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.

Why this recipe

Today I want to share this easy sweet and sour chicken recipe that yields crispy chicken, sticky sauce, and crispy veggies, like the restaurant version. But the setup is more practical for any cook to make in their home kitchen. The greatest things about this recipe are:

  • No deep-frying required! You will use much less oil to pan fry the chicken. The chicken will end up super crispy and stay that way, even after it’s been tossed in the sauce.
  • The sweet and sour sauce is well balanced and rich. It is very fragrant and uses less sugar than most of the sweet and sour chicken recipes.
  • No wok required! You can use a regular skillet to make this dish taste great.

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

Cooking notes

1. How to make crispy chicken without deep frying

I hate deep-frying! That’s why I developed a formula to creating crispy chicken with a crunchy coating that is like the takeout you’d get from Chinese restaurants, without making a mess.

Simply use: oil + salt + egg + cornstarch

This combination creates a dry batter that is suitable for pan-frying. Normally, deep frying requires at least 4 to 5 cups of oil. If you use this batter, you only need 1/4 to 1/3 of a cup of oil to pan-fry the chicken in a regular skillet. Not only does it yield an extra crispy exterior and juicy, flavorful meat, but the chicken also stays crispy even after you coat it with sauce.

2. Use any cut of chicken you like

I’m a dark meat person. But using chicken breast creates awesome results, as well.

Just remember to cut the chicken into 1″ (2.5 cm) pieces. The size of the chicken pieces matters because you want the surface to turn crispy with the inside just cooked through at the same time. No matter you use breasts or thighs, they will turned out great.

3. Prep work

Before you start cooking, your countertop should have:

  • Marinated chicken that’s coated with cornstarch
  • A bowl of chopped garlic
  • Chopped onion and pepper in a plate
  • Mixed sauce

When you start the cooking, it will only last a few minutes. It’s important to prep all the ingredients before turning on the heat.

I like to group my ingredients according to the recipe (for example, place onion and peppers in one plate), so it’s easier to add them during the stir fry process.

4. Workflow

You only need to:

  • Pan fry the chicken, move all the cooked chicken to a plate.
  • Saute garlic to release fragrance.
  • Add the sauce
  • Add back chicken and veggies

NOTE: I only briefly cooked the veggies, so they are very crispy and have a vibrant color. If you prefer to cook your veggies until tender, you can add them right after you saute the garlic.

I hope you enjoy the dish!

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.

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

Sweet and Sour Chicken (Without Deep-Frying)

Restaurant-style crispy juicy sweet and sour chicken without deep frying or a wok! {Gluten Free Adaptable}
To make this dish gluten free, make sure you use a gluten free ketchup. Replace soy sauce with tamari or coconut amino, and replace Shaoxing wine with dry sherry.
Course Main
Cuisine Chinese
Keyword takeout
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 2 to 3 servings
Calories 432kcal
Author Maggie Zhu


  • 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
  • 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce (or soy sauce)
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch


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


  • Mix all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
  • Combine chicken pieces, vegetable oil, and salt in a big bowl. Mix well and let marinate for 10 to 20 minutes.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. Cook and stir a few times until it releases its fragrance.
  • 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.
  • Add back the chicken pieces, white onion, and bell peppers. (*Footnote 1) Stir to coat chicken with sauce, 30 seconds. Transfer everything to a plate immediately.
  • Serve hot as main over steamed rice.



  1. This recipe yields very crispy veggies that are only briefly cooked, to retain their vibrant colors. If you prefer your veggies to cook more, add them right after the garlic. Then stir and cook for 1 to 2 minutes before adding the sauce.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 432kcal | Carbohydrates: 22.4g | Protein: 22.4g | Fat: 27.3g | Cholesterol: 138mg | Sodium: 914mg | Potassium: 745mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 9.6g | Calcium: 2mg | Iron: 9mg

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 New York kitchen.

FREE 5-Day Chinese Cooking Crash Course

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Recipe Rating

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

  1. Robyn @ Simply Fresh Dinners

    5 stars
    Wow, I love your tutorials, Maggie, and I am truly motivated to make this for our next family get together. This looks so darn delicious!

  2. Melanie

    5 stars
    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.

  3. Pamela

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

  4. Emma D

    5 stars
    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 😛

  5. 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 🙂

  6. May Chan

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

  7. Vikki Wood

    5 stars
    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 🙂

  8. 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.

  9. 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!

  10. 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.

  11. 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 !!!

  12. Sashi Sehgal

    5 stars
    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!

  13. Kirt and Lisa

    5 stars
    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)

  14. Ken Murphy

    5 stars
    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.

  15. 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

  16. Brian

    5 stars
    Love this recipe. I’ve been makin it for a couple of months now. The texture is perfect and I like that it does not require deep frying.

    And a great side effect is that the cleanup is great.

    Finally, I’ll say it her Love many of the other dishes on your site. Well thought out and described. I’d love to see a dish I’ve had in China. It is eggplant stuffed with pork in a deep brown sauce (not soy).

  17. Lori

    I have just discovered your fab site-I feel like I’ve discovered gold! Chinese is one of our favorites and I’m so excite to learn here. Will be making this very soon! Wonderfully written post and detailed instructions. Maggie!

  18. Paul Timson

    5 stars
    Hello Maggie, I searched for an authentic egg drop soup last week and came across your recipe. It came out really good. My wife wanted egg drop soup, I am a more wonton soup person myself, my daughter really enjoyed it too. We had had as a first dish with some stir fry I made. I noticed on your site a recipe for sweet and sour chicken which we made tonight. I followed your instructions and oh my it turned out better than I could imagine. Amazing how crunchy the chicken was and especially pleased with the sauce! I can’t wait to make it again. Thank you very much for your recipes and website. I look forward to making more of your recipes.

  19. Jack

    Your recipe for sweet & sour chicken sounds good however, as you stated that the Japanese explanation is more accurate as they elaborate on the quantities etc…
    Your recipe states ONE WHOLE EGG BEATEN but the video shows ONE EGG YOKE BEATEN.
    ? ? ?

    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Jack, I’ve improved and updated the recipes since I made the video, so the ingredients are slightly different.
      I found out the batter will be crispier and stand better in the sauce if you use the whole egg. The old recipe (in my video) generates a more fluffy coating, which tastes good, but I like the new version better.
      Sorry about the confusion!

      1. Jack Qc.

        Thank you for taking the time to respond.
        Although I am occidental, I rarely eat western food. ( only when absolutely necessary )
        Chinese is my favourite but, – Japanese – Korean & Vietnamese make up the rest of my diet.
        I am always looking for improved & new recipes even though in most cases I still prefer the originals.
        I will try this one tonight.
        Thank you.

  20. Ramsha

    5 stars
    Hi Maggie, I love all of your recipe bsc it’s truly follow your rule: make the measurements accurate, the directions easy to follow, and dishes practical to make at home. Hope you have more recipe to share.

  21. Michelle Goostrey

    5 stars
    This was amazing and one of the few dishes I have followed online that didn’t need any tweaking or “I swapped this for that” – it was spot on! Even the fussy 5 year old loved it and the ever so critical 15 year old! Thank you so very much for sharing 🙂

  22. Bobby

    This is the third time I have made this dish and since I hate to deep fry your method works very well for me. It is sooooooooooo delicious! I never cared for sweet and sour chicken but my wife loves it so I learned how to make from your recipe and now I’m eating it as well. Thank you so much.

  23. Sarah

    5 stars
    So easy to make. Glad I didn’t cave in to the Friday temptation to get takeaway. This was so much better! Yum!

  24. Paola Moore

    5 stars
    Hi Maggie, Wow loved this recipe. Firstly it was easy to prepare thanks to your clear instructions, secondly it actually looked like the glamorous photos (that doesn’t often happen), and lastly it tasted so good. We were decorating and I wanted to prepare something quick and this was perfect. Thank you

  25. Nancy Perine

    Hi there! I had fun cruising around your website/blog. Your recipe for Sweet & Sour Chicken caught my eye. I always have frozen chicken thighs on hand, and I had everything else called for in your recipe. So it was a natural. We had friends over for dinner and we all really enjoyed the Sweet & Sour Chicken. Thanks for sharing!!

  26. Michelle

    5 stars
    I love this, it makes for a great base which is super malleable.

    I had no rice vinegar so I used malt and a bit of balsamico. I also used flour instead of cornstarch.

    It was absolutely fantastic and way better than any take away (not to mention it lasted 2 days and costed like 10 bucks!)

  27. Marjorie

    Hi Maggi. Hoping to make this over the weekend. Looks delicious, however in the method it says to add ginger and garlic, but doesn’ state ginger or how much in the ingredients.

    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Marjorie, I just updated the recipe and deleted ginger from the instruction. I used it in my test recipe but decided to skip it to keep the ingredient list a bit shorter. Happy cooking!

  28. Marienne Balmaceda

    Thank you very much Maggie for this simple and very tasty recipe. I just cooked this one tonight since I have some guests coming over for dinner in the house. Everybody loves it and gives a “10”! Perfect! Would definitely cook it again and try your other recipes. Again, you saved my day!
    Thank you very much.

  29. Michael

    5 stars
    This recipe is absolutely amazing. Whole family loved. Can’t wait to make more recipes from omnivores cookbook. Thank you Maggie

  30. Lesley davies

    This is an absolutely fantastic recipe – easy to make and better than takeaway. We’re self isolating and this was a lovely treat. Will become a regular dinner.

  31. Liz B.

    5 stars
    Great recipe! I doubled this and used diluted tomato paste instead of ketchup since I never have ketchup on hand. The crispy chicken (before adding the sauce) was perfect in taste and texture even on its own. I cooked it in batches so it could get nice and browned, and actually found it helped not to separate the pieces until after they’d been flipped – just made it easier to flip when they were in one big connected piece. My big mistake was getting impatient at the end when I put the sauce in the pan and adding all the chicken and veggies in at once – I ruined the crispiness I’d built. BUT the flavor was still so good! I added green beans at the very end, and with 3 chopped up bell peppers and 2 lbs chicken thighs + rice it made leftovers for the whole week!

  32. Peter Beckles

    4 stars
    This is my second stab at this recipe.
    I didn’t apply your ‘mise en place’ principle so things got a bit scrambled toward the end and the veg got slightly overcooked..
    I realise that the great thing about Chinese cooking in particular is preparation.
    Technique follows.
    But I’m getting better at them.

  33. Darleen

    Made this tonight and it was AMAZING!!! thank you! everyone loved it (me, my husband and 18 and 19 yr old boys) I had just over 2 lbs of chicken so I cooked it in three batches first. Doubled everything else and it was perfect. I used my 14″ wok. Thank you for the video, that helped with the chicken. It came out nice a crispy. Loved the egg drop soup as well 🙂 and I just purchased your cookbook . Looking forward to cooking more of your recipes.

  34. Olwyn

    Hi Maggie, I’m relatively new to your site, and I tried the Sweet and Sour Chicken recipe. My family and I enjoyed it so much that I immediately went ahead and bought all the ingredients you recommended in your “crash course” in order to continue making your recipes. And, although I already had Kikkoman soy sauce in the pantry, I purchased superior light soy sauce and superior dark soy sauce because i wanted to be as authentic as possible. So can you please tell me, when one of the ingredients in your recipes calls for “soy sauce,” which one should I use? I hope this is not a silly question, because you may have already specified this somewhere and I forgot! Thank you so much for your recipes–I’m excited about continuing to make them. P.S. I also purchased The Chinese Stir Fry Sauce Cookbook, and I’m looking forward to delving in! Thanks again!


    1. Maggie Post author

      So happy to hear you like my recipes and would like to learn more about Chinese cooking! To answer your question, when I mention soy sauce in the recipe, you can either use the Kikkoman soy sauce or the light soy sauce. The regular soy sauce adds a bit color to the dish, and the light soy sauce won’t but will make the dish slightly saltier. They are pretty much interchangeable. For dark soy sauce, I use it whenever I want to add color to a dish. For example, when you make beef chow fun, soy sauce fried rice, or braised meat.

  35. Theresa

    5 stars
    Excellent recipe, everyone loved it. I used pork tenderloin instead of chicken because that’s what I had on hand. Next time I make it I will double the sauce, there wasn’t quite enough for my liking.

  36. Heather

    5 stars
    This is really good. It’s a bonus that it’s simple and quick and it keeps well for leftovers. Total winner. Better than at restaurants.

  37. Barbara

    5 stars
    This is a really great way of preparing the chicken!! I also appreciate your workflow directions, very helpful. I did tweak the recipe a little by adding pineapple chunks and juice to it. The recipe just needed a little more sauce, since I added another thigh. I had been planning to make another recipe, and then I came across yours. Yummy, definitely a keeper!

  38. Marina

    5 stars
    I see no-deep-frying and I think this recipe is for me, cause I prefer to use my oil-free fryer for every meal.
    Thank you so much for sharing.

    I have a question, can I replace 2 tablespoons rice vinegar with Mirin (Japan cooking wine)?

    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Marina, I do not recommend using mirin because it’s a sweet wine and taste very different from rice vinegar. You can use another vinegar as replacement, for example, apple cidar vinegar or distilled vinegar. It will change the balance of the sweet and sour sauce but it should be OK.

  39. Dennis Alabaugh

    5 stars
    Hello Maggie, a special thanks for sharing your recipes with all to enjoy. I just tried this recipe for the third time- 3 times is a charm here. My girlfriend/roommate wanted Chinese take out really bad. I explained that we can enjoy this recipe here at home and the taste will be better than takeout and all in 45 minutes. She is so skeptical and lazy this day. But she agreed and I had her make my ( your ) sauce. I used my 14” stainless steel frying pan this time and NAILED the recipe. The flavors were bursting in our mouths. She enjoyed every bite, and the next day I ate the rest for lunch- and I was so surprised of its flavor still bursting and no lost texture. I now have bragging rights- because I have my very own Chinese Chief .
    My home to your home-Thank you.

    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Dennis, thanks so much for your kind words and I’m so happy to hear that you and your girlfriend both enjoyed the dish 🙂 Have a great day!