Homemade sweet and sour pork is so much easier, cheaper, and healthier than takeout.
Sweet and sour pork is one of the best Chinese dishes whether it is cheap takeout, from a high-dollar Michelin starred restaurant, or part of a homemade feast. It’s tangy, sweet, crispy, crunchy, and deliciously porky. This better than takeout version is not only easier, it’s better for you too. Best of all, it uses pork chops, which are my favorite cut of pork because they are easy to come by, easy to cook, and taste great.
Healthy sweet and sour pork
Some people don’t know that sweet and sour pork is deep fried and not at all healthy. This version is healthier but just as delicious, with no added oil and no deep frying. It’s as crispy and the sauce is as authentic as you’d find in any Chinese restaurant. We often make this for dinner instead of ordering in when we’re craving Chinese.
How to make sweet and sour pork
- Cube the pork chops. More surface area equals more crunch: 1.5″ cubes are just about right.
- Coat the pork. Put the pork in a ziplock bag or a bowl with corn starch to get a crispy coating without deep frying.
- Bake the pork. Bake (or air fry, see below) the pork at 450ºF for 40 minutes, flipping halfway through for even browning.
- Make the sauce. While the pork is baking, make the sauce with the remaining ingredients in a nonstick skillet.
- Put it all together. Take the pork out of the oven and immediately toss it in the sauce until everything is well coated. Serve with plenty of rice and other sides.
This is an easy pantry recipe with few ingredients, perfect for a weeknight dinner:
- Pork chops – pork chops make the best sweet and sour pork. Look for thick cut chops with good marbling. Other cuts you can use include pork shoulder/butt, loin, or even boneless ribs.
- Cornstarch – cornstarch is how you get the light crispy coating. We use it pretty much all the time in asian cooking as a sauce thickener and a coating. You can’t really sub it out, but if you have extra, it’s pretty easy to find other recipes to use it for.
- Soy sauce – you can use any soy sauce but for authenticity, try a Chinese light soy sauce brand such as Lee Kum Kee or Pearl River Bridge.
- Rice vinegar – Rice vinegar is what gives this dish its signature tanginess.
- Ketchup – yes, ketchup – not only was ketchup originally invented in China, it’s the secret ingredient to get that unique tanginess you find in truly authentic Chinese sweet and sour pork. Ketchup plays a role in many authentic Chinese and Asian dishes.
- Vegetables – don’t skip the veggies, they provide an essential crunch and brightness. Onions and bell peppers are the most essential ones, but you can add whatever your heart desires. Pineapple, whether canned or fresh, is a pretty traditional addition.
Tips and tricks
If you want the pork crispier and you have a can of cooking spray such as pam handy, hit it with a light coat of oil before you dust with corn starch to get even more crunch.
Air fryer sweet and sour pork
You can air fry these instead of baking. All you need to do is switch the oven out for an air fryer. Coat the pork with cornstarch as per the recipe, then place the pork into the air fryer basket with at least 1/4″ gap between pieces, in a single layer and set the air fryer to 375ºF for 8 minutes. Once done, coat with sauce as directed.
Serve it with
Sweet And Sour Pork Recipe
You won’t believe how easy this no fry sweet and sour pork recipe is.
- 1 lb pork chop cubed, or shoulder
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 3 tbsp ketchup
- 2 tbsp vinegar rice vinegar preferred
- 1 tbsp soy sauce light soy sauce preferred
- 1 bell pepper roughly chopped
- 1/2 onion roughly chopped
- 1 cup pineapple optional
Serves 2 as a main or 4 with rice and other sides. Estimated nutrition is for 4 servings.
Sweet And Sour Pork Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 220
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 8.9g56%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.