Sweet and sour chicken is one of my all-time favorite Chinese dishes. Loaded with chicken, pineapple and tender vegetables tossed in a simple homemade sweet and sour sauce. Serve over rice with sprinkle of green onion! I cut out a lot of sugar from my original recipe without sacrificing flavor, making this dish better than takeout and definitely better for you! Serves 6 (or 4 generous) portions.
I love Chinese food.
And I may be a little obsessed with making my favorite Chinese dishes at home. Since we moved out here, we have yet to find a quality Chinese restaurant. We’ve tried a few different places, but neither compare to the restaurant that was around the corner from where we used to live. Which means I now have to make my favorite dishes at home. It all started with this healthy sesame chicken recipe which manifested into many, many more recipes over the years.
I first shared my recipe for homemade sweet and sour chicken back in 2013. Since then, I’ve made quite a few changes, one being that I cut back on a lot of the sugar in my original recipe and even replaced some of it with fresh pineapple juice. This new and improved [and healthier!!] sweet and sour chicken recipe is easy and a million times better than take out.
Since I can remember sweet and sour chicken has been my favorite thing to order.
I would pick around the stray veggies and only eat the saucy chicken and rice. However now that I’m adult, I like lots of veggies in mine (I bet my mom never saw this coming) like carrots, bell pepper, onions, broccoli and if I was making this for myself I would’ve added mushrooms and maybe water chestnuts or bamboo shoots. Pretty much anything else I can get my mitts on because I obviously like a lot of color in my stir-fry.
This homemade sweet and sour chicken is always a hit at our house and I hope it is loved just as much in your home.
To make this sweet and sour chicken recipe you will need:
- thin-cut chicken breast halves [cut into bite-size pieces]
- white pepper
- an egg white
- red bell pepper
- fresh pineapple
- sweet and sour sauce
For making the Sweet and Sour Sauce You Will Need:
- dark brown sugar
- granulated sugar
- reserved fresh pineapple juice
- tamari (or soy sauce)
- white vinegar
- low-sodium chicken broth
Really try to find fresh pineapple [usually in the refrigerated produce section at most grocery stores] that has at least 1/4 cup or so in the bottom. Fresh is best, but canned pineapple can be used in a pinch. Just be sure to get the one packed in its own natural juices.
In a medium bowl, measure and add 1/4 cup of each dark brown sugar, granulated sugar and honey.
Then pour in the 1/2 cup of ketchup, 1/4 cup of pineapple juice and 2 tablespoons low-sodium tamari (or lo-so soy sauce). In my last recipe, it was a 1/2 cup of each of these sugars! So we are literally cutting the sugar in this recipe in half.
Lastly, pour in 2/3 cup of white vinegar
And 3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth.
Whisk until combined and the sugars have dissolved.
In my original recipe, I stir-fry the veggies, which is totally fine if you want to go that route. Nowadays I’m all about roasting them separately from the chicken. To me it seems easier and the caramelized edges add a whole new level of flavor.
To do this, preheat your oven to 500°.
Dice the red bell pepper into large bite-sized chunks, peel and slice 1 to 2 carrots on a diagonal, chop a medium onion and cut 1 broccoli crown into florets. Place the veggies on to a rimmed metal baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with a few pinches of kosher salt. Roast for 8 to 10 minutes or until the veggies are tender, yet firm with caramelized edges.
Rotate the pan halfway through.
In a medium bowl, whisk 1 egg white until frothy.
Toss the cut chicken breasts with 2 tablespoons cornstarch and 1/2 teaspoon white pepper.
Transfer the coated chicken pieces into the egg whites and toss to coat.
Heat 2 tablespoons of coconut or olive oil on medium-high in a large wok or 12-inch chefs pan. Working in batches, cook the chicken for 4 to 5 minutes (or until deeply golden brown) before using tongs to turn the chicken and continue cooking.
Transfer the golden nuggets to a plate and repeat with the remaining chicken.
Once the chicken is fully cooked, reduce the heat to medium and add it all back to the pan along with 2 cloves of minced fresh garlic. Toss and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
Next add in the vegetables and pineapple into the pan.
And pour in the sweet and sour sauce.
Increase the heat to high, bring to a boil before pouring in the cornstarch slurry [1 tablespoon cornstarch + 1 tablespoon cold water]. Simmer until the sauce thickens. Taste and season with kosher salt to your personal taste and if you want some heat, add in a teaspoon of chili garlic paste (samba oelek) or sriracha.
Serve in bowls or family style, with jasmine rice, sliced green onions and cilantro leaves if that’s your jam.
The perfect balance of sweet and sour and crisp and tender.
Because really who needs take out and all that sodium and MSG when you can make sweet and sour chicken that rivals any restaurant?
Sweet and Sour Chicken Stir-fry
FOR THE SAUCE:
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup fresh pineapple juice, reserved from pineapple for recipe
- 2 tablespoons low-sodium tamari, or low-sodium soy sauce
- 1/2 cup ketchup, homemade or store-bought
- 2/3 cup white vinegar
- 3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon sambal oelek or sriracha, for spice (optional)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch, plus 1 tablespoon cold water (cornstarch slurry)
FOR THE VEGGIES:
- 2 carrots, peeled and sliced on an angle
- 1 broccoli crown, cut into florets
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped into large bite-size pieces
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- kosher salt
- 10 ounces fresh pineapple, cut into cubes (about 1-1/2 cups)
FOR THE CHICKEN:
- 1½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breast halves
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
- 1 egg white
- extra light olive oil, plus more as needed
TO MAKE THE SAUCE:
- In a medium bowl whisk the sugars, honey, pineapple juice, tamari, ketchup, vinegar and chicken broth.
- Season the cubed chicken with the pepper to combine and set aside.
TO MAKE THE VEGETABLES:
- Preheat your oven to 500°.
- Place the sliced carrots, broccoli florets, onion and chopped red pepper onto a rimmed metal baking sheet.
- Drizzle with olive oil and season with a few pinches of kosher salt. Roast for 8-10 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through roasting. Remove and set off to the side.
TO PREPARE THE CHICKEN:
- Toss the chicken breast pieces with cornstarch and white pepper. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg white until frothy and add in the coated chicken. Toss to coat.
- In a wok or large 12-inch chefs pan or skillet, add in 2 tablespoons of extra light olive oil or coconut oil and heat on medium-high to high heat. Once hot, work in batches cooking the chicken 4 to 6 minutes a side or until fully cooked. Add more oil as needed.
- Once the chicken is fully cooked, reduce the heat to medium and add all of the chicken back into the pan, along with the minced garlic.
- Cook for 1 to 2 minutes before adding in the vegetables and pineapple. Pour in the sweet and sour sauce and increase the heat back to high, and bring the sauce to a boil.
- Once the sauce is boiling, pour in the cornstarch slurry and simmer until the sauce thickens. Taste and season the sauce with kosher salt, to your preference.
- Serve the sweet and sour chicken over cooked rice and garnish with sliced green onions, cilantro and more sambal oelek or sriracha if desired.
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