Hong Kong-Style Sweet And Sour Chicken Recipe

There are few dishes more flavorful, satisfying, and well-loved than sweet and sour chicken. This comforting version of the dish, created by recipe developer Jennine Rye, is quicker and easier to cook than it may seem, and once you give it a go we are sure it will become a firm family favorite around the dinner table.

So, what is "Hong Kong" style sweet and sour chicken? Hong Kong cuisine differs slightly from classic Cantonese style dishes, and can often have a more Western influence; for example, using ketchup as an ingredient for making sauce. It also uses a lighter type of batter, which is made with egg white and cornstarch, and the sauce is deliciously balanced and not over-sweet.

With juicy, flavorful chicken that has been coated in a perfectly light, crisp batter, and then smothered in a delightfully tangy and sweet sauce, this sweet and sour chicken recipe is mouthwateringly good — you won't be able to stop at just one bowl!

Gather the ingredients for this Hong Kong-style sweet and sour chicken

To begin this Hong Kong-style sweet and sour chicken recipe, you will need to gather the ingredients. Although it may feel like a lot, many of the ingredients are kitchen pantry staples; you might be surprised at just how short the shopping list turns out to be! The fresh ingredients you need are chicken thighs, an onion, red and green bell peppers, and ginger. You will also need soy sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar, garlic, black pepper, egg white, cornflour, ketchup, rice wine vinegar, chili flakes, and sesame seeds.

This recipe also calls for pineapple chunks and pineapple juice. We recommend buying tinned pineapple for this. You get both ingredients in one tin, it tastes just as great, and it saves the fuss of chopping up a whole pineapple!

Marinade the chicken

To make the most succulent and flavorful sweet and sour chicken, you will want to marinade the chicken before frying it. To do this, add the chopped chicken thighs to a bowl along with soy sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar, garlic, and black pepper. Simply mix it together and allow it to sit for 10 minutes.

This recipe uses chicken thigh rather than breast meat, as it is more affordable and much less likely to dry out, resulting in deliciously tender and juicy chicken. However, in this dish these different cuts of chicken can be used interchangeably, so if you personally prefer chicken breast, feel free to swap it in.

Make the sweet and sour sauce

While the chicken marinades, it's time to make the sweet and sour sauce. Simply add pineapple juice, rice wine vinegar, ketchup, soy sauce, sugar, garlic powder, and a pinch of chili flakes to a small saucepan, and heat everything up until the ingredients have combined to make a smooth sauce. To thicken it, mix cornflour and water into a slurry and add it to the saucepan. Stir everything together and allow it to simmer for a few minutes while it thickens, until the sauce thinly coats the back of a spoon. Then, turn off the heat and set the finished sweet and sour sauce to one side.

Fry the chicken

To fry the chicken, you can use a couple of different methods depending on what tools you have available to you. You can use a deep fryer, or fill a pan with oil and use a kitchen thermometer to keep an eye on the temperature of the oil. An air fryer is also a great option if you have one; just spray the chicken with cooking oil and fry it like usual.

Before frying the marinaded chicken, simply mix it with the egg white and then the cornflour, so that all the chicken chunks are evenly coated. Then add it to the fryer and allow the chicken to cook until it is crispy and golden. 

Assemble the sweet and sour chicken

Now that all the separate components are ready, it's time to assemble the sweet and sour chicken. Start by heating up cooking oil in a pan or wok, and then fry the onions and peppers for a few minutes. Add the ginger and then the garlic and continue to fry until it is fragrant. Then, simply add the fried chicken, the sweet and sour sauce, and the pineapple chunks to your pan or wok. Mix everything together and allow it to heat through until everything is piping hot, and then serve straight away with a side of rice and greens, and a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds.

This Hong Kong-style sweet and sour chicken is best enjoyed fresh to make the most of the crisp batter on the chicken. However, leftovers can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to three days.

Hong Kong-Style Sweet And Sour Chicken Recipe
5 from 34 ratings
This Hong Kong-style sweet and sour chicken recipe is just as good (if not better than) takeout.
Prep Time
Cook Time
Sweet and sour chicken serving
Total time: 40 minutes
  • 1 pound chicken thighs, roughly chopped
  • 3 ½ tablespoons soy sauce, divided
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sesame oil
  • ½ cup + 1 teaspoon brown sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon powdered garlic, divided
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
  • oil, for frying
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 cup + 1 tablespoon cornstarch, divided
  • ¾ cup + 2 tablespoons pineapple juice
  • 4 tablespoons ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • Pinch of chili flakes
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • ½ red bell pepper, chopped
  • ½ green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1-inch knob fresh ginger, cut into matchsticks
  • ½ cup pineapple chunks
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds, to serve
  1. Place the chopped up chicken thighs in a medium sized bowl, and add 1 ½ tablespoons of soy sauce, 1 ½ tablespoons of sesame oil, 1 teaspoon of brown sugar, ½ teaspoon of powdered garlic, and ½ teaspoon of black pepper. Mix everything together and then set the chicken aside to marinade for 10 minutes.
  2. Preheat a deep fryer to 350 F, or heat up oil in a large pan; the oil should be at least 1-inch deep. Use a cooking thermometer to keep track of the oil's temperature.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, add the pineapple juice, the rice wine vinegar, the ketchup, 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, ½ cup of brown sugar, ¼ teaspoon of garlic powder, and a pinch of chili flakes.
  4. Heat up the saucepan to a medium heat until the ingredients are simmering, stirring regularly. When all of the sugar has dissolved and the ingredients are combined, mix together 1 tablespoon of cornstarch in a small bowl with a little water to form a slurry, then add it to the saucepan. Stir the slurry into the sweet and sour sauce, and allow it to simmer for a few minutes longer as it thickens. Once the sauce thinly coats the back of a spoon, turn the heat off and set the sauce to the side.
  5. When the fryer or the oil is up to temperature, add the egg white to the bowl with the marinading chicken and mix it in. Then, add 1 cup of cornstarch and thoroughly mix that into the chicken until it is coated.
  6. Place the cornstarch-coated chicken into the deep fat fryer or oil, and allow it to fry for a few minutes until it is golden all over and cooked through. Once cooked, remove the chicken and place it into a kitchen towel-lined bowl, to absorb any excess oil.
  7. In a large frying pan or wok, heat up 1 tablespoon of frying oil to a medium-hot temperature. Add the chopped onion, red pepper, and green pepper to the pan and fry for 3 minutes. Then add the matchsticks of ginger and ¼ teaspoon of garlic powder, and fry everything for a minute longer until fragrant. Add the fried chicken to the pan, along with the sweet and sour sauce, and the pineapple chunks. Mix everything together and cook until it is heated through, about 3 to 4 minutes. Serve hot and fresh from the pan, with rice and greens, and a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds.
Calories per Serving 1,042
Total Fat 75.1 g
Saturated Fat 9.5 g
Trans Fat 0.3 g
Cholesterol 111.1 mg
Total Carbohydrates 70.7 g
Dietary Fiber 2.3 g
Total Sugars 31.7 g
Sodium 1,038.9 mg
Protein 22.3 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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