This Sweet and Sour Sauce is a homemade version of a Chinese takeout staple! It’s sweet, it’s sour, it’s versatile, and it’s delicious. Just 6 ingredients and 15 minutes needed!
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Now, store-bought sweet and sour sauce is great in a pinch, but homemade is better! Why? Because store bought sauce is often loaded with ingredients I don’t recognize.
So I thought it was about time I came up with a homemade Sweet and Sour Sauce recipe!
This sauce is super simple with just 5 ingredients, so quick to make, and absolutely delicious!
- Pineapple Juice: gives the sweet tangy fruitiness and is the base for our sauce.
- Brown Sugar: light or dark brown sugar will work. You can substitute with another sweetener but it will affect the thickness and flavor in different ways.
- Ketchup: adds more sweetness, tomato-y flavor, and gives the sauce a brighter red color.
- Vinegar: I prefer the flavor of white vinegar in this recipe but you can also use apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar.
- Cornstarch: helps thicken the sauce.
- Red Food Coloring: this is optional but does give the sauce that classic bright, red-orange color.
How to Make this Sweet and Sour Sauce Recipe
This easy and versatile condiment comes together in a total of 15 minutes!
- Combine all ingredients: In a small saucepan, mix together all ingredients.
- Simmer: Place the pan on the stove and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Once simmering, reduce to medium and simmer until thickened.
- Finish and serve: Mix in red food coloring if desired, then serve or store in the fridge.
Sweet and Sour Sauce FAQs
Definitely! If you don’t have white vinegar on-hand, you can swap it out for apple cider vinegar or even rice vinegar. The flavor will be slightly different but your sauce will still be delicious.
Nope! The red food coloring is completely optional. It does add a nice, bright color but if you’d prefer to leave it out, that’s totally fine too. The taste won’t change at all.
This sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Tips for making homemade Sweet and Sour Sauce
- Use canned pineapple juice. Fresh pineapple juice is more acidic which can alter the consistency of the sauce.
- If you don’t have pineapple juice, you can skip it and add a ½ cup of water or vegetable broth instead. Be sure to adjust the sweetness and tang as needed!
- If your sauce isn’t thick enough, you can simmer it longer OR make a cornstarch slurry with 2 tablespoons of water and 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. Whisk that until smooth then add small amounts at a time to the sauce until it’s thickened to your liking.
- Freshen it up. After a few days in the fridge, the tangy flavor of the vinegar can start to mellow out. To fix this, simply add another splash of vinegar to freshen it up before serving, then taste and re-adjust as necessary.
- Spice it up. This sauce is delicious with added garlic, ginger, or red pepper flakes! Play around with flavors and find a combination that works best for you!
While Sweet and Sour Sauce is popular alongside Chinese food, it really can be served in a number of different ways!
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Homemade Sweet and Sour Sauce
- 1 cup pineapple juice (unsweetened or reduce sugar slightly)
- ½ cup brown sugar (packed)
- ¼ cup ketchup
- ¼ cup white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons corn starch
- 3-4 drops red food coloring (optional)
- Whisk together all ingredients in a small saucepan (off the heat).
- Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and reduce heat to medium.
- Simmer until thickened, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in red food coloring if desired (it just gives it a nice bright color!)
- Serve or refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
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