Easy 15-Minute Sweet and Sour Chicken

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Easy Sweet and Sour Chicken — This sweet and sour chicken recipe takes just 15 minutes to make and tastes way better than takeout. Perfect for a weeknight dinner!

Chinese Sweet and Sour Chicken — This sweet and sour chicken recipe takes just 15 minutes to make and tastes way better than takeout. Perfect for a weeknight dinner!

Easy Recipe for Sweet and Sour Chicken 

I’m all about a 15-minute dinner. Especially when it tastes better than what I’d get in a restaurant, it’s healthier, less expensive, and faster than calling for takeout. Score on all fronts.

This recipe features a simple sweet and sour sauce that’s packed with the perfect balance of sweet yet sour Asian flavors. Soy, sesame, garlic, and more.

The homemade sweet and sour sauce coats the chicken beautifully and really makes this dish what it is. You’ll likely have extra, which I could eat by the spoonful. It’s great over rice or veggies.

Before cooking the chicken it’s tossed with cornstarch, which helps keep it moist, tender, juicy, and provides a very lightly ‘breaded’ exterior without actually breading it.

The flavor profile reminds me of Slow Cooker Hawaiian Chicken with Pineapple and Sweet and Sour Asian Noodles. Serve it with rice and you’re set.

Chinese Sweet and Sour Chicken — This sweet and sour chicken recipe takes just 15 minutes to make and tastes way better than takeout. Perfect for a weeknight dinner!

Sweet and Sour Chicken Ingredients

For both the chicken and the homemade sweet and sour sauce, you’ll need the following:

Sweet and Sour Sauce

  • Granulated sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Apple cider vinegar 
  • Ketchup
  • Low-sodium soy sauce
  • Sesame oil
  • Garlic
  • Cornstarch

Chicken

  • Chicken breasts
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cornstarch
  • Green onions (optional, for serving)
  • Sesame seeds (optional, for serving)

Note: Scroll down to the recipe card section of the post for the ingredients with amounts included and for more complete directions.

Easy 15-Minute Sweet and Sour Chicken - Faster, easier, healthier, and tastes BETTER than takeout or a restaurant!! Perfect balance of sweet yet sour Asian flavors that the whole family will LOVE!!

How to Make Sweet and Sour Chicken

Making homemade sweet and sour chicken is so much easier than you may think! If serving with rice, be sure to get it started first so it’s done by the time the chicken is ready to eat.  

  1. Make the sweet and sour sauce: It consists of sugar, apple cider vinegar, ketchup, soy sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar, garlic, corn starch, and water. Add everything but the water and cornstarch to a saucepan. 
  2. Bring the sauce to a boil, then combine the water and cornstarch in a separate bowl before adding it to the homemade sweet and sour sauce.
  3. Let that bubble away for a few minutes until it thickens up. 
  4. Make the chicken: Add the diced chicken into a baggie with the cornstarch, salt, and pepper and give it a good shake to coat the chicken pieces fully. 
  5. Fry the chicken in a skillet with a few tablespoons of olive oil (no need to deep fry!).
  6. Once the chicken is cooked, stir in the sweet and sour sauce and continue cooking until the chicken is coated in sauce and heated through. 

I like to serve my homemade sweet and sour chicken with rice and sprinkle chopped scallions and sesame seeds on top. I adore the contrasting textures! 

https://www.averiecooks.com/easy-15-minute-sweet-sour-chicken/

Recipe FAQs

Can I Prep This Recipe in Advance? 

If desired, you could dice the chicken a day or two ahead of time and you can also whisk together the sweet and sour sauce beforehand. That way, all you have to do is quickly throw everything in a pan the day you plan on making the recipe. 

Can I Add Pineapple Chunks? 

I bet you could, although I prefer my chicken without pineapple.

If using canned pineapple, make sure it’s packed in water and not syrup. Drain well before adding to the skillet at the very end of the cook time. 

If using fresh pineapple, add to the skillet just before stirring in the sauce. You want the pineapple to heat through, but still retain some bite. 

Can I add vegetables?

If you want to make this Chinese sweet and sour chicken with veggies, like broccoli or sugar snap peas, add them after you add the sauce to the chicken and let them simmer in the sauce for a few minutes until they’re crisp tender.

Can I use chicken thighs?

This recipe calls for chicken breasts, but you could use thighs as well. You want boneless, skinless thighs though. I don’t recommend using bone-in chicken for this Chinese sweet and sour chicken recipe. 

How to reheat sweet and sour chicken

This chicken is best enjoyed right away, but it’ll last up to five days in the fridge. For the best leftovers, reheat the chicken in a skillet with a little oil instead of microwaving it. 

Chinese Sweet and Sour Chicken — This sweet and sour chicken recipe takes just 15 minutes to make and tastes way better than takeout. Perfect for a weeknight dinner!

What to Serve with Sweet and Sour Chicken 

Now that you know how easy this recipe for sweet and sour chicken is to make, it’s time to dish it up! Here are some great sides for sweet and sour chicken: 

Chinese Sweet and Sour Chicken — This sweet and sour chicken recipe takes just 15 minutes to make and tastes way better than takeout. Perfect for a weeknight dinner!

Storage Instructions 

The chicken will last up to five days in the fridge, but it’s best enjoyed fresh. I recommend storing the chicken and rice (if using) in separate containers so that the rice doesn’t become soggy. 

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4.51 from 547 votes

Easy Sweet and Sour Chicken

By Averie Sunshine
This sweet and sour chicken recipe takes just 15 minutes to make and tastes way better than takeout. Perfect for a weeknight dinner!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 3 to 4 servings
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Ingredients  

Sauce

  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar, packed
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

Chicken

  • about 1.25 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil, plus more if necessary
  • 2 green onions, sliced into thin rounds, optional for garnishing
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, optional for garnishing

Instructions 

Make the Sauce

  • To a medium saucepan, add all ingredients except water and cornstarch, whisk to combine, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  • To a small bowl, add the water, cornstarch, and stir to combine.
  • Add the water and cornstarch mixture to saucepan, reduce heat to low, and allow sauce to simmer for about 5 minutes while you make the chicken; whisk intermittently.

Make the Chicken 

  • To a large ziptop bag, add the chicken, cornstarch, salt and pepper to taste, seal, and shake to coat chicken evenly.
  • To a large skillet, add 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil, chicken, and cook over medium-high heat for about 5 to 7 minutes, or until chicken has cooked through. Stir and flip intermittently to ensure even cooking. If skillet seems dry while cooking, add an additional tablespoon or two of oil as necessary.
  • After chicken has cooked though, reduce heat to low, add the sauce, stir to coat evenly, and allow it to simmer for a minute or two.
  • Optionally garnish with green onions, sesame seeds, and serve immediately.

Notes

  • Chicken is best warm and fresh but will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Nutrition

Serving: 1, Calories: 612kcal, Carbohydrates: 54g, Protein: 45g, Fat: 23g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 18g, Cholesterol: 120mg, Sodium: 582mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 44g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

More Chinese Chicken Recipes: 

ALL OF MY ASIAN RECIPES! 

Better-Than-Takeout Cashew Chicken – Juicy chicken, crisp-tender vegetables, and crunchy cashews coated with the best garlicky soy sauce! Skip takeout and make your own restaurant-quality meal that’s easy, ready in 20 minutes, and healthier!

Easy Better-Than-Takeout Chicken Fried Rice – One-skillet, ready in 20 minutes, and you’ll never want takeout again after tasting how good homemade is! Way more flavor, not greasy, and loads of juicy chicken!

Healthy Sesame Chicken and Broccoli — Skip takeout and make this Asian favorite at home in just minutes!! So EASY and HEALTHIER than what you’d get in a restaurant but tastes just as AWESOME!!

Kung Pao Chicken Recipe — An easy, BETTER-THAN-TAKEOUT recipe with juicy chicken and such a flavorful sauce!! Don’t call for takeout when you can make this HEALTHIER version at home in 20 minutes!

Better-Than-Takeout Sticky Chicken — Stop calling for takeout or going to the mall food court and make this AMAZING sticky chicken at home in 15 minutes!! So EASY with the perfect balance of sweet and spicy with plenty of sticky sauce!! 

Healthier Orange Chicken — Stop calling for takeout or going to the mall food court and make this HEALTHIER orange chicken at home in less than 10 minutes!! EASY, authentic, and so INCREDIBLE that you’ll never miss the fat and calories!!

Chicken Chow Mein — Chewy chow mein noodles, crisp-tender veggies, and juicy chicken are stir-fried in a sesame-soy sauce! It’s a SIMPLE and FAST recipe that anyone can make.

Chicken Chow Mein — Chewy chow mein noodles, crisp-tender veggies, and juicy chicken are stir-fried in a sesame-soy sauce! It’s a SIMPLE and FAST recipe that anyone can make. It's cheaper than ordering take out, your family will be impressed, and you'll love how EASY it is to prepare!

Originally posted on January 18, 2017 and reposted on August 12, 2022 with updated text.

About the Author

Welcome to AverieCooks! Here you’ll find fast and easy recipes that taste amazing and are geared for real life. Nothing fussy or complicated, just awesome tasting dishes everyone loves!

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Please note: I have only made the recipe as written, and cannot give advice or predict what will happen if you change something. If you have a question regarding changing, altering, or making substitutions to the recipe, please check out the FAQ page for more info.

Recipe Rating




Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I feel I simply HAVE to share this one! So tasty and yummy and my favorite part is fast & easy! Can’t ask for any more! I give my kind thanks with full appreciation for you taking the time to share with others.

  2. 5 stars
    THIS is exactly how easy cooking should be! I stir fried some vegetables between Steps 2 & 3 of “Make The Chicken”, but the basic steps make this recipe a winner.

    Thanks!

    1. Thanks for the 5 star review, Steve, and I am glad this is a winner for you! My goal with my recipes is to make things quick, easy, and taste amazing and it’s great that it sounds like I delivered!

  3. 5 stars
    The sauce is very tasty. However, to reduce calories, I made about 1/3 of the recommended amount of sauce for about a pound of chicken. The other change that I made was to saute a red and green pepper and added it to the chicken and sauce. Really good!

  4. 5 stars
    There used to be a boxed meal that was sweet and sour chicken, easy for a weeknight. I can no longer find it, and my husband has been asking me to find a recipe to try to make homemade. This was Ahhhmazing!! We loved it, and it was so easy. Definitely won’t be missing the boxed stuff anymore!

  5. 5 stars
    There used to be a boxed meal that was sweet and sour chicken, easy for a weeknight. I can no longer find it, and my husband has been asking me to find a recipe to try to make homemade. This was Ahhhmazing!! We loved it, and it was so easy. Definitely won’t be missing the boxed stuff anymore!

  6. 5 stars
    Made this tonight just for myself. I did not have apple cider vinegar but used rice wine vinegar instead. Also I love chicken thighs use that instead of breast. Added bok choy to chicken and sauce. Used 90 second jasmine rice was so good
    Would make this again.

  7. 5 stars
    Made this tonight just for myself. I did not have apple cider vinegar but used rice wine vinegar instead. Also I love chicken thighs use that instead of breast. Added bok choy to chicken and sauce. Used 90 second jasmine rice was so good
    Would make this again.

    1. Thanks for the 5 star review and I’m glad that you were able to tweak this to your liking and I bet it was great with jasmine rice, too!