"Skip the takeout and have a Chinese favorite at home: a delicious sweet and sour sauce poured over tender chicken with a crispy breading."
When we first moved into this house, The Husband and I did what a lot of new homeowners probably do:
We lived out of boxes and survived off of fast food.
There might have been a Tuna Helper meal or two thrown in there out of desperation, but that was it. Our diet was horrible, but we were too exhausted (and, okay, seriously procrastinating) to deal with unpacking right away, so we went without a functional kitchen for the first few weeks.
It didn’t help that I was also in the middle of staining the cabinets in our new kitchen. All of our non-perishable food and cooking utensils were hidden away in boxes.
Like, lots of boxes. It was like Hoarders: Canned Food Edition.
Everything was such a mess and I still cringe when I think about it.
It wasn’t until a month after our move-in date that I finally started grocery shopping again, and after all that time I knew exactly what I wanted to make: Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken.
By the time our kitchen was in working order, I had a serious hankering (ahem, pardon my southern) for Chinese food. And since we had yet to find a local Chinese to-go place we liked, going the homemade route was the only way I’d get my fix.
Yes, that’s right: long before I started this little food blog or even had an inkling of what I was doing in the kitchen, I cooked.
I had to take matters into my own hands and try something new.
And color me surprised, but the recipe turned out to be excellent, despite my lack of know-how. It was just what I needed after all the work and stress of moving into our new home.
The Husband said he liked it as well, but I had no idea how much until one day a few weeks later when we were shopping at Costco. We were in the isle with the baking goods, and when I spied an extra large container of corn starch I immediately went to grab it. By this point, I had already made the baked sweet and sour chicken two or three more times, so my newly-stained cupboards were in need of restocking.
“What do you need all that for?” he asked me, eyeing the corn starch suspiciously. The question didn’t phase me because he asks me this every time I put something in the cart. As if I have nefarious intentions, because clearly a bundle of towels should be approached with caution. Dish washing detergent is clearly dubious. And that family pack of chicken breasts? Who in their right mind needs that?
Well, The Husband is a Sagittarius, and they supposedly have commitment issues. I guess the giant family-sized containers can be a little intimidating. I mean, we’ll have that dish soap for, like, ever.
Anyway, I put the corn starch in the cart and replied, “It’s for the sweet and sour chicken stuff. I ran out of corn starch the last time I made it.”
His eyebrows went up. “Oh. Definitely, get more of that then.”
After seven years together, I know that’s a serious endorsement of this recipe from him. And I couldn’t agree with him more!
This post was originally published on October 28th, 2014. It was updated with new pictures and revised recipe instructions on July 18, 2016.
Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1 cup canola oil (or enough to cover the bottom of your skillet about 1/4 inch)
- 1 cup corn starch
- 3 egg beaten
- 3 chicken breast cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 pinch salt to taste
- 1 pinch black pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp chives chopped (optional)
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, ketchup, white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, and garlic powder until smooth. Mixture may feel grainy - this is okay. Sugar will dissolve while you work on the next steps. Set sauce aside.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil, making sure the sides are also covered (this will help with cleanup), and place nearby. Pour canola oil in a large, high-lip pan and warm over medium-high heat. Place the beaten eggs in a shallow bowl nearby. For the cornstarch, you can either put it in another shallow bowl OR add it to a zip lock bag. Finally, place a plate nearby and cover it with a paper towel.
- Coat bite-sized chicken pieces in corn starch (by either dunking them in the bowl or adding them to the bag and shaking it) and then dip them in the egg. Place coated chicken in the skillet and cook for 3-5 minutes or until the outsides of the chicken are golden brown and lightly crisp. Transfer cooked chicken to the plate with the paper towel. TIP: I use a slotted spoon to dunk and coat the chicken in the egg. I then scoop them into the skillet, making sure to break apart the chicken once it's in the oil so the pieces don't stick together.
- Once chicken pieces are cooked, whisk the sweet and sour sauce one more time and then toss the chicken in. Use a spatula to gently turn and coat.
- Pour the prepared sweet and sour chicken (both chicken and excess sauce) on prepared baking sheet. Spread chicken out in a single layer so that no pieces are touching.
- Bake chicken for 1 hour.
- Serve immediately on a bed of rice with chives as garnish (optional).