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.
5 from 25 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: takeout
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 2 to 3 servings
Calories: 432kcal
Author: Maggie Zhu

Ingredients

  • 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

Sauce

  • 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

Stir-fry

  • 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)

Instructions

  • 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.

Video

Notes

  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.

Nutrition

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.

Disclosure

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.
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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.

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59 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!

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  3. Pamela

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

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
    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 😛

      Reply
  5. Dona

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

    Reply
    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 🙂

      Reply
  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

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
    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 🙂

      Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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!

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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 !!!

    Reply
  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!

    Reply
  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)

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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

    Reply
  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).

    Reply
  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!

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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.
    ? ? ?

    Reply
    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!

      Reply
      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.

    Reply
  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 🙂

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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!

    Reply
  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

    Reply
  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!!

    Reply
  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!)

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
    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!

      Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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

    Reply
  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.

    Reply