Sweet and sour sauce

When I think of sweet and sour sauce, what I think of is a fried chicken and rice dish with this slightly red sauce that tastes a little like spicy pineapple.

I’m from Southwest Missouri, so Springfield Style Cashew Chicken is a strong childhood memory for me, as well as sweet and sour chicken.

This sweet and sour sauce recipe is also great as a dipping sauce! This can be for anything from egg rolls, fried dumplings or as a spring roll sauce.

Ingredients for sweet and sour sauce:

  • Pineapple juice
  • brown sugar
  • Rice vinegar
  • Ketchup, which adds the color to this sauce
  • Soy sauce
  • Cornstarch, to thicken the sauce

How to make sweet and sour sauce:

This sweet and sour sauce recipe is super easy to make and can be made ahead of when you plan to use it.

Combine all the ingredients except the cornstarch in a small saucepan (or pan) over medium heat and whisk well. Stir the cornstarch with 1-2 tablespoons of water to create a slurry, then add to the pan.

Cook to desired thickness and you are ready to use this sauce or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator or at least 5-7 days.

Tips for making:

  • It is best to make a slurry of cornstarch and water rather than directly adding the cornstarch to the pan. This helps it incorporate better so you don’t end up with little lumps of cornstarch in your final sauce.
  • While the ketchup adds some color to this sauce, so does brown sugar. If you want your sauce to be more bright red, you can add a drop or two of food coloring.
  • If you’d like to add more heat/spice to this sweet and sour sauce, try adding 1/4 tsp (or more) red pepper flakes.

Serving suggestion:

Remember that this sauce can work well as a main course or as a dipping sauce. Here are some recipes you might want to try with this one:

get the recipe
Get the recipe

a sweet, red dipping sauce that goes well with chicken

Yield 4

Prepare 5 mine

Cook 5 mine

Total 10 mine


  • In a small saucepan, combine pineapple juice, brown sugar, rice vinegar, ketchup and soy sauce.

  • Whisk over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved.

  • In a small cup, stir together the cornstarch and one to two tablespoons of water, creating a slurry.

  • Whisk the slurry mixture into the sauce.

  • Continue to cook over medium heat for 5-6 minutes until the sauce thickens.


  • If you want to make this sauce more red, add a drop or two of red food coloring.
  • If you’d like to add some heat, add 1/4 teaspoon or more red pepper flakes.
  • You can store this sauce in an airtight container for at least 5-7 days in the refrigerator.