Sweet & sour chicken

Sweet & sour chicken

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(84 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


  • sunflower or vegetable oil, for frying
  • 100ml soda water, chilled
  • 140g self-raising flour
  • 25g cornflour
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, 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, questions and tips

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7th Jan, 2019
This is a fabulous recipe. Just cooked it for dinner this evening and it went down a treat. I substituted the vinegar for red wine vinegar as that's all I had in but it was really good! Light batter, av slight kick to the sauce and overall really tasty. Easy enough to make and quick enough too. It's recommend you to try it. I had enough batter left to do a few tempura veg too. Yummy.
Donna Wickham's picture
Donna Wickham
9th Nov, 2018
This is a great dish. We loved it. It would have been a 5 but I initially found the batter too thick and over compensated with too much soda which made the batter too thin but may have been my mistake. I also used ketchup as other reviewers and halved the star anise. I'm definitely going to make again
Tim Haig's picture
Tim Haig
2nd Nov, 2018
I made a gluten-free version of this recipe (only needed to switch the flour to GF self-raising flour) and it tasted delicious! As good, if not better, than what you'd get from a takeaway. For the sauce I used ketchup instead of tamarind paste and only 80g of sugar.
18th Feb, 2018
Swapped the Self Raising flour for gluten-free Self Raising flour and added quarter teaspoon of xanthan gum, used 200ml of sparkling water - perfect crispy batter.
28th Sep, 2017
Loved the chicken but the sauce was very sour and dark, unlike your picture, so not sure what I did wrong! I might reduce the tamarind and increase the pepper or add puree/ketchup as suggested.
15th May, 2017
Simple to make, very tasty and cheap! Didn't use tamarind as I don't generally use it in cooking so tried to tomato sauce swap. Delicious!
22nd Apr, 2017
5 stars for the chicken better than the local take away. The sauce was okay if we make it again will probably leave out the tamarind paste and use ketchup as mentioned in other comments.
Tiffany1983's picture
29th Jan, 2017
Did this last night for a Chinese new year meal and it was so tasty! Substituted the tamarind for ketchup and used only one star anise and 1 chilli. Beautifully light and crisp batter with a lovely sauce. Will be making again soon!
24th Apr, 2016
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!
29th Mar, 2016
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.


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