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This Dump-and-Bake Sweet and Sour Chicken is a lighter, healthier version of the Chinese restaurant classic. With just one dish and about 10 minutes of prep, it’s even easier and tastes even better than takeout! Serve the sticky sweet and sour chicken with rice, a side of broccoli, or some crispy egg rolls for a quick, family-friendly dinner.

Hands holding a bowl of Chinese sweet and sour chicken.

Chinese Sweet and Sour Chicken

When I posted my recipe for Baked General Tso Chicken last winter, one of my kind readers asked if I had a similar dump-and-bake recipe for Chinese Sweet and Sour Chicken. I thought that was a great idea, so I got to work in the kitchen and finally arrived at this incredibly delicious version!

Side shot of a bowl of baked sweet and sour chicken served with rice and broccoli.

Classic sweet and sour chicken is a popular dish served at Chinese-American restaurants. It typically includes small bites of battered and deep-fried chicken (or pork) that are coated in a sweet and sour sauce. The dish also might feature chopped bell peppers, onions, or pineapple. The sauce can be a combination of various ingredients, such as ketchup, chili sauce, plum sauce, vinegar, and soy sauce. Each restaurant has its own version, but we’re keeping the ingredient list for this particular homemade sweet and sour sauce for chicken very simple!

Best of all, this recipe is about as easy as it gets. There’s no deep-frying or sautéing necessary. Instead, we combine the raw chicken with the vegetables and sauce in a single pan. Bake it in the oven, stir it once, and your job is done!

Stirring diced chicken and cornstarch in a dish

The Key to Homemade Sweet and Sour Sauce for Chicken

The key to a tasty sweet and sour chicken is obviously the perfect sweet and sour sauce! It needs to be thick (not runny and watery like some Crock Pot recipes), and it needs to have the perfect balance of sweetness and tang. You don’t want so much sweet that you feel like you’re eating candy, and you don’t want so much sour that it makes your mouth pucker. It’s got to be juuuuuust right, and that’s exactly what we have here! Best of all, the sauce ingredients are simple pantry staples, easy to find at any grocery store, and probably already in your kitchen.

Adding diced vegetables to a dish.

Ingredients

This is just a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for a pan of baked sweet and sour chicken. As always, specific measurements and complete cooking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Chicken: I use boneless, skinless chicken breast, but boneless, skinless chicken thighs will also work well.
  • Cornstarch: thickens the sauce and helps to coat the chicken.
  • Onion, green bell pepper, and red bell pepper: classic vegetables that add flavor and texture to the dish.
  • Ketchup: for sweetness and that quintessential orange color in the sauce.
  • Apple cider vinegar: the “sour” component that gives the sauce tang.
  • Brown sugar: for even more sticky sweetness.
  • Soy sauce: gives the sauce salty, umami flavor.
  • Garlic and ginger: for even more delicious flavor.
Pouring sweet and sour chicken sauce into a dish

How to Make Sweet and Sour Chicken

This baked sweet and sour chicken recipe is so simple, because there’s no need to stand over a skillet or wok to stir-fry your meal, and there’s no need to spend money on Chinese carry-out. This is seriously one of the tastiest and easiest family dinners that you will find!

  1. Toss chicken with cornstarch.
  2. Stir in onion and bell peppers.
  3. Whisk together sauce in a small bowl, then stir the sauce into the chicken mixture.
  4. Bake, uncovered, in a 425°F oven for about 30-35 minutes, stirring during the final 5-10 minutes. It’s done when the chicken is cooked through (and reaches an internal temperature of 165°F) and the sauce has thickened.
Overhead shot of Chinese sweet and sour chicken with sauce in a white baking dish

What to Serve with Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken

Serve the sweet, sticky chicken over rice (or over cauliflower rice for an even lighter dish), with plenty of extra sauce spooned over top. We love it with steamed broccoli tossed into the mix as well. Additional good options include pasta, ramen noodles, sesame peanut noodlesramen noodle coleslawsesame ginger snap pea salad, or baked store-bought egg rolls. Don’t forget fortune cookies for dessert, too!

Close overhead image of Chinese sweet and sour chicken recipe on a wooden table.

Storage

Sweet and sour chicken will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. You can also freeze the leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Another bonus to the baked not fried chicken? It’s doesn’t get soggy in the fridge!

Reheat the chicken in a skillet on the stovetop over low heat, just until warmed through. You can also microwave individual servings for 1-2 minutes.

Close up side shot of a bowl of dump and bake sweet and sour chicken.

Recipe Variations

  • Make it spicy by adding crushed red pepper flakes or hot sauce.
  • Substitute rice vinegar for the apple cider vinegar.
  • A little bit of toasted sesame oil in the sauce adds great Asian flavor, too.
  • If you prefer dark meat, substitute boneless, skinless chicken thighs for the chicken breast.
  • Stir diced pineapple, canned pineapple tidbits or chunks, or even a splash of pineapple juice into the dish. If using canned pineapple, you can wait to stir it into the dish during the final 5-10 minutes since it’s already so soft.
  • For some bright citrus flavor, add a splash of orange juice or a little bit of freshly-grated orange zest to the sauce.
  • Cooking Just for Two? Cut the ingredients in half and bake the chicken in a smaller dish. The cooking instructions remain the same.
Side shot of a bowl of homemade sweet and sour chicken with rice on a dinner table.

Tips for the Best Sweet and Sour Chicken Recipe

  • If available, use fresh ginger instead of dried, ground ginger. If using fresh ginger, you’ll need about 1 teaspoon of the grated root.
  • The total baking time will vary depending on the type of dish that you use, your individual oven, and the temperature of your meat when it goes into the oven. You’ll know that your dish is done when the chicken is cooked through (and reaches an internal temperature of 165°F) and the sauce has thickened. If the sauce is too thick, just add a splash of warm water to thin until it reaches the desired consistency.
  • Garnish each serving with scallions, toasted sesame seeds, or peanuts for even more flavor and texture.
  • Taste the dish before serving and season with salt and black pepper, if necessary.
Overhead shot of hands eating a bowl of baked sweet and sour chicken

More Easy Chinese Takeout Recipes to Try

Hands holding a bowl of Chinese sweet and sour chicken.

Dump-and-Bake Sweet and Sour Chicken

5 from 12 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 40 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 313 kcal
With just one dish and 10 minutes of prep, this Dump-and-Bake Sweet and Sour Chicken is an easier, healthier version of the Chinese restaurant classic!

Ingredients
  

  • 1 ½ lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 ½-inch pieces (or substitute with boneless skinless chicken thighs)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • ½ cup diced onion
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon minced or pressed fresh garlic
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger (or 1 teaspoon grated fresh gingerroot)
  • For serving: cooked rice (or cauliflower rice for a grain-free option)
  • Optional garnish: sliced green onions; sesame seeds; chopped peanuts

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 425°F. Grease a 2-quart baking dish.
  • Place chicken in the prepared dish. Sprinkle with cornstarch and toss to coat.
  • Stir in onion and bell peppers.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce, garlic, and ginger. Pour sauce over chicken and vegetables; stir to combine.
  • Bake, uncovered, for 25 minutes. Stir, return to the oven for 5-10 more minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and the sauce has slightly thickened. If you find that your sauce is too thick when the chicken is done baking, you can add a splash of warm water (as necessary), and stir to thin.
  • Serve over hot cooked rice, if desired. Garnish with sliced green onions, sesame seeds, and chopped peanuts.

Notes

  • If available, use fresh ginger instead of dried, ground ginger. If using fresh ginger, you’ll need about 1 teaspoon of the grated root.
  • The total baking time will vary depending on the type of dish that you use, your individual oven, and the temperature of your meat when it goes into the oven. You’ll know that your dish is done when the chicken is cooked through (and reaches an internal temperature of 165°F) and the sauce has thickened. If the sauce is too thick, just add a splash of warm water to thin until it reaches the desired consistency.
  • Garnish each serving with scallions, toasted sesame seeds, or peanuts for even more flavor and texture.
  • Taste the dish before serving and season with salt and black pepper, if necessary.
  • Make it spicy by adding crushed red pepper flakes or hot sauce.
  • Substitute rice vinegar in the sauce for the apple cider vinegar.
  • A little bit of toasted sesame oil in the sauce adds great Asian flavor, too.
  • If you prefer dark meat, substitute boneless, skinless chicken thighs for the chicken breast.
  • Stir diced pineapple, canned pineapple tidbits or chunks, or even a splash of pineapple juice into the dish. If using canned pineapple, you can wait to stir it into the dish during the final 5-10 minutes since it’s already so soft.
  • For some bright citrus flavor, add a splash of orange juice or a little bit of freshly-grated orange zest to the sauce.
  • Cooking Just for Two? Cut the ingredients in half and bake the chicken in a smaller dish. The cooking instructions remain the same.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/4 of the recipeCalories: 313kcalCarbohydrates: 36.6gProtein: 40.2gFat: 2.2gSaturated Fat: 0.6gCholesterol: 99mgSodium: 723.8mgFiber: 1.3gSugar: 15.8g
Keyword: baked sweet and sour chicken, Chinese sweet and sour chicken, sweet and sour chicken
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Chinese
Author: Blair Lonergan

This recipe was originally published in May, 2018. The photos were updated in January, 2022.

blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

Read More

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Comments

  1. Hi Blair – thanks for all of the dump and bake recipes!! They work great for our church fellowship meals. Is it possible to do this sweet and sour chicken recipe in the crockpot?

    1. Hi, Karen! I’m so glad that you enjoy the dump-and-bake recipes! 🙂

      Yes, I think this dish would work very well in the slow cooker. The sauce might be a bit thinner than my baked version, since the condensation from the lid of the slow cooker will add liquid to the dish, but I still think that it will be fine. You can always add some additional cornstarch to the sauce at the end if you want to thicken it up a bit, too!

      1. cover the slow cooker with paper towels before placing the lid on. This absorbs the condensation and keeps the food you are cooking from getting too much moisture.

    1. Awesome, Buffey! I’m so glad that it was a hit! The pineapple is a delicious addition. I’ll try that next time!

  2. Sweet and sour chicken is a family favorite of ours! I’m excited to try your version which looks so easy and delicious! Thank you!

  3. Thank you for the recipe. My family and I loved it. I like that it is quick to prepare and has a good balance between sweet and sour without being to sweet like many others are. A winner in our house and we be making it again soon I am sure.

  4. 5 stars
    I have just made this for my husband and 6 year old daughter. It was so easy and quick to make and turned out brilliantly. The sauce was perfect. Thanks so much for sharing.

  5. 5 stars
    This recipe wS absolutely amazing! Followed it step by step and it will definitely be a must make for this house!!

  6. 5 stars
    Wow. This was a home run with my husband and three boys. This was so easy to make after a night of games. I made the recipe exactly as directed except I marinated the chicken. Thank you so much for sharing this easy recipe.

  7. I made this for dinner tonight and it was a hit. I bought a three pack of medium sized bell peppers and used them all. My teenager daughter also loved it….and she’s picky. Thank you!

  8. 5 stars
    Delicious! This recipe is a keeper. My only change was using less bell pepper. I divided into 2 pans and baked one and froze one. I’m looking forward to trying other dump and bake recipes!

  9. 5 stars
    I made this last night. I used shallots instead of onion. I can’t eat soy sauce or brown sugar, so I substituted pineapple juice from a small can of pineapple bits with 1/4 tsp of salt added. Then, added the pineapple bits during the last 5 minutes as suggested by others. It was very good. Thank you so much!

  10. 5 stars
    This is now my go-to Sweet & Sour chicken recipe. I love Sweet & Sour, my husband likes it but it’s never been a favorite until now. This is the first one he’s ever requested for dinner. I also add pineapple like some others. Thanks for another winner!

    1. Oh, wow — that’s such a compliment that your husband approves, too. 🙂 Thank you for taking the time to leave me a note!

  11. 5 stars
    I made this last night and it was a hit!!! I didn’t change a thing with the recipe. It was so nice to get something cooked up quickly with a toddler around. Thank you!

    1. Thanks, Miriam! The baby and toddler years are definitely when dump-and-bake dinners come in particularly handy! I’m so glad that you enjoyed it. Thanks for taking the time to come back here and let me know!

  12. 5 stars
    I would to thank you for this AWESOME recipe!!! My family loves it and has asked for it again. I added pineapple chunks and my husband asked for water chestnuts the next time. This recipe is definitely a keeper. ❤

    1. Thank you, Bonnie. I’m so glad that you enjoy it! Pineapple and water chestnuts are both great additions!