Make Air Fryer Sweet and Sour Chicken and recreate this Chinese takeout favorite at home! The combination of sweet and sour flavors makes this recipe irresistible.
This easy-to-make dish is crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside with bursts of pineapple flavor. It is the perfect balance of sweetness with a hint of tangy flavor.
And by making it in the air fryer, you can use much less oil to get crispy chicken bites! While the chicken air fries, simmer the sweet and sour sauce briefly for a 20-minute meal the entire family will love.
For exact amounts needed see the recipe card below
Chicken – Use either chicken breasts or thighs in this recipe.
Corn starch – The cornstarch coats the meat to make it crispy and golden brown.
Pineapple – Pineapple adds bursts of sweetness.
Salt and pepper – These spices season and add flavor.
🥡Sweet and Sour Chicken Sauce Ingredients
Sugar – Brown sugar provides some of the characteristic “sweet” in the sauce. Granulated sugar could also be used.
Pineapple Juice – The pineapple juice also adds sweetness to the sauce.
Vinegar – This gives the sauce its sour taste. Rice vinegar, white vinegar, or apple cider vinegar all work well.
Ketchup – Adds sweetness and flavor. It also helps give the sauce a little bit of red color.
Soy Sauce – This adds umami flavor and saltiness. I prefer to use low-sodium soy sauce.
Corn starch – Cornstarch combines with cold water to form a slurry that thickens the sauce.
Food coloring – Sweet and sour chicken from a takeout restaurant will have a more reddish sauce. Add a few drops of red food coloring if you want to make yours look like it came from your favorite Chinese takeout place.
🥣How to Make Air Fryer Sweet and Sour Chicken
1. Air Fry Chicken
Cut the chicken into chunks about 1 1/2 to 2 inches in size. Put the pieces in a medium bowl and add the corn starch, salt, and pepper. Spray the coated chunks of meat with a little bit of oil.
Put the chicken pieces in the air fryer basket in a single layer. Then cook at 380 degrees F for 8 minutes. My air fryer can hold a pound of chicken. You might need to cook the chicken in batches if yours is smaller.
2. Make the Sweet and Sour Sauce
While the meat cooks, make the sauce. Combine the sauce ingredients except for the cornstarch and water mixture. Put them in a saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium heat.
Take the saucepan off the heat and stir in the cornstarch slurry. Return it to the stove on low heat and cook for another 2-3 minutes, until the sauce thickens.
Once it is thickened stir in the canned pineapple chunks.
Flip the chicken over and cook it for another 3-5 minutes. Use an instant-read thermometer to make sure it reaches 165 degrees F.
When ready to serve, pour the sauce over the chicken pieces. Stir so the sauce coats the chicken pieces and garnish the dish with green onions and sesame seeds.
I like to serve this meal over white rice for a traditional Asian feel. Microwaveable rice takes only 90 seconds to make, so that you can enjoy this dinner with little effort.
Love veggies? Toss some sliced red or green bell pepper, green beans, or onions into the air fryer during the last 5 minutes of cooking time.
💭How to Store
Store leftover air fryer sweet and sour chicken in an airtight container in the fridge. It will keep for 2-3 days. The sauce will thicken in the refrigerator.
Yes, but you will need to air-fry the chicken cubes a little longer before tossing it with the sauce. Start with an extra 2 minutes, and use an instant-read thermometer to ensure it reaches 165 degrees F internally.
Because of the sauce, it is best to reheat this Asian dish in the microwave. Microwave it for 2-3 minutes, stirring partway through the cooking time.
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Air Fryer Sweet and Sour Chicken Recipe
- 1 pound skinless chicken breasts or chicken thighs cut into bite-size cubes
- 2 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Sweet and Sour Sauce:
- 1 cup canned pineapple juice
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/3 cup rice vinegar or regular vinegar
- 3 tablespoons ketchup
- 2 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2-3 drops of red food coloring optional
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons cold water
- Can of pineapple chunks drained
- Set the air fryer to preheat at 380 degrees F for 3 minutes.
- Dice the chicken into bite-size pieces. Put the chicken chunks in a bowl and add the cornstarch, salt, and pepper. Stir to coat the chicken thoroughly. to make the chicken crispier, add ½ tablespoon cooking oil or spray with cooking spray.
- Put the chicken in a single layer in the air fryer basket and cook at 380 F for 8 minutes.
- Flip the chicken over and cook for another 3-5 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and golden brown. Use an instant-read thermometer to ensure the chicken’s internal temperature has reached 165 degrees F.
- Make the sauce while the chicken air fries. Combine the pineapple juice, brown sugar, vinegar, ketchup, and soy sauce in a saucepan.
- Cook on medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves and the mixture just starts to boil. Lower the heat to low.
- Mix the water and cornstarch in a small bowl, then add them to the saucepan. Keep stirring, so it doesn’t get lumpy.
- Cook for about 2 minutes until the sauce thickens. Remove the sauce from the heat.
- If you are using food coloring, add it now. Then add the drained canned pineapple to the mixture.
- Once the chicken is done, add it to the saucepan with the still warm sweet and sour sauce and stir, so the sauce evenly coats the chicken.
- Serve with rice and garnish with green onions and sesame seeds.
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Nutrition facts are estimates.