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. I cut the vinegar in half and used the other half with pineapple juice, worked out amazing. love this recipe5 stars

  2. Oh my days! This sauce is fabulous and so easy to make.
    I made it as the original recipe but was too tangy so i added a spoon of honey and it was perfect.
    I have some breaded chicken strips in my freezer which i will cook and serve over rice with this sauce drizzled ( or maybe poured ) over it!!!
    Thank you, this is amazing.5 stars

  3. I tried this recipe last it was delicious my family and I loved it. I’m not one to comment on nothing but this was delicious.5 stars

  4. Great recipe! I am so grateful that you provided the instructions on using salt and Vinegar to tweak the taste. I didn’t need them for this recipe but that taught me something how to deal with similar issues on other recipes. My husband is kinda picky snd when I suggested making his favorite, Sweet & Sour Pork homemade he looked a little scared and said we could easily carry that home. Well… I took the challenge and you helped me succeed. He loves my cooking, but it usually takes me a couple of times to be successful on a recipe.

    Thank you, Thank you!

    Also- we have gone to Kobe Japanese Rest in Addison Texas for 30+ years. They closed due to pandemic. They had a Ginger sauce that was for dipping vegetables but we used it for everything. My kids grew up on it and we all miss it. It does not taste the same anywhere else and we have been searching. They gave me a recipe 30 years ago but i cannot find it. It contained the following but I do not recall the portions: fresh Ginger, soy sauce, white onion, white sugar and water. Any chance you have a recipe? My family and I would be so grateful.5 stars

  5. Really good, easy better then sure bought. I didn’t have ACV only red wine and regular vinegars, so I used mostly red wine with a healthy splash of regular. I was worried it would taste off, but it was perfect. A successful experiment! Thank you for the recipe!5 stars

  6. My goodness. Don’t people know that you make adjustments if you find it too tangy / not tangy enough etc etc… I always taste my sauce and make my adjustments where needed. Fact remains, this is a good recipe and I always land up on your site, Nagi. Thanks for another great recipe.

  7. As written it was waaaaaaay too vinegary for us- and that was with me cutting it by a quarter since the note suggested that. I added ketchup and brown sugar as some suggested and it got better, but I probably won’t make it again.3 stars

    1. Nothing like what sweet and sour? Out of a jar? From a takeaway? This is closer to the real thing than either of those.

  8. This is so easy to make and so delicious! I usually make it for my main dish but am going to try it for meatballs.5 stars

  9. Agree with ithers who said it had too much vinegar. I added extra ketchup and brown sugar to even it out. I did about 1/2 cup total of ketchup and 3/4 cup brown sugar.3 stars