Sweet & sour chicken

Sweet & sour chicken

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(59 ratings)

Prep: 20 mins Cook: 45 mins


Serves 4
Try an authentic version of this classic Chinese takeaway dish, with natural sweetness and a warm chilli flavour to spice things up

Nutrition and extra info

  • Sauce can be frozen


  • kcal654
  • fat20g
  • saturates3g
  • carbs82g
  • sugars50g
  • fibre2g
  • protein38g
  • salt0.57g
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  • sunflower or vegetable oil, for frying
  • 100ml soda water, chilled
  • 140g self-raising flour
  • 25g cornflour
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into chunks
  • spring onions, finely shredded, to serve
    Spring onions

    Spring onion

    sp-ring un-yun

    Also known as scallions or green onions, spring onions are in fact very young onions, harvested…

For the sauce

  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped into chunks
  • 3 red chillies, 1 cut into chunks, 2 halved and deseeded
  • 425g can pineapple chunks, drained and juice reserved



    With its tuft of spiky, dusty green leaves and cross-hatched, golden orange skin, the pineapple…

  • 4 star anise
    Star anise

    Star anise

    star an-eese

    Star anise is one of the central spices in Chinese cooking. It has a strong anise flavour, with…

  • 50g tamarind paste



    A seed pod from the tamarind tree that is used extensively in South-East Asian and Indian…

  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100ml rice wine vinegar or Chinese vinegar


  1. For the sauce, put the red pepper, chunks of chilli and pineapple juice in a pan and bring to the boil. Cover and cook for 10 mins, then purée in a food processor. Return to the pan with the pineapple chunks, chilli halves, star anise, tamarind, sugar and vinegar. Gently simmer for 20-30 mins until reduced and sticky. Keep warm, or reheat to serve.

  2. Fill a large pan 1cm deep with oil and heat until shimmering. Whisk the soda water and 100ml cold water into the self-raising flour with a little salt. Tip the cornflour onto a plate, line a tray with kitchen paper and turn on the oven to low.

  3. Stir the batter well. Dust the chicken with cornflour, then dip into the batter. One at a time, lower into the hot oil (about 5-6 every batch). Turn up the heat to keep the chicken frying, if needed, and cook for 5-6 mins, turning once. When cooked, drain on the tray, and keep warm in the oven. Repeat with the remaining chicken. Stack onto a plate with the warm sauce on the side, and scatter with shredded spring onions.

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Comments (54)

ariella91's picture

I'm gluten free, what substitute to self raising flour would you suggest me using?

wilow_398's picture

Amazing!! Will be making this again for sure but next time I might make the sauce in advance so I only have the chicken and rice to worry about.

ceebee56's picture

Very very nice, although I adapted it quite a bit. I didnt have red pepper or red chillies, so used green (out of the garden). No star anise or tamarind paste, so left those out. And used beer in the batter instead of soda water. But really successful. And delicious.

siobhanm's picture

This was really, really good.

janfoweraker's picture

I absolutely loved this although my husband found the sauce a bit too hot! The chicken was delicious so perhaps next time I will use a sweet chili dipping sauce. This would probably work really well with pollack or monkfish and a tartare sauce.

sarahmacp's picture

Absolutely amazing. Family loved it and will be making it again and again.

ulsterrugby's picture

Excellent, we love the tangy flavour from the star anice & if I could get away with it I'd add more chilli. Regular meal in our house now. Good man John.

purplemwendy's picture

Fabby! Can't believe how well this turned out - even hubby who apparently doesn't like sweet and sour liked this. Going to try with pork next time.
Only used 2 chillis and 2 star anise for sauce as hubby not great with really spicy food and he still thought it had a bit of a kick!

pixieden's picture

Can anyone suggest an alternative to pineapple for the sauce as I have a bit of an allergic reaction to it. Would love to do sweet and sour but stuck on what to substitute


alizonc's picture

This was awesome, bf loved it! I used the sauce recipe but I velveted the chicken for an hour before flash frying it to lower the fat content. Is now on our ever expanding try again list!

salbird's picture

This has become a family favourite! Really easy to make and delicious.

lislec's picture

Absolutely lovely recipe, me and my fiance loved it! Sauce was spicy, but we love spicy so that was great. I did struggle to reduce it by much in 20 minutes, it needed a higher heat than I had it on and another 20 minutes, but that's probably my error!

mighty_south's picture

A very nice Sweet & Sour. I made it with prawns instead of chicken though. The star anise is quite a strong flavour and I only used 3. If I cook it again I will use only 2 star anise. It needed a larger water to flour ratio but my main criticism is that there was a lot of pineapple but not enough sauce, especially as I served it with rice.

toughtoplease's picture

I love this recipe, I never do Sweet and Sour Chicken another way now. You must try this recipe! 5 stars all the way.

diself's picture

I also thought that 4 star anise and 3 chilies made it too hot which was a shame, as the basic taste was lovely. Chicken was excellent. Will leave out at least 1 star anise and maybe only use 1 chili next time.

supercook69's picture

Im not a big fan of chinese, but I thought I'd have a go at this. It was REALLY nice, I like the chicken balls. The sauce was good, thou my son struggled with it. I didn't use 3 chillies, as I knew my son wouldn't eat it. It definitely didn't need 3, just 1 is enough. I also think 4 star anise was to much too!!!

zhagan's picture

yummy, will be making again and again

peterf1061's picture

Made this a few times now. Used one chilli, left out tamarind and star anise.

Added orange juice and shaoxing wine, absolutely amazing! Thanks John!

pennyclark's picture

Only used 1 chilli and doubled quantities as feeding kids. Was amazing will defo make again

reedd87's picture

Absolutely brilliant recipe! I didn't have any tamarind paste, but apparently lemon juice is an okay alternative, and it turned out lovely.

The chicken came out really moist and tender - recommend this!


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