Sweet and Sour Sauce

Restaurant Style Sweet and Sour sauce is very easy to make. I know that once you make your own sweet and sour sauce you won’t buy another jar.

Homemade Sweet and Sour sauce with crab rangoons

Chinese Sweet and Sour Sauce

It may seem like a mystery, you know, how to make the sweet and sour sauce. But I promise it is very easy to do. You may even have the ingredients on hand if you want to make your homemade sauce.

One of the things I like most about recreating restaurant favorites is that you know exactly what you put in your food. I know when you try this sauce you will be amazed at how much better it tastes than what you can buy in a jar.

What Makes this Sauce so Good

Unlike many other online recipes, this one includes actual fruits. Most contain very similar ingredients. They include ketchup, yes, you read that right, sugar, vinegar, and water.

This version has a more complex flavor because we are going to flavor our water with fresh oranges, lemons, and ginger. I think the natural fruit juice and oils that are extracted from the water make a large difference in the final flavor.

Red Sweet and Sour Sauce

Many restaurants add tomato shade or red food coloring to the sauce when they prepare it. We expect this sauce to be red. It is not a dark color naturally. It is a pale but dark pink color thanks to the ketchup.

You can add a couple of drops of red food coloring to this dish if desired. It is your choice. It will taste the same either way. When you make this sauce at home, you get to choose how you want it.

Recipe Ingredients

Wondering what is in sweet and sour sauce? Here’s what you need to make this sauce:

  • Water
  • Orange
  • Lemon
  • Fresh Ginger
  • Sugar
  • White Vinegar
  • Ketchup
  • Cornstarch
  • Red Food Coloring (optional)

How to Make Chinese Sweet and Sour Sauce

  1. Slice the orange, lemon, and ginger.
  2. Place the slices into a medium pot along with water.
  3. Boil for 30 minutes.
  4. Use a sieve to strain the water into a bowl and press the fruit into the sieve.
  5. Place the water back into the pot and add sugar, 1/2 vinegar, ketchup, and red food coloring (if using).
  6. Whisk until well blended.
  7. Heat over medium-high heat.
  8. Combine corn starch with cold water.
  9. Slowly stream the corn starch liquid into the sauce, stirring constantly.
  10. Once the sauce thickens, remove it from the heat.
  11. Cool the sauce to room temperature.

This recipe will make about a quart of sweet and sour sauce. It will make the perfect amount for making sweet and sour chicken.

This homemade sweet and sour sauce goes great with some cream cheese rangoons. You might even enjoy it with chicken nuggets.

How Long Does Sweet and Sour Sauce Last

I find this recipe will store for a week to 10 days. So you may want to plan on serving up a couple of Asian-inspired dishes, so you won’t miss a single bit of this sauce.

A plate of crab rangoons with Sweet and Sour Sauce dipping sauce

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Favorite Chinese Recipes

Check out more of my easy sauce recipes and the best Chinese food recipes here on CopyKat!

Homemade Sweet and Sour sauce with crab rangoons

Sweet and Sour Sauce

Make restaurant quality sweet and sour sauce at home. 
5 from 3 votes
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Course: Sauces
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: Sweet and Sour Sauce
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 10
Calories: 125kcal


  • 5 cups water
  • 1 orange
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 or 3 slices fresh ginger
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • red food coloring if desired
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons water


  • Wash the orange and the lemon well.
  • Slice the fruit and ginger and place the slices into a medium pot along with 5 cups of water.
  • Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Strain water with a sieve into a bowl.
  • Press the fruit into the sieve. You want to get all of the water released.
  • Place the water back into the pot and add 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup vinegar, 1 cup ketchup, and a few drops of red food coloring (if using).
  • Whisk until well blended.
  • Heat the sauce over medium high heat.
  • Combine 3 tablespoons corn starch and 3 tablespoons cold water in a small bowl.
  • Slowly stream the corn starch liquid into the sauce, stirring constantly.
  • When the sauce thickens, remove it from heat.


Store unused sauce in an airtight container.


Calories: 125kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 0g | Fat: 0g | Saturated Fat: 0g | Cholesterol: 0mg | Sodium: 225mg | Potassium: 114mg | Fiber: 0g | Sugar: 26g | Vitamin A: 155IU | Vitamin C: 13.7mg | Calcium: 16mg | Iron: 0.2mg

About Stephanie Manley

I recreate your favorite restaurant recipes, so you can prepare these dishes at home. I help you cook dinner, and serve up dishes you know your family will love. You can find most of the ingredients for all of the recipes in your local grocery store.

Stephanie is the author of CopyKat.com's Dining Out in the Home, and CopyKat.com's Dining Out in the Home 2.

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Reader Interactions


  1. Kim

    Hi Stephanie! Do you have a recipe for Leann Chins dipping sauce? What you get with wontons. Like pineapple something…. Thank you!

  2. Ali

    Thank you a lot for this amazing sauce. I just it. It tastes pretty good like take away restaurants. The only issue that remained is the bitterness of the sauce that is due to the lemon and orange. How can I eliminate bitterness? Thank you!

  3. Brinton

    Hi Stephanie,

    First off thank you for all of your hard work and contributions to this site! You are appreciated! My questions as it pertains to this recipe, when you say “slice the fruit and slice ginger” how exactly are you slicing it? Thank you in advance!



5 from 3 votes

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