Sweet and Sour Chicken has always been one of my family’s favourite take away dishes, but I personally was less enthusiastic because I found the flavour was often way too intense. I was also worried about the nearly fluorescent colour of many of the prepared sweet and sour sauces and the long, unpronounceable ingredients list on the jars. So I decided to do some research and develop a recipe of my own. I’ve been making my Healthier Sweet and Sour Chicken recipe ever since.
What’s Different About My Healthier Sweet and Sour Chicken Recipe?
This version of Sweet and Sour Chicken has all the flavour and spice of the original. What it doesn’t have is the day-glo colour and the artificial taste. Although I wouldn’t classify anything with half a cup of jam in it as ‘healthy’, with less sugar than is in many of the prepared sauces you will find in the supermarket and some restaurants, it’s definitely ‘healthier’.
Research has shown that the food served in most restaurants, particularly take out venues, is often a long way from the food actually eaten in homes in the country of its origin. So a few years ago, I did a bit of research into the actual flavours in traditional sweet and sour dishes and developed a milder but still incredibly flavourful version that is much better for you than store bought. While it’s definitely a westernised version of the dish, it still tastes authentic.
Baked Instead of Stir Fried
It may seem strange to bake the chicken instead of stir frying it but I honestly think it keeps the chicken more moist. It’s just so easy to overcook thin strips of poultry and I can’t stand over-cooked chicken. Also the whole breasts of chicken take up the flavour of the seasoned flour coating more thoroughly. This leads to a better tasting dish. The veggies are still stir fried for lots of fresh flavour and crispness.
Easy to source, flavourful spices
Most of the ingredients in my Sweet and Sour Chicken recipe are things you probably have on hand already.
Never used root ginger before? You can peel root ginger immediately after you buy it and pop it in the freezer, and then use it straight from frozen. You can use about half a teaspoon of the dried ginger you use in baking as a substitute but I think it is worth buying fresh ginger for the wonderful flavour it gives.
Sweet and Sour Chicken is Quick and Easy
My Healthier Sweet and Sour Chicken only takes thirty to forty minutes to pull together and the flavour is worth it. Special enough to serve to company but equally great for an easy family dinner, once you taste My Sweet and Sour Chicken, I doubt you’ll ever buy a jar of ready-made sweet and sour sauce again!
Tips for Making Sweet and Sour Chicken
Baking the chicken gives it a moist texture and a lovely rich flavour. Just be sure to pop it into the stir fry at the very last minute so your healthier sweet and sour chicken doesn’t over cook.
It’s easy to keep root ginger on hand. Peel it immediately after purchase and pop it in the freezer. You can then grate it into the stir fry straight from frozen. However if you don’t have root ginger on hand you can always use half a teaspoon of dried ginger.
This recipe may take a bit more effort than your average stir fry but it’s still very straight forward. Preparation only takes about thirty minutes if you get everything ready before you start cooking.
Healthier Sweet and Sour Chicken – Printable Recipe
Healthier Sweet and Sour Chicken
- 1 cup long grain rice
- 4 chicken breasts
- 2 tablespoons oil sesame oil is lovely here but any vegetable oil suitable for frying is fine
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ½ cup apricot jam
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
- ¾ cup cashews
- 2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced on the diagonal
- 1 red pepper, de-seeded and sliced
- 1 cup baby corn
- 1 cup snow peas
- ½ cup spring onions, sliced
- Preheat the oven to 375℉ or 190℃.
- Line a baking sheet with aluminium foil and brush with a bit of the oil.
- Mix the flour, paprika and pepper together in a large bowl or ziplock bag.
- Dredge the chicken breasts in this mixture.
- Lay the chicken on the foil lined baking sheet and bake without turning for 25 to 30 minutes or until no pink remains inside.
- Meanwhile, about fifteen minutes before the chicken is done, cook the rice in boiling water according to package directions.
- Mix together the jam, cider vinegar, soy sauce and ginger. Set aside.
- Heat the remaining oil in a large frying pan or wok over medium to high heat. Stir fry the carrots, peppers and baby corn for three to five minutes.
- When the chicken is done, remove it from the oven, carefully slice it into bite size pieces. Set aside and keep warm.
- Drain the rice when it is cooked. Cover to keep warm and set aside.
- Add the snow peas and scallions to the vegetable mixture in the frying pan or wok and stir fry for a further three minutes.
- Add the cooked chicken and the sauce and stir to warm through.
- Serve on a bed of rice.