You’ll never want takeout again after you try this Air Fryer Sweet and Sour Chicken recipe. It packs a powerful flavor and is ready in just 20 minutes.
It can be intimidating to make a recipe for sweet and sour chicken from scratch, but this recipe makes it super easy. This recipe is made without ketchup and relies on pineapple juice to give it the tang you know and love in the sauce.
Whether you’re a beginner at air frying or a pro, it’s a recipe you can master the first time and enjoy with a side of stir fry vegetables and rice.
I have a sweet spot for Asian chicken dishes – such as my Air Fryer Orange Chicken recipe.
I even put a Hawaiian spin on my stir-fries with Air Fryer Pineapple Chicken, so it was time to dive into my ultimate favorite sweet and sour sauce.
My favorite part of this recipe is how healthy the chicken is when air fried compared to deep-fried. It’s also unbreaded and covered with corn starch instead to still create a crispy outer layer you’ll enjoy.
How to Make Air Fryer Sweet and Sour Chicken
A full printable version of this recipe with ingredient measurements is available at the bottom of this post.
1. Preheat your air fryer to 400 degrees. It will take a normal air fryer about 5 minutes to preheat to this temperature.
2. Cut your boneless and skinless chicken breasts or chicken thighs into 1½ to 2-inch chunks. A bigger chicken chunk allows for the chicken to stay juicy inside with an extra crispy crust.
3. Batter your chicken in just enough corn starch to cover the chicken.
4. Place the chicken cubes in the air fryer and cook for 7 to 9 minutes, shaking the basket or flipping halfway through.
5. While the chicken is cooking, mix the pineapple juice, brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, and ginger in a medium saucepan on medium heat and bring to a simmer.
6. Let the sauce simmer for 5 minutes, then mix the cornstarch and water in a separate small bowl.
7. Add cornstarch and water mixture to the sauce and stir until sauce thickens about one minute. Add in 3-4 drops of red food dye if desired for true sweet and sour color and remove sauce from heat.
8. Remove chicken from the air fryer and coat with sweet and sour sauce.
Tips for Making This Air Fryer Recipe
- Use just enough corn starch to cover the chicken. Using too much cornstarch will make a mess in an air fryer. The cornstarch should all adhere to the chicken and not create any white marks when cooked.
I like to add half of the cornstarch to the chicken, mix, then add the rest little by little to ensure I don’t use too much.
- The secret to getting juicy chicken in an air fryer is to stop cooking it as soon as it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees. The overcooked chicken will start to turn dry on both the inside and outside.
- To create a thicker sweet and sour sauce, mix another teaspoon of water and teaspoon of cornstarch in a bowl and add to the sauce while still on the heat.
- Swap out the red food dye for some sweet paprika to create a more natural red coloring of the sauce. You can also choose to opt-out of the color additives completely. It will not affect the taste of the sauce, just the appearance.
Can I Make This Recipe with Frozen Chicken?
Yes! If you’re short on time, you can make this recipe using frozen chicken nuggets or any other kind of frozen chicken.
It is difficult to use frozen chicken breasts or thighs as you need to chop up the chicken into bite-sized pieces.
How Do I Reheat Sweet and Sour Chicken in an Air Fryer?
Reheating leftovers is a favorite of mine. It saves on time and using an air fryer creates results that taste like they were just freshly made.
I recommend keeping the sauce and chicken separately for leftovers, but if they are combined, place them in an air fryer pan, like this air fryer pizza pan I use, to help with sticking and cleanup.
Cook the chicken in a preheated air fryer at 350 degrees for 3 to 4 minutes until warmed thoroughly.
What Can I Serve with Air Fryer Sweet and Sour Chicken?
It creates the perfect balanced meal with protein, vegetables, and a starch.
Tools I Used to Help Make This Recipe
- 5.8QT Cosori Air Fryer – with a square basket
- Instant Read Thermometer
- Non-Stick Medium Saucepan
- Air Fryer Pizza Pan – included in the Cosori Air Fryer Accessory Kit
- Long Oven Mitt – for carefully taking out the air fryer pizza pan when reheating
Other Air Fryer Chicken Recipes You’ll Love:
- Air Fryer BBQ Chicken Legs
- Air Fryer Chicken Thighs with Honey Soy Marinade
- Air Fryer Chicken Tenders
- Air Fryer Bone in Chicken Breasts
- Air Fryer Chicken Katsu
- Air Fryer Crispy Chicken Wings with Buffalo Sauce
For the Chicken
- 1 pound chicken breasts or chicken thighs, cut into 1 1/2 to 2-inch chunks
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch (or potato starch)
For the Sweet and Sour Sauce
- 1 cup pineapple juice
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger (or 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger)
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1/4 cup pineapple chunks
- 3-4 drops of red food coloring (for traditional orange look)
- Preheat air fryer to 400 degrees.
- Combine chicken pieces and cornstarch into a bowl and mix until the chicken is just fully coated.
- Place chicken in the air fryer and cook for 7-9 minutes, shaking the basket halfway through. Then remove from the air fryer.
- Meanwhile, mix together the pineapple juice, brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, and ginger and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes. Stir occasionally.
- Mix together the cornstarch and water in a separate bowl to create a "slurry" then add it to the sweet and sour sauce along with pineapple chunks and red food coloring (if using).
- Let simmer for one more minute then remove sauce from the heat.
- Toss chicken and sauce together and serve alongside rice or veggies for a full meal.*
* sauce makes enough to help coat veggies or rice to serve alongside.
How to Reheat Sweet and Sour Chicken in an Air Fryer:
Cook chicken in a preheated air fryer at 350 degrees for 3 to 4 minutes until warmed thoroughly.
If chicken is already coated with sauce, place chicken on an air fryer pan to help with the mess.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 702Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 193mgSodium: 624mgCarbohydrates: 81gFiber: 1gSugar: 61gProtein: 72g
This nutrition information is based on the exact products I used in this recipe. Brands and sizes of products could alter exact nutrition and should always be calculated independently.