Sweet and Sour Chicken

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This sweet and sour chicken recipe starts with a cornstarch and egg batter, is pan-fried, and then baked in a sweet and tangy sauce. Serve alongside steamed rice and vegetables; a delicious dinner that can easily be scaled up as needed.

Bowls of sweet and sour chicken with rice and broccoli.

Confession: I was a serious late bloomer when it came to eating Chinese food.

I went to college, lived in a dorm, lived in an apartment, and yet never did a morsel of Chinese food touch my lips. I’m not exactly sure how this happened – we did our fair share of take out, but it seemed to always be pizza (or the leftovers from a friend’s shift at Kentucky Fried Chicken – when she closed, she got to bring home any leftover food, so a handful of us would gather in the hall of the dorm and have a makeshift KFC picnic at 11pm with what she would bring back. We were partial to the potato wedges and chocolate cake, naturally).

It wasn’t until I started dating my husband that I gave it a try – he suggested ordering it one night when I was visiting him, and he was (of course) stunned when I told him I had never had it, so I’d just get whatever he was having. That day, we had General Tso’s and egg rolls, and I was in love. Since then, I’ve eaten Chinese takeout countless times, have tried tons of different dishes, and have made many of them in my own kitchen.

This is my favorite riff on sweet and sour chicken!

How To Make Sweet and Sour Chicken

Chunks of chicken chopped on a cutting board.

This sweet and sour chicken recipe is really easy to make and consists of four main steps. Once the chicken is cut into chunks and seasoned with salt and pepper, you do the following:

  1. Batter the chicken.
  2. Pan-fry the chicken.
  3. Make the sauce.
  4. Bake the chicken.

Let’s break down each step…

Sweet and Sour Chicken Batter

There are no doubt a million different recipes for sweet and sour chicken batter; this is a simple two-step dredging.

First, you toss the pieces of chicken in cornstarch, and then they are dipped in lightly beaten eggs. The cornstarch helps to keep the outside of the chicken slightly crisp, while the egg will give the exterior a bit of a puffy texture.

Chunks of chicken coated in cornstarch and in an egg batter.

Pan-Fry the Chicken

Once you batter the chicken, heat vegetable or canola oil in a large skillet and brown the chicken in two batches.

After they are all cooked, the chicken is removed to a 9×13-inch baking dish and placed in a single layer.

Sweet and Sour Chicken Sauce

Arguably the most important component of the entire meal, this sauce is a combination of sugar, vinegar, ketchup, soy sauce, and garlic powder. It is whisked together in a small bowl and drizzled over the pan-fried chicken in the baking dish.

The sauce is the absolute perfect balance between sweet and tangy and the way it clings to the chicken is glorious.

You can change it up by using pineapple juice instead of vinegar!

The amount of sauce is enough to coat the chicken, so if you prefer a much saucier dish (enough to coat the rice, too) then you will want to double the sauce for sure.

Sauce being poured onto chicken in a baking dish.

Bake the Sweet and Sour Chicken

The last step! The pan of sauced-up pan-fried chicken bakes for one hour, and I recommend flipping the chicken over every 15 minutes so that it is continually basted in the sweet and sour sauce and it really adheres well.

You get the benefit of pan-frying to get that wonderfully crispy and “set” exterior batter, along with all the goodness that comes from the chicken baking in the sauce for a long time and really soaking it up instead of just being tossed in it at the end.

Two birds with one stone!

Additional Recipe Notes

  • You can use a combination of chicken breasts and thighs, or all thighs, if you’d prefer.
  • The recipe calls for rice vinegar (an Asian pantry staple), but you can substitute white vinegar or apple cider vinegar if necessary.
  • You can double this recipe without an issue.
  • For a slightly different flavor, use pineapple juice instead of vinegar in the sauce.
  • Switch it up with pineapple chunks and diced red and green peppers mixed in the chicken.
  • Serving suggestions: steamed rice along with steamed or stir-fried vegetables (think broccoli, carrots, snow peas, etc.).
  • While you could do this in a slow cooker in lieu of baking in the oven, the sauce won’t reduce and thicken as much as it would on the stove, so take that into consideration.
  • If you like a recipe with a lot of sauce, I recommend doubling the sauce.

This recipe, although it takes awhile to get from the stove to your plate, is well worth the effort. The flavor of the sauce is perfect, the texture of the chicken is wonderful and all together, you’d think you ordered this from the neighborhood Chinese restaurant.

What’s your favorite Chinese takeout dish? (I’m totally craving it again, now!)

If You Like This Sweet and Sour Chicken, Try These:

Three bowls of sweet and sour chicken with rice and broccoli.

Four years ago: Maple-Date Bars
Five years ago: Praline Waffles
Six years ago: Butternut Squash & Bacon Mac and Cheese


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Sweet and Sour Chicken

Yield: 4 servings

Prep: 30 minutes

Cook: 1 hour

Total: 1 hour 30 minutes

This sweet and sour chicken recipe starts with a cornstarch and egg batter, is pan-fried, and then baked in a sweet and tangy sauce.

Ingredients:

For the Chicken

  • 1½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • ¼ cup (50 grams) canola or vegetable oil

For the Sauce

  • ¾ cup (149 grams) granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup (57 grams) ketchup
  • ½ cup (120 ml) rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Season chicken with salt and pepper.
  3. Place the cornstarch in a shallow bowl or pie plate. Place the eggs in a separate shallow bowl. Working in two batches, toss the chicken pieces in cornstarch and then coat with the egg.
  4. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Again working in two batches, brown the chicken, turning it so that all sides are browned.
  5. Place the chicken in a single layer in a 9×13-inch baking dish.
  6. In a small bowl, whisk together the sauce ingredients and pour evenly over the chicken. Turn the chicken to ensure each piece is coated.
  7. Bake for 1 hour, turning the chicken every 15 minutes. Serve with rice and steamed broccoli, if desired.

Recipe Notes:

  • You can substitute white vinegar for the rice vinegar.
  • This recipe can be doubled without an issue.
  • Some reviewers have noted that the sauce is too thin for their taste; you can double the sauce, use half as directed and simmer the other half in a small saucepan, then drizzle on top of the chicken or toss for a super saucy dish.
  • Serving suggestions: steamed rice along with steamed or stir-fried vegetables (think broccoli, carrots, snow peas, etc.).
  • While you could do this in a slow cooker in lieu of baking in the oven, the sauce won’t reduce and thicken as much as it would on the stove, so take that into consideration.

Did you make this recipe?

Leave a review below, then snap a picture and tag @thebrowneyedbaker on Instagram so I can see it!

(Recipe adapted from Amber’s Delectable Delights)

All images and text ©Brown Eyed Baker, LLC.

Update Notes: This recipe was originally published in June 2009. Updated in October 2018 with new photos and additional recipe notes.

[photos by The Almond Eater]

The post Sweet and Sour Chicken appeared first on Brown Eyed Baker.

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