BEST Homemade Sweet and Sour Sauce (Better Than Take-Out!) (2024)

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BEST Homemade Sweet and Sour Sauce (Better Than Take-Out!) (1)

By Tiffany Published Last Updated: May 19, 2024 12 Comments

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This homemade sweet and sour sauce is so much better than Chinese takeout or McDonald’s! With just 5 simple ingredients, you can whip up a batch the next time you’re craving tangy sweet and sour chicken, or for a fun dipping sauce for your chicken nuggets.

BEST Homemade Sweet and Sour Sauce (Better Than Take-Out!) (2)

I think that with some meals, the sauce makes all the difference.

Perfect example – my Crunchy Quinoa Salad is tasty by itself. But drizzle Thai Peanut Sauce on top?! It’s AMAZING!

That’s one reason why this sweet and sour sauce recipe has been in our meal plan rotation for the past few months. Even though it’s my JOB to come up with cheap and healthy meals, sometimes I can get in a rut.

And sometimes, amidst the busyness of life, I need to hit the quick and easy button for dinner. Homemade Chicken Nuggets with this sweet and sour sauce? Everybody wins.

EASY SWEET AND SOUR SAUCE

Not only is this sweet and sour recipe quick and easy, it’s also:

  • Versatile. Use it with chicken, pork, and shrimp, or even with veggie egg rolls.
  • Much healthier than McDonald’s or takeout with no red food coloring
  • Made using pantry staples, so it’s easy to keep the ingredients on hand
  • A frugal but flavorful option to add some pizzazz to dinner
  • Great for multiple dietary preferences: Make a substitution for soy sauce (options below), and it’s a gluten-free sauce. As written, this sweet and sour recipe is vegan.
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SWEET AND SOUR SAUCE RECIPE INGREDIENTS

This sweet and sour sauce recipe is made with pantry staples, so it’s easy to whip up a batch when you need it!

  • Pineapple juice: You may not have pineapple juice in the pantry, but I promise that it’s worth it in this recipe. You CAN substitute orange juice, but really, pineapple juice makes this sweet and sour sauce taste so much more authentic.
  • Apple cider vinegar: I highly recommend apple cider vinegar because it has the right amount of tang and it’s super affordable, especially when you make your own using apple peels and cores! Rice wine vinegar works too, but I would avoid white vinegar.
  • Soy sauce: Use whatever soy sauce you normally keep in the pantry.
    • I made this once using coconut aminos (leftover from our Whole30 as a family experiment) and then again using liquid aminos and both were delicious.
    • Tamari (which is wheat-free) is also a great option for a gluten-free sweet and sour sauce.
  • Brown sugar: I generally shy away from adding processed sugar to dinner recipes, but sweet and sour sauce is partially SWEET, so you need something to do that.
  • Cornstarch and water: A cornstarch slurry helps to thicken the sauce when heated, but you can use arrowroot powder if you prefer
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HOW TO MAKE SWEET AND SOUR SAUCE INSTRUCTIONS

If you’ve ever wondered how to make sweet and sour sauce, it’s actually really easy!

Step 1. Combine the pineapple juice, vinegar, soy sauce, and brown sugar in a small saucepan.

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Step 2. Bring JUST to a low boil and whisk the ingredients often so the sugar dissolves thoroughly.

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Step 3. In a mug, make a slurry with the cornstarch and water. Add the slurry to the sauce while whisking quickly. Simmer for one minute and then reduce the heat to low.

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Step 4. Serve immediately or refrigerate for later.

You can store sweet and sour sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week or freeze for up to 3 months.

PINEAPPLE SWEET AND SOUR SAUCE RECIPE TIPS

  • Made pineapple sweet and sour sauce and now you have extra pineapple juice?
    • Personally, I would put Light and Fluffy Dinner Rolls on the menu the same week since they use pineapple juice too. That way you won’t be left without a plan for leftovers.
    • If you DO have some juice left, add it to a Basic Green Smoothie, or any of the smoothies in my e-book High Protein No Powder!
  • If you don’t have pineapple juice, you can also blend canned pineapple with a bit of water until it’s smooth and use that instead.
  • We’re using brown sugar so you can control just how sweet you want this sauce to be. As written, you can taste the sweetness in the recipe. It shouldn’t be too much, but it’s there. Feel free to start with less and add more to taste.
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YUMMY FOOD TO SERVE WITH SWEET AND SOUR SAUCE

  • Make Sweet and Sour Chicken, Sweet and Sour Pork, or Instant Pot Shrimp
  • Dip your Homemade Chicken Nuggets
  • Use as a glaze like these Maple Glazed Pork Chops
  • Instead of BBQ Sauce for Ribs
  • Marinade and glaze for Chicken Wings
  • Enjoy drizzled over Eggroll in a Bowl or Weeknight Stir Fry or simple sauteed vegetables like carrots, peppers, and onions!
  • Mix with sesame oil for a salad dressing with an Asian flair.
  • Use as a dip for meatballs.

SWEET AND SOUR SAUCE WITH PINEAPPLE FAQS

Can sweet and sour sauce with pineapple juice be frozen?

Yes! This recipe as written makes more than my family needs for one meal, so I often freeze the leftovers for an easy addition to our meal later on. Here’s how you can freeze in glass jars without breaking them!

How should I store the sweet and sour pineapple sauce?

Sweet and sour sauce is best stored in an airtight container or glass jar in the refrigerator, where it will be good for several days.

Is sweet and sour sauce spicy?

This sweet and sour sauce recipe is not, but if you want to add a little kick, stir in some crushed red pepper flakes or a spoonful of sweet chili sauce!

MORE EASY HOMEMADE SAUCES

Sauces can add a punch of flavor to an otherwise average meal, and it’s easy to make your own! You can’t go wrong with any of these favorites:

  • Easy Homemade Pizza Sauce
  • Thai Peanut Sauce
  • Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce
  • 15-Minute Hot Sauce
  • Homemade Buffalo Wing Sauce
  • Homemade Tomato Sauce Using Fresh Tomatoes
  • Alfredo Sauce
  • Creamy Cauliflower Sauce

BEST Homemade Sweet and Sour Sauce (Better Than Take-Out!) (9)

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Homemade Sweet and Sour Sauce

BEST Homemade Sweet and Sour Sauce (Better Than Take-Out!) (10)
Print Recipe

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4.7 from 3 reviews

This homemade sweet and sour sauce is so much better than Chinese takeout or McDonald’s! With just 5 simple ingredients, you can whip up a batch the next time you’re craving tangy sweet and sour chicken, or for a fun dipping sauce for your chicken nuggets.

  • Author: Tiffany
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 1 cup 1x
  • Category: Sauces/Condiments
  • Method: Stove top
  • Cuisine: Asian

Ingredients

Scale

  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar (or make your own)
  • 3 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 ½ Tbsp water

Instructions

  1. Combine the pineapple juice, vinegar, soy sauce, and brown sugar in a small saucepan.
  2. Bring JUST to a low boil, whisking the ingredients every few minutes so the sugar dissolves thoroughly.
  3. In a mug, make a slurry with the corn starch and water. Add the slurry to the sauce while whisking quickly. Cook for one minute and then reduce the heat to low.
  4. Serve immediately, or refrigerate for later.

Notes

  • Put light and fluffy dinner rolls on the menu the same week since it uses pineapple juice too. That way you won’t be left without a plan for leftovers.
  • If you DO have some juice left, add it to a basic green smoothie, or any of the smoothies in my e-book High Protein No Powder!

Nutrition

  • Calories: 52

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Reader Interactions

12 Comments

  1. BEST Homemade Sweet and Sour Sauce (Better Than Take-Out!) (15)Amanda T.

    Love this recipe. I’ve even improvised when I didn’t have a can of pineapple juice and used canned pineapple with as much juice from the can I can get about a half cup of water then add about half the pineapple and blend until smooth. It’s definitely a favorite! Thank you!

    Reply to this comment

  2. BEST Homemade Sweet and Sour Sauce (Better Than Take-Out!) (16)Angie

    This was a great sauce for a freezer and egg roll. I halved the recipe and directions were easy to follow. Thank you!

    Reply to this comment

    • BEST Homemade Sweet and Sour Sauce (Better Than Take-Out!) (17)Kyare - Team Crumbs

      So glad you enjoyed this recipe, Angie!

      Reply to this comment

  3. BEST Homemade Sweet and Sour Sauce (Better Than Take-Out!) (18)Randy Webb

    I used this recipe simply because it didn’t include ketchup. I used the juice I had on hand (Mango,Peach,Orange by Dole) instead of pineapple juice which I’m sure altered the flavor some, but it’s still delicious and simple to make. The only modification is that I used 2 Tbsp of cornstarch with a 1:1 ratio of water. It still came out thick enough. For my personal taste, I think it’s a bit too sweet, so next time I will reduce the sugar to 1/2 cup and see how that tastes. I’m definitely keeping this recipe for future use.

    Reply to this comment

    • BEST Homemade Sweet and Sour Sauce (Better Than Take-Out!) (19)Kyare - Team Crumbs

      Randy, I am so happy that this recipe fit your needs well! It is great that you made use of the juice you had available.

      Reply to this comment

  4. BEST Homemade Sweet and Sour Sauce (Better Than Take-Out!) (20)Kristy P.

    I had the same issue with he cornstarch…maybe mixing with warm water instead of cold might help? It doesn’t matter. I can tell by the smell that it will go well with my egg rolls. Just tasted it and yep…it’s delish!

    Reply to this comment

  5. BEST Homemade Sweet and Sour Sauce (Better Than Take-Out!) (21)Mandi

    I tried this and for some reason when I tried to mix the corn starch with the water it was just a hard blob. I’m not sure if the measurements are right on it because of that reason. So mine turned out weird. I ended up having to add more water to my corn starch mixture and then my sauce ended up turning into a solid after it cooled. Maybe I messed up somewhere so I’m going to try it again today.

    Reply to this comment

    • BEST Homemade Sweet and Sour Sauce (Better Than Take-Out!) (22)Kyare - Team Crumbs

      How did your second batch turn out, Mandi?

      Reply to this comment

    • BEST Homemade Sweet and Sour Sauce (Better Than Take-Out!) (23)Wendy

      Hi Mandy! Try putting the corn starch in a bowl before adding the water and use a whisk or a fork to quickly stir the corn starch to blend it with your liquid. If you let it sit for a minute, you will need to whisk it again because the corn starch will settle to the bottom.

      Reply to this comment

  6. BEST Homemade Sweet and Sour Sauce (Better Than Take-Out!) (24)Mary

    Holy cow! I LOVED this recipe! I put this over breaded cauliflower bites and rice. I choppedUp the pineapple and added that with some browned onions and peppers. Sooo good I had to make more to keep on hand (which was really easy and quick.) I did add a little more water to make it thinner as a sauce but otherwise I’d just use it as a dip for other things. Don’t think I’ll ever buy bottled Sweet and sour sauce again! Thanks!

    Reply to this comment

    • BEST Homemade Sweet and Sour Sauce (Better Than Take-Out!) (25)Tiffany

      You’re most welcome, Mary!

      Reply to this comment

  7. BEST Homemade Sweet and Sour Sauce (Better Than Take-Out!) (26)Mel

    Not a bad sauce. Used a quarter cup sugar and about a tablespoon of sweet chili sauce and increased soy to about a tablespoon and a half. Wanted to be able to spoon this over chicken kabobs so only used 2 tbls. cornstarch and 2 tbls. pineapple juice for the thickener. I always try to use a flavorful liquid w/cornstarch ie. broth or juice, why water it down?
    All in all I’ll add this to my recipe box

    Reply to this comment

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BEST Homemade Sweet and Sour Sauce (Better Than Take-Out!) (2024)

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