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Sweet and Sour Chicken Balls
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The Best Chinese Sweet and Sour Chicken Balls! These are seriously just too good, you don’t even know. This is a dish I need to have every once in while with a side of Fried or Steamed Rice. Just munching on the Sweet & Sour Chicken Balls with the eyes closed to fully envelope the Flavors, Textures and how it all comes together for pure bliss. I just can’t have these any other way.

We’re talking about an old style Chinese restaurant Red Sweet & Sour Sauce loaded with Flavor. Coating the Crispiest Golden Chicken Balls. With a good ratio of Batter to Chicken and a nice 1 inch chunk of Chicken too. You’re going to absolutely Love these! These can also be made up in batches to produce Chinese Sweet and Sour Chicken plated in 30 minutes or less anytime you want.

Chinese Sweet and Sour Sauce

This is just a wonderful Sweet & Sour Sauce that takes me back to my younger years. Where Chinese Restaurants use to make this in house during the 80’s – 90’s. Nowadays you got Chinese Restaurants using Maltose & Ketchup and just lacks that Flavor that Chinese restaurants use to have.

This makes a pretty decent size of Sweet & Sour Sauce that isn’t thickened just yet. This happens with a slurry right before serving the Sauce. The Sauce is simmered for about 45 minutes and then strained and cooled. Whenever Sweet & Sour Sauce is needed, it is added to the Wok with a Starch Slurry to thicken to serve over Chicken Balls.

Portion any leftover Sauce in ziploc bags or tupperware and freeze. To use, just remove from the freezer and heat up in a saucepot. Add the Starch Slurry to thicken and serve.

Chinese Sweet & Sour Sauce

Sweet & Sour Sauce Ingredients

  • 5 C Water
  • 2 C Sugar
  • 1 C White Vinegar
  • 1/2 C Tomato Paste
  • 1/4 C Neutral Oil
  • 1/4 C Pumpkin Puree
  • 1 Orange – Cut in Quarters
  • 2 inch Ginger – Sliced
  • 2 cloves Garlic – Crushed
  • 2 Star Anise
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/8 tsp Cinnamon and Ground Clove – each
  • as needed Permicol or other Red Food Coloring – Optional

How to Make Chinese Sweet and Sour Sauce

Prepare the Sweet & Sour Sauce first or the day before to develop the flavors even more.

  1. Combine Oil, Ginger, Garlic and sauté few minutes over medium heat.
  2. Add Pumpkin Puree and Tomato Paste and cook a few minutes. Add in remaining ingredients except the Red Food Coloring and Slurry (the Slurry will be used last to thicken the Sauce). Bring to Boil. Reduce the heat to medium – medium low and let simmer partially covered for 45 minutes.
  3. After 45 minutes. Shut the heat off and let it cool down an hour or so. Strain the Sauce, through a fine sieve. Add the Red Food Coloring and adjust the taste. Portion and freeze or use right away for Sweet & Sour Sauce.
  4. To Serve, heat up the desired amount of Sweet & Sour Sauce. Combine about 1/2 Tbl Potato Starch & Cold Water for each Cup of Sweet & Sour Sauce. Add to the Sauce while it is simmering to thicken. Remove from the heat and let cool a bit, about 3-5 minutes before ladling over the Chicken Balls.

You don’t have to let it rest for an hour. But you do develop better flavor when you do and even more so if made the day before.

Sweet & Sour Sauce Consistency

The thickness of the Sweet & Sour Sauce is created at the very end right before serving with a Slurry. How much Slurry you add determines the viscosity of the Sauce. Want a thinner Sauce add less, thicker add more.

Slowly add the Slurry to the Sauce while simmering and mixing. Remove from the heat as soon as it has thickened or add more Slurry to thicken it even more. I find that 1/2 Tbl of Starch & Water is good for 1 Cup of unthickened Sweet & Sour Sauce.

Keep in mind that the Sauce does thicken as it cools down. This is why you want to let the Sauce sit for about 3-5 minutes to cool down some before ladling over the Chicken Balls. You don’t have to let it sit. But you do get better coverage over the Chicken Balls if the Sauce is allowed to thicken some as it rests.

Instant Sweet & Sour Sauce

There is another version of the Sweet and Sour Sauce I was curious to create and wondered if it would work. It does and it is extremely quick and easy. This is my version of an Instant Red Sweet and Sour Sauce in powdered form or a Cherry Sweet & Sour Sauce.

Just mix together all the dry ingredients. Add them into a pot with 1 C of Cold Water. Whisk well and bring to a boil until thickened and serve over Deep Fried Chicken Balls.

Cherry Sweet and Sour Sauce

Cherry Sweet and Sour Sauce

  • 1 C Water
  • 4 Tbl Cherry Kool Aid
  • 1 Tbl Potato Starch
  • 1 tsp Orange Kool Aid
  • 2 tsp Oil
  • 1/4 tsp Citric Acid
  • 1/4 tsp Chinese 5 Spice
  • 1/4 tsp Ginger
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1/8 tsp Cream of Tartar

Cherry Sweet & Sour Sauce Recipe

The Kool-Aid must be in powdered form and with added Sugar or just the small packets of Kool-Aid without Sugar. To which you will have to add the Sugar to taste yourself. Liquid Kool-Aid doesn’t work the same.

Chicken Breast

Dice Chicken Breast into descent size chunks, at about 1 inch or slightly bigger. On the underside of the Chicken breast is sometimes the Chicken Tenderloin. This is a small piece of meat that is attached and can be trimmed off and used for Fried Rice or included for Chicken Balls. You can also just place them into a freezer bag to save until you have enough to make Chicken Fingers.

Chicken Breasts

Chicken Breast

Dice Chicken Breast into 1 inch cubes or slightly bigger.

Deep Fried Chicken Ball Batter

With a good ratio of Batter to Chicken and Serious Crunch when fried up Golden Crispy. These really are just the Best Chicken Balls. They also maintain that Crunch to some degree even when sauced. You really can’t get any better.

The Poly Flour needs to be made first in order to make the Deep Fry batter. The leftover Poly Flour can be stored in a tupperware container in a cool dry place. The Poly Flour is also used in various other recipes.

Poly Flour

Poly Flour

  • 3 C Flour
  • 1/2 C Lard
  • 2 Tbl Baking Powder & Sugar
  • 1 Tbl Kosher Salt
  1. Combine all Ingredients together and mix in a Dough Mixer with a Paddle for 5 minutes or in a Food Processor for 1-2 minutes or until well combined.
  2. Store in airtight container on a shelf or cupboards in a cool place.

Poly Flour Recipe

Deep Fry Batter

Deep Fry Batter

  • 1/2 C JAH Poly Flour Recipe 
  • 1/2 C Cornstarch
  • 1/2 C Cold Water – plus more to get a pancake consistency
  • Optional – Salt & White Pepper to season

Deep Fry Batter Recipe

Chinese Chicken Balls

With the Sweet & Sour Sauce prepared and the Chicken Ball Batter ready to go. Dice Chicken Breasts into 1 inch pieces to get about 24 pieces. These are then ready to be deep fried in a Wok filled 1/2 way with Oil.

Don’t use a Deep Fryer since the Chicken Balls will stick to the Basket. For homemade Chicken Balls it’s best to use a Wok with a Thermometer to gauge the heat. Use a Pair of Tongs to flip over the Chicken Balls as they cook for even browning. Use a Spider to scoop them all out into a screen basket on a baking tray so that they can drain off any excess grease.

Deep Fried Chicken Balls

How to Make Chinese Chicken Balls

  1. Cube Chicken Breast 1 inch or slightly larger, optionally Season with a bit of Salt and White Pepper.
  2. Heat up a Wok filled 1/2 way with Oil to 375 F. Add the Chicken to the batter and mix.
  3. Drop 12 pieces of battered chicken into the Wok and Deep fry until Golden & Crisp about 5 – 8 minutes. Repeat for the second batch.
  4. Set aside on some Paper Towel or a Rack to strain excess grease.

Chinese Restaurant Sweet and Sour Chicken Balls

Chinese Restaurants make the Sweet & Sour Sauce and Chicken Balls ahead of time or at least they use to. I’m pretty sure these are just outsourced now. The Sweet and Sour Sauce would simmer all day and then get strained and into the walkin cooler. I’m not sure and really can’t remember if the Sauce was thickened with a Slurry or if Maltose was used as the Sugar medium and to give the Sauce viscosity.

The Chicken Balls would get coated in a Sweetened Pancake Batter and deep fried and then emptied into a container. This container filled with Chicken Balls would go into the walkin. Whenever Sweet & Sour Chicken Balls were ordered they would go back into the Deep Fryer to heat through, just a minute or so.

Nowadays I’m pretty sure that all Chinese restaurants out source both the Sweet & Sour Sauce and Chicken Balls. It’s just not the same anymore. This recipe however, will deliver that Belly Smile!

Big Batch Chinese Chicken Balls

Instead of doing 2-3 Chicken Breasts, double or triple the recipe and do a bunch of these up. Place all of the Chickens Balls on a baking sheet after they have been deep fried and freeze. Once frozen transfer to a freezer bag.

With the Sauce already portioned and frozen along with the premade Chicken Balls. Making this dish can take just a few minutes to have on the plate. The Chicken Balls can also be used with a bunch of other Sauces like Pineapple Chicken Balls (Also a favorite of mine, the flavors are just Superb), Orange Chicken and Lemon Chicken.

Big Batch Sweet and Sour Sauce

The Sweet and Sour Sauce included in this recipe is already a decent amount. Although this can be doubled or tripled and portioned off to freeze. Whenever you need some Sweet and Sour Sauce, heat the frozen or thawed Sauce up in a pan and add to it the Slurry to thicken right before serving.

About 1/2 Tbl of Starch & Water each, per 1 Cup of Sweet and Sour Sauce.

Sweet and Sour Chicken Balls

Sweet and Sour Chicken Balls

The Best Chinese Sweet & Sour Chicken Balls with Battered 1 inch Chunk of Chicken Deep Fried until Golden and Crispy. With that amazing old style Chinese Sweet and Sour Sauce ladled over the Chicken Balls.
Servings: 4 portions
Prep10 minutes
Cook 1 hour
Rest Time for the Sauce1 hour


  • 1 Large Pot
  • 1 Small Sauce pot for the thickened sweet and sour sauce that will be served over the chicken balls
  • 1 Spider to lift up all of the Chicken balls
  • 1 Wok
  • 1 Thermometer
  • 1 Baking Tray with a Screen
  • 1 Small Bowl for the Slurry to thicken the Sweet and Sour Sauce


  • Prepare the Sweet & Sour Sauce. This will take about 45 minutes and another hour to rest. This can also be made the night before. Strained and refrigerated.
  • Prepare the Batter for the Chicken Balls and dice Chicken Breast into 1 inch or slightly larger pieces and add it to the Deep Fry Batter and mix.
  • Place Oil into the Wok to fill about 1/2 way and heat over max heat until the temperature reaches 375 F. Fit the Wok with a Thermometer so that you can gauge the heat.
  • Gently drop about 12 pieces into the Oil. Move the Chicken Balls around with the Spider to lift them up from the bottom and separate the Chicken Balls if some of them are stuck together.
    Deep Fry for about 5 – 8 minutes or until golden crisp turning them over every so often or as needed. Scoop them out and transfer to a wired basket. Repeat for the second batch once the Oil is back at 375 F.
    The Oil temperature will initially drop when adding in the Chicken Balls. Keep the heat on max and watch the thermometer. Keep the heat around 350 F – 375 F. See notes.
  • In a small pot combine 1 Cup of the Sweet & Sour Sauce with 1/2 Tbl of Starch and Water. Bring it to a boil. as it thickens remove from the heat and let sit 3 – 5 minutes before serving over the Chicken Balls.


Heat Control

Heat control is very important when deep frying in a Pot or Wok. Keep an eye on the thermometer in order to keep the heat at about 350 F – 375 F. When the first batch of Chicken Balls go in, the Oil will drop significantly to about 300 F – 340 F. Keep the Heat on max and by the time the Chicken balls are done, you should be at 350 F or slightly over. If the heat does climb to fast, drop the heat to medium to maintain the heat and if necessary transfer the wok off the heat to cool even faster. 

Freezer Sweet & Sour Chicken Balls

Both the unthickened Sweet and Sour Sauce and the cooked Chicken Balls can be portioned off and frozen to be reheated later. Preparing this in advance and reheating later can have this dish on the plate in less than 30 minutes. Just reheat the Chicken Balls in the Oven, Air Fryer or Deep Fry them again. Heat the Sauce and thicken with the Slurry to serve. 
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Asian, Chinese
Keywords: Chinese Sweet & Sour Chicken Balls, Chinese Sweet and Sour Chicken Balls, Red Sweet and Sour Chicken Balls, S & S Chicken Balls, Sweet & Sour Chicken Balls, Sweet and Sour Chicken
Author: JAH

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