chinese food/chinese take out/meat/recipes

Chinese Take Out at Home: Sweet and Sour Pork Recipe

Posted January 31, 2019 by Stephanie
sweet and sour pork recipe | i am a food blog

If you asked me what my all time go to order for Chinese take away is, it would be sweet and sour pork. No, actually that’s a lie. My all time favorite is honey garlic pork. But this isn’t a post about honey garlic pork, it’s about sweet and sour pork, which happens to be my second all time favorite Chinese takeout item. Who doesn’t love crispy fried pork covered in a sweet and tangy sauce? I, for one, wanted to eat the entire plate after making this sweet and sour pork recipe. The only thing that stopped me was a tiny shred of self control. Really though, all I did was sneak into the fridge every so often to fork another piece of pork.

Yup, I like sweet and sour pork so much that I eat it cold out of the fridge. Mike thinks I’m crazy, but there’s something so wrong and right with eating cold takeout/delivery food. And this recipe kills it: it totally tastes like delivery – the good kind. The funny thing about sweet and sour pork is, that unlike a lot of other Chinese takeout dishes, it’s real. Unlike something like, General Tso’s chicken, you can totally go to a real Chinese restaurant and get sweet and sour pork.

I’ve even gone on a little sweet and sour pork tour of Hong Kong. It was totally informal and entirely due to the fact that one of my dear friends happens to be a sweet and sour pork fanatic. She researched where all the best places were and we hit all of them up. Sweet and sour pork tastes delicious anywhere you have it, whether it’s at home, or on tiny plastic chairs at a round table covered in clear plastic on the neon-lit busy side streets of Hong Kong.

If you’re not going to Hong Kong anytime soon and aren’t inclined to ordering delivery, I hope you give this recipe a try. It’s got ultra crispy pork, a tangy glossy sweet sauce, and aesthetically pleasing orange and yellow peppers instead of the classic green ones.

It take a bit more time commitment than just opening up an app and ordering, but really, it’s pretty simple. Cubes of pork get marinated in some soy and sugar, then are tossed and coated in a mix of corn and potato starch. The cornstarch is for a light crispiness and the potato starch gives it a more substantial crunch. If you only have cornstarch, that’ll work too, but a combination is best.

After everything is coated, heat up an inch or two of oil in a deep pan. You could deep-fry this, but it’s not really necessary, just make sure you turn your pieces of pork so that everything gets submerged in oil at some point. If you’re scared of frying things, you’re not alone – sometimes I even freak out at bit and I’ve deep fried a lot of things in my life. Just remember to not drop anything in from a great height, be sure to use long, heat proof utensils, and wear long sleeves. You’ve got this!

From there, it’s just a question of heating up the sauce, which is made up of ketchup, sugar, rice vinegar, and soy. Yup, there’s ketchup in this. Apparently it’s a pretty traditional ingredient? I don’t know what to say about that, but I can say that my mom makes her sweet and sour sauce with ketchup, so there’s that. As a ketchup lover, I say, bring on the ketchup and ALL THE SWEET AND SOUR PORK. Okay, chat later, I’m off to go eat another piece ;)

sweet and sour pork recipe | i am a food blog

sweet and sour pork recipe | i am a food blog

sweet and sour pork recipe | i am a food blog

sweet and sour pork recipe | i am a food blog

sweet and sour pork recipe | i am a food blog

Sweet and Sour Pork Recipe
serves 4


  • 1 lb pork shoulder/butt, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup potato or tapioca starch
  • grape seed oil for frying


  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch whisked with 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 orange bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup pineapple chunks

Mix the pork together with soy sauce, sugar, salt, and white pepper. Let marinate, at room temperature (this will help it cook faster than if it’s straight from the fridge) while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Lightly whisk the egg in a large bowl. In separate bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and potato starch. Set aside.

In another small bowl, make the sauce by whisk together the water, sugar, ketchup, rice vinegar, soy sauce and salt. Set aside. Chop the peppers and pineapples.

Place a cooling rack over a rimmed baking sheet lined with paper towels. Heat an 1-2 inches of oil in a high-sided, heavy bottomed pot, skillet, or wok over medium high heat until oil reaches 350°F.

Work in batches to throughly coat several pieces of pork in the egg, then the corn/potato starch mix, shaking off the excess. Use a pair of tongs to gently add the pork to the hot oil, being careful not to crowd the pan. Cook until golden brown and crispy, about 5-6 minutes, flipping as needed. Drain the pork on your prepared rack. Repeat until all the pieces are cooked.

Add the sauce ingredients a large skillet or sauté pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. When bubbly, whisk in the 1 tablespoon of cornstarch whisked with 1 tablespoon of water and cook, stirring, until the sauce comes to a boil and starts to thicken. Stir in the peppers and pineapple and remove from the heat. Add the pork and toss throughly to coat and enjoy immediately.


  1. Katherine says:

    Do you coat in egg before starch?

    1. Stephanie says:

      yes! good catch, i’ve updated it :)

  2. Lynda Elkind says:

    Stephanie, my daughter has a severe tomato allergy. What can you recommend in place of ketchup in the sauce? Also, I am really looking forward to trying the mapo tofu!

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi lynda,
      i would just omit it. it won’t come out as red but it will still be sweet from the sugar and sour from the vinegar. or you could try adding some plum sauce in instead. hope that helps a bit!

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