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)

AuroraLondon's picture

This is certainly a keeper. Batter was light and crispy although I did have to do quite a few test cubes of chicken before I got the temperature right that cooked the chicken right through and had a golden batter rather than burnt batter and raw chicken! Sauce was so fresh tasting but the whack of chilli quickly after meant we had to use as a dip rather than a sauce. Will try this again without the chilli and also used ketchup as suggested rather than tamarind. Would also double up sauce as there didn't seem enough for the amount of pineapple. Very impressed with the recipe and will never get this as a takeout ever again!

mrsskellers's picture

This is really nice, although with the chilli it's more like a kung po than a sweet & sour. I will definitely make again but with slightly less star anise and chilli. The crispy chicken is really nice.

broadhaven's picture

I made the chicken nuggets for my grandson a while ago and liked them so much that thought I would make the whole meal.
I made a couple of changes. When I saw the amount of sugar on my scales ( I used half caster and half brown sugar) I litterly couldn't put that vast amount of sugar in, so I used about 60g. Next time though I think I may add some honey and less sugar to sweeten it. I also used ketchup instead of tamarind and added some carrot sticks.
Overall it was very good and hubby thought it was great. Will definitely be doing it again. Thanks GF :-)

pinkpuffin250's picture

I made this this evening for my husband and two children, super easy and so delicious....much better than from the takeaway. We will definitely be having this again!!

AliceStewart's picture

The sauce is delicious, after reading comments i left out the tamarind and replaced it with ketchup. I served it as a main with noodles! won't be ordering this from the takeaway again, a real winner!

pauleastham's picture

All good, but I found the tamarind paste made the sauce go a muddy colour. I leave it out now.

julie_ness's picture

This recepie was a BIG hit with the family, bearing in mind my partner is an extremely fussy eater.

Just made a few adjustments:
I didnt have any Tamarind Paste so replaced this with Ketchup, roughly 1 tablespoon.
Instead of making the chicken balls I cut up two chicken breasts & fried them for roughly 10 minutes then added them to the sauce to cook for aprox 30 minutes.

Next time I will use Tamarind Sauce & attempt the chicken balls.

3 chillies definitely give it a good kick so if you dont like your food spicy then it might be worth trying it with 2 chillies instead.

Enjoy :)

mrsmammy's picture

Two out of three of us loved this recipe, the other said he enjoyed it but would prefer less star anise next time - cut by half probably. I followed this recipe to the letter and would make again.

ellenandandy's picture

We really enjoyed this recipe-made it for friends a few times. The tamarind, chili and star anise are nice together with the sweetness of the sauce. If you like sweet and sour sauce-I would def recommend making it.

cheekynieki's picture

Not sure if something went wrong, but we didn't really enjoy this. The sauce was very sweet and we didn't like the batter. Won't be making this again.

cheekynieki's picture

Maybe I didn't cook it properly, but it wasn't for me. The sauce was very sweet, too sweet and the batter for the chicken wasn't very nice. I think we will stick with takeaway Chinese.

sarahclooney's picture

I don't understand what I am doing wrong but I have tried twice now and the sauce just turns a horrible brown colour is really sour and inedible. I was using rice vinegar instead of rice wine vinegar the first time but even with that corrected it is still awful.

simbasurrey's picture

Absolutely gorgeous. Made it without the chilli and star anise and added a bit of ketchup to the sauce. Easy to make and my 2 year old loved it!

lynnymac's picture

This outshines any Chinese restaurant variety. My family loved it.... From my 15 year old son to my 81 yr old mother!!
Would def only use 1 star anise It's a very overpowering flavour!

vaneyk's picture

I made a few small changes. I skinned the red paprika and chili, because I didn't like all the bits of skin in the sauce. Instead of tamarind paste I added 2 tablespoons of ketjap (soy sauce), 2 tablespoons of ketchup, and I substituted brown sugar for the white sugar. I thickened the sauce with cornflour, because after 30 min of simmering it was still a bit too runny. I added stir fried garlic, spring onions and green paprika to the finished sauce to add a bit more veges. The chicken was a bit bland, so I sprinkled it with salt as soon as it came out of the deep fryer.

Aunt Jane's picture

Beautiful recipe! Never again will we eat take away so easy! Only downside is my house smelt like a fish and chip shop for 2 days after! Well worth it though. I am making it for 15 on sat....

Drydoni's picture

Absolutely delicious!!!!!couldn't believe how good this tasted so much better than the Chinese!cant wait to make again!!!!!

emz1981's picture

I have used this recipe 3 times as it's so good. The batter really is amazing when you use the soda water, makes it so light. Thanks!

lulu_lala's picture

I made this recipe tonight and it tasted great! I replaced the tamarind with ketchup because at the last minute I realised I'd ran out of tamarind...anyway, a dollop of ketchup worked well as a replacement (I guessed it wouldn't make much difference because tamarind is such a delicate flavour anyway). Absolutely vital to use the star anise, which really makes this dish. Big fan of John Torodes!!

ariella91's picture

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


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