A little sweet, a little tangy, and an all-around delight, Sweet and Sour Chicken is the kind of dinner company you want at your table.

a plate of sweet and sour chicken stir fry with rice

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Sweet and sour chicken is a homemade riff on the Chinese-American take-out favorite.

  • Like its takeout cousins Healthy Orange Chicken and General Tso Chicken, sweet and sour chicken is made of pieces of crispy chicken thighs or breasts, tossed in a sticky, sweet sauce.
  • The sauce has both more vinegar (the sour) and more sugar (the sweet) than either orange chicken or General Tso, and it features the addition of pineapples, bell peppers, and onion.
a skillet with chinese sweet and sour chicken

With the right ingredients, stir fry recipes make stellar all-in-one meals, because they provide servings of protein and vegetables (and here even fruit!) in a single skillet.

The hang-up is that many takeout-style stir fries (like most other recipes for Bourbon Chicken) are high in sugar.

  • Many “from scratch” versions of sweet and sour chicken I saw called for ketchup (which contains a good amount of sugar) and brown sugar in the sauce.
  • When I’m cooking for myself, I prefer to keep the ingredients simple and nutritious…all without losing the pleasure and spirit that is a yummy bowl of sweet and sour chicken, of course!

That’s where this healthy sweet and sour chicken with pineapple comes in.

It’s still sweet and sticky but uses better-for-you ingredients where possible.

a close up shot of sweet and sour chicken with pineapple

How to Make Sweet and Sour Chicken

This easy, from-scratch sweet and sour sauce is made with rice vinegar, soy sauce, honey, and a little tomato paste (my trick to making it without ketchup), plus garlic and ginger to give it plenty of fresh flavor.

You can stick to the traditional sweet and sour vegetables (bell pepper, onion, and pineapple), or mix it up by adding any vegetables that are in season or that you have on hand. (Is it summer? Try Zucchini Stir Fry.)


The Ingredients

  • Chicken. Whether you choose to make sweet and sour chicken breasts or thighs, the meat will be deliciously tender and coated in the flavorful sauce. Chicken is a wonderful lean protein to use for recipes like this.
  • Sweet and Sour Chicken Marinade. Rice vinegar, soy sauce, salt, and pepper help flavor and tenderize the chicken. Cornstarch creates a crispy sweet and sour chicken crust that mimics your favorite takeout fried sweet and sour chicken.
  • Pineapple. One of the sweet components in the dish. Be sure to look for canned pineapple in 100% juice (we’ll be using both the juice and the chunks).
  • Rice Vinegar. Rice vinegar is the sour component in the dish. It has a slight sweetness that makes it a good choice for this recipe.
  • Honey. Sweet and sour chicken is healthy when you use lightened-up swaps like honey in moderation.
  • Tomato Paste. Gives the sauce body without the need for ketchup.
  • Soy Sauce. For that must-have umami goodness.
  • Sambal Oelek. Also known as garlic chili paste, this ingredient adds spice and a touch of acidity.
  • Cornstarch. Helps thicken the sauce so it’s luscious and delicious.
  • Allspice. Although Chinese 5 spice powder is more traditional for sweet and sour chicken, it’s not an ingredient many in the U.S. regularly stock. Allspice is a decent five spice substitution. If you have five spice powder on hand, absolutely feel free to use it here.
  • Veggies. Bell peppers and onion are scrumptious vegetables to use in this dish. They add color, nutrition, and crunch.

The Directions

  1. Whisk the marinade ingredients together.
Raw chicken meat in a bowl sliced
  1. Add the chicken and let marinate for at least 15 minutes.
Sauce being whisked in a bowl
  1. Stir the sauce ingredients together. Prep the veggies and pineapple.
Diced chicken being cooked in a skillet
  1. Stir fry the chicken in oil. Remove it to a plate.
Vegetables in a skillet
  1. Cook the vegetables and pineapple. Return the chicken to the skillet, pouring the sauce over the top. Stir and let cook until the sauce has thickened. ENJOY!
sweet and sour chicken stir fry on a white plate with rice and sweet and sour sauce

Storage Tips

  • To Store. Refrigerate chicken in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days. 
  • To Reheat. Rewarm leftovers in a skillet on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave. 
  • To Freeze. Freeze chicken in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

Meal Prep Tip

Up to 1 day in advance, cut the chicken into pieces and add them to the marinade mixture. Refrigerate the mixture until you’re ready to finish the recipe. Chop the veggies and refrigerate them as well.

Leftover Ideas

Take inspiration from my Asian Lettuce Wraps, and tuck leftovers into lettuce leaves for a light and healthy meal.

What to Serve with Sweet and Sour Chicken

Sweet and sour chicken with vegetables and rice

Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe

The Best Non-Stick Skillet

This set of skillets is worth the investment. They work like a dream, clean up easily, and can even be used in the oven.

a plate of sweet and sour chicken stir fry with rice

Did you make this recipe?

Let me know what you thought!

Leave a rating below in the comments and let me know how you liked the recipe.

Whether you’re feeling sweet or sour when dinner rolls around, this easy, healthy sweet and sour chicken is a mood booster, guaranteed!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Make this in a Crock Pot?

While I don’t recommend making this specific recipe in a slow cooker, you can follow my Crockpot Sweet and Sour Chicken recipe instead.

Could I Swap Pork for the Chicken?

Certainly! I would suggest pork tenderloin if you’d like sweet and sour pork (Pork fans, don’t miss my Pork Fried Rice too.)

Is Sweet and Sour Chicken the Same as Orange Chicken?

No, sweet and sour chicken is not the same as orange chicken. While the two dishes share some similar ingredients and flavors, orange chicken usually ends up tasting sweeter, because it does not have the acidic component that sweet and sour chicken does.
If you’d like to try an orange chicken recipe instead, don’t miss my Crockpot Orange Chicken and Orange Chicken Marinade.

sweet and sour chicken stir fry on a white plate with rice and sweet and sour sauce

Sweet and Sour Chicken

5 from 4 votes
Sweet and sour chicken with pineapple, peppers, and onion. An easy, healthy homemade version of the crispy sweet and sour chicken you love!

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 30 mins

Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients
  

FOR THE CHICKEN AND MARINADE:

  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

FOR THE SWEET AND SOUR SAUCE:

  • Juice from 1 (15-ounce) can pineapple in 100% pure juice about 1/2 cup, use the pineapple chunks for the stir fry
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic about 3 cloves
  • 1/2 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons sambal oelek (garlic chili paste) plus additional to taste
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice or 1/4 teaspoon Chinese 5 spice powder

FOR STIR FRYING & SERVING:

  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 orange or yellow bell pepper
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Pineapple chunks from 1 (15-ounce) can pineapple use the juice for the sauce
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil or grapeseed oil divided, or another neutral, high smoke point cooking oil
  • Cooked brown rice for serving
  • Chopped green onion optional for serving

Instructions
 

  • Prepare the chicken and marinade: In a medium bowl, whisk together the rice vinegar, soy sauce, cornstarch, salt, and pepper.
  • Add the chicken and stir to evenly combine. Let marinate for at least 15 minutes while you prep the rest of the recipe or (in an ideal world where time allows) refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight. Let come to room temperature prior to proceeding with the recipe.
  • While the chicken marinades, prepare the sweet and sour sauce: In a large bowl, combine the pineapple juice, rice vinegar, honey, tomato paste, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, sambal oelek, cornstarch, and allspice. Stir until evenly combined.
  • Prep the veggies: core the bell peppers and cut into 1-inch chunks. Cut the yellow onion into 1-inch chunks. Drain any extra juice away from the canned pineapple chunks.
  • When ready to stir fry, heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in a large, sturdy nonstick skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Scatter on the chicken pieces in a single layer (discard any excess marinade). Stir fry until the chicken is cooked through, about 4 to 6 minutes. Remove to a plate.
  • Add the remaining 1 tablespoon canola oil and increase the heat to high. Once the oil is very hot and shimmering, add the bell peppers, onion, and pineapple. Stir fry until the vegetables are crisp-tender and lightly charred in a few places, about 7 minutes. Sure periodically, but don’t disturb the vegetables too much so that they brown.
  • Reduce the heat to medium high. Return the chicken to the skillet along with any juices that have collected. Pour the sauce over the top, then stir to coat the vegetables and chicken. Let cook until the sauce is thickened and glossy and everything looks saucy and delicious. Serve over brown rice with a generous amount of the sauce and sprinkled with green onion.

Notes

  • TO STORE: Refrigerate chicken in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days. 
  • TO REHEAT: Rewarm leftovers in a skillet on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave. 
  • TO FREEZE: Freeze chicken in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

Nutrition

Serving: 1(of 4), without riceCalories: 568kcalCarbohydrates: 41gProtein: 30gFat: 32gSaturated Fat: 8gPolyunsaturated Fat: 7gMonounsaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 167mgPotassium: 723mgFiber: 3gSugar: 32gVitamin A: 2111IUVitamin C: 89mgCalcium: 50mgIron: 2mg

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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63 Comments

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  1. I’m ALL for a 30 minute meal with a little Asian flair…that’s a fav around these parts! I’m totally intrigued by these cubes! Cooking just got easier! Pinned

  2. What’s creepy is now I’m pretty sure that we live in the same house and have just been missing each other. You pretty much described my fridge to a T. #foodbloggerproblems. My husband cleaned it out yesterday because I can’t handle the guilt of throwing things away. Now I can use this AWESOME recipe for the rogue veggies!! Pinned!

  3. Erin, this looks AMAZING!!! And I can totally relate about the fridge contents…you had me at 17 different kinds of mustard…I have the EXACT same problem. I think last week I was counting and I came up with 9 different ones we have, my husband who knows about my mustard obsession had sweetly bought me a grainy brown mustard only to find that we had one opened and one sealed one…not including the one he had just bought…of the EXACT same kind haha. But really, I need to make this recipe asap!

    1. Hahahahaha. Oh I have been there. I do that with spices too! We have about 3 jars of smoked paprika right now. Whoops!

  4. YES, always random amounts of vegetables! Stir fry is just the perfect way to use them up! Love the combination of flavors, Erin! Loving the peanuts too, I always seem to want some kind of nut in all my stir fry dishes :D

  5. My husband would LOVE this! I may have to give it a try one night this week :) Thank you!

  6. Girl, we are on the same wavelength. On everything but the pickles…just can’t get into them. I recently made an Asian inspired pasta dish for the exact same reason. All those dang half used veggies. Glad I have another recipe to use in the fight against the rotting produce drawer!

    P.S. I love your style of writing. Seriously, you’re a great story teller Erin!

  7. What a great way to eliminate fridge guilt and put those veggies to good use! This sounds perfect and I think I’d feel like I was at a restaurant :)

  8. This is such a great use of leftovers. That peanut chicken sounds delicious! PS- I’m a heavy cream for life girl too, haha!

  9. Love the description of your fridge. So true. And dorot stuff is great! Love how you used it! This looks so tasty! Pinning this one! :)

  10. Oh you mean I’m not the only one with 10 half full different types of milk…no way! hahaha

  11. Hahaha you so just described my fridge as well. I actually went about cleaning part of it out yesterday. It was pretty scary!

    Loving this dish! I’ve yet to try the dorot products yet but have been hearing great things!

  12. hah! You always crack me up. You know I’m going straight for your fridge the minute I get to your house, right? I’m hoping for leftover pie!

    Lovely photo!!!

  13. Hahahaha “heavy cream (for life)” Oh dear…I don’t have any “heavy cream” what does that say???
    :)
    Erin – I am not a huge fan of spaghetti (yes, I know I have issues!) BUT – covered in rice vinegar, sesame oil and soy sauce along with Dorots flavorings and chili flakes …oooh I think I could eat myself out of a pool of it!

  14. So, turns out we have the exact same fridge line up! Adding this my dinner line up this week….sounds delish!

  15. These kinds of meals are my favorite! I love it when I can clean out a bunch of stuff from the fridge and still feel really great about dinner. Love that first picture by the way!

  16. i can so relate to your fridge situation! this sounds like a great dinner to remedy all the leftovers. and it’s quick too? double bonus!

  17. Your fridge situation is a lot like mine (especially all the milks/creams… it’s ridiculous). And I’ve got plenty o’ veg to use up in this yummy yum dish!

  18. Let’s talk about how my tiny fridge is overrun with various condiments because Alex can’t go to the Jewel without coming home with a new type of mustard/pickle/bbq sauce situation. He NEEDS THEM ALL. I suppose I need all of the milks and butters so…there’s that.

    What I REALLY need is some of those handy flavor cubes! Toss those over, it’s dinner in a jiffy!

  19. My X-mas card covered fridge always is stocked with hot and sour sauce. Why have I never made a peanut chicken with it? I’m such a loser.

  20. Who says you don’t need 17 mustards!?! Wouldn’t know it by looking at my fridge door. Guilty! Hot and sour anything is a favorite around here – this would be the perfect dinner! Love those little cubes (and love cutting down on prep work)!

  21. Ooh, I love these kinds of noodle dishes, Erin. This reminds me of Indonesian mee goreng. I bet the peanuts in particular make this super tasty!

  22. Orphaned veggies with love from your fridge? Yes, please! I must say…your fridge sounds just like mine with all kinds of milk from almond milk and buttermilk to light cream to heavy cream…including coconut milk chilling for whipped coconut cream. We won’t get into exploding pantry talk, now, shall we? ;) Gorgeous photos and I love your writing style! Thank you for stopping by my blog today, Erin. I’m so glad to have found yours. Now following you via Bloglovin’ so I don’t miss a post!

  23. I looove stir fries!
    There was a time when I had a stir fry almost every night – no joke. It was always so simple and affordable it became my go-to student meal.

    {Teffy’s Perks} X

  24. I just did a mini refridgerator clean out last night and you listing what was in your fridge made me realize how much more I have left to do. But, I’m more excited than discouraged, because I have almost everything in my fridge and pantry for this recipe! I love your photos and would love to talk more on how your photograph your images. I’m trying to step up my food photography game.

  25. haha we have three different brands of sriracha, at least two jars of peanut butter and plenty of almond butter in our fridge at all times. And usually two kinds of mustard.

    Love this recipe! So many good things in one dish!

  26. Hehe,your fridge sounds like ours :) I totally love these dishes that you can use up all of those veggies giving you the stink eye – these noodles are the perfect way to use up leftovers and the flavors sound awesome!

  27. Your fridge sounds similar to ours, especially with the million mustards and dessert with fork marks in it. I always have randoms leftover vegetables begging to be used and this stir fry looks like the perfect way to use them! Looks delicious!

  28. Noodles!!! I love that this recipe basically cleans out the fridge. My fridge could definitely use a good cleaning. Love this! Pinned.

  29. I so wish I had had this for lunch! I recently joined the savory asian peanut butter and have never looked back! And yes, my fridge is cousins with your fridge :) they sound very similar!

  30. I love dishes like this because I always end up with all sorts of veggies needing to be used! This looks delicious!

  31. I found this recipe through Pinterest. I must find some of those frozen cubes. Thanks for the tip about the product. And, this recipe looks great.5 stars

  32. These Dorot products Erin where can I find them to help me cut time in the kitchen as well? Are they American product or international some sort?

    1. Hi Peter! You can actually find resources for where to find the products on Dorot’s webpage. I think it’s only the US, but feel free to type in your address and see what you can find out. They really are time-saving, which I love.
      http://www.mydorot.com/?pg=stores

  33. HI Erin 1 more question, about this Dorot product. I located where I can purchase them ,pray to God that they really have them. Now are these frozen or what Isle should I look for them or ask?

    1. Hi Peter! You’ll find Dorot in the freezer section of some grocery stores. I have seen them at Trader Joe’s. Another option is that you can substitute fresh ingredients. I’ve listed measurements in the ingredient list, so you can definitely still make this stir fry.

  34. Really yummy! I used about one and a half sweet peppers (red and orange for color), an 8 oz package of bean sprouts, 2 spiralized zucchini, and about 3 cups of chopped broccoli in addition to the cabbage for the veggies. I also used high protein edamame pasta (24 grams of protein in 2 ounces!), doubled the garlic and ginger and red pepper flakes and used 2 heaping teaspoons of red chili sauce because I didn’t have an actual chili pepper. Delicious! (Ours came out slightly soupy but that was actually really nice.)The next day I drained any excess liquid, reheated the second two portions, topped them with two fried eggs each and enjoyed a great brunch:)5 stars

  35. Thanks for sharing this recipe. I had a ton of fresh veggies and chicken on hand, but no desire to cook. Then, went to your website for some inspiration and found this little number. It was delicious! My husband asked if we could have it again.5 stars

  36. Hi Erin I just started prepping ingredients to make this and the whole recipe changed on the site! It was completely different before…said hot and sour noodle stir fry with peanut chicken. Do you know what happened?

    1. Hi Cecilia! Yes, you just happened to be on the site when we published an update to the blog post!

  37. Wow, this truly worked. I used tofu (extra firm, pressed, boiled for a bit and cubed), and that worked fine. The sauce was clean, multitude of distinct flavors. How wonderful cooking can be when you have a top-grade recipe. And no, she didn’t pay me to write this. Just a bachelor learning to cook. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!5 stars