Home Dinner Chicken Sweet and Sour Chicken Balls

Sweet and Sour Chicken Balls

These sweet and sour chicken balls are delicious, easy to make, and super affordable! It doesn’t get any better than this.

They’re so mind-blowingly delicious, it’s as if they came straight out of a Chinese restaurant! 

Sweet and Sour Chicken Balls on a Plate with Rice, Scallions, and Chopsticks to the Side

Sweet and Sour Chicken Balls 

In the mood for a great Chinese recipe? Forget ordering takeout! This dish is all you’ll need.

Tender, juicy chicken chunks are coated in a light, airy batter and deep-fried to crispy, crunchy golden perfection.

It doesn’t end there! They’re also coated in a sweet and sour sauce for a ridiculously addictive dish.


For the Sweet and Sour Sauce

  • Ketchup: Aside from the flavor, it’s also what gives the sauce its signature hue. 
  • Soy Sauce: Provides a depth of umami flavor to balance the sweet and sour notes.
  • Vinegar: If you can’t take the intense sour flavor, use rice vinegar instead of white.
  • Brown and White Sugars: To sweeten things up.
  • Cold Water or Unsweetened Pineapple Juice: To mix with the cornstarch and thicken the sauce. I prefer the latter because it adds such a wonderful flavor. 
  • Cornstarch: The thickening agent.

For the Chicken Balls

  • All-purpose Flour and Cornstarch: The combo that gives the chicken its phenomenal crunch. 
  • Baking Powder and Baking Soda: For a light and airy coating.
  • Garlic Powder: Add as much or as little to suit your taste.
  • Granulated Sugar: Adds a bit of sweetness to the chicken.
  • Cold Water: To saturate the dry ingredients for a lump-free batter.
  • Sesame Oil: Optional, but highly recommended for that unique Asian flavor.
  • Oil: For deep frying. Use one with a high smoke point, such as canola or peanut oil.
  • Chicken Breasts: Stick to boneless, skinless chicken, so it’s easier to cut. Slice it into even, bite-sized pieces for faster cooking. 
  • Salt: To taste.
Close up of Sweet and Sour Chicken Balls on a White Plate with One Chicken Ball Held Up by Chopsticks

Tips for the Best Dish 

As with all of my recipes, I have a few tips to share:

  • Vary the protein. This dish is amazing no matter what meat you use. Try it with beef, pork, fish, or even shrimp! For juicier chicken, use boneless, skinless thighs instead of breasts.
  • Want perfectly round balls? You’ll need to use ground chicken (or beef or pork) for that. With diced chicken, they’re more oddly shaped.
  • Adjust the sauce consistency. If you want a thinner sauce, use less cornstarch. For a thicker sauce, use more.
  • Add veggies. For a more substantial dish, add red and yellow bell peppers, onions, water chestnuts, etc. You can even add chunks of pineapple to really dial up the sweet part of the sweet-n-sour dish. Garnish the chicken with sesame seeds and diced scallions.
  • Tweak the recipe. This dish is highly customizable. Feel free to use less or more sugar and garlic powder to suit your tastes. Substitute apple cider or rice vinegar for the white vinegar. Or saturate the batter with beer instead of cold water!
  • Chill the batter. If you have time, pop it in the fridge before using it to coat the chicken. Cold batter will result in a lighter, airier coating.
  • Use a thermometer. The oil has to be at the right temperature when frying. If it’s too low, you won’t get that crispy, crunchy coating. If it’s too high, you’ll burn the coating while undercooking the chicken. Using a thermometer is the best way to maintain the oil temperature.
Super Close Up of Sweet and Sour Chicken Balls on a White Plate with Chopsticks

Side Dish Ideas 

To me, the only way to eat sweet and sour chicken is with a bowl of rice.

Whether it’s steamed or stir-fried, white or brown, it doesn’t matter. Sweet and sour chicken and rice are the ultimate pair.

Coming in a close second are noodles. Try it with any of the following:

If you want a light snack, though, you also can’t go wrong eating it solo. Sweet and sour chicken balls make a perfect game day treat!

Sweet and Sour Chicken Balls in the Frying Pan with a Spoon Holding Up One Piece of Saucy Chicken

How to Store

Have leftovers? No problem!

To Store: Place the chicken balls in an air-tight container and refrigerate for 3 to 4 days. Refrigerate the sauce in a separate container. It will last for up to 3 weeks.

To Freeze: Freeze the balls in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. I do not recommend freezing the sauce.

To Reheat: Reheat leftover sweet and sour chicken on the stove over medium heat. Stir constantly until warmed through. Reheat the sauce the same way, adding a splash of water to thin it if needed.

*Note: You can also use sweet and sour sauce in other dishes. It goes really well with any deep-fried dish, such as battered fish, meatballs, and pork belly. 

More Tasty Chinese Recipes to Make at Home

Chinese Appetizers
Chinese Side Dishes
Chinese Desserts

Sweet and Sour Chicken Balls



Prep time


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Cooking time






  • For the Sweet and Sour Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup ketchup

  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce

  • 1/3 cup vinegar

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 3/4 cup cold water or unsweetened pineapple juice (or a mixture of both)

  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch

  • For the Chicken Balls
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup cornstarch

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 2 teaspoons baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar

  • 1 1/3 cups cold water

  • 1-2 teaspoons sesame oil, optional

  • 8 chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces

  • oil for frying

  • a pinch of salt


  • For the Sweet and Sour Sauce
  • Stir together ketchup, soy sauce, vinegar, and both sugars in a saucepan until combined.
  • In a small bowl, whisk the cold water or pineapple juice with cornstarch until blended. Pour the mixture into the saucepan. Whisk constantly over medium-high heat until it comes to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and let cool at room temperature.
  • For the Chicken Balls
  • While the sauce cools, combine the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, garlic powder, and sugar in a large bowl. Pour in cold water and sesame oil, if using, and whisk until smooth.
  • Coat the chicken evenly with the batter.
  • Preheat the oil in a deep-fryer or Dutch oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Using a pair of tongs, carefully place the balls in the oil. Deep-fry the chicken for 3 to 4 minutes, or until golden brown. Use a slotted spoon to remove the balls. Let them rest on a serving plate lined with paper towels to drain any excess oil.
  • Sprinkle the chicken with salt. Serve hot with sweet and sour sauce. Enjoy!

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author avatar
Kim - InsanelyGood
Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

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