Sweet and Sour Chicken

Sweet and Sour Chicken that is baked and basted with warm BBQ sauce, is like candy in your mouth.  So rich and flavorful, it will be finger licking good.

sweet and sour chicken in a black skillet being brushed with sweet and sour sauce, by The Food Cafe

Sweet and Sour Chicken | The Food Cafe

Sweet and Sour Chicken

This Sweet and Sour Chicken is a little out of the norm, but every bit as delicious as any sweet and sour chicken you have had.  Instead of using chicken breast and coating it with corn starch I use chicken thighs and brush is with warm BBQ sauce to give it that ooey, gooey texture.  When it comes out of the oven and you add just a hint more of your BBQ sauce it just gives this chicken an amazing sweet and sour flavor with a little kick of heat.

A piece of sweet and sour chicken topped with chopped rosemary by The Food Cafe

The addition of the crushed red peppers and rosemary really enhances the flavor and the crushed pineapple and brown sugar gives the chicken that right amount of sweet that we all know and love.  I know it may sound a little funny to add warm BBQ sauce to Sweet and Sour Chicken, but don’t worry it doesn’t make it taste like BBQ, it brings out the flavors and gives the chicken that outside sticky crust texture that traditional sweet and sour chicken has.

You don’t have to marinade the chicken, but it really adds flavor to the chicken if marinaded for 24 hours.  If you are in a pinch and need to get the chicken done sooner, marinade it for 1 hour.

How do you make sweet and sour sauce?

  • This sweet and sour sauce combines several ingredients that is simple to make.
  • In a large bowl combine and mix well: crushed tomatoes, crushed pineapple, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, hot sauce, ginger, rosemary, pepper, garlic salt, and red onion.
  • Transfer to a gallon sized zip lock bag and add the chicken thighs.  Close tightly and message the marinade around the chicken and place in refrigerator for 24 hours.
  • If you are in a hurry let marinade for up to 1 hour.
  • When cooking chicken, take out of the oven (briefly) to baste with warm BBQ sauce and then return until finished cooking.

How long does it take to bake chicken thighs in the oven?

  • Some ovens run hotter than others, but generally it takes up to 35-40 minutes.  The best thing to do is check the chicken at 30 minutes and proceed to cook until no longer pink.

A black bowl with white rice and topped with two pieces of sweet and sour chicken, the perfect delicious dinner by The Food Cafe.

What is the Sour in sweet and sour chicken?

  • The sour often times is the vinegar added to the sauce, although this recipe calls for apple cider vinegar it still add that tangy flavor along with the tang of the crushed pineapples.

Looking for more Chicken recipes?

Sweet and Sour Chicken taste amazing over rice, quinoa, or served with steamed vegetables or a salad.  The best part is you get to choose, but you will love the flavor and sticky texture of the chicken.

Sweet and Sour Chicken


  • 5 chicken thighs, or skinless thighs
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons hot sauce ( I used Franks Hot Sauce)
  • 1 Tablespoons fresh chopped ginger
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped finely, more for garnishing
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 red onion chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons safflower oil
  • 1 cup warmed Sweet Baby Rays BBQ Sauce
  • red pepper flakes to garnish


  1. Combine all ingredients up to safflower oil in a large bowl and transfer to a gallon sized zip lock bag.
  2. Add the chicken to the bag and marinate 24 hours.
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees.
  4. Remove chicken from bag and place in cast iron skillet with safflower oil.  Brush any marinade onto the chicken and place in the oven for 35-40 minutes.
  5. Remove chicken from the oven half way through cooking and brush chicken with BBQ sauce and return to  oven to finish cooking.
  6. Once chicken is done, brush with remaining BBQ sauce and garnish with red pepper flakes and rosemary.
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