Thai Sweet and Sour Pineapple Chicken

Sweet and sour chicken with pineapple and rice in a bowl with chopsticks
StockFood / Getty Images
  • Total: 35 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 25 mins
  • Yield: serves 3 to 4 (with rice)
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
564 Calories
12g Fat
89g Carbs
28g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: serves 3 to 4 (with rice)
Amount per serving
Calories 564
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 12g 16%
Saturated Fat 3g 16%
Cholesterol 71mg 24%
Sodium 1104mg 48%
Total Carbohydrate 89g 32%
Dietary Fiber 7g 25%
Protein 28g
Calcium 146mg 11%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This sweet and sour chicken recipe is a family favorite and easy to make because you don't have to bread and fry the chicken first. It is all stir-fried up together and the taste is so good that you won't miss the breading one bit. And of course, that means this dish is low-fat and low-calorie too.

Most restaurants color their sweet and sour dishes to get that deep red hue, but it's just as pretty made with cayenne pepper for both spice and coloring. Thai sweet and sour dishes are very close in taste to their Chinese counterpart but have a few added ingredients, including a little chili.


  • 1/2 pound chicken breast (or thigh, cut into bite-size pieces)
  • 4 tablespoons onion (finely chopped)
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 carrot (sliced)
  • 1 stalk celery (thinly sliced)
  • 1 red pepper (sliced)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • optional: 1/2 can bamboo shoots (drained)
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup water
  • For Sweet and Sour Sauce:
  • Two 14 ounce cans (348 ml) pineapple chunks packed in juice (1 1/2 cups juice and 1 1/2 cups fruit)
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar (or white vinegar)
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1/8 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (or lime juice)
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup

Steps to Make It

  1. Pour one can of pineapple chunks (including juice) into a medium-size pot. Drain juice from the other can into the pot as well, squeezing out all the juice from the fruit (save fruit for other dishes or eat). Add vinegar, sugar, fish sauce, cayenne, lemon or lime juice, and ketchup. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium to get a nice strong simmer. Simmer 12 to 15 minutes, uncovered, or until sauce reduces by one-third. Remove from heat and set aside.

  2. Place a large frying pan or wok over medium-high heat. Drizzle in the oil and add garlic and onion. Stir-fry 30 seconds, then add carrot and celery. Stir-fry 1 minute, then add chicken and soy sauce. Stir-fry 1 minute, then add red pepper and bamboo shoots (if using), plus 3 to 4 tablespoons of the sweet and sour sauce. Stir-fry until chicken appears opaque on the outside.

  3. Add remaining sauce. Stir and bring to a gentle boil for 1 minute, then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer 2 to 3 more minutes or until chicken is opaque inside. Meanwhile, in a cup stir cornstarch into the water with a fork until dissolved. Add this to the stir-fry, stirring slowly. When the sauce has thickened enough for your liking (about 1 minute), remove from heat.

  4. Do a taste-test, looking for a balance of sweet and sour, plus a hint of spicy and salty flavors. If it is too sour, add more sugar; if too sweet or too salty, add more lemon/lime juice. More cayenne can be added for more spice. If you'd like a deeper color, add a few drops red food coloring (optional). Serve with Thai jasmine rice and enjoy!

Other Vegetables You Can Add: green pepper, mushrooms, Chinese cabbage or regular cabbage, and baby corn.