BEST Sweet and Sour Sauce (2024)

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Look no further for what is consistently ranked the BEST sweet and sour sauce recipe on the web! There are so many ways to enjoy this popular and versatile sauce (see blog post for ideas) and it takes just 5 ingredients and only 5 minutes of prep/cook time. This homemade sweet and sour sauce couldn’t be simpler to make and it tastes so much better than store-bought or takeout!

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What is Sweet and Sour Sauce?

Sweet and sour sauce is a popular condiment made, just as its name suggests, by combining sweet and sour flavor components (a sugar and a vinegar) with a thickener to make a sauce that is used for dipping, drizzling, and incorporated into dishes. Chinese food and sweet and sour sauce go hand in hand and for that reason you’ll find it served in every Chinese restaurant and at every takeout. If you’ve never made your own, it’s time to get on board because not only is it incredibly easy, it tastes WAY better than store-bought and what you get at your local takeout. Plus it’s free of preservatives, chemicals and junk ingredients.

How To Use Sweet and Sour Sauce

Sweet and sour sauce features a balanced combination of sweet and tangy flavors, making it a versatile condiment that can be used in various ways to enhance the flavor of your dishes. Here are a few ways to use it:

  • Dipping Sauce: This is the ultimate dipping sauce for things like potstickers, egg rolls, spring rolls, wontons, dumplings, tempura, fish sticks, and chicken nuggets. Pour the sauce into small bowls to serve alongside your favorite foods and snacks.
  • Stir-Fry Sauce: Use this as a base for stir-frying vegetables, meat, or tofu. Stir fry your meat/tofu and veggies and then add the sauce towards the end of the cooking process. Toss everything together and serve it over steamed rice or noodles.
  • Marinade: Add the sauce to the meat or tofu before grilling, let it marinate for at least 30 minutes, then proceed with grilling.
  • Glaze: This works great as a glaze for grilled or roasted meats and seafood like chicken, pork, fish and shrimp. Brush the sauce over the meat during the last few minutes of cooking for a tasty, caramelized glaze. This also works great for things like baked chicken drumsticks and wings.
  • Salad Dressing: Mix some of this sauce with your salad oil, and add a dash of toasted sesame oil if you like, to make an Asian-inspired salad dressing for your greens.
  • Sandwich Spread: Use this as a spread for your sandwiches and wraps for an Asian twist. It goes particular well with chicken, turkey and pork.
  • Pizza Sauce: Get creative and drizzle this over your pizza for an Asian twist, for example chicken or ham, pineapple, peppers, and onions.

Sweet and Sour Sauce Ingredients

You need just five ingredients to make the best sweet and sour sauce: pineapple juice, vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce and ketchup. Then to thicken it you’ll need some cornstarch and water.

Do I Have To Use Red Food Coloring?

Not at all! You can make this without food coloring. One of the advantage of making homemade anything is that you don’t have to include the junk ingredients that the store-bought stuff often uses. The red food coloring is purely for aesthetics and tastes exactly the same without it. If you prefer the red color but don’t want to use chemicals in your food there are natural food coloring options and I provide a link to one option in the recipe card below.

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Sweet and Sour Sauce Recipe

Let’s get started!

Get your ingredients ready to go because making this sauce goes fast. Measure out your pineapple juice, vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce and ketchup. Prepare the cornstarch slurry and set it aside.

Add all of the ingredients except for the cornstarch slurry in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.

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Stir in the cornstarch slurry and simmer for another minute until thickened.

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You can stop at this point or, if you want, you can add 2-3 drops of food coloring to make your sauce look the way it does at the Chinese takeout. Check out this all-natural food coloring.

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Let the sauce cool completely. Store it in an airtight jar in the fridge where it will keep for up to 3 weeks.


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Watch How to Make It

For more phenomenal homemade Asian sauces be sure to try our:

  • Teriyaki Sauce
  • Yum Yum Sauce
  • Hoisin Sauce
  • Black Bean Sauce
  • Eel Sauce
  • Plum Sauce
  • Asian Salad Dressing
  • Kecap Manis
  • Sweet Chili Sauce
  • Ponzu Sauce
  • Char Siu Sauce
  • Ginger Sauce

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BEST Sweet and Sour Sauce

Kimberly Killebrew

Making your own sweet and sour sauce couldn't be any easier! Plus it's free of junk ingredients and tastes MUCH better than store-bought!

Print Recipe

4.75 from 663 votes

Prep Time 2 minutes mins

Cook Time 3 minutes mins

Total Time 5 minutes mins

Course condiment

Cuisine American, Asian, Chinese

Servings 16 servings

Calories 52 kcal


  • 1 cup canned pineapple juice , see note
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • OR brown sugar alternative (for low sugar option)
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar , found in the Asian or general vinegar section of any grocery store, or you can substitute apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari (GF)
  • For the Cornstarch Slurry: 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons water
  • Optional: 2-3 drops all-natural red food coloring (the one I've linked to is natural, colored with beets. It's in powdered form, simply stir some in to a couple of teaspoons of water and add it to the sauce)


  • Place all of the ingredients, except for the cornstarch slurry, in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir in the cornstarch slurry and simmer for another minute until thickened, stirring constantly. If using red food coloring, stir it in.

  • Let the sauce cool completely and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator where it will keep for 2-3 weeks.


* Freshly squeezed pineapple juice contains enzymes that will break down the cornstarch and prevent the sauce from remaining thick, so either use canned or bottled


Serving: 2tablespoons | Calories: 52kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Sodium: 154mg | Potassium: 47mg | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 15IU | Vitamin C: 1.7mg | Calcium: 11mg | Iron: 0.2mg

Keyword Sweet and Sour Sauce

Tried this recipe? Mention @daringgourmet or hashtag #daringgourmet

Originally published on The Daring Gourmet April 9, 2017

BEST Sweet and Sour Sauce (2024)


Which is better, la choy or kikkoman sweet and sour sauce? ›

While Kikkoman does make great soy sauce, their sweet and sour is best left on the shelf. A big step up from there is La Choy. Their sauce is bright and goopy, it's easy to understand the appeal of this well-known brand. Fruit forward, with an overwhelming pineapple flavor, this sauce starts sweet and stays sweet.

What is traditional sweet and sour sauce made of? ›

While sweet and sour can be found in diverse forms in China, the American version builds upon the simple mixture of sugar, vinegar, and spices with the addition of fruit juice—most commonly pineapple—and ketchup, giving the sauce both its red hue and uniquely Western flavor.

Why won t my sweet and sour sauce thicken? ›

If the sauce isn't thick enough, you can add one more tablespoon of cornstarch and whisk it in. But remember, the sauce will thicken even more as it cools down. So only add more cornstarch if the sauce is way too thin.

What is the batter made of in sweet and sour chicken? ›

Mix 1/4 cup cornstarch and 1/4 cup water together in a small bowl until smooth; pour into the sauce, stirring continuously, until slightly thickened. Place flour, 2 tablespoons oil, 2 tablespoons cornstarch, egg, salt, and white pepper in a large bowl; gradually whisk in 1 1/2 cups water to make a thick batter.

What happened to La Choy products? ›

The brand was purchased in 1990 from Beatrice Foods by ConAgra Foods during the LBO firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts' dismantling of the company and is still currently a property of ConAgra.

Is Chinese sweet and sour sauce healthy? ›

Sweet and sour sauce is not a good source of vitamins and minerals. It does however have 3 milligrams of vitamin C. This makes up 5% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C. Sweet and sour sauce is a high-sodium food and provides 7% of the total recommended daily intake.

What is another name for sweet and sour sauce? ›

Agrodolce — Italian for “sour, sweet,” this reduction of sugar and vinegar can be enjoyed on a variety of foods. See recipe below. Chakalaka — A South African relish made with chiles, tomatoes, peppers, cabbage vinegar, spices (like masala) and traditionally eaten with braai (barbecue).

Is sweet and sour sauce actually Chinese? ›

Some authors say that the original sweet and sour sauce (traditional Chinese: 糖醋醬; simplified Chinese: 糖醋酱; pinyin: tángcùjiàng) came from the Chinese province of Henan, but the sauce in this area is a light vinegar and sugar mixture not resembling what most people, including the Chinese, would call sweet and sour.

How do you balance sweet and sour sauce? ›

Adjust the flavor balance of your sauce: If too tart or acidic, add 1/4 tsp. sugar and stir well. If too bland or sweet, add 1/4 tsp. red wine vinegar and stir well.

What if I add too much vinegar to sweet and sour sauce? ›

If you have added too much vinegar to a recipe, you can try adding a bit of sugar or honey to help balance the acidity. You could also try diluting the vinegar by adding more of the other ingredients in the recipe.

What is in Heinz sweet and sour sauce? ›


What's the difference between General Tso's and sweet and sour chicken? ›

General Tso's chicken and sweet and sour chicken are completely different dishes. Starting with the sauce, General Tso's chicken is a sweet, spicy, and slightly tangy while sweet and sour sauce is often served on the side and is just sweet and tangy.

Do KFC batter their chicken? ›

Our iconic fried chicken is freshly prepared and hand-breaded by our trained cooks in restaurant every single day, using the type of ingredients you'd find in your kitchen at home.

Is Kikkoman sweet and sour sauce good for dipping? ›

Kikkoman® Sweet & Sour Dipping Sauce pairs excellently with both Asian and non-Asian finger foods. Blended from real pineapple, vinegar, natural sweeteners, and flavorings, Kikkoman® Sweet & Sour Dipping Sauce holds a tempting tangy flavor, an ideal dipping sauce for all kinds of foods and is ready-to-serve.

Is La Choy real soy sauce? ›

La Choy Soy Sauce is an essential, all-purpose sauce that adds a burst of authentic Asian flavor to a variety of dishes.

What is the number one soy sauce in China? ›

Pearl River Bridge Soy Sauces are the best soy sauces made in China with the basic ingredients of soybeans, salt, wheat flour and water without additives. They are widely recommended on the Internet. If the packaging label is different, however, please pay attention on the ingredients on label.

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