Sweet and Sour Chicken (Without Deep-Frying)

Restaurant-style crispy juicy sweet and sour chicken without deep frying or a wok! {Gluten Free Adaptable}

Sweet and Sour Chicken | No Deep Fry Required | Crispy | Takeout | Chinese | Stir Fry | Easy | Sauce |

Sweet and sour chicken is probably THE most popular Chinese dish. Crispy chicken, a sweet scrumptious sauce, and crunchy peppers. It just has all the comforting elements in one bowl. If you travel to China, you will probably be disappointed that you can only find the pork version in restaurants. After all, pork is more of a staple meat for Chinese people than chicken. However, when I was living in Japan, sweet and sour chicken was one of the dishes I learned to make early on.

In most Japanese grocery stores, you will find packaged chicken thighs already cut up into bite-sized chunks. Back then I had zero cooking experience. So I was delighted to discover these products that could save me a bit of trouble, and I went straight for the chicken version.


I used a sweet and sour chicken recipe I found on a Japanese recipe site. I chose it over a Chinese recipe because it actually provided measurements and detailed instructions. This is unlike most Chinese recipe sites, which only tell you “add a moderate amount of soy sauce, sugar, and vinegar until it tastes right”.

Moreover, I love the Japanese recipe because it does not require deep-frying. I remember that with a cornstarch and egg coating I was able to make it in a small nonstick skillet. It suited me well because I had no proper stir frying equipment in my small apartment.

It was my first attempt at making a sweet and sour dish. The result wasn’t anywhere near perfect, because I didn’t manage to crisp up the chicken, and the sauce was a bit off. Nonetheless, I was so happy that I had made a restaurant dish in my own kitchen that tasted great enough for a poor student. I took a picture of the dish and bragged about it to my Chinese friend the next day. She was so impressed and concluded that I was too picky about food that didn’t mind all the trouble required to get a dish done. She was dead on.

Sweet and Sour Chicken | No Deep Fry Required | Crispy | Takeout | Chinese | Stir Fry | Easy | Sauce |

Since then, I have been in love with Chinese recipes developed by Japanese chefs. The dishes might taste a bit different, but the recipes are always user friendly.

Nowadays I use more authentic Chinese ingredients to develop my recipes, but I always apply the rules I learned from Japanese recipes. That is, make the measurements accurate, the directions easy to follow, and dishes practical to make at home.

Today, I want to share this sweet and sour recipe that has that restaurant-style appearance and taste, using the tips I learned from that long-lost Japanese recipe. I’ve moderated the marinade, so the pan-fried chicken has an extra crispy coating.

I hope you enjoy!

My cookbook

If you like this recipe, don’t forget to check out my cookbook: The Chinese Stir Fry Sauce Cookbook. It contains 9 popular stir fry sauces, 41 easy recipe, and a lot of tips on how to make delicious stir fry sauces in advance and store them, so it saves you time later.


More easy restaurant-style stir fry recipes

If you give this recipe a try, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it (once you’ve tried it), and take a picture and tag it @omnivorescookbook on Instagram! I’d love to see what you come up with.


Sweet and Sour Chicken | No Deep Fry Required | Crispy | Takeout | Chinese | Stir Fry | Easy | Sauce |

Sweet and Sour Chicken (Without Deep-Frying)

  • Author: Maggie
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 2 to 3 servings
  • Category: Main
  • Method: Stir fry
  • Cuisine: Chinese


Restaurant-style crispy juicy sweet and sour chicken without deep frying or a wok! {Gluten Free Adaptable}


  • 1 pound (450 grams) boneless skinless chicken thighs (or breasts), cut to 1-inch (2-cm) pieces
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch


  • 2 tablespoons ketchup (*Footnote 1)
  • 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry for gluten free option)
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce (or soy sauce, or tamari for gluten free option)
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch


  • 1/3 cup peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons minced ginger
  • 1/2 small white onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped (I used a mix of colors in this recipe)


  1. Mix all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Combine chicken pieces, vegetable oil, and salt in a big bowl. Mix well and let marinate for 10 to 20 minutes.
  3. Add the beaten egg into the bowl with the chicken. Stir to mix well. Add cornstarch. Stir to coat chicken, until it forms an uneven coating with a little dry cornstarch left unattached.
  4. Heat oil in a heavy duty skillet until hot, until it just starts to smoke. Add chicken all at once and spread out into a single layer in the skillet. Separate chicken pieces with a pair of tongs or chopsticks.
  5. Cook without touching the chicken for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the bottom turns golden. Flip to brown the other side, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer chicken to a big plate and remove the pan from the stove. Let cool for 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Place the pan back onto the stove and turn to medium heat. You should still have 1 to 2 tablespoons oil in the pan. Add garlic and ginger. Cook and stir a few times until it releases its fragrance.
  7. Stir the sauce again to dissolve the cornstarch completely. Pour into the pan. Stir and cook until it thickens, when you can draw a line on the bottom with a spatula without the sauce running back immediately.
  8. Add back the chicken pieces, white onion, and bell peppers. Stir to coat chicken with sauce, 30 seconds. Transfer everything to a plate immediately.
  9. Serve hot as main over steamed rice.


  1. To make this dish gluten free, make sure you use a gluten free ketchup.


  • Serving Size: 1 of the 3 servings
  • Calories: 432cal
  • Sugar: 9.6g
  • Sodium: 914mg
  • Fat: 27.3g
  • Carbohydrates: 22.4g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Protein: 22.4g
  • Cholesterol: 138mg

The recipe was originally published in July 20, 2016, using a wok and a deep frying method. I’ve completely altered the steps to make the cooking easier in this new version, which was published on September 14th, 2017. Please update your recipe with the new one if you saved it earlier.


Omnivore's Cookbook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
Meet Maggie

Hi I'm Maggie Zhu! Welcome to my site about modern Chinese cooking - including street food, family recipes, and restaurant dishes. I take a less labor-intensive approach while maintaining the taste and look of the dish. I am originally from Beijing, and now cook from my Austin, Texas kitchen.

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32 thoughts on “Sweet and Sour Chicken (Without Deep-Frying)

  1. Melanie

    I made this last night for my family and Chinese homestay student. Everyone had seconds! I used chicken breasts for the meat. This was inexpensive to make, easy, kind of messy, and really yummy! Thank you for posting.

  2. Pamela

    Maggie: could this be made with Japanese katakuriko, potato starch, instead of cornstarch? Sometimes, I think katakuriko is more crispy…..??

  3. Emma D

    Oh my word, this is one of the easiest and most delicious recipes I have ever cooked. It was so good that I had to battle very hard not to eat it all myself in one go! Thank you Maggie.

    1. Maggie Post author

      Thanks so much for taking time and leaving a comment Emma! And I’m so glad to hear you like the dish. I have the same problem too, always finish a whole plate myself 😛

  4. Dona

    Your pics shows some pineapple chunks but none in your recipe. Could it be that you missed out this in your ingredients?

    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Dona, actually I used yellow bell peppers but they look like pineapple chunks 😛 We usually don’t use pineapple in sweet and sour chicken (but in another sweet dish that uses a fruity sauce), but you can add 1/4 to 1/3 cup at the end of the cooking if you want to.
      Happy cooking and let me know how the dish turns out 🙂

  5. May Chan

    Tried it for last night’s dinner. Tasty and enjoyable. Recipe/instructions are clear and easy to follow. Thanks Maggie

  6. Vikki Wood

    Loved this recipe. Worked really well. Kids
    & husband all agree. It’s one that will make a return in the house.

    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Jules, I used the raw bell peppers to cook the dish. I always prefer to add them at the end of cooking to keep their crispy texture. If you like your peppers cooked a bit more, you can add them right before adding the sauce. That way the peppers will taste be a bit more tender but retain their color.
      Happy cooking and hope your dish turns out great 🙂

  7. Karen

    Hi Maggie, I made this for dinner tonight and it was the best we have ever eaten. Puts the take out versions we have here to shame! I decreased the ginger as some don’t like ginger, but it still had the flavour I like. Hope to convert them to like ginger more! Thanks for showing us how good food should taste.

  8. Maritta

    Hello Maggie, I tried your sauce last night with pork. I like my recipe but I wanted to try your sauce, so I followed the instructions and I ended up with an amazing dish because of it. Thank you!

  9. Jennifer

    I cna’t find the video for this recipe. All I see is the “my latest video” box that place a variety of recipes, but not the video for this one.

  10. mobius981

    Just made this yesterday. It was beyond scrumptious! Next time I will use a flat bottomed frying pan (easier to sort the chucken). I will also pay better attention to the egg/cornstarch/chicken mixture amounts. That being said, nothing was hurt and I will make it again. Thank you for keeping this simple Maggie! i may add a bit of pineapple next time but NOT really needed!!! Maggie I am slowly amassing the pantry ingredients so I find your site amazingly helpful, thank you so much!! Just got the right bean paste yesterday !!!

  11. Sashi Sehgal

    Amazing, such a flavourful recipe! Maggie, it is so good to have such a good sweet and sour recipe. Its the first time I have cooked sweet and sour chicken and this recipe was rated better than our local takeout! Many thanks, really enjoy your blog!

  12. Kirt and Lisa

    Amazing first time. Will never buy another stir fry chicken again EVER. My wife LOVES IT. I’m trying the same recipe tonight with pork belly sliced similarly. If it’s good I might try again with the shoulder! THANK YOU FOR THIS AWESOME RECIPE!! (I’ll update on the pork version)

  13. Ken Murphy

    the wife and I have now had recipe three time and have now converted the daughter and her husband. Will be going through your recipes with a fine tooth comb. looking forward to more tasty meals.

  14. Liz

    Just tried the sweet and sour – it was delicious and loved your step by step instructions. Would you pls post a recipe for main course satay