Red Sweet and Sour Sauce used in Chinese Restaurants

I have been trying for years to get a recipe for the red sweet and sour sauce used in Chinese Restaurants. Does anyone have this recipe.


I have made a good sweet and sour sauce by mixing a jar of tomato preserves and a jar of plum jelly. Both are hard to find. I hope raise enough tomatos this year to make my own preserves. I think another jelly would work as well as the plum.

:lol: This is the authentic sweet & sour sauce used in most Chinese Restaurants and one I’ve used for years when I make Sweet & Sour Pork. This recipe is so simple and easy to make. I warn you, you’ll love it:

1/4 C. Catsup 1/4 C. Sugar
1 C. Water 1/4 C. White Vinegar
1 Green Pepper, cut into Squares
2 Heaping T. Cornstarch, dissolved in 2 T. Water
2 T. Canned Pineapple Chunks
1 Carrot, peeled & cut in slices

Pre-cook carrots so they are slightly tender; set aside. Combine catsup, sugar, water and vinegar in a wok or pan. Bring to a boil; thicken with dissolved cornstarch, stirring constantly. Add green pepper, carrots and pineapple. Stir.

You can use this as a dip or sauce for Sweet & Sour Pork. (May be frozen.) Enjoy —Earlene Brokaw–

Hi, I am new in this forum and I come from Brunei. Our food is between Chinese and Indian food similar to Malaysian/Singaporean and Indonesian foods.

I’ve just made sweet and sour fish yesterday. Normally I would cut the cucumber, carrots, red and green pepper in cubes, then soak it with some vinegar for 30 minutes. Then firstly, heat about 2 tblspoon oil in a wok; cook the garlic, ginger and shallots until fragrance. Then pour in tomatoes ketchup and sweet chilies sauce and the vinegar from the above vegetables. Add plenty of sugar and salt. Then add in pineapples (if you’re using canned pineapples) you can add the juice in the wok as well. Then add in the cucumber, carrots, red and green pepper and if you like it a bit hot you can add in some fresh chilies. Use corn flour to thicken it. I don’t use any red colouring for the colour as the tomatoes and chilies sauce colour is red enough. But I’ve read it somewhere some people use red colouring or you can use the juice of one orange.

Just try this and hope you’ll like it.

Hi How are you today,You were inquiring on a recipe for sweet and sour sauce used in Chinese Restaurants.I have tried many a recipe but the only one that resembles any Chinese Rest is 1 CUP WATER,3/4 CUP WHITE SUGAR and 3/4 CUP VINEGAR. MIX WELL AND BOIL,THEN MIX CORN STARCH WITH COLD WATER AND ADD TO BOILING MIXTURE TILL IT REACHES THE CONSISTINCY YOU DESIRE<THEN ADD EITHER RED OR ORANGE ICING COLORING WHICH I PURCHASE AT THE BULK BARN STORE and their you have it very simple and very tasty.try this and let me know now you enjoy it Thanks Larry Donivan

THAT’S IT!!! THAT’S IT!! I made it this morning and Bingo!! Thats it!!

I have been searching for I can’t remeber how long. I don’t know why all the other recipes call for Ketchup… I knew they were not it. It’s hard to believe it’s so simple. Next time I will not use as much vinegar(using 3/4 cup, the vinegar smell stands out). Will add more cornstrach as I like mine’s almost jelly-like and more sugar as I liked mine’s a little sweeter.

So if you are looking for the restaurants style sweet n sour sauce thats on most restaurants tables, that you can add to the meats or rice this is it.

Donivan you the man!!:stuck_out_tongue:


I used 1 cup water, 3/4 cup white sugar, 1/2 cup vinegar and 1/4 cup corn starch.

Thanks Larry for the basic recipe. Frank, thanks for the recommendation to reduce the amount of vinegar.

My recommendation is to experiment with adding some flavors. I add 1/8 cup maraschino cherry syrup and 1/8 cup pineapple juice. This is reminiscent of a sweet and sour sauce I enjoyed growing up. It also has a nice, pink coloring.

Is that really all there is to it? This is going to get some mileage in my kitchen! LOL

I think Id give the veggies a spin in a food processor to make them into a puree before adding to rest of sauce. Most Sweet/Sour Sauces I have had do not have chunks in them

Wow, I have been trying to get a simple chinese restaurant sweet and sour sauce and it is as simple as this.I knew from the get go, that there is no way Ketchup was in an authentic sweet and sour sauce.I didn’t have red food colouring at the moment so I use red wine vinegar and it came out great.Stilll a nice red colour, but next time I make it with regular vinegar and food colouring. Thanks Mr Donivan, like someone said earlier, you are the man for providing such a simple secret.

Wow, I have been trying to get a simple chinese restaurant sweet and sour sauce and it is as simple as this.I knew from the get go, that there is no way Ketchup was in an authentic sweet and sour sauce.I didn’t have red food colouring at the moment so I use red wine vinegar and it came out great.Stilll a nice red colour, but next time I"ll make it with regular vinegar and food colouring. Thanks Mr Donivan. Like someone said earlier, you are the man for providing such a simple secret.

this recipe is just like the ones that come with sweet and sour dishes. the other is more like those that come with appetizers as a side for dipping mostly. i tried this for sweet and sour fish using batter fried fish and it was amazing. for the fish i used this recipe:

.75 - 1.0 lb white fish fillets, cut into 1 x 2" pieces
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tbsp oil
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup (180ml) water
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white pepper

  1. In a large bowl coat the fish pieces with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch.

  2. Whisk all the ingredients for the batter together until smooth. Pour the coated fish into the batter and make sure all fish pieces are coated with batter. In a pot, heat the oil and deep fry the fish until brown and crispy. Arrange the crispy fish pieces on a serving dish and set aside.

then do the sauce or do it slightly ahead of time. serve with rice and it’s an amazing combo that tastes like the authentic take out stuff. of course the real chinese food is nothing like either of these. i remember going to mu favorite chinese restaurant just before they closed and the workers were all sitting eating a dish of silver colored fish that definitely was not on the menu. my mother lived in china for a short time, and said there are many variations and styles of cooking and it can vary from village to village literally.

as far as the ketchup goes, some use it others don’t. i’ve seen it in commercial sizes in the backs of chinese take out restaurants. to me this is exactly the sweet and sour take out style i enjoy when it comes with the full dish - veggies and all.

Ok, I know there is a lot of varying sweet and sour recipes from across the USA. ( dare say 90% of them NOT from China, so they very from place to place. my favorites has always been those that are ruby red and you can see the bottom of the serving dish. I have talked to cooks from china that can hardy speak English and they guard this sauce recipe but talking to enough of them getting bits and pieces of info this is what I came up with so here it goes:


3 cup water
2 1/4 cup white sugar
1 1/2 cups rice vinegar (distiiled second choice)
Clear gel food thickening (jelly canning ) supplies to desired texture
Red food coloring (to desired color) bright cherry color

Directions: (makes aprox 1/2 qt.) cooking time 20 min.
in sauce pan large enough(8 to 10 cup) mix water and sugar together, then heat to boiling
lower heat to medium add vinegar, and orange juice cook 5 min more
add food coloring.
add clear jel 1 tsp at a time and cook till
thickened to desired thickness 15 min. (med. low)

I make this in 2 qt lots and store in frig. if you do this and you put to much clear jel you’ll have to microwave it to to thin down, do not add water… the clear jel will not accept the new water and will be a lumpy.

This turns out a beautiful ruby red that you can see the bottom of the pot and serving dish with just the right sweet and sour for a good sauce

hope this helps.


Thank you for sharing and welcome to RSN!!!

1 oz pulp free orange juice

sorry I missed putting that in

this was updated due to a missing ingredient

Thanks for the update!

My Sugar Free Sweet & Sour Sauce

I found this forum some time ago, and started my quest for a simple “sugar free” sweet and sour sauce, I started with Larry Donivans recipe above which was very good, and of course simple. But I use just a little sauce every morning with my Panko Chicken Breast, and if I made the sauce every day the corn starch sauce would be fine. But when I made it for storage in the fridge it would always turn to jell, and when I used less corn starch it would still be lumpy and always cloudy. So in this recipe I use Pectin giving a clear sauce with the right consistently for me anyway. I never make more than I can use in a couple weeks stored in my refrigerator in a small 12oz glass jar. Being a diabetic I use Erythritol Stevia blend. But you can use sugar, just sweeten to taste. I use Ball brand Real Fruit Low Or No Sugar Needed Pectin, and you can use Balls regular pectin with sugar. Note that the pectin does contain Dextrose, but the pectin itself (used for thickening jams mostly) is basically fruit fiber.


1 cup Juice
(I use Tropicana Farmstand Pomegranate Blueberry-This is a 100% fruit and vegetable juice that is sweet and gives the sauce its color.)
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 level TBSP Powdered Pectin
1 level TBSP Erythritol/Stevia blend

Pour all your wet ingredients into a medium size pan (not a small one) add your pectin and stir well.
When you add the Erythritol/Stevia stir briefly and heat to a boil, do not stir after that, I just
swish the pan back and forth occasionally, this is why I use a medium pan, and will keep the Erythritol/Stevia
from crystalizing. I actually bring it just to a boil, then switch to another burner pre-set to medium,
swishing every minute or so for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool, sauce will be thin.
After it cools it will thicken, stir very well and using a funnel pour into a small jar with a lid and refrigerate.
Sauce will thicken more after refrigeration, I just shake the jar before using, you can adjust the thickness
by using less pectin, I just like it a little thick. Adjust everything to your taste, make it your own!
Hope you like, Jack.

Edit 6-3-16
Hey I have changed it a bit to my taste, I use 1 1/4 cup juice (no water)
about a half a Tablespoon (a little over actually) of both the no sugar pectin and Erythritol/Stevia blend.
I still shake the jar before using .

If you don’t like La Choy sweet and sour sauce you probably won’t like this recipe as it’s the taste I was shooting for. I’d still be using La Choy but for the sugar

A little tip on the juice, I don’t like leaving the juice in the refridge as it can be over a month before I use it up.
I pour 1 1/4 cup juice into double zipper sandwich bags, put them in a gallon storage bag and into the freezer, defrosting as needed. :slight_smile:

The sugar free recipe looks interesting. I’ve been looking for a sweet and sour recipe myself and want to try some of the recipes posted. The wife is currently on a sugar free diet though and will definitely be keen to try the sugar free one.