Skip the take-out and make this Baked Sweet & Sour Chicken recipe instead. It’s an easy dinner and a healthier twist on one of our favorite take-out dishes.
We’re certainly not opposed to ordering out, but I like to make this sweet and sour chicken at home to save on the dollars and the calories. It’s baked instead of fried, but you still get all of the great flavors.
I am not so sure I’d like to admit how many times our family’s go-to quick meal has been Chinese take-out. We love it and, for a long time, I felt like it was easier to order it. But after ordering, waiting for it to be ready, and driving across town to get it I realized I wasn’t saving any time.
Our schedule is crazy with all seven of us going in different directions, so I’d rather use the little time we do have to make something a little lighter and healthier. So now this Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken is our go-to when we get a craving for take-out.
No Frying Required
As much as we love it, the restaurant version is… shall we say, not so healthy? So for my homemade version, I skip the frying and bake it instead. It’s the sweet and sour sauce that we really love and so we don’t even miss the breading on the chicken.
I also use boneless, skinless chicken breasts instead of thighs to keep things lighter, too. That, plus skipping the frying and heavy breading, gives my version a healthy twist that doesn’t leave you weighed down after dinner.
All About the Sauce
I don’t cut corners with the sauce, however. It has that wonderful bright sweet and sour flavor and as it bakes in the oven it caramelizes and thickens. This recipe really is all about the sauce –to make it, all you do is mix up a few ingredients:
- Apple cider vinegar
- Chicken broth
- Soy sauce
If you like some heat you can add some sriracha, too, but I usually leave it out because the kids are not really into anything too spicy. So, the hubby and I usually add it to our own serving once the dish is ready.
How to Cook it in the Oven
Once you’ve mixed up the sauce the rest of the recipe is a breeze. There are two ways you can make this dish – I’ve tried both and they work equally well.
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Place the whole chicken breasts in a baking dish and cover them with the sauce. Bake them for an hour and a half, turning them one to two times while they bake.
- Once the chicken is cooked through and the sauce is thick and caramelized take it out of the oven. Allow it to cool for a few minutes and then cut the meat into bite-sized pieces. Return it back to the sauce and stir to coat it evenly.
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Cut the meat into bite-sized pieces, place them in the baking dish and pour the sauce over the top.
- Every 20 minutes, give it all a stir while it’s baking. It should be fully cooked in 60 minutes.
A Few More Tips
When you mix up the sauce, the consistency will be light and the color will be bright, but don’t worry. It will darken and thicken up as it bakes in the oven.
To get a nice golden color, you can turn on the broiler in the last 5 to 10 minutes of the cooking time. This will further caramelize the sauce and deepen the color.
If, for some reason, your sauce isn’t thick enough once it’s baked just remove the meat and add some more cornstarch to the sauce and whisk to combine. You can do this right in the baking dish.
This recipe makes a lot of sauce, which we love. Once it’s ready to serve, I usually transfer the extra sauce to a small mason jar to have on the side so everyone can add more if they want it.
The finished dish holds well. Often, I make it early and cover it with foil to keep it warm until everyone is ready to eat.
My family loves this dinner with some cooked broccoli and rice on the side. I also like to wrap the sauce and chicken up in tortillas with some shredded cheddar cheese, too.
The next time you get a take-out craving I hope you’ll give this one a try. My family loves it and I love that it’s lighter and saves us a few bucks, too.
More Homemade Take-Out Dinners
I love recreating our favorite restaurant dishes at home so you might like to try these recipes, too.
Don’t forget to pin this easy recipe to your favorite Pinterest board for later.
Baked Sweet & Sour Chicken
For the Sauce
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 2 tablespoon soy sauce
- 4 tablespoons cornstarch or flour
For the Chicken
- 6 to 8 raw boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 2 teaspoons garlic salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a bowl whisk sugar, vinegar, chicken broth, ketchup, soy sauce, and cornstarch in a medium bowl until well combined. Set aside.
- You can prepare the chicken in this dish one of two ways.
- Place the whole chicken breasts in a 9x13 baking dish. Season the chicken with the garlic salt and pepper. Pour the sauce over chicken and place the baking dish in the oven. Bake it for 1 1/2 hours (turn the chicken one to two times) or until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce is thick and dark in color.
- Remove the baking dish from the and transfer the chicken to a cutting board. Let it cool for 5 to 10 minutes and then cut it into cubes. Add the chicken back to the sauce and serve.
- Cut the chicken into 1-inch cubes and season them with the garlic salt and pepper. Place the pieces in a 9x13 baking dish and pour the sauce over the top. Bake the chicken for 60 minutes, stirring it every 20 minutes or until it's cooked through and the sauce is has thickened.
- If you like a spicy kick, add some sriracha to the finished dish.
- When you mix up the sauce, the consistency will be light and the color will be bright, but don’t worry. It will darken and thicken up as it bakes in the oven.
- If your sauce isn’t thick enough once it’s baked, just remove the chicken and add 1 tablespoon of cornstarch to the sauce and whisk to combine. You can do this right in the baking dish.
- This recipe makes a lot of sauce, which we love. Once the chicken is ready to serve, I will transfer the extra sauce to a small mason jar to have on the side so everyone can add more if they want it.
- There's enough sauce to cook up to eight chicken breasts, which is what is included in the nutrition estimate. If you use less chicken, the estimate will vary.
- The finished dish holds well. Often, I make it early and cover it with foil to keep it warm until everyone is ready to eat.
This recipe was originally posted on A Dash of Sanity in December 2013 and has recently been updated.