It’s one of our favorite meals to eat out – sweet and sour chicken. Whenever we’re at our favorite Chinese food restaurant, one of us always orders this dish. There’s something about that contrast of crunchy with sweet that is just so comforting and delicious. As much as we love the convenience of eating out, there’s something to be said about recreating our favorite restaurant dishes right in the comfort of our own kitchen. We’ve found a great at-home version of this classic menu item, an easy sweet n’ sour chicken that rivals what we get when we eat out.
The sauce is super important here, as it’s the glue that brings all elements of the dish together. We whisk several different ingredients together, including brown sugar and honey along with rice vinegar and soy sauce. Sweet and sour are a lovely combination, but so too is sweet and heat, so for that reason we occasionally like to use a chili pepper, seeded and diced, to bring a little kick into each bite of the dish. Of course, feel free to skip the heat if it’s too much for your hungry bunch. We like to use diced red bell pepper too.
A tender chicken breast comes from a light batter that coats the chicken, locking in moisture. We fry it to perfection then give it a few minutes to rest. While the chicken rests, we work on that all-important sweet n’ sour sauce. As this warms and thickens in the pan, we start to salivate as the kitchen fills with the most amazing aromas. Just before we’re ready to serve, we put the chicken back into the skillet with the sauce and allow everything just a few more minutes together before we grab a plate and get ready to enjoy a wonderful meal. A scoop of rice topped sweet and sour chicken and extra sauce drizzled over the top is pure perfection. For nights when we can’t go out our favorite restaurant, a meal like this is the next best thing.
1 ½ pounds chicken breast, pounded to even thickness
2 tablespoons water
½ cup corn starch
¼ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup crushed pineapple
1 chili pepper, seeded and finely diced OR 1 bell pepper, seeded and diced
½ yellow onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ginger, minced
½ cup apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons honey
⅓ cup brown sugar
¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons ketchup
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
3 tablespoons cooking oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro, garnish
Whisk honey, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, ketchup, honey, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and crushed pineapple in a small bowl and set aside.
Combine corn starch and flour in a large plastic bag. Set aside.
In a shallow dish, beat eggs with 2 tablespoons water. Dredge chicken breasts in the egg mixture. Transfer to the plastic bag and shake until well coated with flour mixture.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook chicken breasts, 4 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Remove from skillet and set aside.
In the same skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil. Sauté chili pepper (or bell pepper, if using) and onion until softened. Pour in soy sauce mixture and stir until just thickened. Add red pepper flakes, if using, and stir to combine.
Return chicken to skillet and toss with sauce.
Slice into thin strips and serve over top of rice or noodles, spooning extra sauce over top of the chicken to serve.
Sprinkle over chopped cilantro for garnish.