A lightened-up version of the take out classic, this healthy sweet and sour chicken is easy to make, family-friendly and ready in under 30 mins.
Children seem to love sweet and sour chicken but the takeaway classic is usually deep-fried and packed with sugar. Although this recipe is not sugar-free, the sugar content is greatly reduced with the sweetness coming from the pineapple juice and ketchup.
However, that’s not the only reason to love this dish. It is also…
- Easy to Make – The sauce takes minutes to make and then it is just a case of cooking it together with the chicken and vegetables.
- Customizable – Carrots and bell pepper (capsicum) are noted in the recipe but you can add a range of veggies. (e.g snow peas, broccoli, asparagus). The deliciously sweet and tangy sauce may be a great way for children to try vegetables they wouldn’t normally eat.
Ingredient Information (With Substitutes)
- PINEAPPLE JUICE – This provides the sweetness to the sauce. Use the juice from the whole can of pineapple, equivalent to 1/2 cup (125ml)
- SOY SAUCE – Adds saltiness to balance the sauce. If making for a young toddler you may wish to skip it to reduce sodium levels. If a family member has a soy intolerance/allergy then you can replace with coconut aminos.
- APPLE CIDER VINEGAR – Adds the sour flavour to the sauce. You can use white wine/malt vinegar if you prefer.
- TOMATO KETCHUP – Provides the red colour and extra sweetness. If you would prefer not to add ketchup you can replace with tomato paste, just reduce the amount to 1 tbsp. The sauce will not be as sweet.
- CORNFLOUR – Used to thicken the sauce. The sauce will look pretty thin when mixed together but once simmered, it thickens and coats the chicken beautifully.
- STIR-FRY INGREDIENTS: Use whatever veggies you have and feel free to switch up the chicken with prawns (shrimp), pork or tofu
Cooking Tips and Tricks
- TENDER CHICKEN: Do your children sometimes find chicken breast dry and difficult to eat? One way to combat this is to tenderise the breast meat. In a mixing bowl add the chicken chunks and sprinkle with 1.25tsp of baking soda. Gently mix and refrigerate for around 20-30 mins. After this time, place the chicken pieces in a colander and rinse off the baking soda with water. Shake off the excess water and pat dry. You will be amazed at how soft the chicken is after doing this. Alternatively, you can replace the breast meat with thigh.
- MAKE IN ADVANCE: You can chop the chicken and veggies in advance as well as mixing the sauce ingredients up. Then at dinner time you basically just have to throw it all together in a pan.
- TASTE & ADJUST: As this is a healthier sweet and sour sauce recipe, it is not like traditional recipes. Most recipes contain 1/2 cup – 1 cup of sugar. This version seriously dials back on the sweetness. If you feel it is on the tart side feel free to add a touch of sugar or sweetener (I’d start with 1tsp and work my way up from there, just remember the pineapple chunks will add further sweetness).
- Serve healthy sweet and sour chicken with rice of choice, noodles or, for an extra veggie boost, try serving with cauliflower rice.
- Why not buy some kids’ chopsticks. They are attached at the top to make it easier to operate and they will have a lot of fun using them!
- REFRIGERATE: Allow to cool, transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to two days.
- FREEZE: Allow to cool, transfer to an airtight container / heavy-duty freezer bag and freeze for up to two months.
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Healthier Sweet and Sour Chicken
- Wok / skillet
- 125ml (½ cup) Pineapple Juice (from the canned pineapple chunks)
- 2 tbsp Apple Cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp Soy Sauce light
- 2 tbsp Tomato Ketchup (sauce)
- 3 tsp Cornflour / corn starch
- 6 tsp Cold water
- 1 tbsp Vegetable Oil
- 1 Onion (white or brown) halved and finely sliced
- 1 Minced Garlic
- 400g (13oz) Chicken Breasts cut into bite sized pieces (SEE NOTE 1)
- 2 tsp Minced Ginger
- 1 Carrot peeled and cut into matchsticks
- 2 Bell pepper / capsicum, any colour deseeded and chopped into 1inch pieces
- 432g (drained 272g) Can of pineapple chunks in natural juice (separated from the juice)
- In a small bowl, mix together the sauce ingredients.
- In a separate bowl mix together the cornflour and water.
- Heat oil in a wok (or skillet) over high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 1 minute.
- Add the chicken and stirfry until white (but still pink inside)
- Add the ginger, carrots and bell pepper and stir fry for a further 2 minutes.
- Add the sauce ingredient and stir until the sauce starts to boil. Add the cornflour slurry and bring to a simmer. Allow to simmer for approx 3 mins, until the sauce thickens.
- Add the pineapple, stir through and serve.
*This recipe was originally published in December 2013. It has been updated to provide more information, process photos and has also had a slight recipe tweak. If you wish for the original recipe, please get in touch and I can email it to you.