Sweet and sour chicken is one of the most popular Chinese dishes, with a quick cooking time and easy-to-follow process.
Even though it's one of the most popular chicken cantonese style takeaway items, you can make it at home yourself – and it's just as good and much more affordable... the perfect 'fakeaway'!
That's right... not only is it satisfying and empowering to cook it yourself at home, but it's healthier and cheaper, too. My sweet and sour Cantonese style recipe is so simple and quick to make that you’ll never opt for the takeaway again. Fakeaway forever!
Why you'll love this sweet and sour chicken recipe
- An easy and delicious Chinese classic
- Simple to prefer and quick to make
- Easy to adapt to your tastes
There are a few items you'll need to make this sweet and sour chicken recipe:
How to make sweet and sour chicken
Gather the sauce ingredients: ketchup, chicken broth, pineapple juice, sugar, vinegar and cornstarch.
Place all the ingredients in a pot and stir until sugar is dissolved and the sweet and sour sauce is smooth.
Chop up the fresh produce: pineapple, red and green pepper and onion.
Almost ready to stir fry!
You need flour, cornstarch, spices, eggs and chicken breast for the crispy, battered chicken pieces.
Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Whisk the eggs in a bowl. Mix the flours with the spices. Are you ready?
Dunk the chicken in the egg.
Dredge the chicken in the flour mixture. Gently drop into hot oil and fry until golden and crispy.
Drain the fried chicken on paper towels.
Fry the vegetables in a bit of oil for a few minutes.
Add the chicken and drizzle over the sauce. Toss around for a minute. Done! Serve with egg fried rice. Enjoy!
Taste the sweet and sour sauce and adjust the seasoning if needed. Some people prefer a sweeter or tangier sauce.
What to serve with sweet and sour chicken
Personally, I prefer to serve my Hong Kong-style sweet and sour chicken with steamed rice. Typically, this would also be how you would get it in a Hong Kong street kitchen.
A steaming hot bowl of white rice with a generous scoop of fried chicken and crunchy vegetables in a perfectly balanced sweet and sour sauce. Alternatively, you can serve it with wild rice, fried rice, or even noodles.
It’s not strictly traditional but you can add to the dish by topping off with some peanuts when serving.
How about creating a 'fakeaway' starter as well? Try my simple yet flavourful Chinese chicken and corn soup.
Are you not feeling like having sweet and sour? Try my salt and chilli chicken recipe instead!
Variations to this recipe
- Add vegetables like carrots, snow peas, baby corn, or broccoli for extra nutrition and color.
- Experiment with zucchini or eggplant for a unique twist.
- Adding bamboo shoots or slices of water chestnuts can make your sweet and sour chicken even more authentic. Both possess excellent crunchy textures that add freshness to the dish.
- Beer Batter: Replace part of the liquid in the batter with beer for a lighter texture.
- Tempura-style: Use a tempura batter mix for a light, crispy Japanese-inspired coating.
- Breadcrumb Coating: After dipping the chicken in egg, coat it with breadcrumbs for a different texture.
Cooking Method Alternatives
- Baking: Bake the battered chicken pieces in the oven for a healthier version, though the texture will differ from frying.
- Air Frying: Use an air fryer to achieve a crispy texture with less oil.
- Serve over various types of rice, such as jasmine or brown rice, or with noodles for a different base.
- Garnish with sesame seeds, sliced green onions, or fresh cilantro to enhance the dish's flavor and presentation.
- Tofu: For a vegetarian option, replace chicken with firm tofu. Press it to remove excess water, cut it into cubes and follow the same battering and frying steps.
- Sweet and Sour Pork or Beef: Substitute chicken with thinly sliced pork or beef for a different flavor profile.
- Fish or Shrimp: Use firm white fish, or shrimp for a seafood version. Adjust cooking times, as seafood typically cooks faster than chicken.
- Replace all-purpose flour with a gluten-free flour blend.
- Ensure that soy sauce and other condiments are certified gluten-free. Tamari is a good option.
- If using sweeter pineapple or if you prefer a less sweet sauce, reduce the sugar in the recipe.
- In terms of spicing, sweet and sour chicken is not meant to be hot. However, you can add chili if the recipe is too tame. Alternatively, add sweet chili sauce as a topping.
- Introduce a citrus note by adding a splash of orange or lemon juice.
- Replace the white vinegar with apple cider vinegar.
What ingredients are in sweet and sour chicken?
This classic Chinese dish consists of crispy fried chicken pieces with pineapple chunks, green onions, bell peppers, and sweet and sour sauce.
What is Hong Kong style sweet n sour chicken?
What is the difference between the standard sweet and sour chicken and its Hong Kong-style counterpart? The preparation of the chicken. In the latter, the chicken is battered, then fried and served with the sweet and sour sauce.
It’s almost like little chicken nuggets dressed in sweet and sour sauce. The standard version is deep-fried chicken balls that comprise a little bit of chicken covered with an enormous amount of batter, with the sweet and sour sauce served on the side for dipping.
In my books, the Hong Kong-style version is slightly healthier. Of course, you can omit the batter altogether and fry the plain chicken and vegetables before adding the sauce.
What does sweet and sour chicken taste like?
It has a beautiful tanginess and a subtle sweetness that tantalising the tongue.
How do you make sweet and sour chicken coating crispy?
It may be easier not to batter and fry the chicken first. It would be easier and healthier, but you would be missing out.
Those golden crispy chicken nuggets covered in sweet and sour sauce are simply to die for. Believe it or not, that first crispy layer of the chicken's batter makes a difference.
The best flour for this purpose is corn flour. However, you can use very fine breadcrumbs if you can’t get hold of it. You can smash up the bread crumbs in a mortar if the ones you have are too grainy.
A tip for frying the chicken is to do it in small batches. This way, you don’t lower the oil temperature as much, and you get a better result in the frying, making the nuggets less oily.
How do you store this Chinese dish?
Cooling Down: Allow the sweet and sour chicken to cool to room temperature before storing. This should take no longer than 2 hours to prevent bacterial growth.
Refrigerating: Place the cooled sweet and sour chicken in an airtight container. It can be refrigerated for up to 3-4 days. Keep the sauce and chicken separate when storing, if possible, to retain more crispiness.
Freezing: Sweet and sour chicken can be frozen for longer storage.
Store it in a freezer-safe airtight container or a heavy-duty freezer bag. Properly stored, it can last up to 3 months in the freezer. Note that the texture, especially of the battered chicken, may change slightly after freezing and thawing.
Thawing: Thaw frozen sweet and sour chicken in the refrigerator overnight. Avoid thawing at room temperature, as it can encourage bacterial growth.
Reheating: Reheat in the microwave, stirring occasionally, until hot throughout. This method may soften the batter. For a crispier texture, reheat in the oven or on the stovetop. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) and spread the chicken in a single layer on a baking sheet. Heat for 10-15 minutes or until hot and crispy. If using a stovetop, reheat in a pan over medium heat until warm. A little bit of oil can help restore some crispiness.
- Always check for any signs of spoilage before consuming leftovers. If the chicken smells off or shows any signs of mold, it's best to discard it.
- Reheating the dish more than once is not recommended as it can degrade the quality and increase the risk of foodborne illness.
More great Chinese recipes
Are you a fan of Chinese food? If you love this sweet and sour chicken recipe, you'll love these classic Chinese recipes too!
- Tofu in black bean sauce – authentic, healthy and full of flavour
- Crispy chilli beef – this Chinese takeaway favourite is melt-in-your-mouth fantastic and very easy to make at home
- Salt and pepper spring rolls - easy to prepare and makes a great starter
- Yuk sung – wonderfully tasty and healthy finger food, yuk sung is a Chinese salad wrap with a spicy beef filling
- Sweet chilli chicken – a quick tasty dish that's fully of fantastic flavors
- Honey chilli chicken – a great alternative to a normal stir fry, honey chilli chicken is perfect for a midweek meal
save the recipe to your pinterest board
P.S. This is a sponsored post.