Homemade Chinese Sweet and Sour Sauce Recipe

Enjoy the vibrant flavors of traditional Chinese cuisine with this simple homemade sweet and sour sauce. This sauce is a versatile condiment that can elevate a variety of dishes, from crispy spring rolls to succulent sweet and sour pork, thanks to its perfectly balanced tangy, sweet, and fruity flavors.


  • Water: 1/2 cup, serves as the base of the sauce.
  • White Vinegar: 1/3 cup, adds the essential tangy flavor.
  • Sugar: 1/3 cup, to balance the acidity with sweetness.
  • Ketchup: 3 tablespoons, for a touch of tomato flavor and color.
  • Soy Sauce: 1 tablespoon, provides a depth of umami flavor.
  • Cornstarch: 1 tablespoon, mixed with 2 tablespoons water to form a slurry for thickening the sauce.
  • Optional: Pineapple juice or orange juice for an added layer of fruitiness.


  1. Combine Ingredients: In a small saucepan, mix together water, white vinegar, sugar, ketchup, and soy sauce. This combination forms the foundational flavors of the sauce.
  2. Simmer: Place the saucepan over medium heat and bring the mixture to a simmer. Stir occasionally to ensure that the sugar fully dissolves and integrates with the other ingredients.
  3. Thicken the Sauce: As the sauce simmers, add the cornstarch slurry. Continue stirring consistently as the sauce thickens. This process should take about 1-2 minutes. Aim for a consistency that can coat the back of a spoon.
  4. Adjust Flavors: Taste the sauce and adjust according to your preference. If it’s too sharp, add a little more sugar. If too sweet, a bit more vinegar can help balance the flavors. For a fruity twist, add pineapple or orange juice at this stage.
  5. Cool and Serve: Remove the sauce from heat and allow it to cool. It will thicken further upon cooling.

This homemade Chinese sweet and sour sauce is not only simple to make, but it is also a healthier alternative to store-bought versions, as it contains no preservatives and can be tailored to your specific tastes. Use it as a dipping sauce, in stir-fries, or as a glaze to flavor your favorite dishes. The sauce can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week, making it a practical and tasty addition to your culinary arsenal. Enjoy the fresh, vibrant flavors with your next meal!

This recipe is more than just a sauce; it brings a piece of classic Chinese flavor into your kitchen, ready to complement any dish that needs a touch of sweetness and sourness.