Sweet and Sour Chicken Recipe

It’s been a while in the coming, but this is a sweet and sour chicken recipe worth waiting for. I guarantee it. There is never one mouthful left at the end of dinner when this dish is served.

Us Wright’s like our traditions, and one that began to develop was one of having a Chinese take-away on a Friday evening.

It was starting to get a little expensive. As the Kids grow older they eat more (more than me very often) and as we sit down together after a 3-hour dance class to eat, they are super hungry.

Now I’m not averse to paying for take-out food from time to time. However when it’s no longer a special occasion or something to look forward to, then it’s a lot of money to find on top of the grocery spend each week.  About £25 to be exact. Some weeks my grocery bill is only £50 – not hard to work out that’s a 50% increase on spend.

But that’s not the only reason I wanted to consider my options.

By making my own sweet and sour chicken recipe I know exactly what is in the dish, and can also adapt the ingredients to suit.

There’s no getting away from it, this dish contains sugar and salt. However the way I make it, it also can contain free-range chicken, organic vegetables and no MSG. I like knowing what is in my food, it’s one of my *things*. Occasionally I do use ready-made sauces for convenience, but this isn’t the norm. If I have time, and because I enjoy cooking for family and friends (I feel as though there’s a good dollop of love going in the pan also), if I can, I like to make dishes from scratch , or as close to scratch as possible. I’m not quite up to milking cows or keeping bees just yet.

Without further ado:

Sweet and sour chicken recipe – serves 4

You will need:

3 to 4 skinless chicken breasts (depending on size and also have generous you’d like the portions)

2 celery sticks

2 medium-sized carrots

2 green peppers

3 or 4 shallots (depending on size)

1 crushed garlic clove

1 inch of grated fresh ginger

9 tbsp of rice wine vinegar or I use Aldi’s Velvety Fig Vincotto (wine vinegar and fig juice) which I love. love. love (not sponsored!)

6 tbsp of clear honey

6 tbsp of soy sauce

6 tbsp of tomato puree

2 tbsp of brown sugar

Vegetable oil

Medium egg noodles


Preparing the vegetables is probably the most time-consuming element regarding hands-on in this recipe. I tend to prep my vegetables earlier in the day and leave them soaking in water to drain and add later.

sweet and sour chicken vegetables

Cut the carrots, celery and peppers into matchstick size pieces as equally as possible.

In a wok add a splash of vegetables oil and fry the garlic, shallots and ginger for about 2 minutes.


Add the chicken, and pan fry for a further 5 minutes until nicely browned and sealed.

chicken in wok

Then add the prepared vegetables and continue to stir fry on a medium heat while they soften.

stir fry vegetables

Remember to keep tossing the chicken and vegetables so everything cooks evenly and to reduce burning.

While keeping an eye on the wok, make the sauce.

(I actually make my sauce in advance also – this means I have minimal prep to do at dinner time and can have the dish on the table in around 15-20 minutes. This way I do not have very hungry children pacing the floor and snacking on the prawn crackers!)

homemade sweet and sour sauce

Into a small pan add the rice wine vinegar, honey, soy sauce, sugar, tomato puree and gently heat until it’s all dissolved. Once warmed and smooth take off the heat and put to one side.

Once happy that the chicken is cooked thoroughly and the vegetables are softened as required, add the sauce to the wok and coat everything evenly. Reduce heat and allow to warm through.

sweet and sour sauce in pan

While the wok is simmering, cook the medium egg noodles as per the instructions – this typically takes 3-4 minutes.

sweet and sour chicken with noodles

Drain the noodles, top with the sweet and sour chicken, and serve with prawn crackers for a fantastic Chinese meal at less than the cost of a takeaway for four people. I estimate sweet and sour chicken recipe costs around £2 to £2.50 pp instead of about £6 for a takeaway meal.

sweet and sour chicken with prawn crackers

Do you have any great home-made alternatives to take-out food to share?

{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Jean Iris Dahlquist February 22, 2016, 7:44 pm

    I would love to do this with tofu, but I can never seem to get the tofu fried like it is in the restaurants. (vegetarian) A lot of American Chinese food sauces also use brown sugar, which is very important for the taste, but m boyfriend will not eat it being paleo. Suggestions? I did just make a delicious pad thai though! It was for me, not the boy, so I didn’t care about the sugar. 🙂

    • jo@simplybeingmum February 22, 2016, 9:38 pm

      How coincidental – I was researching paleo alternatives to soy sauce when I noticed you’d commented! I’d just leave the sugar out – there’s a lot of honey in it – it’ll probably be fine. There’s a lot of talk about using ‘liquid aminos’ instead of soy sauce also on the paleo forums (whatever that is?) but I guess it’s how strict you are. I can see why you’d omit the sugar though. In fact I’m going to try that next time myself. The plan is to make a paleo accompaniment instead of noodles here. I’m thinking either courgette strips or cauliflower fried ‘rice’ which isn’t rice…

      • jo@simplybeingmum February 22, 2016, 9:41 pm

        Ref the tofu – I’ve never tried stir-frying it. My suggestion would be try with say maybe a sweet potato as an alternative if it needs bulking up – or just extra veg – maybe cauliflower or broccoli – you just never know what will work till you try 🙂

      • Jean Iris Dahlquist February 26, 2016, 5:17 pm

        My boyfriend does the cauliflower fried rice well, which means it is okay. I’ve seen a few recipes for paleo gnocchi. I was thinking about that. And you are right! I have heard about the coconut aminos. Worth a shot. I had completely forgotten that soy sauce is not paleo.

  • VicsF February 23, 2016, 8:25 pm

    Ooooh this looks tasty! I’ve been looking for a tasty Chinese noodle recipe for a while so think we’ll try this with the kids on Friday. I *might* make it with tofu,or veggie chicken pieces. Thanks Jo!

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