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Homemade Sweet and Sour Sauce is easy to make at home in just a few minutes with just a few pantry staples! It tastes delicious on chicken, shrimp, or pork.
What is Sweet and Sour Sauce?
As a kid, I could not understand how something could be sweet and sour at the same time. Wouldn’t one flavor cancel the other? All I knew was when my mother made sweet and sour chicken, I loved it and never found it particularly sweet or sour. So weird! But as I’ve gotten older, I can appreciate a dish that contains both sweet flavors and a hit of sour. Sweet and Sour Sauce is common in a lot of Asian cuisine, but has been Americanized and can be found in a lot of western dishes.
A good sauce can make or break a recipe! And homemade sauces always taste better and you’re able to control nutrition and calories better with a homemade recipe. Try making our homemade barbecue sauce for your next cook-out, or this rich, creamy alfredo sauce for pasta night.
Sweet and Sour Sauce Ingredients
This sweet and sour sauce recipe is made with ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen. No unique spices or unusual ingredients to search for at a specialty store. Here’s all you need:
- One can of pineapple juice. I like to have a few cans on hand in my pantry for recipes. It adds a tangy flavor to the sauce. You can use fresh pineapple juice too.
- Light brown sugar. Here’s your “sweet” in the sweet and sour. Brown sugar gives a richer flavor than white sugar and a gorgeous color.
- Rice vinegar. This is different than regular white vinegar. The rice vinegar has a sweeter taste, much like apple cider vinegar, which is a good option if you can’t find rice vinegar.
- Good old ketchup. This ingredient gives the sauce an acidic flavor to balance out the sweet and adds to the beautiful red color.
- Soy sauce is your next ingredient. Low sodium soy sauce is a great alternative to regular because it tastes the same and cuts down on sodium.
- Cornstarch mixture. This will be used to thicken the sauce. See more on how to do this below.
- If you want to make a richer red color, use a couple of drops of all-natural red food coloring.
How To Use Sweet and Sour Sauce
Use this recipe as a dipping sauce for dumplings, spring rolls, raw vegetables, chicken nuggets, or fried shrimp. Or coat the sauce on breaded chicken for a traditional sweet and sour chicken or sweet and sour pork dish. The possibilities for using this sauce are endless! Try it in (or on) any of these tasty recipes:
- Crock Pot Sweet and Sour Meatballs
- Sweet and Sour Chicken
- Cream Cheese Wontons
- Shrimp Spring Rolls
- Pork and Veggie Potstickers
- Sweet and Sour Baked Chicken
- Fresh Spring Rolls
- Sausage Egg Rolls
Make It Without Pineapple Juice
No pineapple juice? No problem! You can omit the pineapple juice and just add ¼ cup more rice vinegar. It’ll still taste perfectly sweet and sour.
How To Thicken Sweet and Sour Sauce
In a small bowl, make a slurry of cornstarch by mixing a tablespoon of corn starch (or a a little bit more) with two tablespoons of cold water. Then, slowly stir into the boiling sauce. It’ll thicken up nicely and will give the sauce a glossy sheen. So pretty!
Add a Little Kick
Want a little kick to your sweet and sour sauce? A little chili sauce or sriracha will do the trick! Start with a teaspoon and add until it’s the desired spiciness you like. You can even serve with some sriracha on the side so your spice lovers can add more to their sauce if desired.
Can this Sweet and Sour Sauce be Frozen?
Yes! In fact, because this sauce is so easy to make, you can whip up a double or triple batch and store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to three months. Thaw by heating in a small saucepan and then adding to your recipe. This sauce will stay good in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Just make sure to let the sauce cool entirely before staring in the fridge.
More Tasty Asian-Inspired Recipes
How to Make Homemade Sweet and Sour Sauce
Homemade Sweet and Sour Sauce
- 1 cup pineapple juice (or the juice from one, 15 ounce can of pineapple tidbits)
- 3/4 cup brown sugar (packed)
- 1/2 cup rice vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 drop red food coloring (optional)
For the cornstarch slurry/thickener
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 3 tablespoons water
- Combine pineapple juice, brown sugar, rice vinegar, ketchup, and soy sauce in a medium saucepan over medium high heat, whisking often to combine ingredients.
- Bring to a small boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Combine cornstarch and water in a small bowl until cornstarch dissolves. Slowly add to the sweet and sour sauce, whisking constantly. Only thicken until sauce is just thick enough to coat a spoon. You may not need all of the cornstarch mixture. Remember: the sauce will thicken upon standing.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool. Serve immediately or place in an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to serve.
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This is so yummy and perfect for egg rolls! I bought the frozen one from trader joe’s and this dipping sauce takes it to the next level!
This was so much better than bottled sauce. Thanks for the recipe.