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Sweet and Sour Chicken

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Sweet and sour chicken at its best. This recipe is so easy and can be prepared in less than 30 minutes.

If you like sweet and sour chicken, you’re going to love this recipe. Tender pieces of lightly fried chicken in a tangy and mildly sweet, sour and spicy sauce… what’s not to like?

This is a sweet and sour chicken recipes I’ve been making for decades. There’s simply no need to try other recipes. This sweet and sour chicken just plain gets it!

It can be enjoyed simply with white basmati rice or jasmine rice for the perfect, quick meal that tastes just as good if not better than the Chinese takeaway.

sweet and sour chicken

About this sweet and sour chicken recipe.

Long before I ever got into cooking Indian food, the original focus of this blog, my passion was in Chinese, Thai and Mexican cooking. These were the cuisines that were most popular where I was growing up so I had to learn to make them.

This recipe was inspired by the food served at our local Chinese restaurant way back then and it’s still very popular with my family here in the UK. It’s easy to prepare and you really can’t go wrong. You really can prepare sweet and sour chicken just like you find at some of the best Chinese restaurants. This recipe is proof of that. 

How do you get the flavours just right?

This too is easy! You want to achieve a balance of mainly sweet and sour flavours which are all added to the sauce before it even hits your wok. In addition to sweet and sour, you are also aiming for the savoury and spicy flavours which compliment the dish.

This mildly spiced sweet and sour chicken gets its spiciness through fresh green chillies that are fried with other aromatics and can be adjusted to taste. When you prepare the sauce, try it cold before adding it to your wok. Ensure that you are happy with the amount of sweetness and sourness of the sauce before pouring it into your wok.

Adjusting the flavours before serving.

Once your sweet and sour chicken is about ready to serve, taste it again. Is it salty enough? If not, add more soy sauce. You can also adjust the sweetness by adding more sugar and a good squeeze of lemon or a little more vinegar will increase the tanginess. 

Can you work ahead?

Yes. Almost everything can be done ahead of cooking. You can prepare the sauce ingredients, slice the vegetables, even fry the chicken.

This is an easy dish. Prepare everything beforehand and it’s even easier. Just fry it all up in your wok and enjoy!

How long will sweet and sour chicken keep in the fridge?

This dish will keep in the fridge for at least 3 days. In fact, as it sits in the fridge, the flavours will develop and it will be even better than when you first made it.

To heat it up, simply bring it up to heat in a wok or pan and serve. You could also heat it up in your microwave.

Can you freeze this?

Yes. It freezes really well for up to 6 months. Just allow it to defrost completely and then heat it up in a wok, pan or your microwave.

Make this recipe your own…

I used ingredients I had on hand this time around. Feel free to use more veggies if you like. Baby sweetcorn, more bell peppers, onion, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms… All will taste good in this sweet and sour chicken.

What are the key ingredients in the sauce?

1.) Chicken stock: This is the base of the recipe. If time permits, you should prepare your own stock. Stock cubes can be used but the end result will not be as good. If you must resort to using stock cubes, try using Chinese stock cubes and not the western stock cubes available at most supermarkets.

2.) Sugar: The sweetness of the sauce is determined by how much sugar you use. You can follow the recipe exactly or add sugar to taste. There is also a nice bit of sweetness in the orange and pineapple juices which is of course, sugar.

3.) Vinegar and lemon juice: These add the sour flavour and should be added to taste.

4.) Chillies: The amount of chillies, chilli sauce and/or chilli paste you add is up to you and your own personal spice preferences.

Step by step photographs

Ingredients for sweet and sour chicken

Get all of your ingredients together before starting. There are a lot of them!

Whisking the marinade ingredients.

Whisk the egg white, Chinese rice wine, salt and cornflour (corn starch) until smooth.

Chicken marinating in a bowl.

Add the chicken to the marinade and allow to marinate while you prepare the rest of the recipe or overnight. The longer the better.

Stirring the sauce ingredients together.

Pour all or the marinade sauce ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. Taste and adjust.

Testing the heat of oil with a wooden chopstick.

Heat enough oil for deep frying in a wok. Your oil is hot enough for frying when thousands of little bubbles form around a wooden chopstick or spatula on contact.

Frying the marinated chicken.

Fry the marinated chicken for about 3 minutes or until about 80% cooked through. You might want to do this in batches to retain the oil heat.

Frying the aromatic ingredients.

Pour the oil out of your wok and then add 3 tbsp sesame oil. Fry the garlic, ginger, chillies and some of the spring onions for about a minute.

Frying onions and bell peppers with the aromatic ingredients.

Stir in the bell peppers and onion. You could also add other veggies if you like. Fry for a couple of minutes.

Stirring in the prepared sweet and sour sauce.

Add the prepared sweet and sour sauce to the wok and bring to a simmer.

Adding the slurry to the sauce to thicken it.

Let the sauce simmer for a couple of minutes but not too much as you don’t want to overcook the veg. Then slowly stir in the slurry to thicken the sauce.

Adding the fried chicken to the sauce.

Add the fried chicken and stir it into the sauce.

The finished sweet and sour chicken.

When the sauce is thickened and tastes to your liking, serve it up! The chicken gets so tender cooked this way.

sweet and sour chicken served up.


Yield: 4 - 6

Chinese Sweet & Sour Chicken

sweet and sour chicken
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour


  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 tablespoon cornflour
  • 1 ½ tablespoons dry sherry or Chinese rice wine
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 700g (1 ½ lbs) chicken breast cut into 2.5cm (1 inch) cubes
  • Oil for deep frying
  • 65g ( ½ cup) cornflour
  • 250ml (1 cups) Chinese Chicken Stock or shop bought chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp Chinese hot sauce or Chinese chilli paste
  • 25g (1/8 cup) caster sugar
  • 35ml (1/8 cup) cider vinegar
  • 35ml 1/8 cup) pineapple juice
  • Juice of two oranges
  • Juice of two lemons
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 tbsp dark sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped ginger
  • 5 spring onions – roughly chopped
  • 1 fat red chilli pepper – thinly sliced
  • 1 red capsicum (bell pepper) cut into 2.5cm (1 inch) squares
  • 1 green capsicum (bell pepper) cut into 2.5cm (1 inch) squares
  • 1 medium onion cut and divided into 2.5cm (1 inch) squares
  • 1 tablespoon cornflour mixed well with about two tablespoon water or cold stock


  1. Start by whisking the egg white, cornflour, sherry and salt together until it is creamy smooth.
  2. Coat the chicken with this marinade and allow to marinate while you prepare the rest of the dish or up to 24 hours. The longer the better.
  3. When ready to cook, heat about 10cm (4 inches) of rapeseed oil in a large wok. The oil is ready when a piece of spring onion sizzles quickly when you toss it in the oil.
  4. Working in batches, remove as much of the marinade from the chicken pieces as you can and then roll them in the cornflour. Shake to discard any excess flour. This step is optional and I left it out this time. Doing this will achieve a crispier coating.
  5. Slowly lower each piece of chicken into the oil and fry for about two minutes. The chicken should be 80% to 90% cooked but still pink in the middle.
  6. Transfer the chicken pieces from the oil to paper kitchen towels to soak up the excess oil.
  7. Mix the sauce ingredients together. All of this and the vegetable preparation can be done a day in advance if you are pressed for time.
  8. Now heat the sesame oil over high heat in a wok and add the garlic, ginger, chillies and spring onions. Let these sizzle in the hot oil while stirring continuously.
  9. After about two minutes, add the bell pepper and onion pieces and fry for a further couple of minutes.
  10. Pour in the sauce and bring to a rolling simmer and then add the par-cooked chicken pieces.
  11. Stir in the cornflour mixture and stir. This will bring a nice shine to the sauce and also thicken it.
  12. When the chicken is cooked through, check for seasoning, adding salt or more soy sauce, if necessary and serve. This goes so well with plain white rice.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 512Total Fat: 28gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 20gCholesterol: 65mgSodium: 2337mgCarbohydrates: 42gFiber: 4gSugar: 24gProtein: 17g

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Wednesday 18th of October 2023

Could you Airfry the chicken instead of deep frying it? Trying to cut back on calories 😊

Dan Toombs

Thursday 19th of October 2023

You would have to adapt the recipe quite a bit I think. I haven’t tried but let me know if it works. Thanks Dan

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