Chinese Sweet and Sour Sauce

Sweet and sour sauce

The Spruce


  • 15 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins,
  • Cook: 10 mins
  • Yield: 12 Servings
Ratings (121)

Sweet and sour is very popular sauce in Chinese cuisine, with many different ways to make it. This recipe is the style that would be found in a Chinese (Cantonese) restaurant, with a red ketchup base. You can use it for stir-fry pork, chicken, or vegetables. You can enjoy this sauce as a dipping sauce for egg rolls or fried shrimp. With this recipe there's no reason to store sweet and sour packets anymore, you can simply make your own at home.

This sweet and sour sauce isn't just for Chinese food. It goes great with things like chicken nuggets as a dip, glazed on chicken wings, and spread on hamburgers. If you love sweet and sour sauce, you can add it to anything you want.

In addition to this typical red sauce, see a variation that adds orange juice and fresh ginger for a bright flavor with an extra kick.

What You'll Need

  • 7 ounces water
  • 3 1/2 ounces ketchup (or 2 to 3 tablespoons tomato paste)
  • 3 1/2 ounces rice vinegar
  • 3 1/2 ounces rock sugar (You can also use caster sugar or demerara sugar. But rock sugar is preferable for taste)
  • 1/2 tablespoon potato starch (or cornstarch)
  • Salt (to taste)

How to Make It

  1. Mix the potato starch with 1 tablespoon of water (or a little more, as needed) to make a slurry.
  2. Add all of the ingredients to a saucepan and mix evenly before you start cooking.
  3. You must continuously stir the sauce to prevent the sauce from getting lumpy.
  4. Bring the sauce to the boil and turn the heat to the lowest temperature and simmer until the sauce texture has turned thick and sticky. Then it’s ready.
  1. You can stir fry some pork or chicken with vegetable and pour the sauce in.
  2. If you have any extra sauce, you can keep it in a dry and clean container after it is cooled down and store it in the fridge. Usually, this sauce should last 7 to 10 days in the fridge.


You can use tomato paste instead of ketchup. Less tomato paste is used as it has a more concentrated tomato flavor and it will be diluted by the water. You can use white vinegar rather than rice vinegar.

For a ginger/orange sweet and sour sauce, do not add the potato starch slurry at the beginning. Finely mince 1 1/2 tablespoons of fresh ginger and cook it in 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil in the saucepan until it is fragrant and starting to brown. Now add 2 tablespoons orange juice, 1 1/2 tablespoons light soy sauce, ketchup (or tomato paste), vinegar, sugar, water, and salt and bring this to a boil. Once boiling, you can strain it through a fine mesh strainer to remove the minced ginger. Return the sauce to the pan and add the slurry of potato starch and water, heating it until it is thick to your liking.

Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
Calories 42
Total Fat 0 g
Saturated Fat 0 g
Unsaturated Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 101 mg
Carbohydrates 11 g
Dietary Fiber 0 g
Protein 0 g
(The nutrition information on our recipes is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. Individual results may vary.)