Mom’s Sweet and Sour Pork Stir-Fry

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A dish that takes me straight back to my childhood – Mom’s Sweet and Sour Pork! Cubes of juicy pork loin are lightly dusted in rice flour & stir-fried with bell peppers, tomatoes, & onions in the most perfectly tangy & sweet homemade sweet and sour sauce. Made in 25 minutes or less with mostly pantry ingredients, this sweet n sour pork is a seriously quick & easy weeknight dinner – it’s even faster than takeout!

Sweet & sour pork plated with white rice. The plate sits atop a light blue surface, next to a striped black linen, a small dish of thinly sliced green onion, & a second plate of sweet & sour pork.

Pin this Sweet and Sour Pork recipe for later!

There’s a couple of home-cooked dishes that come to mind immediately when I think of my mom – my favorite musubi, her homemade shumai, & this quick & easy sweet and sour pork.

Mom makes the BEST sweet n sour pork: juicy bites of pork stir-fried with tender-crisp veggies in a scratch-made sweet and sour sauce. The sauce is tangy, sweet, & eat-with-a-spoon good! It’s a dish that reminds me of my childhood, as it made very frequent appearances on our weekly dinner menus growing up.

I never realized how simple it is to make sweet and sour pork from scratch until Mom walked me through it. (Its simplicity is probably one of the reasons Mom makes it so much! She’s pretty savvy like that.) When she explained her recipe to me, I knew we had to get it up on PWWB ASAP.

Mom’s Sweet and Sour Pork – a weeknight dinner win!

Close up of sweet & sour pork.

Whereas authentic Cantonese-style sweet and sour pork is typically made with extra crispy battered & deep-fried pork (this is probably what you’re used to ordering from Chinese restaurants here in the States, too), Mom’s version is a little more home cook-friendly.

Rather than deep-frying (Mom has always hated cleaning up the mess involved!), the pork is lightly dredged in a coating of rice flour, & pan-fried until browned & crisp with some stir-fried veggies. It’s all served with a ridiculously good Chinese sweet and sour sauce, which is made with just a handful of pantry staples that you probably always keep on hand.

The sauce is tangy & sweet, the pork stays completely juicy & tender, & it all comes together in less than 25 minutes, tops. So good, so quick, & so easy to throw together! (& so much faster than takeout!)

Side angle of sweet & sour pork plated with white rice. The plate sits atop a light blue surface, next to a striped black linen, a small dish of thinly sliced green onion, & a second plate of sweet & sour pork.

I’m so excited to be sharing Mom’s Sweet n Sour Pork today, proudly in partnership with the National Pork Board’s Pork Passport program. Pork, an ingredient celebrated globally, is at the heart of this dish & so many other family recipes in kitchens around the world.

This sweet n sour pork never fails to transport me to my childhood, filling me with a sense of the ease & comfort of home. It reminds me of togetherness & family. That’s probably why I love it so much! (& you know what they say…Mom knows best!) ♡ Read on to learn more about this Sweet and Sour Pork recipe, or jump straight to the recipe & get cookin’!

Key Ingredients for Sweet & Sour Pork

Among the many reasons to love this dish so much is the fact that it’s made – entirely from scratch – with just a handful of staple ingredients.

Sweet and sour pork ingredients arranged on a light blue surface in individual bowls & dishes: red onion, rice flour, soy sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, rice vinegar, oil, garlic, tomatoes, bell peppers, & diced pork loin.

Note: full ingredients list & measurements provided in the Recipe Card, below.

You will need…

  • Pork – Of course! You can easily use either boneless pork loin (thick-cut pork chops work too!) or boneless pork shoulder for this recipe. Because it’s a quick stir fry, there’s no need to worry about drying out the pork – it stays totally juicy & tender.
  • Rice flour – Rather than creating a batter & frying, Mom lightly dredges the pork with rice flour. Be sure to use finely ground rice flour (vs a more coarsely textured “stone-ground”) – this is the rice flour we always keep on hand.
  • Veggies – Namely bell pepper, onion, & tomato. Many sweet n sour recipes I’ve seen online also add pineapple into the mix. Mom never made it that way, but if you like a little extra sweetness, feel free to dice some up & add it on in!
  • Homemade sweet & sour sauce – Mom’s is a simple Chinese-style sweet and sour sauce, made from dark brown sugar for sweetness, rice wine vinegar for tang, ketchup for body & flavor, & soy sauce for richness. If you’re gluten-free, feel free to use tamari instead!

Pretty simple, right?!

Meal prep tip: You can eliminate almost all of the active prep time involved in making sweet sour pork by dicing up the pork & veggies ahead of time. Check out the Recipe Notes, below, for a full rundown on what to do.

How to make Sweet and Sour Pork

Like many Chinese-style stir-fries, this sweet and sour pork uses a combination of high heat + flavorful ingredients to deliver an awesome meal in no time at all. You can make this recipe in less than 25 minutes, start-to-finish.

Note: full Recipe Directions with step-by-step photos provided in the Recipe Card, below.

A quick run-down of the process…

  • Mix up the Sweet and Sour Sauce: Add all of the ingredients for the homemade sweet and sour sauce into a bowl, & whisk to combine. Easy peasy!
  • Quickly stir fry the veggies: Heat up a little bit of oil in your favorite skillet. Once it’s hot, toss in all the veggies & quickly cook. By quickly, I mean quickly – the veggies will barely soften after about 1 minute of cooking. That’s when you’ll want to pull them from the heat. They’ll be just barely tender-crisp, which ensures that they don’t soften up too much by the time the stir fry is finished.
  • Brown the pork: Add some fresh oil to the same skillet you used to cook the veggies, then carefully toss in the lightly dredged pork. Cook the pork just until nicely browned, about 90 seconds per side. Tip: Work in batches to avoid over-crowding the pan. This helps promote browning & creates addictively crispy edges around the bits of pork (despite not having been deep-fried!).
  • Finish the sweet sour pork: Pour the sweet & sour sauce into the skillet with the pork. Let it cook & reduce for a couple of minutes, stirring every so often to coat the pork in the sauce. Things will start to smell reeeeally good! Once the sauce looks good, add the veggies back in, tossing to combine.

Just like that, about 10 minutes later, you’ll have a skillet filled with the best homemade sweet and sour pork.

Stir fried pork & veggies in sweet & sour sauce in a large skillet with a wooden spoon. The skillet sits atop a light blue surface, with a striped black linen napkin underneath it. Next to the skillet is a small dish of thinly sliced green onions.

Serving Suggestions

When it comes to serving sweet n sour pork, we always keep things pretty simple, spooning the pork & veggies over a bed of sticky rice with extra sweet and sour sauce & plenty of thinly sliced green onions.

You can serve it up however you’d like, though!…

  • Choose a different grain: Brown rice, jasmine rice, & quinoa all work great. If you’re trying to keep things low carb, cauliflower rice works too!
  • Add extra veggies to your plate with some roasted broccoli, green beans, or asparagus. Choose whatever’s in season, & finish with a little drizzle of toasted sesame oil for extra flavor.
Sweet & sour pork plated with white rice. The plate sits atop a light blue surface, next to a striped black linen, a small dish of thinly sliced green onion, & a second plate of sweet & sour pork.

I can’t wait for you to try Mom’s Sweet and Sour Pork recipe. It’s so flavorful, so quick & easy, & so much faster than takeout! I know you’ll love it.

If you do give it a try, be sure to let me know!: Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. I LOVE hearing about & seeing your PWWB creations! Happy cooking! ♡

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Sweet & sour pork plated with white rice. The plate sits atop a light blue surface, next to a striped black linen, a small dish of thinly sliced green onion, & a second plate of sweet & sour pork.

Quick & Easy Sweet and Sour Pork Stir Fry

  • Author: Jess Larson
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 1x
  • Category: Main Dishes, Pork Recipes
  • Method: Stovetop, Skillet Recipes, Stir Fry
  • Cuisine: Chinese, Asian-Inspired
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

My Mom’s Quick & Easy Sweet and Sour Pork recipe! Cubes of juicy pork loin dusted in rice flour & stir-fried with bell peppers, tomatoes, & onions in the most perfectly tangy & sweet homemade sweet and sour sauce. A seriously quick & easy weeknight dinner – it’s even faster than takeout!


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ pounds boneless pork loin (or boneless pork shoulder), diced into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup finely ground rice flour
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil of choice, divided
  • 1 bell pepper (color of choice), deseeded & diced into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 red onion, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 large tomatoes, deseeded & diced into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated

for the sweet & sour sauce:

  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar (dark brown sugar, if available)
  • ¼ cup rice wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 12 tablespoons soy sauce (sub tamari if gluten-free)

Instructions

Sweet and sour pork ingredients arranged on a light blue surface in individual bowls & dishes: red onion, rice flour, soy sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, rice vinegar, oil, garlic, tomatoes, bell peppers, & diced pork loin.

  1. Season the pork: Place the pork in a medium bowl, seasoning all over with kosher salt. Sprinkle the rice flour over top, tossing to lightly coat the pork in the flour. Set aside.Diced pork loin tossed in rice flour in a large glass mixing bowl atop a light blue surface.
  2. Mix the sweet & sour sauce: Combine all listed ingredients in a medium bowl. Whisk to combine. Set aside, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.Homemade sweet sour sauce whisked in a small white bowl atop a light blue surface.
  3. Cook the vegetables: Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot & shimmering, add in the bell pepper, onion, tomatoes, & garlic. Cook, stirring constantly until barely softened, about 1 minute. Carefully transfer vegetables to a large plate or bowl & set aside.Stir fried sweet n sour veggies in a large skillet with a wooden spoon.
  4. Brown the pork: Return the skillet to medium-high heat. Add in the remaining olive oil. Once hot & shimmering, add in the pork, shaking off excess rice flour before adding it to the pan. Cook the pork until deeply browned, about 90 seconds per side.Browning lightly dredged cubed pork loin in a large skillet.
  5. Finish the sweet & sour pork: Pour the sweet & sour sauce into the skillet with the pork. Increase heat to high. Cook, stirring often, until the sweet & sour sauce thickens slightly, 2-3 minutes. Add the vegetables back into the pot. Stir to combine & cook until warmed through.Stir fried pork & veggies in sweet & sour sauce in a large skillet with a wooden spoon.
  6. Serve immediately, spooned over white rice. Garnish with thinly sliced green onions as desired. Enjoy! Sweet & sour pork plated with white rice. The plate sits atop a light blue surface, next to a striped black linen, a small dish of thinly sliced green onion, & a second plate of sweet & sour pork.

Notes

  • Storage: Sweet & Sour Pork is best enjoyed fresh, immediately after cooking. Leftovers will keep, stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave, just until warmed through.
  • 15-Minute Meal Prep: This Sweet & Sour Pork recipe comes together in no time at all, but you can do a little prep ahead of time to cut down on any & all active prep the night you want to throw it together. Pick & choose from the list below, or do it all & all you have to do at dinnertime is get cooking – easy!
    • Prep the sweet & sour sauce: Mix the sweet & sour sauce according to Step 2 of Recipe Directions, above. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. (5 minutes active time)
    • Chop the veggies: Deseed & dice 1 bell pepper & 2 large tomatoes into 1/2-inch pieces. Peel & dice 1 red onion into 1/2-inch pieces. Store in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. (5 minutes active time)
    • Dice the pork into 1/2-inch cubes. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. (5 minutes active time)

Keywords: sweet and sour pork recipe, easy, skillet recipes, stir fry, pork recipes, weeknight dinner, dairy-free, gluten-free, Chinese, Asian-Inspired

Recipe by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography by Eat Love Eat

Craving big flavors with a weeknight timeframe? That’s kinda our specialty! Here are a few more Quick & Easy Dinner Recipes you’ll love!

Sweet & sour pork plated with white rice. The plate sits atop a light blue surface, next to a striped black linen, a small dish of thinly sliced green onion, & a second plate of sweet & sour pork.

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Don’t forget to pin this Sweet & Sour Pork recipe for later!

Hi there, I'm Jess!

If there’s 1 thing to know about me, it’s this: I am head-over-heels in love with food. I’m on a mission to make weeknight cooking flavorful, fast, & fun for other foodies, & PWWB is where I share foolproof recipes that deliver major flavor with minimal effort. Other true loves: pretty shoes, puppies, Grey’s Anatomy, & my cozy kitchen in Minneapolis, MN.

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Comments

  1. 12.8.20
    Carly said:

    Loved this recipe! I used all-purpose flour— just a little less than the recipe (two large spoonfuls) and made sure any excess was shaken off before I tossed in the pan. I also only had 2 tiny tomatoes so also threw in some pineapple, which was delicious! The entire meal was super flavorful and I’m already looking forward to fixing it again!

    (I also prepped everything ahead of time like Jess suggested which cut cooking time in half!)

    • 1.27.21
      Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Hi Carly! So glad to hear that the all-purpose flour swap worked great – thanks for sharing these tips! We are thrilled the meal was a hit & that the meal prep tips helped save time. A little prep before hand truly makes all the difference!!

  2. 12.6.20
    Megan said:

    So good! This meal came together quickly with pantry staples. I subbed a whole fresh pineapple for the tomatoes and loved the flavor from the pineapple. Next time, and there’s for sure a next time, I’ll try it with chicken!

  3. 12.5.20
    Sammy Jo said:

    Another winner by Jess! I used cubed pork chops and white sugar since it’s what I had. Soooo tasty, quick and easy. Thank you!

  4. 12.3.20
    Brittany said:

    Totally delicious! Full of pantry staples and will make again and again. Nice little pick me up when you want “takeout” without paying takeout prices. Also, we were out of tomatoes but we threw some pineapple in (because he happened to have it in the fridge) and upped the other veggies and it was great! Perfect weeknight meal!

  5. 12.2.20
    Amanda said:

    This was such a quick dinner with things I always have on hand it was SO GOOD! One bite in my husband declared it a keeper and I totally agree.