Healthy Sweet and Sour Chicken

An easy and guilt-free recipe for classic sweet and sour chicken with tons of flavor. 

Healthy Sweet and Sour Chicken

We had a family Christmas party on my inlaw’s side Saturday… and then again on Sunday. Lots of cheesy dips and lot of sugar-overload deserts have been making their way into my holiday diet, and I’ve greeted them with wide open arms. This is what the holidays are about! No wait. The holidays are about giving. And family. And then good food comes in maybe, third place.

So allow me to re-phrase. This is part of what the holidays are about!

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As I was digging into my second helping of Oreo-peppermint-ice-cream-dessert (oh-ma-gosh. addiction alert!!) that my sister in law Kadee brought to the par-tay, we joked about our new year’s resolutions and how January-one will be diet central as we try to shed the holiday pounds. But I’ve actually been trying to balance all of the holiday cookies and homemade caramels with some lighter dishes (ohhhh quinoa chicken nuggets I love you). Hence this healthy sweet and sour chicken.

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 So what makes it healthy?? Well most restaurants deep-fry their chicken in a thick batter, which is, let’s admit it, totally delicious. But! It’s not needed. You can get tons of flavor without the heavy oil-laden breading. This chicken is lightly coated in corn starch which is probably my favorite trick for making-over takeout dishes. The corn starch is low-carb and a very thin coating delivers a crispy exterior on your chicken when sautéed in a tablespoon or two of oil.

We ate this for lunch just yesterday and we instantly fell in love. It actually makes it hard to ever order sweet and sour chicken from a restaurant again now that we have an easy and healthier version to whip up at home in 30 minutes.

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Healthy Sweet and Sour Chicken
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
An easy and guilt-free recipe for classic sweet and sour chicken with tons of flavor.
Author:
Recipe type: Main Dish
Cuisine: Asian
Serves: 3-4
Ingredients
  • 3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded to ½ inch thickness and chopped into 1 inch pieces
  • ⅓ cup corn starch
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • ½ white or yellow onion, chopped
sauce
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar (may sub white vinegar)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion salt*
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch + 2 tablespoon cold water
Instructions
  1. First prepare the sauce. Add sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, garlic powder, onion salt, and ketchup to a medium sauce pan. Stir and bring to a boil. In a small bowl whisk together the 1 tablespoon corn starch and cold water until dissolved. Add to sauce pan and stir until thickened, then reduce to low heat.
  2. Add chicken pieces and corn starch to a large ziplock bag. Seal and shake to coat chicken. Drizzle a large pan or skillet with oil. Add coated chicken. Saute over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add peppers and onions. Continue to saute over medium heat until chicken is browned and cooked through.
  3. Add sauce to chicken and peppers. Stir to coat well. Serve warm with cooked rice if desired.
Notes
*If you don't have onion salt, use garlic salt instead of garlic powder, and use onion powder instead of garlic salt.
*If you don't mind a slightly less-healthy version and looooove sauce, you can double the sauce recipe.
*Sauce adapted from Table For Two

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Comments

It’s smart to balance all of the holiday eating with some lighter dishes. This sweet and sour chicken looks great. Merry Christmas!

This looks delicious and a great alternative to take out! Have a wonderful Christmas Tiffany!

This dish will definitely be on my menu next week. I am crazy for Asian-inspired cuisine and can’t wait to try this. Thanks for sharing!

I definitely need healthy and guilt-free after the past few days! Looks delicious. Pinned!

that was SOOO DELICIOUS!! thanku for this recipe! here’s foto: http://imageshack.com/a/img903/7125/NIhi1N.jpg
🙂

Just wondering about the nutritional information, I am following weight watchers and need to calculate my point value.

Just made this last night and it was SO delicious- absolutely better than any take out I’ve ever had. Thanks for sharing!

    Isn’t that the best feeling, to know you made something at home for much less money (and fewer calories!) than what you’d normally get from a restaurant?? Ah, I love that satisfaction. 🙂

Loved this recipe! Followed almost to a T, I only had a red pepper, so I used that, the onion and I cut up a fresh pineapple and added that to the mix. I stir fried the onion for a minute then added the pepper, cooked that for 3 minutes and then added the pineapple and a dash of salt, I let it cook for a minute longer then put the veggies in a bowl and cooked the meat (oh and I made this with pork since I didn’t have any chicken), after the pork was done I added the veggies and the sauce (super delicious!). Served this over jasmine rice. Even though I gave it a couple tweaks, thank you so much for such a great recipe!!!!!! We’ll be keeping this one for sure!

How can this be healthy with almost a cup of sugar?

    It’s healthier than take-out because the chicken is not battered and deep fried. 🙂

Can I use brown sugar?

    Yep, it will have a slightly different flavor but still delicious!

This recipe was so delicious my whole family I loved it.
Will definitely make it again .
Definitely a five star recipe .

this was super good! a little too sour for me so I added a little extra sugar. next time I’m gonna try brown sugar and take another comment and add some pineapples!

I LOOOOOOOOVE this recipe! My 1 year old daughter loves the chicken (no sauce for her) and every one else who’s had it loves it too! I am so glad I found your recipe! Thank you for sharing!

sooooo good!

I didn’t have any onion salt, but other than that I followed this recipe and it came out awesome! Really tasty.

    Did you just use garlic salt then? Because I have garlic powder garlic salt and onion powder

Turned out great instead of peppers I used diced red onions,baby carrots and celery. I would recommend this recipe.

How many calories per serving?

    Hi Rachel, I don’t have the nutrition stats on hand but you can jump over to http://www.myfitnesspal.com where they let you link to online recipes and they’ll calculate the stats for you – it’s awesome!

I’ve just discovered your site and I’m eating this recipe right now! It turned out great!

    Yay! So happy to hear you found my site and are loving this recipe Donna!

I just made this and sooo glad i did, this is the best recipe I’ve ever used! If you’re looking for a good sweet and sour recipe, look not further, was so yummy I may have eaten too much! I also substituted half the sugar for raw honey to make it stickier and a bit healthier 🙂
Thank you so much for submitting this recipe!

    Ooh I love that you used the raw honey – I definitely have to try that!!

Just made this… Came out so delicious. Fairly easy to make and didn’t really take to long. My 7 year old grandson loved it too! Great recipe! Thanks!

    Yay – gotta love when everybody loves a new dish, even the kids! 🙂

Just made this and asked my mom to rate from “okay to master chef”. She almost gave me master chef. Great recipe ❤

    That’s a stellar rating system – just might have to adopt that!!

This was simply amazing….my husband and teenagers devoured it. Thank you!!!!!!

    Yay – husband and teenage pleaser!!! Glad you liked it Anna-Marie! 🙂

Hi, I tried this last night and it was a big hit! The only thing I did different was double the sauce because I like when my rice can soak up the sauce too (I think next time I will just do 1 and a half of the sauce though) anywho, I am about to have a baby and would love to have this as a freezer meal…have you tried freezing it? Do you think it would work?

    Hi lauren! So glad you liked it – I’m totally a fan of sauce doubling, I LOOOOVE sauce and so does my husband. I haven’t personally frozen this dish but it would probably do pretty well! Not as good as fresh, but still good!

DELICIOUS, YUM YUM!! Super easy and my 2 todlers even liked it. Husband said it was restaurant quality. I thought it was even better since it didn’t have all that gross breading with “surprise” chicken in it. Thank you so much for the recipe. I´m always looking for new easy recipes especially since baby #3 is on the way. By the way, i usually don´t leave comments or ratings unless something is REALLY good.

    Yay – a dish that pleases the WHOLE family – even prego mama!! So glad you liked this Jackie and CONGRATS on baby #3!!!

Hi! I am watching calories so I did a recipe calorie calculator based on your exact recipe. And just in case anyone was interested it calculates out to be 429 calories per serving (4 servings/recipe).

Might be too much for me right now, but perhaps in the future when I can up my calories! Sounds delish!

    Alli, thank you for the nutritional value!!! I couldn’t figure it out using myfitnesspal. I just made this last night for meal prepping for this week. And its delicious.

Hi, Can you make the sauce up and freeze for the future?

    Absolutely!

I used honey instead of sugar. It was fantastic!

I used honey instead of sugar. It was fantastic.

Super delicious! Great recipe for a young adult like me who’s beginning to cook! Definitely will add this recipe to my ” will do again” list! Personally , I thought the sauce was a little bit too sweet but not enough to complain nor change it 😉

    Thanks for your comment Caroline! I’m so glad you liked this as much as we do!!

Maannnn I made this LAST NIGHT for my hubby and 13 yr old son. My picky (only want pizza and mozzarella sticks) son LOVED this meal!! My hubby said it’s truly better than Chinese lmfao. Def 5 stars for this recipe, I made it exactly but omitted the veggies.

I absolutely loved this recipe. With me being preggo and craving Asian food, but wanting a healthy alternative this was perfect! Definitely will be making this again. Thank you for this recipe!!

This was DELISH!!!!! The best Asian I’ve ever made at home. Simple to make, ingredients I had on hand, and quick!!! This will go in regular rotation for sure. Only adjustment I made was add an 8 oz can of pineapple chunks – I just have to have pineapple in my Sweet and Sour Chicken. Thank you so much for this recipe!

How many servings does this recipe make?

    It serves 3-4.

I made this dish for dinner tonight and it was amazing =) My children really loved it too! It’s fast and easy to make. Thank you for this recipe, will use again!

This recipe looks great! Thanks for sharing. I want to try and make it tonight. Do you think I can sub flour for the cornstarch? I do not have cornstarch at home and am not wanting to make an extra trip to the store!

Thanks again! 🙂

    Yes you should be able to sub flour in for the corn starch, just be sure to dissolve it in the water first!

Holy yum! Thank you for sharing this recipe! This will be in my keepers!!

Will it still taste good without the soy sauce? I’m very allergic to soy and miss eating Chinese food because of this allergy. Any ideas???

    Try Amino Acids from whole foods. I’ve heard that it works well in place of soy sauce.

This was delicious! Thanks for the recipe!

Thank you so much for this recipe! Such a hit! It was amazing! So tangy!

What kind of oil do you use to sauté the chicken?

    I use vegetable oil or olive oil 🙂

It was a really good dinner idea, however I found it to be really sweet and next time will add less sugar in it.

Has anyone tried this recipe using Stevia instead of sugar? It takes the calorie count from 429 per serving (4 servings) to 244 per serving – that’s a lot when you’re counting calories!!!! I’m a little hesitant to make this with almost a cup of sugar considering it’s such a big calorie difference…but don’t want to make it with Stevia if it’s going to be gross and end up tossing it. Looks delicious though!!

    I have tried this twice. The first time with sugar and the second with Stevia. Both were good but with the regular sugar it was a little sweeter, which made it better. Both ways were good though!!

      I was hoping someone would try with Stevia! I was reading threw the comments for just that because
      the wife has me on a heart healthy diet of less than 350 caiories for the main part of a meal and will fix
      what I want within reason. Right, hopefully after 39 years of torture she will say.

How about adding a bit of toasted sesame seeds?

This is so ridiculously good!

Had this from a Chinese last night and it was very good but I want to try and make it at home. I’m glad I found this recipe because not only is it healthier but it is cheaper too! Thank you

How is this considered healthy with nearly 1 cup of sugar in it?

Omg I just tried this recipe as it seemed to be the easiest and healthiest I found online and I love it!! This sweet and sour recipe tastes better than my local chinese and knowing exactly what goes in it is a bonus! Definately recommend. Even my fussy 5 year old liked it so thank you so much. I also added pineapple like someone else suggested and tweaked the amount for just teo people. This will be a recipe I stick to

So so good! Made it as an alternative to the Chinese takeout I get all the time and it turned out awesome!! Thanks do much for sharing!

This is one of the tastiest meals that I have ever made or ever consumed!!! We had this over rice with fresh corn mixed in with it. It was perfect! Thank you for sharing the recipe!

Hi – this looks great but I’m from UK – what can I use instead of corn starch? Will corn flour work the same?
Thanks

    You can use flour in place of corn starch 🙂

I made this last weekend and it is really good!! I am really gonna make this again. Thanks for the recipe!
I am definately gonna try another one of your recipes for this weekend.

This recipe is delicious. I’ve had it several times and my husband loves it. The only problem is that this is NOT a healthy recipe. The recipe calls for 3/4 cup of sugar! That’s a crazy amount of sugar. We are really trying to limit our sugar intake because we are both at risk for diabetes. I’d like to know if you have experimented with sugar alternatives in this recipe with any success? Thanks again for a wonderful recipe.

    I made this a few nights ago with Stevia in the Raw. It was fabulous! Like you, I was VERY hesitant about the 3/4 cups sugar – I never tried the recipe with sugar, so I can’t say if it’s better with sugar or Stevia, but it really was very good with the Stevia. It cut the calories down so much and now I feel like I can put it in my recipe rotation. For sure try it with Stevia in the Raw!!

      Thanks Heather! Sounds great! I’ll try it next time I make it.

I tried this before exactly and followed the directions exactly and loved it but I have long work days ahead and was wondering if it would be a good idea to use a crock pot for this.. and if so, how long and any should any adjustments be made? Thank you!

Hi, looks delicious! Do you think this would freeze well?

This is my absolute favorite sweet and sour chicken! I like this recipe better than restaurant or take-out! I’ve been making for a year now and its on the regular rotation. If I go too long with out making it, I start craving it!

I fairly closely followed your recipe, I didn’t have onion salt or garlic powder, so I used onion powder and fresh garlic. I may have been a little too liberal with the ketchup and the tamari (gluten free soy sauce) but it suited my taste. I really loved what I ended up and will make this again! Thanks so much!

I have been making this dinner for my family 3 times a month for the past 2 years. Thanks so much! We love it!!!

Addchicken pieces and corn starch…
how much corn starch.. you already use thickening mixture in sauce. 🙁

I looked at this recipe on My Fitness Pal and it says that this meal is 903 calories per serving. Just an F.Y.i for those counting calories.

How many calories is in a serving?

This is the best!! Have made it several times,,yummy!!!! Would you happen to have a veggie lo-mein re
cipe in your files??

Not WW friendly – because of the amount of sugar in the sauce, I am calculating 22 points per serving! Are their alternatives to make this actually healthy? I only get 30 points per day so this just would not work….

I’ve made this recipe at least 5 times in the past year. Delicious and curbs the urge for the deep fried version!

I made this tonight and my son was taking a shower and came down saying why does it smell like vinegar? LOL. It wasn’t bad but thought it was to vinegary. It does call for 1/2 c. apple cider vinegar, right? When I first read the ing. It sounded like to much vinegar but I always like to make recipes just as they say and tweek next time if needed. My husband liked it. He is taking the rest for lunch tomorrow.

This recipe is delicious! I made it and it came out amazing, I served it with brown rice and some veggies. I’ll defiantly make this again thanks for sharing 🙂

Thanks for the breaded chicken idea! The sauce was way too vinegary for me. Maybe I’ll try more sugar & brown instead.

I could taste a little of the cornstarch once it was done. Any suggestions to not have a taste of the cornstarch or is it normal?

What a great recipe! I have gestational diabetes so I’m always on the lookout for “healthier” alternatives to take out & ive been missing Chinese so much! I substituted 1 C of Splenda for the sugar and it turned out wonderful. Next time I’ll add more sweet peppers & raw honey like another poster suggested. This is sure to go in our dinner rotation.

I love this recipe! A weekly staple in my home. Can you provide the nutritional components for this recipe?

WOW! I absolutely loved everything about this recipe. So delicious and so easy to throw together on a busy week night. I have lots of company coming to stay a few days next week and it’s most def going on the menu. Mmmmm…. thank you for a healthy version of my most favorite take out dish. It’s going under my favorite recipes tab. I’ll be checking out more of your recipes.

-very busy mama of 3 boys! 😉

This knocked it out the ball park.

How many pounds of chicken did you use?

    Hi! I don’t weight my chicken because I like my recipes to be flexible, this recipe makes plenty of sauce for 2-4 medium-large sized chicken breasts. 🙂

I’m not sure if my local Chinese places have dialed down on the sourness and I got used to it but this sauce came out SO vinegary I had to air out the house. It was a little better the day after when I had it as leftovers but definitely still very sour.

    I’m sorry you found your sauce too vinegary! I would definitely suggest cutting back on the amount of vinegar you add to your sauce to fit your taste. 🙂

Tried this recepie last night. Its great. My spouse loved it and its easy to make. Thank you !

    That’s so great to hear! 🙂

This recipe is a home run! I put mushrooms and carrots too, and served over brown rice. I’d like to try with snap peas and bok choy sometime as well. The sauce is terrific! My husband said it tasted just like restaurant quality. Thanks!

It tasted just like I was eating it at a Chinese buffet! So, so good and super easy too.

Just found this recipe today and had to try it. It was ah-mazing! Thanks for sharing.

I don’t understand this bit:
*If you don’t have onion salt, use garlic salt instead of garlic powder, and use onion powder instead of garlic salt.
Can you clarify please?

    I think it means if you don’t have have onion salt but you have garlic salt use that instead…but if you are making that change then you should use onion powder in place of the garlic salt in the recipe so you aren’t doubling the garlic and you are using only one salt version and one powder version.
    So the options are:
    Garlic Powder and Onion Salt
    or
    Onion Powder and Garlic Salt

My husband and son loved this meal had to adjust the recipe to my liking .But over all turned out great will recommend to friends.

Anyone know the carb count? Thanks

Sorry but how is this healthy when it has 3/4 cup of sugar in it??

3/4 cup of sugar for 3-4 chicken breasts is HEALTHY? That’s nuts!

Ms Tiffany- Most of the Sweet &Sour meals I’ve had have chunk pineapple in with the onion, bell peppers, etc. The newer versions “in their own juice” would help cut back on sugar.

Has anyone else tried this addition? Love the effect of shaking the chicken in a zip-lock bag-such a light crust and so delicate.

Looking forward to some more Asian inspired dinners.

This sweet sour chicken will definitely be on my menu tonight!

Can you make the recipe without the bell peppers? Or is that a must? Cause someone in my family can’t eat bell peppers.

    You can definitely leave the bell peppers out if you need to!

My husband is allergic to tomatoes what can a substitute in the sauce?

This recipe was delicious! Since I’ve made it, it’s hard to order sweet and sour chicken at a Chinese restaurant. I ve also made this recipe with chicken and shrimp, and it was AMAZING! Because I love everything spicy, I add some chili garlic sauce and roasted chili peppers, and a friend of mine said it tastes like General Tso’s chicken. There you have it two recipes from this one as a guide. Thank you!

We had this recipe for dinner, it was fantastic. I made the sauce recipe as described but didn’t use the entire batch, we were very pleased. Thank you for sharing.

So good! I’ve been craving sweet and sour for awhile so this was a nice healthy version. I ended up cutting out most of the sugar and put pineapples in it and it worked out.

We just made this recipe and loved it! However, we calculated the calories and this is almost 1,000 calories per serving :/ We were so excited to have found a “healthy” version of one of our favorite foods, but it’s not necessarily “guilt-free” as you claimed. Not trying to offend you, just want others to realize it’s not quite as healthy as claimed. 🙁

This looks amazing! I will definately give it a try!
I hope I will manage as I am not a great cook!

Great recipe me and my wife love it! I use Xylitol instead of sugar to make more healthier but it is still great!