Crispy Sweet And Sour Pork Recipe

If you've ever eaten at a Chinese restaurant or ordered Chinese takeout, you know just how popular sweet and sour dishes are. This sticky and succulent flavor combo is known and loved around the world, and with good reason. While sweet and sour meat, seafood, and veggie dishes are a cinch to order out — or DIY with ready-made sauces from the store — we wholeheartedly recommend cooking them from scratch. It's far more straightforward than you'd think, and it tastes heaps better than anything from a package.

This sweet and sour pork from recipe developer Jennine Rye stars tender pieces of diced pork shoulder, which are marinated in an aromatic sauce before being tossed in cornstarch and fried to crispy perfection. The pork is accompanied by a colorful medley of stir-fried bell peppers, sharp onions, and sweet and tangy pineapple chunks, then coated in a deliciously sticky, sweet, and tangy sauce just before serving so it stays nice and crisp. Trust us when we say that this restaurant favorite is even more irresistible when homemade — and comes together in less time than it takes to wait for your go-to delivery order.

Gather the ingredients for this crispy sweet and sour pork recipe

This crispy sweet and sour pork recipe begins with marinated pork, for which you'll need soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, black pepper, and pork shoulder. The sweet and sour sauce comes together with cornstarch, pineapple chunks in juice, ketchup, rice wine vinegar, additional soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and brown sugar. The stir-fry calls for more cornstarch, as well as onion, bell peppers, garlic, and ginger. Finally, you might optionally like to finish off the sweet and sour pork with a sprinkling of chopped scallions.

Step 1: Mix up the marinade

To make the marinade, combine soy sauce, sesame oil, crushed garlic, grated ginger, and a pinch of black pepper in a large bowl.

Step 2: Marinate the pork

Add the chopped pork and stir to coat, then set aside to marinate at room temperature.

Step 3: Make a cornstarch slurry

For the sweet and sour sauce, combine cornstarch with 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl, and set aside.

Step 4: Combine the sweet and sour sauce ingredients

In a medium saucepan, combine only the pineapple juice (the chunks will be used later) with ketchup, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, and the cornstarch slurry.

Step 5: Simmer the sauce

Place the sweet and sour mixture over medium heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until smooth and combined.

Step 6: Set it aside

Remove sauce from the heat and set aside.

Step 7: Heat up your frying oil

Fill a deep fat fryer (or a large saucepan) with at least 3 inches of frying oil and bring to 350 F.

Step 8: Toss the pork in cornstarch

For the stir-fry, mix ½ cup cornstarch into the marinated pork and let sit for 2 minutes.

Step 9: Add a second cornstarch coating

Add the remaining ¾ cup cornstarch to the pork and throughly toss to coat.

Step 10: Fry the pork

Immediately transfer the coated pork to the hot oil and fry for 3-4 minutes until golden and cooked through. This may need to be done in batches.

Step 11: Drain the fried pork

Transfer the fried pork to a paper towel-lined dish to absorb any excess oil and set aside.

Step 12: Heat some more oil in a pan

Add 1 tablespoon frying oil to a large, deep frying pan over medium-high heat.

Step 13: Stir-fry the vegetables

Add onions and peppers and stir-fry for 3-4 minutes.

Step 14: Add garlic and ginger

Add julienned ginger and sliced garlic cloves and fry for 1 more minute, until fragrant.

Step 15: Finish the stir-fry

Reduce heat to medium and add the pineapple chunks and sweet and sour sauce.

Step 16: Toss the pork in the sauce

Once the sauce is hot, transfer the crispy pork to the pan and toss thoroughly to coat.

Step 17: Serve

Serve immediately, topped with chopped scallions, if desired.

What pairs well with sweet and sour pork?

While sweet and sour dishes are most commonly served on a bed of steamed rice, which soaks up the delicious sauce and also as a palette cleanser that cuts through the richness of the dish, don't let that stop you from trying out different serving options. For a subtle change from simple white rice, try serving this sweet and sour pork with fried rice. For a different carb option, you could always swap out the rice for your favorite type of noodles, which would also carry the sauce well and add more variation in texture.

For a lighter serving option, stir-fried or steamed vegetables make great accompaniments, adding a refreshingly light contrast to the hearty pork as well as more color to your plate. Egg rolls make a fitting side dish for this sweet and sour pork, and if you are looking for a light and flavorful starter, why not fry up some homemade shrimp toast?

How can this crispy sweet and sour pork recipe be adapted?

The sweet and sour treatment complements all kinds of ingredients, which means this recipe is highly adaptable. If pork isn't your favorite protein, replace it with chicken, turkey, or even shrimp. Alternatively, this dish is delicious when made vegetarian with tofu or another meat alternative. 

Dietary adaptations are also an option. Since the pork is breaded with cornstarch instead of wheat flour, all you will need to do to make this recipe gluten-free is swap out the soy sauce for a gluten-free version or tamari. To create a lighter version of this dish, you could omit the cornstarch coating and deep-frying steps entirely, instead opting to grill or oven-cook the meat. Finally, to mix things up a little bit, why not add some different veggies into the stir-fry for a different flavor and more nutrients? Any vegetables you like in a stir-fry will work well in this recipe; we particularly recommend broccoli and baby corn.

Crispy Sweet And Sour Pork Recipe
5 from 24 ratings
Recreate your takeout order at home with tender bites of deep-fried pork, tossed with pineapples, bell peppers, and a sticky sweet and sour sauce.
Prep Time
25
minutes
Cook Time
20
minutes
Servings
6
servings
sweet and sour pork with peppers and pineapple in pan
Total time: 45 minutes
Ingredients
  • For the marinated pork
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon crushed garlic
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • 1 ½ pounds pork shoulder, chopped into bite-size pieces
  • For the sweet and sour sauce
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pineapple chunks in juice, divided
  • 4 tablespoons ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • For the stir-fry
  • Cooking oil, for frying
  • 1 ¼ cups cornstarch, divided
  • 1 cup roughly chopped onion
  • 2 cups chopped bell peppers
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, julienned
Optional Ingredients
  • Chopped scallions, for serving
Directions
  1. To make the marinade, combine soy sauce, sesame oil, crushed garlic, grated ginger, and a pinch of black pepper in a large bowl.
  2. Add the chopped pork and stir to coat, then set aside to marinate at room temperature.
  3. For the sweet and sour sauce, combine cornstarch with 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl, and set aside.
  4. In a medium saucepan, combine only the pineapple juice (the chunks will be used later) with ketchup, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, and the cornstarch slurry.
  5. Place the sweet and sour mixture over medium heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until smooth and combined.
  6. Remove sauce from the heat and set aside.
  7. Fill a deep fat fryer (or a large saucepan) with at least 3 inches of frying oil and bring to 350 F.
  8. For the stir-fry, mix ½ cup cornstarch into the marinated pork and let sit for 2 minutes.
  9. Add the remaining ¾ cup cornstarch to the pork and throughly toss to coat.
  10. Immediately transfer the coated pork to the hot oil and fry for 3-4 minutes until golden and cooked through. This may need to be done in batches.
  11. Transfer the fried pork to a paper towel-lined dish to absorb any excess oil and set aside.
  12. Add 1 tablespoon frying oil to a large, deep frying pan over medium-high heat.
  13. Add onions and peppers and stir-fry for 3-4 minutes.
  14. Add julienned ginger and sliced garlic cloves and fry for 1 more minute, until fragrant.
  15. Reduce heat to medium and add the pineapple chunks and sweet and sour sauce.
  16. Once the sauce is hot, transfer the crispy pork to the pan and toss thoroughly to coat.
  17. Serve immediately, topped with chopped scallions, if desired.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 973
Total Fat 73.8 g
Saturated Fat 11.2 g
Trans Fat 0.2 g
Cholesterol 80.5 mg
Total Carbohydrates 57.3 g
Dietary Fiber 3.2 g
Total Sugars 24.5 g
Sodium 925.3 mg
Protein 22.2 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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