rice Vinegar – In a pinch, this may be substituted with white wite vinegar.
- Low Sodium Soy Sauce – Tamari or coconut aminos may also be used here.
- Garlic – Use fresh garlic for the most delicious flavor.
- Brown Sugar – light brown sugar or dark brown sugar will work.
- Ketchup – This is a key ingredient for both the taste and consistency of the sauce.
- Cornstarch – This is used as the thickening agent for the signature glaze-like consistency of the sauce.
- Oyster Sauce
- Worcestershire Sauce
- Red Pepper Flakes
Make the sauce.
Combine all of the sauce ingredients in a bowl and set aside. However, at this step, do not add the pineapples. Separate them from the juice and set aside.
Prepare/dredge the chicken.
Cut the chicken into small pieces, cutting off excess fat as you go.
Put the cut chicken into a Zip-Lock bag. Add the cornstarch, salt, and pepper. Shake the bag to evenly coat the chicken.
Sauté the chicken and veggies.
In a pan preheated with oil, sear the chicken on all sides and remove from the pan.
Sauté the onions, bell peppers, and scallions until softened. Remove the veggies from the pan.
Simmer the sauce.
Whisk the sauce, then pour it into the pan. Stir it and let it thicken.
Add the chicken and veggies back into the pan with the simmering sauce.
Lower the heat and let the chicken finish cooking in the sauce.
Finish off the dish with some fresh diced scallions. Serve it over rice or cooked veggies of your choice, and enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions
What other vegetables are good with sweet and sour chicken?
There are a number of vegetables you can toss into the mix to make this lightened up dish even healthier! Just a few tasty, healthy additions include snow or snap peas, mushrooms, carrots, zucchini, summer squash, broccoli, canned baby corn, leeks, or green beans. This is a great customizable recipe that works with so many different nutritional veggie options!
How long will sweet and sour chicken stay good?
Store the leftover chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Leftover chicken should be good for about 3-4 days. To reheat, toss everything back into the pan and stir over medium heat until warmed through. If you wish, you can reheat individual portions in a microwave.
Sweet and Sour Chicken
Sweet and Sour Chicken
- 2 lb boneless, skinless chicken thigh meat
- 3 tbsp cornstarch
- 3-4 tbsp peanut oil
- black peppers
- 1 sweet onion
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 8 oz can pineapples – juice and pineapples separated
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
- 4 garlic cloves pressed
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 tsp oyster sauce
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4-1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes to taste
- Combine all ingredients for the sauce in a mixing bowl, whisk well, and set aside. (Don't add the pineapples, separate them from juice, and set aside.)
- Cut chicken thighs into small pieces and cut off as much excess fat as possible in the process.
- Dredge the chicken: Put cut chicken into a large zip-lock bag. Add cornstarch and some salt and pepper, close the bag, and give it some good shaking to make sure that all the chicken is coated evenly.
- Preheat a large cooking pan first and add oil. Add dredged chicken and sear it on all the sides until almost done. Take chicken out and set is aside.
- Add a little more oil if needed, and add in chopped onions, bell pepper, and scallions. Sauté for a few minutes, until softened.
- Add chopped pineapple and cook together with the veggies until pineapple starts to get golden and soften as well. Take the vegetables out of the pan and set aside with the chicken.
- Whisk the sauce again and add it to the same pan.
- Slowly stir and let the sauce come to simmer and start to thicken. Once it starts to thicken, add back the chicken and vegetables.
- Lower the heat and let the chicken finish cooking together with sauce.
- Finish the dish off with some fresh diced scallions. Serve it over rice or simple roasted/sautéed vegetables.