Vegan Sweet and Sour “Chicken”

Faster than ordering delivery! Vegan sweet and sour chicken is on your table in 30. Veggie-packed, saucy-licious, and kid-friendly. YUM.

Faster than delivery! Vegan sweet and sour chicken is on your table in 30. Veggie-packed, saucy-licious, and kid-friendly. YUM.

I’m not going to call sweet and sour chicken “Chinese” by any stretch… Americanized Chinese food, maaaaybe? French fries… Freedom fries?!

This kind of dish is really about convincing myself I’m eating something healthy… look, there are peppers! and pineapple!… when really, I’m after the sticky-sweet sauce.

But MSG? High fructose corn syrup? Red dye? My body kinda freaks out with those. I won’t even get started on how these make my daughter bounce around like she’s had a double espresso!

If you have been working to include more meatless meals on your table, you may have a frozen bag of “chick’n” stashed away. Go get it! Let’s make a real-deal sweet and sour sauce to cover some veggies!

Vegan Sweet and Sour Chicken Ingredients

Let’s Make Vegan Sweet & Sour Chicken!


  • One packet of frozen chick’n strips. Most are great vegan protein sources, too!
  • Three vegetables. Peppers are the most common veg, but I kick up the nutrition by including some quick-cooking carrot peelings and mushrooms. Your crew likes green beans? Do that. Have some sad broccoli you need to use up? Do that.
  • One 8oz can of pineapple in juice.
  • Sauce ingredients: pineapple juice, ketchup, brown sugar, veggie broth and rice wine vinegar. Also, cornstarch for the end.

Chick’n Strips

Frozen meatless "chicken" tenders bake in the oven or toaster oven

Pop the frozen “chicken” in the oven or toaster oven. Cooking instructions will vary by brands. But, generally, they’ll cook at 400 for about 15-18 minutes. Unlike the meat-version of this recipe, we’re not cooking the chicken with the other ingredients. It’ll get all soggy and sad and weird if you do. Nobody needs weird vegetarian chicken. We’re already working magic with soy or pea protein or gluten, amIright?!

Vegan Sweet and Sour Sauce

For now, whisk together all of the the vegan sweet and sour sauce ingredients except the cornstarch… wait until the dish is almost complete to whisk that in.

Let’s Make Vegan Sweet and Sour Chicken!

Heat a little oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add your peppers, mushrooms, carrots and pineapple. Or… peppers, broccoli, green beans and pineapple. Whatever you like.

Let the veggies cook for about 10 minutes. They should be soft enough to not be raw… but you want a nice lil’ crunch on the peppers. Right?!

Next, pour the vegan sweet and sour sauce into the pan. Turn the heat down to medium. Let it simmer for a few minutes. The sauce will start to reduce slightly.

Closeup of veggies in vegan sweet and sour sauce

Grab the cornstarch and water. Whisk together in a small cup until smooth. This is the magic mojo that makes your sweet and sour thick, shiny and saucy!

Even if you’re assembling a “shortcut dinner”, the sauce makes all the difference! My chile rellenos casserole was good but missing something… then my hubby had an idea for a southwest lime crema to give it a kick. The whole dish came together! You could just stir fry all of these veggies with the chicken, without an added sauce. It’d probably still take you about 15-20 minutes. orrrrr you can take a hot second to whisk. Then let it bubble. Then you’ve got sweet and sour sauce!

In Goes the “Chicken”

Now add your chicken strips to the pan. If they’re larger, cut into bite-sized pieces.

Let the sauce continue to bubble gently for a couple of minutes. As it heats, the cornstarch will help it thicken up. Stir occasionally, to prevent the sweet sauce from sticking to the pan.

Dinner is Ready!

In 30 minutes from now, you can be digging into a big bowl of vegan sweet and sour chicken. Crunchy peppers, sweet pineapple, and saucy deliciousness. You can certainly make rice in a rice cooker or instant pot, while you’re working on the main dish. Or, you can be like me: use microwave pouches of ready-to-eat rice. No shame!

If you try this recipe, please let me know in the comments section below! Leave a star rating and what you like about it. You can also save the recipe for later, by adding it to your Pinterest boards.

Hungry for more kid-friendly dinners?

Be sweet to yourself today, my friend!


Vegan Sweet & Sour “Chicken”

  • Author: Katie Allen
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 20
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x


Faster than ordering delivery! Vegan sweet and sour chicken is on your table in 30. Veggie-packed, saucy-licious, and kid-friendly. YUM.



Vegan Stir Fry

  • 1 pkg frozen vegan “chicken” tenders or nuggets
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled
  • 1 cup mushrooms, chopped
  • 8 oz canned pineapple tidbits in juice, drain and reserve juice

Sweet & Sour Sauce

  • 3 Tbsp ketchup
  • 3 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • Juice from pineapple can
  • 1/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 3 tsp cornstarch
  • 3 tsp water


  1. Preheat oven or toaster oven according to “chicken” instructions. Arrange chicken on a baking sheet. Bake according to instructions (typically 15-20 minutes).
  2. While the chicken is cooking, heat a large pan over medium-high heat with olive oil.
  3. Add peppers, carrots, mushrooms and pineapple.
  4. Cook for 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened. 
  5. While vegetables are cooking, make the sweet and sour sauce. In a small bowl, whisk together ketchup, brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, pineapple juice and broth. Add to pan.
  6. Allow sauce to come to a simmer. Let thicken for 2-3 minutes.
  7. Remove cooked chicken from the oven. Cut into bite-sized pieces (if necessary). Add to the pan.
  8. In a small bowl, whisk the cornstarch and water together. Gently pour the mixture into the pan, whisking as you go. The cornstarch will thicken the sauce into that beautiful glaze we know and love!
  9. Allow the completed sauce to come to a simmer (bubbling, but not boiling) again. Reduce heat to low. Stir as the sauce continues to thicken and reduce.
  10. Serve over hot rice… with fortune cookies, if you like!


Vegetarian: This recipe is vegetarian.

Vegan: This recipe is vegan.

Gluten-Free: Substitute gluten-free “chick’n” tenders.

Leftovers: This recipe is best enjoyed hot off the stove for the best texture. Leftovers stored in an air-tight container can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

  • Category: Entree
  • Cuisine: Americanized Chinese

Keywords: sweet and sour chicken, vegan sweet and sour chicken

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