You’ll find tender chunks of chicken, juicy pineapple, crisp bell pepper and onion, and a tangy sauce in this easy sweet and sour chicken recipe. Much healthier than restaurant versions, you can have this stir fry dinner on the table in 30 minutes. 

Overhead view of sweet and sour chicken in a silver wok. Plates of rice are also pictured, as well as a small bowl of chopped green onions.

Loving Chinese take out? Did you know that it’s easy to make your own sweet and sour chicken? In just 30 minutes, you can have your own Chinese restaurant style sweet and sour chicken on the table. I bet you can hardly get take out that fast!

Homemade sweet and sour chicken is so much better for you, too! Why? Well, two reasons mostly: the chicken isn’t deep-fried, and the sauce is made from real ingredients like pineapple juice, grated fresh ginger, and soy sauce, with no added color. 

I just know you’re going to love this recipe! And since you’re making it yourself, you can make it just the way you like. Add more veggies, like broccoli, mushrooms, or pea pods!  Use chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts! Or make your stir fry with shrimp or tofu instead! Why let the Chinese restaurant chefs have all the fun?!

Two plates of sweet and sour chicken on rice, next to a partially visible wok with additional chicken and vegetables in it.

About Sweet and Sour Chicken Stir Fry

You’ll want to get your rice cooking first if you intend to serve your sweet and sour chicken with rice. I love it with jasmine rice but brown rice is so good, too. 

This stir fry recipe begins with a simple sauce made with pineapple juice (from the can of pineapple you’ll be adding later), rice vinegar, soy sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, and fresh ginger. The sauce is thickened with a little cornstarch. Just stir the ingredients in a small bowl or measuring cup and set it aside. You’ll be adding it to the pan later.

You’ll want to get all your ingredients chopped and ready to go. Once you have your pan/wok heated up, things go pretty fast. Get the chicken cut up into bite sized pieces and toss the pieces with salt, pepper, and cornstarch.

Why cornstarch? The cornstarch helps seal in the juices of the chicken, aids in browning, and will thicken the sauce up a bit.

Next up are bell peppers, cut into one inch chunks, and an onion. Use whatever color peppers or onions you have on hand. You could also add broccoli, mushrooms, pea pods, or carrots. 

Heat your wok or a large skillet over medium high heat. Add a little oil and get ready for action! Stir fry the chicken until it’s nearly done, about 5 minutes, remove it from the pan, keeping the heat on. Add the veggies, and stir fry those another 5 minutes. Put the chicken back in the pan, add the pineapple chunks, and the sauce. Heat and stir until the sauce thickens, another few minutes. Wow, you’re done! Dinner is ready! Wasn’t that fun?!

Close up view of chicken stir fry with pineapple, bell peppers, and onions in a wok.

Make your own chicken stir fry:

Like I mention above, you’re the chef so you can add whatever you like to this versatile stir fry. 

  • In addition to (or in place of)  bell peppers, you could add veggies like broccoli, pea pods, mushrooms, carrots, celery, egg plant, or whatever you like best.
  • Replace the chicken breast with boneless skinless chicken thighs, or shrimp. Shrimp will cook even faster than the chicken. For vegetarians, cubed extra firm tofu would be perfect.
  • Adjust the sweetness/tanginess of the sauce by tweaking the vinegar and sugar ratio. Or use a jar of sauce purchased from the grocery store.
  • Make it hot! Add a 1/2 teaspoon of dried red pepper flakes.

A gray plate filled with white rice, chicken, bell peppers, pineapple, onions. It is garnished with chopped green onions.

Leftovers?

Any leftover sweet and sour chicken can be stored in the fridge in an air tight container for up to three days. Reheat gently in the microwave.

Chicken stir fry with sweet and sour sauce, pineapple, bell peppers, and onions in a wok.

Feeling inspired by this recipe?

Try some of these other Asian style recipes:

 

 

Sweet and sour chicken on top of rice on a grey toned plate with a fork.

Close up view of chicken stir fry with pineapple, bell peppers, and onions in a wok.

Sweet and Sour Chicken Stir Fry

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

You'll find tender chunks of chicken, juicy pineapple, crisp bell pepper and onion, and a tangy sauce in this easy sweet and sour chicken recipe. Much healthier than restaurant versions, you can have this stir fry dinner on the table in 30 minutes. 

Ingredients

For the sauce:

  • 1 can (20 oz.) pineapple chunks, drained with ¾ cup of the juice reserved
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce (reduced sodium)
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger

For the stir fry:

  • 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast cut into 1-2” pieces
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 yellow onion, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • Sesame seeds or green onions for garnishing
  • rice for serving

Instructions

  1. Prepare sauce by mixing together pineapple juice, vinegar, soy sauce, 4 teaspoons cornstarch, ketchup, and ginger in small bowl or measuring cup.
  2. Toss chicken with 2 teaspoons of cornstarch, and salt and pepper to taste.
  3. In a large non-stick skillet or wok, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until browned and nearly done, about 5 minutes; remove from pan and  transfer to a plate.
  4. Add bell pepper and onions to pan; stir fry until tender, about five minutes. Stir in the pineapple chunks and chicken.
  5. Add sauce mixture to pan; cook, stirring frequently, until the sauce has thickened and the chicken is thoroughly cooked, about 3 more minutes.
  6. Serve over rice; garnish with toasted sesame seeds or sliced green onions.

Notes

  • Feel free to add additional vegetables!

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1 of 6
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 381Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 120mgSodium: 690mgCarbohydrates: 24gFiber: 2gSugar: 10gProtein: 47g

RachelCooks.com sometimes provides nutritional information, but these figures should be considered estimates, as they are not calculated by a registered dietitian. Please consult a medical professional for any specific nutrition, diet, or allergy advice.

Did you make this recipe?

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Verdict: This sweet and sour chicken is good and so simple! It’s in my regular rotation. 
Husband’s take: He really likes it. He actually said he liked it better than my “regular” stir-fry. 
Changes I would make: I like to add more veggies.
Difficulty: Easy!