Always wanted to learn how to make Healthy Sweet & Sour Chicken? Well you are in luck and this is the recipe you’ve been waiting for. This easy recipe is ideal to curb that weeknight Chinese takeout craving. Packed with protein rich chicken breast, tons of fresh veggies and a lower sugar sauce, you may never reach for takeout again! If you like asian inspired recipes, you may also want to try these asian turkey meatballs, Thai sweet chili meatballs, or chicken teriyaki meal prep.
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I’ve always loved Chinese food because it combines all of the sweet, tangy and savory flavors that I love. I often used to think it was a relatively healthy meal given it pairs a carb, protein and veggies together in a single meal. That is until I really started paying attention to the calorie and fat content. I quickly started realizing that most of the items were lightly battered and fried which makes the dish less than ideal.
WHAT IS SWEET & SOUR CHICKEN?
Sweet & sour chicken is truly and American-Chinese dish consisting of battered pork or chicken tossed in a sweet and sour sauce. This popular takeout meal gets its name from the sauce as it’s made with ketchup, chili sauce, plum sauce, sugar and lemon juice. Undoubtedly this sauce strikes the right balance of flavors making this dish so yummy.
Typically people have shied away from making this delicious dish at home given they believe they need special equipment, like a wok, in order to be successful. When really all you need is a little bit of time, a few bowls and shallow dishes and a large skillet.
WHAT MAKES THIS VERSION HEALTHIER?
To understand why this recipe is healthier, let’s first look at the nutrition facts of its takeout counterpart. A normal serving of this meal runs:
- 1765 calories/per serving
- 89 grams of fat
- 168 grams of carbs
- 71 grams of protein
Putting those numbers into perspective, this would be the only meal you could eat for the day and you would still be WAY over any healthy range of fat grams for the day. A few small tweaks and smart(er) choices and this recipe comes in at:
- 275 calories/per serving
- 7 grams of fat
- 15 grams of carbs
- 27 grams of protein
A few main ways to making this dish healthier is by making healthy swaps like a low sugar content ketchup and low sugar sweet chili sauce. I personally love the G Hughes brand of sauces for this dish as they are all sugar free but still taste amazing. Additionally, by using lean chicken breast as the star ingredient and opting to air fry vs deep fry helps make this a much healthier version.
WHAT DO I NEED TO MAKE SWEET & SOUR CHICKEN?
The main ingredients for healthy sweet & sour chicken are really simple and most likely you will have most things on hand. Just be sure to check your refrigerator and pantry prior to making a trip to the grocery store.
The main ingredients for the chicken are:
- Chicken breast
- Green bell pepper
- Red bell pepper
- Yellow onion
Sauce Ingredients are:
- Orange juice
- Low sugar Ketchup
- Low sodium Soy sauce or coconut aminos
- Sweet chili sauce
- Rice Vinegar
- Fresh ginger
HOW DO I MAKE HEALTHY SWEET & SOUR CHICKEN
First prep your chicken breast by cutting them into small pieces. I like to cut them into uniform pieces about 1 inch long chicken pieces. Next season chicken with your spices including pepper and garlic powder and place in a large mixing bowl.
In another bowl mix eggs + egg whites + sriracha sauce and stir throughly to combine. Pour the egg mixture over the chicken and let marinate. While the chicken is marinating, chop your green bell peppers, red bell peppers and onions into cubes and set aside.
In a separate bowl, mix all ingredients for your tangy sauce except corn starch and water. Mix the cornstarch and water separately to make a slurry then add to the sauce mixture.
Now you are ready to bread your chicken. In a shallow dish, pour 1/2 cup cornstarch in an even layer. In small batches take your chicken from the egg mixture and coat in the cornstarch. Once all of the chicken is coated cook in the air fryer for 8-10 minutes on 400 degrees. Alternatively, you can pan fry in a large skillet on medium-high heat until crispy. Once all the juicy chicken is cooked. Set aside.
In a large nonstick skillet, heat to medium high heat. Once heated, add your chopped vegetables and fresh peppers to the skillet and allow to soften then add your sour chicken sauce mixture to the pan and allow to slightly bubble. Once your sauce comes to a gentle bubble, add your chicken and coat thoroughly with the sticky sauce.
Full recipe details in the recipe card below.
OPTIONAL TOPPINGS + ALTERNATIVES
There are some optional toppings you can choose to garnish this sour chicken recipe with. Those are:
- green onions
- sesame seeds
Given I’ve make this dish quite often, there are times I choose to switch up this healthier recipe and make a few tweaks. Note that if you choose to do the same it will alter the overall calories and macros for a serving. Some alternatives to try are:
- chicken thighs vs. chicken breast
- pineapple juice vs. orange juice
- adding fresh pineapple chunks or canned pineapple
WHAT DO I SERVE WITH SWEET & SOUR CHICKEN
You have a few options of what to serve with the main dish. The obvious choice would be with a side of rice, however you can choose from: jasmine rice, brown rice or even make sushi rice. If you want to go low carb you can serve with cauliflower rice or with no additional carb.
Adding some extra nutrients to the meal, I would always incorporate colorful veggies whether it’s a side salad, steamed broccoli, green beans, snap peas or stir fry vegetables. However you choose, it’s sure to be delicious!
Healthier Sweet and Sour Chicken
- air fryer
- Nonstick Skillet
- Shallow Bowls
- 2-3 large Chicken breasts sliced or cubed
- 1/2 Red bell pepper
- 1/2 Green bell pepper
- 1/4 Onion
- 1/2 cup Cornstarch
- 1 Whole egg
- 2 Egg whites
- 1 tbsp Sriracha
- 1 tbsp Black pepper
- 1 tsp Garlic powder
- 1/3 cup 1/3 cup orange juice
- 1/3 cup No or low sugar ketchup
- 2-3 tbsp Low sodium soy sauce
- 2-3 tbsp Sweet chili sauce
- 1 tbsp Rice vinegar
- 1/2 tsp Cornstarch
- 1 tbsp Water
- Fresh grated ginger to taste
- Season chicken with pepper and garlic powder and place in a large bowl. In a separate bowl mix eggs + egg whites + sriracha sauce. Pour over the chicken and let marinate.
- While chicken is marinating, chop your bell peppers and onions into cubes and set aside.
- In a separate bowl, mix all ingredients for your sauce except cornstarch and water.
- Mix the cornstarch and water separately to make a slurry then add to the sauce mixture.
- Next, place your 1/2 cup cornstarch in a shallow dish. In small batches take your chicken from the egg mixture and coat in the cornstarch.
- Once all chicken is coated cook in the air fryer for 7 – 10 minutes on 400f. Or pan fry in a non-stick pan on medium high heat until crispy. Once all chicken is cooked. Set aside.
- In a large nonstick skillet, heat to medium heat. Once heated, add your chopped vegetables to the skillet and allow to soften then add your sauce mixture to the pan and allow to slightly bubble.
- Once vegetables begin to soften add your chicken and coat thoroughly with the sauce.
- Optional toppings: sesame seeds and green onions