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Sweet and Sour Chicken

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Tender juicy chicken nuggets dipped in a light batter and fried to a golden crisp served with a homemade sweet and sour sauce and sprinkled with fresh vegetables and served over Fried Rice all come together in this outstanding Sweet and Sour Chicken!

Chicken pieces lightly breaded and glazed with a sweet and sour sauce

Yesterday I decided to treat myself and drove through the only Chinese food place we have here in Country Town U.S.A. Boy was I disappointed! Don’t get me wrong I love my small town life. Living life in a small country town is full of so many perks, but one major draw back is finding good…really good… Chinese food!

We have two choices when it comes to fulfilling Chinese cravings… One, a major national chain which is hit or miss some days, like yesterday when my fortune cookie had no fortune! (Say What?!!! I mean seriously I deserve my future happiness told to me by a piece of paper in a cookie if I’m buying!) The other…we won’t talk about.

This sad tale of woe, sniff-sniff, led to the “great sweet and sour chicken” hunt of 2012! Eureka! I struck “gold”…well…more or less!  (In case you are wondering… It was followed by the marvelous walnut shrimp hunt of 2013! That’s a story for another day!)

Plate full of tender crispy sweet and sour chicken

How To Make Homemade Sweet and Sour Chicken

I stumbled upon this amazing recipe in 2012, and I’ve been making it ever since. It is a family favorite! In fact my Chinese food has become one of our middle child’s favorites. The key to making really great Chinese food is all about the “prep” work. In fact, it is crucial to your overall success.

How to Make Homemade Sweet and Sour Sauce

First up is the sweet and sour sauce and sauté the veggie’s to go with the chicken.

 To make the sweet and sour sauce, drain the pineapple reserving the juice.

TIP: I pour mine into a strainer over a bowl and let it sit while I get the rice going.

After the pineapple is well-drained in a sauce pan, combine the water, sugar, vinegar, and the reserved pineapple juice, plus orange food coloring (If you don’t have orange…red + yellow makes orange. One drop of each should do ya!). Heat to boiling. Turn off the heat.

Combine the cornstarch and another 1/4 cup water, slowly stir into the sauce pan with the other ingredients. Continue stirring until mixture thickens.

Tip: I only add about half the vinegar called for in the recipe and taste test it. If it isn’t sour enough I add a little more. You can always add more, but you can’t “un-sour” it once you’ve dumped the vinegar in.

Homemade sweet and sour sauce

Next in a small skillet sauté the veggies until slightly tender crispy. Cool and set off to the side.

diced green pepper, pineapple, and onion for sweet and sour chicken

Tempura Batter For Chicken

Cut your chicken breast into nice bite sized chunks.

It’s tempura time. In my opinion this is one of the BEST homemade tempura batters ever in the history of homemade tempura.

In a large bowl combine the self-rising flour, oil, cornstarch, salt, white pepper (I use black, little flecks don’t bother me. It’s a personal choice.), and egg. Blend. Add 1 1/2 cups icy cold water gradually to make a batter that is about the same consistency of pancake batter. I use all the water in my batter.

Just a FYI. You don’t want it super thick, and you don’t want it really runny. Somewhere in the middle is perfect. Add chicken pieces to the batter, a few at a time, till well coated. Lift out with a fork and place into a sauce pan filled with about 4–5 inches of cooking oil. (I use vegetable oil). Fry chicken in hot oil until golden, flipping and turning halfway through cooking process, then remove and place on paper towels to drain.

sweet and sour chicken frying in hot oil

Tip: Always use the self-rising flour! The elements of self-rising flour, corn starch, and icy cold water combine and is what makes this a light, fluffy, crispy tempura batter.


I place an oblong cake rack on my cookie sheet and transfer the cooked drained pieces onto the rack and keep them in the oven set on a low temperature of about 200 or less. Just enough to keep it all hot. Nothing worse than cold tempura batter chicken.

It does take several different batches to get all that chicken cooked, but it stays perfect in the warm oven on top of the cake rack.

sweet-and-sour-chicken-after-frying on a cake rack for the oven

Once you have fried all the chicken pieces to golden perfection, place them on a large platter and top with the reserved veggies and sweet and sour sauce.

This is better than any sweet and sour chicken you can order in a restaurant! You will love this recipe and be surprised how simple it is to make your own Chinese food.

On the other hand you may be grateful you live in the city and can order in. (A dream I’ve always had…to order Chinese for delivery! It’s on the bucket list!)

Sweet and sour chicken with fried rice on a plate

I wish I had had this yesterday instead of my “fortune less” drive-thru lunch! In fact, I wish I had it now! Lol

This recipe doesn’t come with a “fortune” per se, but you will be so “fortunate” to have this for dinner at your Nest! (Come on…cut a girl some slack…how do I pass up a word play like that?!)

I served mine with fried rice, and I’ll share that recipe with you real soon. I have a really great one and it so super easy to whip up!


Favorite Family Chicken Recipes

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope if you are craving sweet and sour you’ll take the time to make this homemade version. 

Photo of Norine with her signature
Yield: 8-10 servings

Sweet and Sour Chicken

Sweet and Sour Chicken on a plate

Sweet and sour chicken are made using pineapple and vinegar for the sweet and sour sauce in this amazingly delicious Asian-style chicken dish. Served with Fried Rice and it's better than any Chinese restaurant around! Try it tonight!

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes


  • 1 (8 ounce) can pineapple chunks, drained (juice reserved)
  • 1 green bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 medium onion diced into 1 inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 1/4 cups icy cold water
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 2 drops orange food coloring
  • 6-8 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves-cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 1/4 cups self-rising flour
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper, you can use black.
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 quart vegetable oil for frying.


  1. In a sauce pan, combine 1 1/2 cups water, sugar, vinegar, reserved pineapple juice, and orange food coloring. Heat to boiling. Turn off heat. Combine 1/4 cup cornstarch and 1/4 cup water; slowly stir into sauce pan. Continue stirring until mixture thickens.
  2. In a small skillet with a tiny bit of cooking oil sautee the bell pepper, onions and pineapple till tender crispy over high heat for about 2-3 minutes. Stirring frequently. Set aside.
  3. Combine flour, 2 tablespoons oil, 2 tablespoons cornstarch, salt, white pepper, and egg. Add 1 1/2 cups water gradually to make a thick batter. Stir to blend thoroughly. Add chicken pieces,and stir until coated.
  4. Heat oil in a sauce pan to 360 degrees. Fry chicken pieces in hot oil until golden. Remove chicken, and drain on paper towel. Once drained place them on a baking sheet or on a cake rack over a baking sheet in a cooler 200 degree oven till ready to serve. (Placing on the cake rack prevents them from cooking more on the side laying on the cooking sheet)
  5. Once all the pieces are cooked and you are ready to serve, layer green peppers, onion, and pineapple chunks, and cooked chicken pieces on a platter. Pour hot sweet and sour sauce over top.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

1 cup

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1172Total Fat: 94gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 2gUnsaturated Fat: 81gCholesterol: 100mgSodium: 524mgCarbohydrates: 49gFiber: 2gSugar: 22gProtein: 34g

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Tuesday 26th of December 2023

These turned out fabulous! Thank you for the wonderful recipe. When my mom asks for seconds, I know itโ€™s good! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿฝ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿฝ

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Thursday 28th of December 2023

Hi Anna! I love that Mom asked for seconds! Thanks Mom! Also...I love this recipe and have been craving it! I need to make it for New Years. Thanks for visiting. Come back soon! Norine


Tuesday 21st of March 2023

Best recipe ever..tried this and it was superb..thanks for sharing.

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Tuesday 21st of March 2023

Hi Janelle! I've been wanting to make this for dinner the last week! My kids love this Sweet and Sour more than going out! I'm so glad you liked it! Thanks for stopping by and sharing with me. You made my day! Have a great week! Norine


Sunday 25th of April 2021

Tried it and LOVED it. Best I have had so far. Can't find your fried rice recipe though.

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Friday 30th of April 2021

Hi Jim! Thank you so much and can we just have a moment of silence for that Email address of yours! A fellow Dr Pepper lover is my kind of foodie friend. Let me grab the link for the fried rice recipe. Sorry. I thought that was in with the sweet and sour chicken. Here you go Also there is a search bar at the top of the website that will allow you to search and find almost any recipe on my site. Hope that helps. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you'll come back again soon! Norine


Saturday 29th of August 2020

Havenโ€™t made this yet but Iโ€™m giving it a try tomorrow night. Just wanted to let you know, not getting a fortune in your cookie is the ultimate in good luck as far as fortune cookies go. It means you are special and your fate cannot be determined. Anyways, I hope my chicken balls turn out as delicious as these sound. ๐Ÿ˜

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Thursday 3rd of September 2020

Hi Rita! Thanks for sharing that with me. I feel extra lucky now!!! Hope you enjoyed this recipe as much as we do at this Nest! Have a Great weekend and come back soon. ~Norine


Saturday 25th of April 2020

Hi! Do you think this recipe would work with boneless chicken thigh pieces?

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Tuesday 28th of April 2020

Hi Daniella! Yes! It will work perfectly with boneless chicken thigh pieces. Most Sweet and Sour recipes call for boneless chicken thighs I just always have chicken breast on hand...but this will work great! Enjoy and thanks so much for visiting with me. Hope you have a great week. ~Norine

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