A great homemade Sweet and Sour sauce is an essential for every recipe collection!

Just a handful of pantry ingredients and 5 minutes, this tastes a million times better than store bought!

Sweet and sour sauce in a pot with a spoon

I’ve only ever tried sweet and sour sauce out of a bottle once in my life, back in my college days. Once was enough. After scrunching up my nose with distaste when I tried it, it took all of 5 minutes to find a recipe to make it myself and I still remember that feeling of victory when I realized that I had everything I needed to make it!

Sweet and Sour sauce is essential for dipping Crispy Homemade Egg Rolls or my favorite Crab Rangoon!

If you’ve never tried a homemade sweet and sour sauce, you are in for a real treat.

That stuff you get from suburban Chinese takeout places is usually way too sweet, and bizarrely very oily. ( <— ??? I don’t get it, why is oil added to Sweet and Sour Sauce??!!!)

Homemade sauce is far less sweet, it tastes cleaner and you get to balance out the flavors to your taste if you want yours more tangy, or more sweet, or, if you like things spicy, add a dash of heat!!

Sweet and sour sauce in a pot with a whisk

It’s literally just a dump and mix job.

Place cornstarch, water, cider vinegar, sugar, ketchup and soy sauce in a saucepan, then whisk and bring to heat and it will thicken in just a few minutes.

And this is what you’ll get – a beautiful glossy, shiny homemade Sweet and Sour Sauce.

Sweet & sour sauce being poured into a mason jar

There are so many things you can use Sweet and Sour Sauce for.

Toss your favourite meatballs in them, use it as a dipping sauce for all sorts of things, chicken nuggets to spring rolls.

Slather it over ribs, chicken, pork, use it as a basting sauce, or even as a marinade.

I’ve been known to even just spoon it over a bowl of plain rice, then eat it just like that!!!


Sweet and sour sauce with a meatball in a white bowl

I find that the tanginess of the sauce starts fading after a few days, but other than that, homemade Sweet and Sour Sauce can be kept for even a week.

Just adjust the tanginess by stirring through more cider vinegar – go easy with this, start with just 1/4 tsp at a time!

Remember, you can always add more but you can’t undo it if you add too much! (Though if you accidentally do, just add more sugar to balance it out. :-) )

So tell me, what’s your favorite way with Sweet and Sour Sauce??? For dipping, for tossing, for slathering??

Sweet and sour sauce in a pot with a spoon
4.69 from 198 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
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Homemade Sweet and Sour Sauce

A sweet and tangy sauce perfect for dipping, drizzling and dunking your favorite bites.
Prep Time 3 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 8 minutes
Servings 16 servings
Author Nagi



  • ½ cup cider vinegar *see note
  • ½ cup light brown sugar packed
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce


  • Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  • Whisk to combine.
  • As it starts heating up, keep whisking constantly until it thickens into a sauce consistency. It will thicken as it cools.


*This sweet and sour sauce is tangy. If you'd prefer, start by adding ¼ cup of cider vinegar and increase to taste.
Adjust sweet with sugar, tang with vinegar, and saltiness with salt to taste.
Store for a week in an airtight container. You may need to add a touch of cider vinegar after a few days as the tanginess does fade.
Serving size: 1 tablespoon.
4.69 from 198 votes

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1tablespoon | Calories: 34 | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 99mg | Potassium: 29mg | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 19IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 6mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Course Dip, Dressing, Sauce, Side Dish
Cuisine Asian

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About the author

Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!
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Recipe Rating


  1. It was so easy & tasty. It saved me from having to run to the store before dinner. I seriously will be making this from this point on
    Thank you!

    1. You’re welcome Joanna! Glad to hear that you were able to make it with what you had on hand!

  2. Classic Sweet and Sour Sauce. We found that 6 Tbsp. of vinegar was about right. I did substitute chili sauce for the ketchup because we like the slight horseradish kick.4 stars

  3. Came together easy. With all of the star-ratings, I thought I’d be safe to just go blindly with the recipe. I wish I had read the reviews, first.
    This was way too vinegary, and no amount of additional brown sugar or pineapple juice could make it edible.
    Down the drain it went. 1 star

  4. Hi Nagi,

    Thank you for sharing your Sweet and Sour Sauce recipe. I will follow it to the letter when I make it for the first time. Afterwards and if needed, I will adjust the ingredients to suit my taste as you had noted.

    Some of the comments made me laugh.

    If one does not like the taste of molasses from brown sugar then use white sugar.

    If it is too sour then use less vinegar.

    If it is too thick then try using more water or less corn starch.

    If the recipe calls for more ketchup than you would like then use less or not at all.

    Some people are such donkeys!!!

    Ja5 stars

  5. It’s okay. Not a fan of the molasses flavor of the brown sugar and it’s a bit thick for my taste, even before simmering.3 stars

  6. Quick to make. Tastes great. Very easy to tweak the sweet/sour to my taste. Served it with homemade meatballs and everyone loved it.5 stars

  7. This sauce is excellent. I added a liberal spoonful of sambal for some spice and used it on turkey meatballs. Best I’ve made with the only exception being a sauce for General Tso’s Chicken I made. The flavors meld together if you let the sauce sit for a while. The vinegar doesn’t overwhelm and you can’t even tell there is ketchup in it.5 stars

  8. Yes, there’s too much vinegar, but what I really can’t get past is the ketchup. It just doesn’t belong here, at least in anything close to this quantity, and it’s overpowering everything. I won’t be making this again, or at least not without some major changes.

  9. This had too much vinegar for my taste and what I’m used to in a store bought sauce. The consistency was right, but too intense. I tried to save it with some lime juice and sugar – not sure that helped. I couldn’t think of what else would cut down the vinegar taste.

  10. I am confused about the copy right. I don’t have my own tablet. I borrowed my grandsons. Am I allowed to write down the recipe to keep In my own kitchen or must I look it up each time so you have a record of how many uses it gets. I just don’t want to break the rules. Thank you. It is a great recipe and very easy.

    1. You are more than welcome to use the recipe for personal use as much as you’d like! You can write it or use the print button located at the top of each recipe. Enjoy the recipe.

  11. This sweet and sour sauce is excellent just the way it is. Just made it first time and what flavor!! So good I sent recipe to my daughter. Yum!!

  12. For those saying the vinegar was too strong- I have found that different brands of ACV are stronger than others. I use Bragg’s ACV and I start with half of the called-for amount in any recipe and adjust after that. Apparently it’s a stronger flavor than others.

    Also, for those wondering, doubling this sauce will make a pot of sweet and sour meatballs for a family of 5.

    And to the author- my husband LOVES this sauce! It’s so great to have a few good sauces in your back pocket for hectic nights.

  13. Very vinegary. My husband didn’t mind it, but it was a little too much for me. I would definitely cut the vinegar in half!3 stars

    1. I made this for my boyfriend as a dipping sauce for spring rolls and he loved it so much he wants me to make sweet and sour chicken with the leftover sauce! I used Trader Joe’s AVC.. Thanks so much for the great recipe!5 stars

      1. You’re welcome Joelle! So happy to hear how much you love this sauce!