Sweet and sour chicken is always a take-out favorite but you can make a delicious version at home. The best part about this recipe is the chicken – it’s very crunchy and stays that way even after it’s been coated in the sweet and sour sauce. It’s so delicious!
Growing up, we ate various sweet and sour dishes: fish, pork, beef and, of course, sweet and sour chicken. It was never my favorite dish so I was very surprised when I got a serious craving for it recently. How weird, right? I’m not sure why I started craving it, but I figured I might as well make it!
When I started thinking about it, I realized one reason I never liked it was because it would often get soggy. I don’t understand why you would bread and cook the chicken so it’s nice and crispy only to douse it in a sauce which can turn it soggy pretty quick. So, I thought I would try making a version that would stay crispy even after being coated in sauce.
After experimenting I finally figured it out after doing a little research and what a difference it makes. This homemade sweet and sour chicken is crispy with the perfect amount of sauce. And the chicken stays crispy!
The Secret Ingredient for the Best Sweet and Sour Chicken
It might be surprising, but vodka is what makes the breading super crunchy. Serious Eats recently experimented with General Tso’s chicken in its latest Food Lab edition. Kenji discussed that adding vodka to the breading would make the chicken pieces crunchier. He actually did more than add vodka, but I thought I’d try only adding vodka to my egg whites and see if it helped and it did.
So, now I’m obsessed with making crunchy chicken. It tastes so good and it works every time. I used this trick to make crunchy chicken tenders, too.
This sweet and sour chicken is pretty easy to make. All you do is coat the chicken pieces in a mixture of egg white and vodka and then dredge them in cornstarch. Then just fry them and drain them on paper towels while you make the sauce.
What I love about this recipe is that the chicken actually stays crunchy for a while even after you’ve tossed the chicken pieces in the sauce. I can’t wait to use this vodka trick in other recipes.
More Chinese Take-Out Recipes
If you like this sweet and sour recipe you might like to try some of these other homemade take-out recipes, too. Or learn more about common Chinese cooking ingredients and browse some more of my favorite recipes!
- Spicy Hunan Beef
- Hot and Sour Soup
- Short-Cut Chinese Scallion Pancakes
- Beef with Broccoli
- Kung Pao Chicken
Sweet and Sour Chicken
- 1 lb boneless chicken thighs cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- egg white of 1 extra large egg
- 2 tbsp vodka
- vegetable oil for frying
for the sauce:
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 1 Tbsp light sodium soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 3 tsp cornstarch + 2 tbsp water
- Heat oil in wok or other pot being used for frying to medium-high heat. Make sure you have at least 1 inch of oil in your pot. Whisk vodka and egg white in a small bowl. Place cornstarch in a separate small bowl. Dip chicken pieces in egg white and then coat in cornstarch. Gently place into heated oil and fry until golden brown. Work in small batches until all of the chicken is fried. Place finished chicken pieces on a plate lined with paper towels to soak up excess oil.
- In a small saucepan, heat all sauce ingredient except cornstarch and water and bring to a low boil, stirring constantly with a large wooden spoon. Mix cornstarch and water in a small bowl until cornstarch is completely dissolved. Pour into boiling mixture and stir until sauce boils and thickens. Add chicken pieces into saucepan, until they are all coated. Remove and serve on plate, pouring on top any extra remaining sauce. Garnish with fresh scallions if desired.
The nutrition information provided are only estimates based on an online nutritional calculator. I am not a certified nutritionist. Please consult a professional nutritionist or doctor for accurate information and any dietary restrictions and concerns you may have.