Sweet and Sour Pork: A Classic Chinese Takeout Favorite

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Sweet and Sour Pork is a beloved dish in Chinese cuisine that combines crispy fried pork with a tangy, sweet, and savory sauce. This dish is popular in both Chinese restaurants and takeout menus around the world for its vibrant flavors and irresistible appeal. Here’s how you can recreate this delicious dish at home, ensuring crispy pork and a perfectly balanced sweet and sour sauce.


For the Pork:

  • 1 lb pork tenderloin or pork shoulder, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Vegetable oil, for frying

For the Sweet and Sour Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup pineapple juice (from canned pineapple chunks)
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup water

For Stir-Frying:

  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into chunks
  • 1 green bell pepper, cut into chunks
  • 1 onion, cut into chunks
  • 1 cup pineapple chunks (fresh or canned)

Optional Garnish:

  • Sliced green onions
  • Sesame seeds

For Serving:

  • Steamed white rice


1. Prepare the Pork

  1. In a bowl, combine the cornstarch, salt, and black pepper.
  2. Dip each piece of pork into the beaten egg, then dredge it in the cornstarch mixture, ensuring it is evenly coated.
  3. Heat vegetable oil in a deep skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Fry the pork pieces in batches until golden brown and crispy, about 3-4 minutes per batch. Transfer the fried pork to a plate lined with paper towels to drain excess oil.

2. Make the Sweet and Sour Sauce

  1. In a small saucepan, combine ketchup, rice vinegar, pineapple juice, brown sugar, and soy sauce. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix cornstarch and water to create a slurry. Slowly pour the slurry into the saucepan, whisking constantly until the sauce thickens, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

3. Stir-Fry the Vegetables

  1. In the same skillet or wok used for frying the pork, heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the bell peppers and onion chunks, stir-frying for 2-3 minutes until they start to soften but are still crisp.
  3. Add the pineapple chunks and continue to stir-fry for another 1-2 minutes until heated through.

4. Combine and Serve

  1. Return the fried pork pieces to the skillet or wok with the stir-fried vegetables.
  2. Pour the sweet and sour sauce over the pork and vegetables, tossing gently to coat everything evenly.
  3. Cook for an additional 1-2 minutes until heated through and the sauce thickens slightly.
  4. Garnish with sliced green onions and sesame seeds if desired.
  5. Serve hot with steamed white rice.

Tips for Success

  1. Maintain Oil Temperature: Keep the oil temperature consistent while frying the pork to ensure crispy results. Too hot, and the pork may burn; too cold, and it won’t crisp up properly.
  2. Cornstarch Coating: The cornstarch coating on the pork helps to create a crispy exterior. Ensure each piece is well-coated for optimal texture.
  3. Balance Sweet and Sour: Adjust the sweetness and sourness of the sauce to your taste preferences. You can add more brown sugar for sweetness or more vinegar for extra tanginess.
  4. Fresh Ingredients: Using fresh bell peppers, onions, and pineapple chunks adds vibrant colors and textures to the dish.
  5. Serve Immediately: Sweet and Sour Pork is best served immediately after cooking to preserve its crispy texture and flavorful sauce.


  • Crispy Chicken: Substitute pork with boneless, skinless chicken breast or thighs for a Sweet and Sour Chicken variation.
  • Vegetarian Option: Replace the pork with tofu or deep-fried tempeh for a vegetarian-friendly version.
  • Spicy Twist: Add crushed red pepper flakes or diced fresh chili peppers to the sauce for a spicy kick.


Sweet and Sour Pork is a timeless Chinese dish that delights with its crispy texture, vibrant colors, and harmonious sweet and tangy flavors. By following this recipe, you can recreate the magic of restaurant-quality Sweet and Sour Pork in the comfort of your own kitchen. Serve it with steamed white rice for a satisfying and delicious meal that will surely become a family favorite. Enjoy the crispy goodness and flavorful sauce of Sweet and Sour Pork as you savor each bite!

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Written by Robert Zelesky

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