Look no further for what is consistently ranked the BEST sweet and sour sauce recipe on the web! There are so many ways to enjoy this popular and versatile sauce and with only 5 ingredients and 5 minutes of prep/cook time, this popular sauce couldn’t be simpler to make!
What is Sweet and Sour Sauce?
Sweet and sour sauce is a popular condiment made, just as its name suggests, by combining sweet and sour flavor components (a sugar and a vinegar) with a thickener to make a sauce that is used for dipping, drizzling, and incorporated into dishes. Chinese food and sweet and sour sauce go hand in hand and for that reason you’ll find it served in every Chinese restaurant and at every takeout. If you’ve never made your own, it’s time to get on board because not only is it incredibly easy, it tastes WAY better than store-bought and what you get at your local takeout. Plus it’s free of preservatives, chemicals and junk ingredients.
How To Use Sweet and Sour Sauce
Sweet and sour sauce is the ultimate dipping sauce for potstickers, egg rolls, wontons, chicken nuggets, fish sticks and anything else your heart desires.
You can also incorporate it into your favorite Chinese dishes like sweet and sour chicken, pork or shrimp, sweet and sour meatballs, Asian salad dressings, and as a glaze for grilled chicken, pork, seafood, kabobs, ribs, etc. It’s even delicious just drizzled over a bowl of hot steamed rice.
You can also omit the cornstarch and use this sauce as a marinade.
How To Store Sweet and Sour Sauce
Store it in a non-reactive airtight container (I prefer glass) in the fridge where it will keep for up to 3 weeks.
Do I Have To Use Red Food Coloring?
Not at all! You can make this without food coloring. One of the advantage of making homemade anything is that you don’t have to include the junk ingredients that the store-bought stuff often uses. The red food coloring is purely for aesthetics and tastes exactly the same without it. If you prefer the red color but don’t want to use chemicals in your food there are natural food coloring options and I provide a link to one option in the recipe card below.
BEST Sweet and Sour Sauce Recipe
Let’s get started!
Get your five ingredients ready to go because making this sauce goes fast. Measure out your pineapple juice, vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce and ketchup. Prepare the cornstarch slurry and set it aside.
Add all of the ingredients except for the cornstarch slurry in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.
Stir in the cornstarch slurry and simmer for another minute until thickened.
You can stop at this point or, if you want, you can add 2-3 drops of food coloring to make your sauce look the way it does at the Chinese takeout. Check out this all-natural food coloring.
Let the sauce cool completely. Store it in an airtight jar in the fridge where it will keep for 2-3 weeks.
For more phenomenal homemade Asian sauces be sure to try our:
- Teriyaki Sauce
- Yum Yum Sauce
- Hoisin Sauce
- Black Bean Sauce
- Plum Sauce
- Kecap Manis
- Sweet Chili Sauce
- Ponzu Sauce
- Char Siu Sauce
- Ginger Sauce
BEST Sweet and Sour Sauce
- 1 cup canned pineapple juice , see note
- 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- OR brown sugar alternative (for low sugar option)
- 1/3 cup rice vinegar , found in the Asian or general vinegar section of any grocery store, or you can substitute apple cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoons ketchup
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari (GF)
- For the Cornstarch Slurry: 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons water
- Optional: 2-3 drops all-natural red food coloring (the one I've linked to is natural, colored with beets. It's in powdered form, simply stir some in to a couple of teaspoons of water and add it to the sauce)
- Place all of the ingredients, except for the cornstarch slurry, in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir in the cornstarch slurry and simmer for another minute until thickened, stirring constantly. If using red food coloring, stir it in.
- Let the sauce cool completely and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.
Tiffany lynn Kromer says
In all honesty, It is more sweet than sour and it does taste like the knockoff sweet and sour sauce you get with the frozen egg rolls at walmart. It taste nothing like the restaurant. But, if you want a quick sauce. It works.
This was a fabulous healthier tasting version than what we get at the grocery store. I didn’t follow measurements and made to taste. My family loved it! It made the whole meal. Thank you ☺️
Kimberly Killebrew says
I’m so glad it was a family hit, thank you Erin!
I didn’t have pineapple juice so I used mango juice and 2 tbls of orange juice concentrate it was perfect.
Frances Allen says
Can this be canned to jeep longer?
Kimberly Killebrew says
Hi Frances, this recipe hasn’t been tested for canning and I don’t know if the pH level of the sauce is suitable.
Add a couple tablespoons of Maraschino cherry juice for color instead of food coloring
Carrie Ann Moon says
That is a great idea!
I absolutely LOVE this recipe!! I used the apple cider vinegar option and it’s HEAPS better than what you get in your average Chinese restaurant (ie white vinegar, sugar, and red food coloring). This recipe is so whole and so tasty. Next time we get take-out I’ll ask them to hold their Sweet & Sour sauce and whip up a batch of this instead. Of note, I used a can of Trader Joe’s pineapple juice and while it’s tad more than 8 oz, I think the wee bit extra of pineapple juice was all the more yum.
Kimberly Killebrew says
Fantastic, Monica, I’m thrilled to hear that! Thanks so much for the feedback!
not a fan at all. it tastes way too much like vinegar. I can’t pin point what else I don’t like exactly but I was expecting it to taste like the sweet and sour sauce from the chinese restaurant and it does not, AT ALL. Waste of my time making it and waste of money buying the ingredients.