This quick and easy recipe for healthy sweet and sour chicken skips the batter and deep fryer so you can enjoy this takeout guiltlessly!

Skillet full of sweet and sour chicken with peppers and onions.

We skipped the batter, and it’s even better.

Don’t get me wrong—I love to indulge in battered and fried treats as much as the next food nut. But man oh man, it’s really nice to have healthier alternatives to whip up in your own kitchen! This healthy sweet and sour chicken is one of them. A lot of the sweet and sour sauce I was served as a kid was just sweet; a gelatinous red sauce that tasted like pure sugar. But this stuff brings tanginess to match the sweetness, which creates a sauce worth smacking your lips over. You can eat this dish on it’s own, or serve it with rice or noodles. In this house, we usually enjoy it on top of this coconut ginger rice.

The gist on how to make Healthy Sweet and Sour Chicken.

Get the marinade going. Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl, then place the cut up chicken into it, tossing to coat. Refrigerate it for about 30 minutes, or up to 8 hours. Prepare the sweet and sour sauce by placing all of the ingredients into another large bowl, whisking until well combined. Another thing you can do is place everything into a glass jar, cover it with a lid, and shake it until it’s nicely blended! Finally, prepare all of your vegetables. Once the chicken has marinated for 30 minutes, heat the skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and simmer it until it’s golden brown. Transfer the chicken to a bowl and add a drizzle of oil to the pan again if needed. Pop the vegetables into the pan and cook until they’ve softened—about 2 minutes. Bring the chicken back to the pan and cook for another minute. Stir in the sweet and sour sauce, tossing all of the ingredients to coat. Bring the sauce to a low simmer just to thicken it a bit. Stir the scallions into the mixture, top with sesame seeds, and serve!

Bowl of marinated chicken, jar of sweet and sour sauce, bowl of vegetables, garlic, ginger, and scallions.

Process shot collage of chicken being cooked, then tossed with vegetables and sweet and sour sauce.

Recipe notes + tips.

  1. For an even healthier option, use homemade ketchup in the sauce! This allows you to control the sugar content if you’re keeping an eye on that stuff.
  2. I use chicken thighs in this recipe because I love how tender and flavorful they are. But if you prefer breast meat, you can absolutely use that instead.
  3. Any color bell pepper will work in this recipe, but we like the sweeter varieties (red, yellow, orange).
  4. A lot of sweet and sour recipes out there include pineapple chunks. You could definitely add those in when you add the vegetables for an extra pop of sweetness.

Sweet and sour chicken in pan, and in a bowl with rice.

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Hope you enjoy!

If you plan on making this recipe, be sure to snap a pic and tag us on Insta! @killing__thyme.

Skillet full of sweet and sour chicken with peppers and onions.

Get the Recipe:

Healthy Sweet and Sour Chicken

This quick and easy recipe for healthy sweet and sour chicken skips the batter and the deep fryer so you can enjoy this takeout classic guiltlessly.
5 from 4 votes

Ingredients

  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut up into bite-sized chunks
  • 3 TBSP peanut oil, Olive or avocado oil are also fine.
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped into bite-sized chunks
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped into bite-sized chunks
  • 1 large carrot, julienned

Chicken marinade.

  • 2 tsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp rice wine
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp sesame oil
  • A few cracks of black pepper

Sweet and sour sauce.

  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup raw honey, You could also use agave nectar.
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 2 tsp low sodium soy sauce

Instructions 

Chicken marinade.

  • Whisk all of the marinade ingredients together in a large bowl. Place the cut up chicken into it and toss to coat. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes or up to 8 hours.

Sweet and sour sauce.

  • In a separate bowl, whisk together all of the sweet and sour sauce ingredients until well combined. (You could also place the ingredients into a glass jar, secure the lid, and shake until combined.)

Bringing the dish together.

  • Heat a skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Once the skillet is hot, transfer the marinated chicken to it and let it simmer, stirring occasionally, until golden brown (about 3-5 minutes). Transfer the chicken to a bowl and set aside.
  • If necessary, add a bit of oil to the pan. Add the vegetables, and let them sauté until they've softened—about 5 minutes.
  • Bring the chicken back to the pan and cook alongside the vegetables for another minute or until the chicken registers an internal temperature of 165ºF. Stir in the sweet and sour sauce and toss all of the ingredients to evenly coat them. Bring the skillet to a low simmer and let the sauce thicken a bit.
  • Turn off the heat, stir in the scallions, and top with sesame seeds.
  • Serve with rice, noodles, or as is!