Easy 15-Minute 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!

Easy 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.

It’s 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.

How to Make Sweet and Sour Chicken

You’ll first need to make the sweet and sour chicken sauce, which 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. 

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. Let that bubble away for a few minutes until it thickens up. 

Once the sauce is done, 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. 

Fry the chicken in a skillet with a few tablespoons of olive oil (no need to deep fry!). 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 like the contrasting textures! 

Tips for the Best Sweet and Sour Chicken

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.

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. 

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. 

More Chinese Chicken 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!
  • Slow Cooker Orange Chicken – The easiest orange chicken ever because your slow cooker does all the work! Super juicy, tender, and coated with a sweet-yet-tangy orange glaze that’s irresistible!
  • 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!
  • Chinese Chicken Pasta Salad – Big juicy chicken chunks and texture galore from the rainbow of crispy veggies! Fast, easy, fresh and healthy! Great for picnics, potlucks, and easy dinners!
  • 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!!

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!
Yield: 3 to 4 servings
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes

Ingredients

Sauce

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 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

  1. To a medium saucepan, add all ingredients except water and cornstarch, whisk to combine, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  2. To a small bowl, add the water, cornstarch, and stir to combine.
  3. 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 

  1. To a large ziptop bag, add the chicken, cornstarch, salt and pepper to taste, seal, and shake to coat chicken evenly.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 612 Total Fat: 23g Saturated Fat: 4g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 18g Cholesterol: 120mg Sodium: 582mg Carbohydrates: 54g Fiber: 1g Sugar: 44g Protein: 45g

Even More Asian Recipes: 

My Favorite Easy Chicken Recipes are ALL HERE

Slow Cooker Thai Peanut Chicken –  The easiest peanut chicken ever and your slow cooker does all the work! Topped with crunchy peanuts, cilantro, green onions, and the peanut sauce is irresistible!

Thai Coconut Chicken Stir Fry – Chicken, sugar snap peas, bell peppers, and carrots simmered in a rich coconut milk broth that’s irresistible! Layers of flavor, easy, ready in 20 minutes, and healthy!

Orange Teriyaki Pork Tenderloin – An orange-scented teriyaki sauce keeps the pork so tender, juicy, and flavorful! Easy, one-skillet recipe that’s ready in 20 minutes and healthy! Under 250 calories with 25 grams of protein!

P.F. Chang’s Mongolian Beef (Copycat Recipe) — Make the restaurant favorite at home in 20 minutes! Easy and it has so much flavor! Tastes even better than the restaurant version!

Peanut Chicken with Peanut Noodles – Easy, ready in 20 minutes, tastes better, and way healthier than takeout! Peanut sauce automatically makes everything taste amazing!

Chicken Teriyaki and Vegetable Bowtie Pasta – Juicy chicken coated in teriyaki sauce with crisp, crunchy veggies! Healthy, easy, 20 minute meal that’s perfect for busy weeknights!