Easy Sweet and Sour Chicken

Sweet and sour chicken with pineapple and rice (Asia)
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  • 33 mins
  • Prep: 8 mins,
  • Cook: 25 mins
  • Yield: Serves 3-4 (with rice)
Ratings (16)

This Sweet and Sour Chicken recipe is a family favorite at our house, plus it's easy to make because you don't have to bread and fry the chicken first - it's all stir-fried up together and believe me, the taste is so good, you won't miss the breading one bit! And of course, that means this dish is low-fat and low-calorie, too.

Most restaurants color their sweet and sour dishes to get that deep red hue, but I find it's just as pretty made with cayenne pepper for both spice and coloring (it ends up more orange than red, which is fine with me). Thai sweet and sour dishes are very close in taste to their Chinese counterpart, but with a few added ingredients, including a little chili. Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family does.

What You'll Need

  • 1/2 to 1 pound chicken breast (or thigh, cut into bite-size pieces)
  • 4 tablespoons onion (finely chopped)
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 carrot (sliced)
  • 1 stalk celery (thinly sliced)
  • 1 red pepper (sliced)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • optional: 1/2 can bamboo shoots (drained)
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup water
  • For Sweet and Sour Sauce:
  • 2 14 ounce cans (348 ml) pineapple chunks packed in juice (1 1/2 cups juice and 1 1/2 cups fruit)
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar (or white vinegar)
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1/8 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (or lime juice)
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup

How to Make It

  1. Pour one can of pineapple chunks (including juice) into medium-size pot. Drain juice from the other can into the pot as well, squeezing out all the juice from the fruit (save fruit for other dishes or discard). Add vinegar, sugar, fish sauce, cayenne, lemon or lime juice, and ketchup. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium to get a nice strong simmer. Simmer 12-15 minutes, uncovered, or until sauce reduces by one-third. Remove from heat and set aside.
  1. Place a large frying pan or wok over medium-high heat. Drizzle in the oil and add garlic and onion. Stir-fry 30 seconds, then add carrot and celery. Stir-fry 1 minute, then add chicken and soy sauce. Stir-fry 1 minute, then add red pepper and bamboo shoots (if using), plus 3-4 tablespoons of the sweet and sour sauce. Stir-fry until chicken appears opaque on the outside.
  2. Add remaining sauce. Stir and bring to a gentle boil for 1 minute, then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer 2-3 more minutes, or until chicken is opaque inside. Meanwhile, in a cup, stir cornstarch into water with a fork until dissolved. Add this to the stir-fry, stirring slowly. When sauce has thickened enough for your liking (about 1 minute), remove from heat.
  3. Do a taste-test, looking for a balance of sweet and sour, plus a hint of spicy and salty flavors. If too sour, add more sugar; if too sweet or too salty, add more lemon/lime juice. More cayenne can be added for more spice. If you'd like a deeper color, add a few drops red food coloring (optional). Serve with Thai jasmine rice and enjoy!

Other Vegetables You Can Add: green pepper, mushrooms, Chinese cabbage or regular cabbage, baby corn.