Sweet, sticky, easy to make, this Sweet and Sour Chicken Stir Fry is perfect to serve over rice or noodles and is kid-friendly as it is not spicy and made without deep-frying. The dish comes together in 30 minutes!
The dish is simple and can be made with fewer ingredients if you wish.
I have added the classics like bell peppers, pineapple, onion to the dish but you can also make it just with chicken on its own which will reduce the prep time even more!
It is for sure better than take-out, healthier, and you can control all the flavors and balance the sweetness if you like. This is not the typical battered deep-fried sweet and sour chicken but a lighter version and quicker.
The chicken pieces are mixed in cornstarch which adds a unique and delicate tenderness to the chicken and makes it really juicy when simmered in sauce.
Why It's Yummy
- Tender chicken bites - delicious, tender and juicy chicken pieces covered lightly in cornstarch.
- Kid-friendly - the only spiciness that dish gets is from added ginger, otherwise, it has a classical sweet and sour flavor that some kids love to eat too.
- Easy One-Pot Meal - Stir in the kitchen rice or noodles for a quick solution for a busy weeknight dinner!
- Perfectly balanced sweet and sour flavors + easily customizable by adding less or more sugar to the sauce. Taste test when simmering the sauce.
- If you like Asian-style recipes be sure to check out my best takeout copycat recipe for Teriyaki Chicken and Broccoli bowls, the best gluten-free noodle alternative made with soba noodles, my Soba Noodles Stir Fry, and readers' popular Chicken Lo Mein, Napa Cabbage Stir Fry.
Chicken Breasts - use boneless, skinless chicken breasts or alternatively, chicken thighs will work too. Just more prep on your side and smaller strips/chunks.
Cornstarch - makes the chicken extra tender and thickens the sauce.
Ketchup - you can also use tomato paste but the flavor will be different. You might need to add extra sugar to balance it off.
Vinegar - you can use both White Vinegar or Apple Cider Vinegar
Gluten-free Soy Sauce - makes the sweet and sour sauce taste as it should be! Use the low sodium option.
Sweet and Sour sauce. In a small saucepan over medium heat add oil and saute garlic and ginger for about 1 minute.
Stir in sugar, vinegar, ketchup, soy sauce. Simmer until sugar dissolves.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk together cornstarch and water and pour the mixture into the saucepan.
Simmer on low heat for 10 minutes until the sweet and sour sauce starts thickening. Set aside.
Chicken prep. In a medium bowl add chicken, season with salt and pepper and stir in the cornstarch.
Make sure all the chicken pieces are covered in cornstarch. Set aside.
Cook. In a large skillet or wok over medium to high heat add 2-3 tablespoon of vegetable oil and cook the chicken until golden brown on all sides (about 3-4 minutes.)
Remove from pan and set aside in a plate lined with a paper towel.
In the same skillet add vegetables, cook for a few minutes until they get almost tender, and throw in the pineapple.
Stir well and return chicken to the pan, pour the sauce on top.
Stir and simmer for 1-2 minutes. Taste the sauce for seasoning, add salt and pepper if needed.
Serve with scallions, sesame seeds and rice, noodles or other favorite side.
- Make it spicy - the sweet and sour chicken has ginger in the mix which may add a little spicy flavor to it, but I also prefer adding chili flakes or thinly sliced hot peppers in the sauce or on top of the finished dish when serving.
- Sweet and sour sauce - The dish has plenty of sauce to pour on your side dish later as well. I just like my sauces this way! One more thing to note: when the cornstarch is added, the sauce turns very light and pale in color, which is normal, after simmering for a while it will start thickening and hence will change the color to red-orange.
- Pineapple - canned or fresh. is totally optional, and adds extra sweetness to the dish. You can also leave the bell peppers out and make the sweet and sour chicken just with onion and chicken too.
- Fresh produce - Use fresh bell peppers and pineapple if possible.
Sweet and Sour Chicken is a great dish to freeze, it remains very delicious after thawing.
Just let the stir-fry cool completely before freezing and then transfer to a freezer bag or airtight glass container (freezer-safe). Thaw in the fridge or room temperature and reheat in the skillet over the stovetop.
However, on this note, pineapple may not retain the same flavor and texture after thawing. If you add pineapples here, prepare as much as you will consume or remove the chunks before thawing and add fresh ones when reheating.
You can easily make this a one-pot meal by stirring in any type of GF pasta or noodles, brown or white rice, cauliflower rice, or bulgur (make sure it's gluten-free). Depending on the amount of noodles or rice you'll be adding, make sure to prep some extra sauce to be on the safe side.
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Easy Asian Style Recipes
ALL Dinner recipes.
Easy Sweet And Sour Chicken Stir Fry
- 2 large chicken breasts (medium chunks, or cubed)
- 3 tablespoon cornstarch
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 small bell pepper (yellow, cut into 1 ½ inch chunks)
- 1 small bell pepper (red, cut into 1 ½ inch chunks)
- 1 medium yellow/brown onion (cut into 1 ½ inch chunks)
- ½ cup pineapple chunks (canned or fresh)
- 1-2 tablespoon scallion for garnish (thinly sliced)
- 1-2 teaspoon sesame seeds (for garnish)
- 1-2 small hot peppers (thinly sliced for garnish)
- Vegetable oil for cooking
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 ½ tablespoon soy sauce (low sodium, gluten free)
- 3 garlic cloves (minced)
- 3 tablespoon cornstarch
- 3 tablespoon cold water
- ¼ cup ketchup (make sure it's gluten free)
- 1 ½ teaspoon honey
- 1 teaspoon ginger (grated or paste)
- Sweet and Sour sauce. In a small saucepan add oil over medium heat and saute garlic and ginger for about 1 minute. Stir in sugar, vinegar, honey, ketchup, soy sauce. Simmer until sugar dissolves.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk together cornstarch and water and pour the mixture into the saucepan. Simmer on low heat for 10 minutes until the sweet and sour sauce starts thickening. Set aside.
- Chicken prep. In a medium bowl add chicken, season with salt and pepper, and stir in the cornstarch. Make sure all the chicken pieces are covered in cornstarch. Set aside.
- Stir fry. In a large skillet or wok over medium to high heat add 2-3 tablespoon of vegetable oil and cook the chicken until golden brown on all sides (about 3-4 minutes.) Remove from pan and set aside in a plate lined with a paper towel.
- In the same skillet add vegetables, cook for few minutes until they get almost tender and throw in the pineapple. Stir well and return the chicken to the pan, pour the sauce on top. Stir and simmer for 1-2 minutes. Taste the sauce for seasoning, add salt and pepper if needed.
- Serve with scallions, sesame seeds, and rice, noodles, or another favorite side.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)