Make Chinese Hong Kong Style Sweet and Sour Chicken at home with this easy-to-follow recipe. With perfectly crispy fried chicken pieces, stir-fried veggies and juicy pineapple chunks in a super tasty sweet and tangy sauce, you're sure to love this homemade Chinese takeaway favourite.
Want more easy Chinese takeaway recipes? Try my Chicken Chow Mein, Honey Chilli Chicken and Salt and Chilli Chicken.
The post contains additional information and helpful tips to ensure the recipe turns out great the first time. Please use the link above to jump to the recipe card at the end if you are in a hurry!
3 reasons why you'll love this recipe:
- Tastes so good - Hong Kong Style perfectly crispy fried chicken pieces, umami onions, sweet and slightly crunchy peppers and juicy pineapple chunks in a super tasty sweet and tangy sauce.
- Quicker, healthier, cheaper and tastier than a Chinese takeaway - with just 30 minutes of cooking and prep time.
- Made with everyday ingredients - no trip to the Asian Grocery store required.
🛒 Ingredients and variations:
- Chicken: I recommend thighs instead of chicken breast because they are more succulent.
- Sweet and sour sauce: Is made from ketchup, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar and a little soy sauce. Note that my sweet and sour sauce is more on the tangy side. You can increase the amount of sugar if you prefer a sweeter sauce.
- Veggies: I've opted for red onions and red and green bell peppers. Red onions add a touch of umami and the peppers bring a little sweetness.
- Pineapple: Adds more yummy tangy sweetness. I tend to use fresh pineapple because it's more flavourful, but tinned/canned pineapple will also work well.
Note that the recipe has not been tested with the below substitutions and variations, so the results cannot be guaranteed.
- Chicken: You can use breast instead..
- Apple cider vinegar: you can use rice or malt vinegar instead, but you may need to adjust the amount of sugar and ketchup to taste
- Veggies: You can swap these for other veggies like green beans, broccoli, courgette/zucchini or bean sprouts.
- Chicken alternatives: Swap the chicken for pork, fish or prawns/shrimp.
- Vegetarian options: Use tofu instead of chicken or increase the amount of veggies in the dish.
- Healthier sweet and sour chicken: Skip the cornflour and sauté the chicken using less oil. You can also use leftover rotisserie chicken.
- Spicy sweet and sour chicken: Add fresh chillies, chilli powder or hot sauce.
🧑🍳 Recipe steps
1. Marinade the chicken and make the sauce
Mix soy sauce and egg white in a small bowl, add the chicken and leave to marinate while you prep the other ingredients. Then mix the vinegar, ketchup, sugar, soy sauce and cornflour/cornstarch in a small jug or bowl.
2. Coat the chicken in seasoned cornflour/cornstarch
Mix the cornflour/cornstarch with salt, white pepper, ground ginger and garlic powder. Add the chicken pieces until each one is evenly coated.
3. Fry the chicken
Place a frying pan or wok on a medium to high heat and add oil. Add the chicken when the oil is hot and fry for a few minutes, turning regularly until lightly golden on all sides and set aside.
Add the onions to the pan and fry for a couple of minutes. Add the peppers and fry for a few more minutes until they start to soften. Then add the pineapple and toss it in the pan until it gets hot.
5. Sauce & chicken
Add the sauce, and let it reduce for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Then add the chicken. Remove from the heat and serve immediately with rice.
A side of rice is a must. I tend to opt for jasmine rice, but another variety of white or brown steamed or fried rice will do nicely.
Feeding a crowd? Serve alongside some of my other Chinese takeaway-inspired dishes like Chinese Chicken and Sweetcorn Soup, Singapore Chow Mein or Crispy Shredded Chilli Beef.
- Have everything prepped because things move quickly when you start cooking. Make sure the veggies are chopped and ready to stir fry.
- Leave the chicken to marinade in the egg white and soy sauce while you prep the other ingredients to make it more succulent and deepen the flavour.
- Coat each piece of chicken with a generous amount of cornflour/cornstarch to ensure you get the chicken super crispy.
- Add the chicken to the pan when the oil is hot to get crispy chicken. If you add the chicken too soon it will soak up the oil and become soggy and greasy. If you are unsure, drop one piece of chicken in first. It should sizzle up right away. If it doesn't, you will need to wait a little longer.
Hong Kong style refers to a mix of Cantonese and Western cooking that was typically served in "Cha Chaan Teng" tea restaurants in Hong Kong. Hong Kong style sweet and sour chicken is a westernised version of the original Chinese recipe. The sauce is made with ketchup, Worcester sauce and pineapple juice and water or chicken stock. The fried chicken can be served in the sauce with stir-fried veggies and pineapple chunks or sweet and sour chicken balls are served with a dipping sauce on the side.
Air frying is a healthy alternative to frying. Spray the air fryer basket with oil, add the chicken pieces (make sure that they are not overlapping) and cook at 450°F (230°C) for 8 minutes, then turn the chicken (or shake the basket) and cook for another 5-6 minutes, until golden. You can also oven bake the egg and cornflour-coated chicken pieces at 200C or 390F for 15-20 minutes.
Shallow frying uses enough oil to partially submerge the food. With this method the food will need to be turned to get it cooked on all sides. With deep-frying, the food is fully immersed in the hot oil making it crispy on all sides within a few minutes.
Cornstarch is a fine white powder that is commonly used as a thickening agent. It is called corn flour in the UK. In the US corn flour refers to finely ground cornmeal used to make tortillas.
Sweet and Sour Chicken tastes best when eaten fresh. However, you can safely store and consume any leftovers for up to 3 days. Just place it in an airtight container or bowl covered with plastic wrap and refrigerate as soon as the dish is cool. Make sure the leftovers are reheated thoroughly on the stove or in the microwave before eating. You can also freeze sweet and sour chicken for up to 3 months.
Note, that while you'll still be able to enjoy the tasty sweet and sour flavours after refrigerating or freezing the chicken will lose its freshly fried crispiness. I recommend refrigerating or freezing the sauce with the stir-fried veggies and cooking a fresh batch of fried chicken if you are planning to make the dish in advance.
😋 Check out my other chicken fakeaway recipes
Takeaway food can be bland-tasting, greasy, expensive and unhealthy. My takeaway alternatives are delicious, fast, easy to make, cost-effective and so much better for you and include Honey Chilli Chicken, Chicken Chow Mein, Chicken and Sweetcorn soup and Fried Chicken Sandwich.
Did you try this recipe? It would be really great if you could leave a comment and a star rating ⭐️. I would love to receive your feedback and know that other readers find it helpful too.
Don't forget to tag #knifeandsoulrecipes on Instagram or @knifeandsoul on Pinterest!
Chinese Hong Kong Style Sweet and Sour Chicken
- 4 tbsp (¼ cup) cider vinegar
- 50 g (¼ cup) sugar
- 75 g (¼ cup) ketchup
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp cornflour/cornstarch
- 1 egg white
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 350 g (12 oz) chicken thighs cut into bite-sized chunks
- 70 g (½ cup) cornflour/cornstarch
- ¼ tsp white pepper
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 4-5 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
- ½ red onion sliced
- 2 red or green peppers cut into bite-sized pieces
- 250 g (1.5 cups) fresh or tinned pineapple cut into bite-sized pieces
- Mix the egg white and soy sauce in a small bowl, add the chicken pieces and leave to marinade while you prep the rest of the ingredients.
- Mix the sauce ingredients in a jug or bowl.
- Mix the cornflour/cornstarch, white pepper, ground ginger, garlic powder and salt in a larger bowl.
- Toss 2-3 chicken pieces at a time in the seasoned cornflour/cornstarch until evenly coated, ensuring you shake off any excess egg white first. Repeat until all chicken pieces are coated in a generous layer of cornflour/cornstarch.
- Place a wok or large frying pan on a medium to high heat and add oil. Add the chicken pieces when the oil is hot and fry for a few minutes, turning regularly until they are golden brown on all sides, then remove from the pan and set aside. (Note 1 & 2)
- Add a little more oil to the pan if you need to and fry the onion for a couple of minutes before adding the peppers and cook for a few more minutes until the peppers and onion begin to soften.
- Add the pineapple and toss quickly in the pan until it becomes hot.
- Pour on the sauce and let it boil for 30 seconds to 1 minute, add the cooked chicken, remove from the heat and serve immediately.
Check the chicken is cooked by cutting one of the larger pieces in half to make sure it is white and opaque in the middle.
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