Sweet and Sour Chicken


I am about to tell you something that you just may not believe. You will accuse me of lying. But I swear it’s the truth. Are you ready?

I ate Chinese food for the first time last month.

Crazy, isn’t it? I had gone through 29+ years without ever having tried it. 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 hoagies (yes, in Pittsburgh they are hoagies, not subs or heroes). So about a month ago after my Chief Culinary Consultant and I hiked a trail around a lake in the D.C. heat and humidity and decided we needed dinner to come to us, he suggested getting Chinese delivered. I said sure and I’d get whatever he was having since I’d never tried it. He couldn’t believe it. We had General Tso’s and egg rolls and I’ve been craving Chinese ever since.


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. I served this with basic brown rice and a mix of frozen vegetables that included broccoli, sugar snap peas, carrots, and water chestnuts. It all went together wonderfully and it’s a dinner I plan on making more often than not.

What’s your favorite Chinese take out dish? I’m sure I’ll be doing a lot of experimenting in the future, both ordering in and creating things in the kitchen. I would love to try homemade egg rolls!

One Year Ago: Chicken & Pasta with Spinach-Basil Pesto

Sweet and Sour Chicken

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes


For the Chicken:
3-4 boneless,skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup cornstarch
2 eggs, slightly beaten
¼ cup canola or vegetable oil

For the Sauce:
¾ cup sugar
4 tablespoons ketchup
½ cup vinegar (preferably rice or white)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2. Season chicken with salt and pepper.

3. Working in two batches, toss the chicken pieces in cornstarch and then coat with the egg. Heat the oil over medium-high heat and again in two batches, brown the chicken, turning it so that all sides are browned.

4. Place the chicken in a single layer in a 9x13 baking dish.

5. Whisk together the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and pour evenly over the chicken. Turn the chicken to ensure each piece is coated.

6. Bake for 1 hour, turning the chicken every 15 minutes.

(Recipe adapted from Amber's Delectable Delights)


183 Responses to “Sweet and Sour Chicken”

Comment Pages 1 2 3 4
  1. sunita on June 10, 2009 at 1:46 am

    Oooh! That looks so mouthwatering. Chinese is one of our favourite cuisines.


  2. Meghan on June 10, 2009 at 8:00 am

    You’re right – I can’t believe you had never had Chinese! I LOVE Chinese food. My favorites are General Tso’s, orange chicken, hot braised chicken, chicken potstickers, and lo mein. Your pictures are gorgeous – I really like these. I love that this recipe only uses 1/4 cup of oil, because so many recipes call for cups and cups of oil for deep frying. Cant’ wait to try this!!


  3. Chris on June 10, 2009 at 10:30 am

    Nope. can’t believe you’ve never had Chinese before. Next up – I think you should branch out to Thai! :) There’s a whole world out there!!!
    Great pix by the way!


    • Michelle on June 10th, 2009 at 11:02 am

      Chris – I actually tried Thai for the first time back in February (I’m so lame, I know), and I loved it!!


  4. Erin @ One Particular Kitchen on June 10, 2009 at 11:05 am

    How on earth did you get through college without Chinese food? :) I would have STARVED.

    This looks great!! I made a variation of it this year and I was amazed at how yummy it was. And no take-out-induced finger swelling! Thumbs up!


  5. Julie jams on June 10, 2009 at 11:31 am

    Wow! That’s a long time without Chinese. Great pictures and recipe. Well done.


  6. michelle on June 10, 2009 at 11:51 am

    I love this recipe, thanks for posting I need to make it again soon!


  7. Michel on June 10, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    Congrats! Chinese is great. I love wonton soup, chicken low mein, and crab ragoons. The kids love S&S chicken. Looks like an easy recipe. I ought to give it a try.


  8. Michele on June 10, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    You don’t know what you’ve been missing!!! I loove chow fun, sesame chicken, egg drop/wonton mix soup, spring rolls, chicken or beef with brocoli, beef with oyster sauce, moo shu chicken…i can keep going. Your chicken looks perfect!!!


  9. Suzanne on June 10, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    My husband’s favorite take-out is sweet and sour chicken. I can’t wait to try this recipe!! Now, could you post a recipe for moo shu vegetable? 😉 :) :)


  10. Danielle on June 10, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    You definitely have to try pan fried dumplings (or steamed). You could easily make a meal out of those (even though it’s an appetizer).


  11. Michelle on June 10, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    Thanks everyone, for all of the great suggestions! Keep ’em coming!


  12. Steph on June 10, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    YUM! This looks delicious; I cannot wait to try it!!


  13. Malcolm on June 10, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    I hope your newfound love of Chinese takeout leads you to discover some more clone recipes, and that you will share them. We have been trying to duplicate Steamed Pork Dumplings for years with limited to no success.


  14. s. stockwell on June 10, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    Well check you out! Just what we all need. Sweet & sour chicken better than take out? fun post, thanks, s


  15. lola on June 11, 2009 at 12:06 am

    wow, i can’t imagine living 29 years without chinese food! you definitely have to try dim sum and for greasy takeout, orange chicken and eggplant tofu are my favorites. your sweet and sour looks great, thanks for the recipe!


  16. kim on June 11, 2009 at 5:02 am

    mm! that just looks divine. :)


  17. HoneyB on June 11, 2009 at 6:12 am

    Love this!


  18. Tammy on June 11, 2009 at 10:50 am

    I can’t believe someone managed to live her life without Chinese food! I’m bookmarking this. It looks scrumptious, as does your delicious photography. Love your colorful picture.


  19. Heidi on June 11, 2009 at 11:11 am

    I love wonton soup. . . the broth is so clear, the wontons so rich, and the container so reusable.


  20. pixen on June 11, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    Oooh yes, I believed you. There’s always new things we haven’t tried since its existent but better late than never! I never tasted Blue cheeses, goat cheese or Camembert (au lait cru) even though it’s available in my local supermarkets until 11 years ago. Now, everyone has to fight with me 😀 You can count me in your group!


  21. Kerstin on June 11, 2009 at 6:54 pm

    Oh no, you’ve been missing out – Chinese is soo good! I’ve never had Taco Bell, which seems to shock people for some reason.

    Lovely sweet and sour chicken, it’s making my tummy grumble!


    • Michelle on June 11th, 2009 at 7:05 pm

      Kerstin – It is surprising that someone hasn’t had Taco Bell! I guess I’m not completely alone in missing out on some things. But really, you’re not missing out, Taco Bell is pretty bleh 😉


  22. Elinoar on June 11, 2009 at 10:22 pm

    Your dish looks great. Going to prepare it next weekend.

    Elinoar – Israeli food blog


  23. pigpigscorner on June 12, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    I’m glad you like Chinese Food! Your dish looks so delicious! I can’t wait to have some with rice!


  24. Amber on June 14, 2009 at 10:42 am

    Looks delicious Chelle. I am glad you finally ate some Chinese food. :)


  25. Debby on June 19, 2009 at 12:24 am

    For someone who is a virgin to Chinese food, this recipe rocks! I have lots of firsts to conquer myself… one bite at a time. I am SO making this. Thanks! I’ve been looking for a simple recipe and this one sounds wonderful.


  26. Mary Teresa on June 28, 2009 at 9:23 am

    Just found your site while touring food blogs. Totally trying this recipe first of all. Second of all. Egg rolls are totally not as tricky as they seem. I haven’t made traditional chinese style yet, but make southwestern ones all the time. They’re a snap!


    • Michelle on June 29th, 2009 at 9:23 pm

      Hi Mary Teresa, thanks for the encouragement on egg rolls. I can’t wait to give them a try!


  27. Eileen on July 2, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    We made this for a family gathering over the weekend and it was a HUGE hit! It is delicious! Thanks so much for all these amazing recipes, our family is eating very well these days :)


    • Michelle on July 2nd, 2009 at 1:26 pm

      Hi Eileen,

      So happy to hear that your family enjoyed this dish. Thanks for coming back and letting me know! So glad that you’re enjoying the blog :)



  28. lilslim on July 6, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    You’re just now trying chinese food! It’s one of my favorites…your version looking tasty! The sauce looks rich and the texture of the chicken (though in sauce) looks crisp. What a plus! I’m very impressed that you chose to use brown rice instead of white rice in your recipe. My daughter and I make chinese food at home and let me tell ya…it’s a winner! We use Kikkoman soy sauce and LaChoy sweet and sour sauce from our local grocery for an authentic chinese food flavor. Would you happen to have a recipe for Hot Braised Chicken sauce? Thanks!


  29. Jennifer on July 12, 2009 at 8:35 pm

    I just made this for dinner and it was absolutly delish! Just like chinese takeout! I wanted a short cut, so I cooked the chicken at 400 degrees for 30 min and they turned out great. Thanks for the great recipe!!


  30. Debs on July 17, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    You’re right, I don’t believe it. Chinese food is my favourite and anyone who knows my blog also knows I cook it regularly and could eat it every day. As chinese food is new to you, why not take a look. If you like sweet & sour, you’ll love my crispy shredded beef recipe. Love your blog BTW, I’m just starting to get to grips with bread baking and hoping to take inspiration from you, Debs.


  31. Suz on July 23, 2009 at 9:48 pm

    This is so good. makes me wonder why I never made sweet and sour myself before. A co-worker shared your blog with me and this recipe but I didn’t know it was yours until I was scrambling trying to remember the sauce and your blog came up in a google search. I know she got the recipe here!!! My husband thanks you :)


  32. Peggy on July 27, 2009 at 7:29 am

    What an amazing discovery, eating Chinese for the 1st time! Recipe looks great, and although it’s not Chinese, but Japanese, if you’re looking for a quick and easy fix for the weeknight, check out my blog for a simple Chicken Teriyaki recipe!


  33. Luke on August 17, 2009 at 8:34 am

    Thank you SO much for this recipe. I’ve made it 2 times now, and it is a rare “5/5” (5 people in the 5 people of my family enjoy the same meal). Now the problem is doubling, quadroupling, etc.-ing my batch next time…


    • Michelle on August 18th, 2010 at 7:52 pm

      Hi Luke – I’m so thrilled that this is a winning recipe with your family! I think that doubling or quadrupling should be relatively easy and can’t see that it would cause any issues with the ingredients. Let me know how it turns out!


  34. Lauryn on September 9, 2009 at 10:44 am

    I just posted about this recipe! Absolutely loved it!!! Thanks for sharing!!


  35. Jodi Ann on October 9, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    OOo that looks great. You should try crab meat rangoons and chicken and broccoli. I have been trying to find good recipes for these for years!


  36. Shannon Wallace on October 15, 2009 at 6:20 pm

    Fantastic recipe!!! Thanks for sharing!! This was an absolute hit with the family. :o) No more take-out Chinese when I can make just as good if not better here at home for super cheap!

    Next time, I’m going to lessen the sugar by a bit and add a 1/2 cup or so of fresh squeezed orange juice and zest so that we can have orange chicken!


  37. Belle on October 22, 2009 at 11:50 am

    Tried this last night and loved it! Always a good thing when the hubby approves! 😉 Can’t wait to try it with orange juice!


  38. DerKommissar on December 10, 2009 at 11:25 pm

    I ended up with scrambled-eggs chicken. : (


  39. norwegianne on January 1, 2010 at 4:12 am

    We made this for New Year’s Eve, and it was wonderful – so good that we couldn’t eat more until the next year came 😉

    We ended up doubling the sauce after seeing the first batch of sauce, though, and the next time we’ll probably triple it. We added a bit less vinegar and a bit more sugar, to the second batch, as the first turned out a bit too sour for our taste.

    It was yummy, though, and a shame there were so few leftovers.


  40. Lisa T on January 3, 2010 at 7:27 pm

    Wow! I made this tonight for my dear husband, a man who did grow up on fast food because his dear Mother didn’t cook, and guess what he said? He said it was better than LeeAnn Chin, our local Chinese, and also that he could eat it EVERY DAY because its that good. What praise!

    I would agree with others that I would at least 1 1/2 or DOUBLE the sauce. I was scraping the bottom to get a few last drips of sauce.

    The cornstarch coating scares me and a lot of it fell off in the oven, but I think it was due to my technique and I’ll be more careful next time!

    Thanks so much for a great recipe! I can’t wait to try the others from your Top 20 of 2009!


  41. nori on January 8, 2010 at 10:25 pm

    this is incredible! i couldn’t believe how easy it was to make. i can’t wait to change it up and make it orange or lemon chicken. thank you for the recipe!!!


  42. Chanelle on January 27, 2010 at 8:16 pm

    Thanks so much for this recipe. It came out perfectly. The other thing I wish I could have done was make extra sauce. It’s perfect the it is and was a hit with my family they couldn’t believe I made something like this and I will make it again it was simple and easy


  43. Amy on February 6, 2010 at 5:02 am

    I had this recipe bookmarked and just got around to making it. My whole family absolutely loved it! The sauce was perfect. Thank you so much!


  44. Amy on February 14, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    Tried this tonight to celebrate the Chinese New Year. We loved it. thanks for the easy, great tasting recipe!


  45. amanda on March 11, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    This was so awesome. even my 15 yr old cousin asked if I could cook this atleast once a week. A big hit in our house thanks to you.,


  46. Lisa on May 13, 2010 at 8:49 am

    I made this last night and it was unbelievable!!! Definitely restaurant quality. My husband and daughter loved it. I would definitely make this for a party. I doubled the sauce and it was the perfect amount to serve over the rice. Thanks for the amazing recipe.


  47. Joan on June 5, 2010 at 9:43 pm

    Wonderful recipe and one I will make again. The only thing I would do different is to double the sauce recipe.


  48. Amanda on June 8, 2010 at 7:32 pm

    This was really good! I think I will make a second batch of the sauce next time and cook it down on the stove cuz it needed more sauce for the rice. It took me probably closer to 45 minutes to cook the chicken prior to the hour bake. The best part of it was when my 6 yr old son said “wow, that looks good!” He normally has everything looks gross and doesn’t want to try it. Both kids (3 and 6) ate it all up and said to keep the recipe!


    • Michelle on June 18th, 2010 at 4:07 pm

      Hi Amanda,

      So glad you and your clan enjoyed this! And I agree – you can never have too much sauce!


  49. Shelly Knight on June 11, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    I made this last night, and while it’s not an easy, weeknight meal it was really good! I added diced onions and peppers and that was a nice addition. What type of rice does everyone use with Chinese food? I only had long-grain and that wasn’t a good fit. Thanks for sharing this delicious recipe, Michelle!


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