Skip the take-out and make this Baked Sweet & Sour Chicken recipe instead. It’s an easy dinner and a healthier twist on one of our favorite take-out dishes.

We’re certainly not opposed to ordering out from our favorite Chinese restaurant, but I like to make this baked sweet and sour chicken at home to save on the dollars and the calories. It’s lighter than the fried version, but still has all of the flavors.

close-up shot of a plate of sweet and sour chicken.

I am not so sure I’d like to admit how many times our family’s go-to quick meal has been Chinese take-out. We love it and, for a long time, I felt like it was easier to order it. But after ordering, waiting for it to be ready, and driving across town to get it I realized I wasn’t saving any time. 

Our schedule is crazy with all seven of us going in different directions, so I’d rather use the little time we do have to make something a little lighter and healthier. So now this Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken is our go-to when we get a craving for take-out. 

I first made this recipe after finding it on Facebook years ago before I started blogging. I’ve made it so many times since have tweaked it until it was perfect. My kids love this dinner!

Recipe Highlights

As much as we love it, the restaurant version is… shall we say, not so healthy? So for my homemade version, I skip the frying and bake it instead. It’s the sweet and sour sauce that we really love and so we don’t even miss the crispy breading on the chicken. 

If you really love the crispy chicken, I have an air fryer orange chicken recipe you might like to try.

a plate of sweet and sour chicken.

I also use boneless, skinless chicken breasts instead of thighs to keep things lighter, too. That, plus skipping the frying and heavy breading, gives my version a healthy twist that doesn’t leave you weighed down after dinner. 

I don’t cut corners with the sauce recipe, however. It has that wonderful bright sweet and sour flavor and as it bakes in the oven it caramelizes and thickens. This recipe really is all about the sauce – it’s amazing.

I love it as is, but you can easily add your favorite veggies like diced bell peppers or broccoli florets. Pile it all on rice and no one will miss the take-out, I can promise you that.

Ingredients

  • Sugar
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Chicken broth
  • Ketchup
  • Soy sauce – you can use regular or low-sodium soy sauce.
  • Cornstarch or flour
  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Garlic salt
  • Black pepper

Note: If you like some heat you can add some sriracha or other hot sauce, too, but I usually leave it out because the kids are not really into anything too spicy. So, the hubby and I usually add it to our own serving once the dish is ready.

a bowl of sweet and sour sauce.

How to Make It

Whisk the sugar, vinegar, chicken broth, ketchup, soy sauce, and cornstarch in a medium bowl until well combined. Set aside.

There are a couple of ways to make baked sweet and sour chicken. I’ve done them both and they work great, so choose your favorite option:

the sauce being added to the pan.

Option 1: Chicken Pieces

  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Cut the meat into bite-sized pieces, place them in the baking dish and pour the sauce over the top.
  • Every 20 minutes, give it all a stir while it’s baking. It should be fully cooked in 60 minutes.

Option 2: Whole Chicken Breasts

  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Place the whole chicken breasts in a baking dish and cover them with the sauce. Bake them for an hour and a half, turning them one to two times while they bake.
  • Once the baked chicken is cooked through and the sauce is thick and caramelized take it out of the oven. Allow it to cool for a few minutes and then cut the meat into bite-sized pieces. Return it back to the sauce and stir to coat it evenly.
close-up of the sweet and sour chicken in a baking dish.

Recipe Tips

  • When you mix up the sauce, the consistency will be light and the color will be bright, but don’t worry. It will darken and thicken up as it bakes in the oven.
  • To get a nice golden color, you can turn on the broiler in the last 5 to 10 minutes of the cooking time. This will further caramelize the sauce and deepen the color.
  • If, for some reason, your sauce isn’t thick enough once it’s baked just remove the meat and add some more cornstarch to the sauce and whisk to combine. You can do this right in the baking dish.
  • This recipe makes a lot of sauce, which we love. Once it’s ready to serve, I usually transfer the extra sauce to a small mason jar to have on the side so everyone can add more if they want it.
  • The finished dish holds well. Often, I make it early and cover it with foil to keep it warm until everyone is ready to eat.
  • The leftovers keep well in the refrigerator for up to four days. Reheat them on the stove top in a skillet or in the microwave.
close-up of the final dish.

Variations

I love the flavor of the apple cider vinegar but you can use the same amount of rice vinegar if you prefer.

You can use boneless skinless chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts. Depending on the size you may need to adjust the baking time.

For added texture, sprinkle some sesame seeds over the top for garnish. Or add some sliced green onions.

My family loves this dinner with some cooked broccoli, red bell peppers, and white rice or brown rice on the side. You could also add some pineapple chunks.

If you have leftovers, I also like to wrap the sauce and chicken up in tortillas with some shredded cheddar cheese, too.

sweet and sour chicken with rice on a plate.

The next time you get a Chinese food take-out craving I hope you’ll give this one a try. It’s a family favorite at our house and I love that it’s lighter and saves us a few bucks, too. XOXO San

More Favorite Recipes

I love recreating our favorite restaurant dishes at home so you might like to try these recipes, too.

 

Don’t forget to pin this easy recipe to your favorite Pinterest board for later.

sweet and sour chicken pinterest image.

Baked Sweet & Sour Chicken

Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 1 hour
Total: 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings: 8 -10
Calories: 317 kcal
Skip the take-out and make this restaurant-inspired dish at home. It's an easy recipe that is a healthier twist on one of our favorite take-out dishes. Serve it with broccoli and rice on the side or wrap the chicken and sauce up in tortillas with some shredded cheese.
sweet and sour chicken.

Ingredients
 

For the Sauce

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch or flour

For the Chicken

  • 6 to 8 raw boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 teaspoons garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a bowl whisk sugar, vinegar, chicken broth, ketchup, soy sauce, and cornstarch in a medium bowl until well combined. Set aside.
  • You can prepare the chicken in this dish one of two ways.

OPTION 1:

  • Place the whole chicken breasts in a 9×13 baking dish. Season the chicken with the garlic salt and pepper. Pour the sauce over chicken and place the baking dish in the oven. Bake it for 1 1/2 hours (turn the chicken one to two times) or until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce is thick and dark in color.
  • Remove the baking dish from the and transfer the chicken to a cutting board. Let it cool for 5 to 10 minutes and then cut it into cubes. Add the chicken back to the sauce and serve.

OPTION 2:

  • Cut the chicken into 1-inch cubes and season them with the garlic salt and pepper. Place the pieces in a 9×13 baking dish and pour the sauce over the top. Bake the chicken for 60 minutes, stirring it every 20 minutes or until it's cooked through and the sauce is has thickened.

Video

Notes

  • If you like a spicy kick, add some sriracha to the finished dish.
  • When you mix up the sauce, the consistency will be light and the color will be bright, but don’t worry. It will darken and thicken up as it bakes in the oven.
  • If your sauce isn’t thick enough once it’s baked, just remove the chicken and add 1 tablespoon of cornstarch to the sauce and whisk to combine. You can do this right in the baking dish.
  • This recipe makes a lot of sauce, which we love. Once the chicken is ready to serve, I will transfer the extra sauce to a small mason jar to have on the side so everyone can add more if they want it.
  • There’s enough sauce to cook up to eight chicken breasts, which is what is included in the nutrition estimate. If you use less chicken, the estimate will vary.
  • The finished dish holds well. Often, I make it early and cover it with foil to keep it warm until everyone is ready to eat.
Serving: 0.13of recipeCalories: 317kcalCarbohydrates: 46gProtein: 25gFat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 72mgSodium: 1210mgPotassium: 520mgFiber: 1gSugar: 41gVitamin A: 111IUVitamin C: 4mgCalcium: 12mgIron: 1mg
sweet and sour chicken.
Tried this recipe?Let us know what you think!

This recipe was originally posted on A Dash of Sanity in December 2013 and has recently been updated.

baked sweet and sour chicken social media image.

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25 Comments

  1. Sandy, oh my, this looks and sounds scrumptious! I absolutely love a dish just like this! Thank you so shring your recipe and pinning! Hope you have a happy Friday and a wonderful weekend! 🙂

  2. I love how versatile this recipe is. And you can’t go wrong with a healthy version of Chinese! Thanks for linking to the In and Out of the Kitchen Link Party. Hope to see you next week.

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  4. I’m trying to avoid white sugar.
    Do you think honey or real maple syrup could be used instead?
    Trying this tonight. Thanks!

  5. has any one made this without the ketchup? It’s an allergy in our household, and I’d like to know if this can be made without it…

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  7. 5 stars
    This Baked Sweet & Sour Chicken was a game-changer! It turned out just as juicy and flavorful as the takeout version but healthier. I really appreciated the tips on getting the sauce just right. It was perfect over some jasmine rice.

4.89 from 17 votes (6 ratings without comment)

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