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Sweet and Sour Sauce Recipe

The sweet and sour sauce is a delightful blend of tangy and sweet. Originating from the Cantonese cuisine, this sauce is now used in various dishes around the globe. Made with simple ingredients like pineapple juice, vinegar, and brown sugar, this versatile sauce not only enhances the flavor of dishes but also adds a vibrant color to them.

Sweet and Sour Sauce Recipe
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While most of the ingredients for this recipe are common in households, you might need to check for rice vinegar and pineapple juice. Rice vinegar, unlike regular vinegar, has a mild, slightly sweet flavor. It's a staple in East Asian cooking and can be found in most supermarkets' international aisle. Pineapple juice is also commonly available but ensure it's unsweetened to maintain the sauce's authentic flavor.

Ingredients for Sweet and Sour Sauce

Pineapple juice: This lends a sweet yet tangy flavor which forms the base of the sauce.

Light brown sugar: Adds a touch of sweetness and a slight hint of caramel.

Rice vinegar: It provides the necessary tanginess to the sauce.

Ketchup: Enhances the flavor with its tangy and sweet taste.

Soy sauce: It gives a savory depth to the sauce.

Food coloring: This is optional and used to give a vibrant red color to the sauce.

Cornstarch: It is used as a thickening agent.

Water: Used to dissolve the cornstarch and add volume.

One reader, Dyane Shah says:

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This sweet and sour sauce recipe is a game-changer! The perfect balance of sweetness and tanginess. It's incredibly versatile and adds a burst of flavor to any dish. I love how easy it is to make, and it's now a staple in my kitchen. Highly recommended!

Dyane Shah

Key Techniques for Sweet and Sour Sauce Recipe

How to make sweet and sour sauce: Combine pineapple juice, brown sugar, rice vinegar, ketchup, soy sauce, and food coloring in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then thicken with a cornstarch and water mixture.

How to thicken the sauce: Mix cornstarch and water together, then add to the saucepan. Whisk until the sauce has thickened to the desired consistency.

How to cool the sauce: Allow the sweet and sour sauce to cool before serving to allow the flavors to meld and the sauce to thicken further.

How To Make Sweet and Sour Sauce

The sweet and sour sauce goes well with fried dishes, may it be fish or chicken. Create this sauce in less than an hour with simple ingredients.

Preparation: 5 minutes
Cooking: 5 minutes
Total: 10 minutes



  • 1cuppineapple juice
  • ½cuppacked light brown sugar
  • ½cuprice vinegar
  • ¼cupketchup
  • 1tbsplow sodium soy sauce
  • 3Red food coloring drops,optional
  • 1tbspcornstarch
  • 2tbspwater


  1. Add the pineapple juice, light brown sugar, rice vinegar, ketchup, soy sauce and food coloring to a saucepan on medium heat.

  2. Stir well until it comes to a boil.

  3. Mix the water and cornstarch together and add it to the saucepan.

  4. Whisk well until the cornstarch is fully incorporated and the sauce has thickened.

  5. Allow to cool before serving.


  • Calories: 167.77kcal
  • Fat: 0.10g
  • Saturated Fat: 0.01g
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 0.01g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.04g
  • Carbohydrates: 41.16g
  • Fiber: 0.21g
  • Sugar: 36.14g
  • Protein: 0.74g
  • Sodium: 273.80mg
  • Calcium: 36.31mg
  • Potassium: 173.13mg
  • Iron: 0.51mg
  • Vitamin A: 3.90µg
  • Vitamin C: 6.87mg

Helpful Technique for Perfecting Sweet and Sour Sauce

When making your sweet and sour sauce, it's important to whisk the cornstarch and water together before adding it to the saucepan. This process, known as making a slurry, ensures that the cornstarch is evenly distributed throughout the sauce, preventing clumps. Additionally, always add the slurry to the sauce when it's at a boil. This allows the cornstarch to activate and thicken the sauce properly.

Time-Saving Tips for Making Sweet and Sour Sauce

Prep ahead: Chop and measure all ingredients before starting the cooking process to streamline the recipe.

One-pot wonders: Choose recipes that allow you to cook everything in one pot or pan to minimize cleanup time.

Use kitchen tools: Utilize kitchen gadgets like food processors and blenders to speed up the prep work.

Follow the recipe: Read through the entire recipe before starting to ensure you have all the ingredients and understand the steps.

Substitute Ingredients For Sweet and Sour Sauce Recipe

  • pineapple juice - Substitute with apple juice: Apple juice can provide a similar level of sweetness and acidity to the dish, making it a suitable replacement for pineapple juice.

  • light brown sugar - Substitute with coconut sugar: Coconut sugar has a similar sweetness and caramel-like flavor to brown sugar, making it a good alternative in the sweet and sour sauce recipe.

  • rice vinegar - Substitute with white wine vinegar: White wine vinegar can offer a similar level of acidity and mild flavor, making it a suitable substitute for rice vinegar in the sweet and sour sauce.

  • ketchup - Substitute with tomato paste: Tomato paste can provide the rich tomato flavor without the sweetness of ketchup, making it a good substitute in the sweet and sour sauce recipe.

  • low sodium soy sauce - Substitute with tamari: Tamari is a gluten-free alternative to soy sauce and has a similar rich, savory flavor, making it a suitable substitute in the sweet and sour sauce recipe.

  • cornstarch - Substitute with arrowroot powder: Arrowroot powder can be used as a thickening agent in place of cornstarch, providing a similar texture to the sweet and sour sauce.

Presenting Your Sweet and Sour Sauce

  1. Elevate the plating: Arrange the dish meticulously on a pristine white plate, ensuring that each element is showcased elegantly and with precision.

  2. Garnish with finesse: Add a final touch of sophistication by garnishing with delicate microgreens and a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds for a pop of color and texture.

  3. Incorporate artistic drizzling: Artfully drizzle the sweet and sour sauce in a graceful, sweeping motion across the plate, creating a visually stunning presentation.

  4. Utilize modern plating techniques: Employ the use of negative space to highlight the vibrant colors and textures of the dish, creating a visually captivating and contemporary presentation.

  5. Emphasize symmetry and balance: Ensure that the components of the dish are arranged in a harmonious and balanced manner, creating a visually appealing and aesthetically pleasing presentation.

Essential Tools for Making Sweet and Sour Sauce

  • Saucepan: A deep cooking vessel with a handle and often a lid, used for cooking sauces, soups, and other liquids.
  • Whisk: A kitchen utensil used for whipping and mixing ingredients together, often with a handle and loops of wire.
  • Measuring cup: A container used to measure liquid or dry ingredients, typically with graduated markings for precise measurements.
  • Mixing spoon: A long-handled spoon used for stirring and mixing ingredients in a bowl or pot.
  • Small bowl: A small-sized bowl used for mixing small amounts of ingredients or for holding dipping sauces.
  • Knife: A sharp-edged utensil used for cutting and chopping ingredients.
  • Cutting board: A flat board used for cutting and preparing ingredients, typically made of wood or plastic.
  • Whisk: A kitchen utensil used for whipping and mixing ingredients together, often with a handle and loops of wire.
  • Measuring spoons: A set of spoons in various sizes used for measuring small amounts of ingredients.
  • Stove: A cooking appliance with burners or heating elements used for cooking food in pots and pans.

Storing and Freezing Homemade Sweet and Sour Sauce

  • Allow the sweet and sour sauce to cool completely before storing or freezing.
  • For storing in the refrigerator:
    • Transfer the cooled sauce to an airtight container or jar.
    • Label the container with the date and contents.
    • Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
  • For freezing:
    • Pour the cooled sauce into a freezer-safe container or zip-top bag, leaving about an inch of headspace for expansion.
    • Label the container or bag with the date and contents.
    • Lay the bag flat in the freezer for even freezing and to save space.
    • Freeze for up to 3 months.
  • To thaw frozen sweet and sour sauce:
    • Remove the desired amount from the freezer and place it in the refrigerator overnight to thaw.
    • Alternatively, you can thaw the sauce in the microwave using the defrost setting, stirring every 30 seconds until it's fully thawed.
  • Once thawed, give the sauce a good stir to recombine any separated ingredients.
  • Reheat the thawed sauce in a saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally, until it's heated through and reaches your desired consistency.
  • If the sauce appears too thick after thawing and reheating, you can thin it out by whisking in a little water, pineapple juice, or chicken broth until you achieve the perfect consistency for your dish.

Reheating Sweet and Sour Sauce Leftovers

  • The best way to reheat leftover sweet and sour sauce is to use a saucepan on the stove over medium-low heat. Pour the sauce into the pan and stir occasionally until it's heated through. This method ensures that the sauce heats evenly and doesn't burn or stick to the bottom of the pan.

  • Another option is to use the microwave. Transfer the sauce to a microwave-safe bowl and heat it in 30-second intervals, stirring between each interval, until it's heated through. Be careful not to overheat the sauce, as it can cause the cornstarch to break down and make the sauce runny.

  • If you find that the sauce has thickened too much after refrigeration, you can thin it out by adding a little water, pineapple juice, or chicken broth while reheating. Add the liquid gradually and stir well to incorporate it into the sauce.

  • When reheating, be sure to taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning if needed. You may find that the flavors have mellowed after refrigeration, so you might need to add a little more rice vinegar, soy sauce, or brown sugar to restore the balance of sweet and sour.

  • If you're planning to use the reheated sauce with fried dishes like egg rolls, spring rolls, or crab rangoon, consider warming the sauce until it's just hot enough to serve. Overheating the sauce can cause it to become too thin and runny, which can make your fried dishes soggy.

Interesting Fact About Sweet and Sour Sauce

Sweet and sour sauce is a popular condiment in Chinese cuisine and is often used as a dipping sauce or for cooking various dishes. It is a versatile sauce that can be used with meat, seafood, or vegetables, adding a delicious sweet and tangy flavor to the dish.

Is Making Sweet and Sour Sauce at Home Cost-Effective?

The sweet and sour sauce recipe is highly cost-effective for a household. With simple and affordable ingredients like pineapple juice, brown sugar, and rice vinegar, it offers a budget-friendly option for enhancing dishes. The overall verdict for this recipe is 9/10, considering its versatility and flavor. The approximate cost for a household of 4 people is around $5, making it an economical choice for adding a delicious twist to various meat and vegetable dishes.

Is Sweet and Sour Sauce Healthy or Unhealthy?

The sweet and sour sauce recipe, while delicious, is not particularly healthy due to several factors:

  • High sugar content: The recipe includes a significant amount of brown sugar, which can contribute to obesity, diabetes, and other health issues when consumed in excess.
  • Refined ingredients: The use of ketchup and soy sauce adds additional sugar, salt, and processed ingredients to the recipe.
  • Lack of nutrients: The sauce does not contain any significant sources of vitamins, minerals, or other beneficial nutrients.
  • Artificial coloring: The inclusion of red food coloring is purely cosmetic and may have potential health risks.

To make this recipe healthier, consider the following suggestions:

  • Reduce the amount of brown sugar by half and replace it with a natural sweetener like honey or maple syrup.
  • Use fresh pineapple instead of pineapple juice to add more fiber and nutrients to the sauce.
  • Replace the ketchup with tomato paste or pureed fresh tomatoes to reduce the added sugar and salt.
  • Opt for low-sodium soy sauce or replace it with coconut aminos for a healthier alternative.
  • Omit the red food coloring and let the natural colors of the ingredients shine through.
  • Add minced garlic, grated ginger, or red pepper flakes to boost the flavor and provide additional health benefits.
  • Experiment with adding finely chopped vegetables like bell peppers or carrots to increase the nutrient content and texture of the sauce.

Editor's Opinion on This Sweet and Sour Sauce Recipe

This sweet and sour sauce recipe is a delightful balance of tangy and sweet flavors. The combination of pineapple juice, brown sugar, and rice vinegar creates a rich and complex taste, while the ketchup and soy sauce add depth and umami notes. The addition of cornstarch thickens the sauce to the perfect consistency, making it ideal for dipping or drizzling over your favorite dishes. The touch of red food coloring adds a vibrant hue, enhancing the visual appeal of the sauce. Overall, this recipe is a winner and will elevate any dish it accompanies.

Enhance Your Sweet and Sour Sauce Recipe with These Unique Side Dishes:

Mango Salsa: Create a refreshing and tangy mango salsa to complement the sweet and sour sauce. The combination of sweet and spicy flavors will elevate the dish to a whole new level.
Stir-Fried Vegetables: Whip up a colorful and crunchy stir-fried vegetable medley to serve alongside the sweet and sour sauce. The crisp texture and vibrant colors will add a delightful contrast to the dish.
Pineapple Fried Rice: Prepare a fragrant and flavorful pineapple fried rice to pair with the sweet and sour sauce. The tropical sweetness of the pineapple will harmonize perfectly with the tangy sauce, creating a delightful fusion of flavors.

Alternative Recipes to Sweet and Sour Sauce

Stir-Fried Vegetable Medley: Combine a variety of colorful vegetables in a hot wok for a quick and healthy stir-fry.
Grilled Lemon Herb Chicken: Marinate chicken in a zesty lemon and herb mixture before grilling to perfection.
Mango Coconut Rice Pudding: Create a creamy and tropical dessert by simmering rice in coconut milk and adding sweet mango chunks.

Appetizers and Desserts to Complement Sweet and Sour Sauce

Stuffed Mushrooms: Impress your guests with these savory and indulgent stuffed mushrooms. The combination of flavors and textures will leave them wanting more.
Spinach and Artichoke Dip: This creamy and flavorful dip is the perfect way to start off any meal. Your guests won't be able to resist dipping into this delicious appetizer.
Chocolate Mousse: Indulge in a rich and creamy chocolate mousse, topped with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of cocoa powder for an elegant and decadent dessert experience.
Strawberry Cheesecake: Savor the creamy and tangy flavors of a classic strawberry cheesecake, with a buttery graham cracker crust and a luscious strawberry topping for a delightful and satisfying treat.

Why trust this Sweet and Sour Sauce Recipe:

This sweet and sour sauce recipe is a tried and true favorite, crafted with a balance of pineapple juice, rice vinegar, and ketchup for a harmonious blend of flavors. The addition of low sodium soy sauce and a touch of brown sugar elevates the taste to perfection. With meticulous attention to detail, this recipe guarantees a luscious, glossy texture, achieved by skillfully incorporating a cornstarch slurry. Trust in this recipe's authenticity and reliability to deliver a delightful sweet and sour sauce that will undoubtedly elevate any dish.

Share your thoughts and experiences with making this sweet and sour sauce recipe in the Recipe Sharing forum.
What can I use sweet and sour sauce for?
Sweet and sour sauce is a versatile condiment that can be used as a dipping sauce for appetizers like spring rolls or chicken nuggets, as a glaze for meats such as chicken or pork, or as a flavor enhancer for stir-fries and noodle dishes.
Can I substitute any of the ingredients?
Yes, you can make substitutions based on your dietary preferences or what you have on hand. For example, you can use apple cider vinegar instead of rice vinegar, or honey instead of brown sugar. Feel free to experiment and adjust the ingredients to suit your taste.
How long does sweet and sour sauce last?
When stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, sweet and sour sauce can last for up to two weeks. Make sure to check for any signs of spoilage before using it.
Can I make the sauce in advance?
Absolutely! You can make the sweet and sour sauce in advance and store it in the refrigerator until you're ready to use it. This can be a time-saving option for meal prep or entertaining.
Is sweet and sour sauce gluten-free?
The traditional recipe for sweet and sour sauce contains soy sauce, which typically contains gluten. However, you can easily make it gluten-free by using a gluten-free soy sauce or tamari. Always check the labels of your ingredients to ensure they are gluten-free if you have dietary restrictions.

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