Filipino sweet and sour sauce recipe for your dishes

by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  August 29, 2022

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Sweet and sour sauce is known to be a part of Chinese cuisine. But did you know it was actually used in England dating back to the Middle Ages?

This is actually a basic term for several types of sauces used in many cuisines around the globe!

Although it’s more associated with Chinese cuisine, it’s always been popular and widely used in America and Europe.

Favorite Asian Recipes
Favorite Asian Recipes

It’s used mostly for fish like escabeche and pork, especially in most Chinese restaurants in the Philippines.

Sweet and Sour Sauce Recipe
Sweet and Sour Sauce Recipe

Sweet and sour sauce recipe

Joost Nusselder
Just like other cuisines around the world, sweet and sour sauce has been adapted and loved by Filipinos. It's used mostly for fish like escabeche and pork, especially in most Chinese restaurants in the Philippines.
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Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Total Time 10 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Filipino
Servings 1 cup
Calories 370 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • ½ cup rice vinegar
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • ½ small green bell pepper seeded and minced

Instructions
 

  • In a small bowl, combine pineapple juice, vinegar, ketchup, sugar, and salt. Stir until sugar and salt are dissolved. Add cornstarch and stir until well dispersed.
  • Over medium heat, heat oil in a sauce pot. Add bell peppers and cook, stirring regularly until softened.
  • Add liquid mixture and bring to a boil, whisking regularly. Continue to cook for about 2 to 3 minutes or until sauce thickens, whisking regularly.
  • Take sauce pot off the stove and cool before use.

Nutrition

Calories: 370kcal
Keyword Fish Sauce, Sweet and Sour
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Check out this version of Filipino sweet and sour sauce by Pinoy Easy Recipes:

Cooking tips

Homemade Sweet and Sour Sauce Recipe

As I mentioned earlier, it’s an easy recipe, meaning there’s very little you need to care about as you cook. However, a few things will help you cook it to perfection!

First, make sure you buy good quality cornstarch and other ingredients to ensure a smooth and thick sauce.

If you use this for fish, see that you’ve bought the freshest one. And if it’s for pork, you’ll have to mix it in the saucepan so the wonderful taste of the sauce will blend with the pork. This will give it a superb taste that everyone will surely love.

Also, don’t forget to constantly stir the sauce as you cook it. This will give the sauce an even consistency and it won’t stick to the pan either. 

Another thing you need to keep in mind is NOT to over-add any ingredient.

Many people get suspicious about the vinegary smell of the sauce as it cooks, so they add more ingredients to “balance” it down.

This suppresses the characteristic tartness of the vinegar and makes the sauce much less intense than you’d like. 

In other words, try to ignore the smell if you’re sure you’ve added the right amount of ingredients. It’s all about the taste in the end. ;)

Oh! And don’t forget to reheat it if the sauce gets too thick when cooled down. It’ll restore the sauce to its original consistency. 

If you like to experiment a little with your recipes, there are a few add-ins you can try to add some heat.

Adding hot sauce will add a spice factor to the sauce that’s difficult to dislike. The same goes for a nice pinch of chili flakes.

Substitutions and variations 

For one thing, I know the original sweet and sour recipe is impossible to replace.

That tinge of fruitiness coming from the pineapple juice, the tartness of the vinegar, and the subtle sweetness of brown sugar make a deadly combination. 

However, I’d like to tell you that the sauce also tastes great without pineapple juice. In fact, the non-pineapple variant of sweet and sour sauce is more common worldwide.

It’s easy to make, has a great taste, and has simple ingredients. 

Though you won’t taste that subtle fruitiness pineapple adds to the sauce, the flavor is amazing.

Usually, I like to add a little hot sauce as a substitute to replace the fruitiness with spiciness. Yes, the 2 tastes are utterly opposite, but nothing tastes bad when spicy!

If you don’t like it spicy, you can substitute the apple juice with apple cider vinegar.

It’ll keep your sauce’s sweet and savory flavor intact while giving a pleasantly fruity touch. The best thing is, it’ll taste just as good!

Generally speaking, “sweet and sour sauce” is more of a category than a single sauce.

This is why in each cuisine, you’ll find a different version of it with different tastes, but the same base. For example, China makes the most popular sweet and sour sauces.

Unlike the Filipino version of the sauce, which relies mostly on sugar and vinegar for its taste, the Chinese variant uses soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and spices.

It has a more complex and refined flavor and is more versatile. You can even use it in stir-fried dishes!

How to serve sweet and sour sauce

Once prepared, you can serve the homemade sauce in many ways.

It’s commonly served as a dipping sauce with your favorite snacks, dumplings, egg rolls, chicken nuggets, fried chicken, or any deep-fried dishes. 

You can also use it as a marinade for chicken and pork; however, you might want to avoid adding the cornstarch slurry in that case.

Moreover, it’s a great mixture to brush over your favorite skewers (like yakitori), including chicken (if you don’t have the original sauce), shrimp, and other types of meat. 

I also like to use the sauce with fritters, as it complements their flavor pretty well.

It doesn’t matter what you eat it with, as long as it tastes good. People often like to serve it with hot rice! 

Similar sauces

Know what’s great about sweet and sour sauce? It comes in a wide variety!

So much so, that if you tweak one ingredient, you’ll have a completely new version of it at your table. And you won’t lose its basic sweet-savory essence.

So if you’re sort of bored of the Filipino version of sweet and sour sauce or want to try something new, the following are some other similar sauces you can try.

Chinese duck sauce

Making plum sauce sure is a labor of love that takes no less than 2 weeks to produce a defined flavor, but the effort is worth it!

It has the same sweet and sour flavor as the Filipino version and is commonly used as a dipping sauce for deep-fried dishes. You can also eat it with rice and noodles. 

Hoisin sauce

A staple sauce of Cantonese cuisine, hoisin sauce is a thick paste with a salty and sweet taste.

It’s used in many ways, including as a dipping sauce, glazing, or a nice addition to stir-fried dishes.

The traditional hoisin sauce recipe includes soybeans, red chili peppers, fennel, and garlic as the primary ingredients. 

Sriracha sauce

Well, I wouldn’t technically call it sweet and sour due to its somewhat hot flavor, but the use of white sugar and white vinegar gives it that subtle tarty-sweet taste specific to the Filipino or Chinese versions of sweet and sour sauce.

The only thing that makes sriracha sauce different is the generous amount of garlic and red chili peppers.

However, it’s still not so hot to be counted as a hot sauce.

It’s somewhere between sweet and sour and hot sauces, and is a great alternative when you want to spice up your dishes. 

Vietnamese tamarind sauce

Vietnamese tamarind sauce is another sweet and sour dipping sauce that pairs up quite well with every type of food, whether steamed, fried, boiled, or grilled.

Thanks to the anchovies in the sauce, it also has a hint of umami-ness to take your dish to the next level without being fishy. All in all, you’ll love it!

Health benefits
Pork with Sweet and Sour Sauce

This recipe can give you some health benefits since pineapple juice can eliminate toxins in the body. The vitamin C in pineapple juice will also help prevent the onset of some illnesses.

Pineapple is also known to support the immune system and help strengthen bones. It’s also good for your eyes, aside from having anti-inflammatory benefits and aiding digestion.

Fish with Sweet and Sour Sauce Escabeche

FAQs

How long can you use sweet and sour sauce? 

When stored in an airtight container and refrigerated, homemade sweet and sour sauce can last up to 2 weeks maximum before it turns bad. 

Is sweet and sour sauce healthy for you? 

Sweet and sour sauce is neither healthy nor unhealthy.

Though it contains sugar, the limited consumption of the sauce ensures you don’t gain any extra weight. In fact, you can even make it a part of your healthy diet plan. 

Is sweet and sour sauce vegan?

Yes! Since sweet and sour sauce is mainly prepared from vinegar, sugar, salt, and different spices of choice, it’s completely vegan.

There are no animal ingredients used. 

Does sweet and sour sauce contain gluten?

This depends on whether the sauce is thickened with wheat flour or cornstarch.

Generally, industrial and homemade sweet and sour sauces are thickened with cornstarch, so it’s gluten-free. However, watch out for ones thickened with wheat flour, as there’s gluten. 

Does sweet and sour sauce have soy in it?

It depends on whether you add it or not. There’s soy sauce and other spices in the original Chinese sweet and sour sauce.

However, the Filipino version I shared with you doesn’t use soy sauce or spices. It’s all sugar and vinegar. 

Enjoy sweet and sour sauce with your dishes

What’s great about sweet and sour sauce is you can enhance the taste of food while gaining all the health benefits it gives.

But more than anything else, it’s the undeniably wonderful taste of this sweet and sour sauce recipe that’ll have you anticipating the next time you’ll have this on your menu. Even the food critics will love this!

Also check out this Filipino sweet and sour pork recipe with pineapple & ginger

If you want to learn more about Filipino sweet and sour sauce, then check out this article too.

Check out our new cookbook

Bitemybun's family recipes with complete meal planner and recipe guide.

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.