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.

Mom Knows Best – A Weeknight Dinner Win!

There are a few home-cooked dishes that immediately come to mind when I think of my Mom and this quick and easy Sweet and Sour Pork is one of them!

While her Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry and Orange Chicken Stir Fry are PWWB reader weeknight favorites – I never realized how simple it is to make sweet and sour pork from scratch until she walked me through it.

While authentic Cantonese-style sweet and sour pork is typically made with extra crispy battered and 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.


Serve this sweet and sour pork over rice, quinoa, or cauliflower rice for a perfectly balanced plate.

Rather than deep-frying (Mom has always hated cleaning up the mess involved!), the pork is lightly dredged in a coating of rice flour, and pan-fried until browned and crisp.

The result is juicy bites of pork stir-fried with tender-crisp veggies in a tangy homemade Chinese sweet and sour sauce that is eat-with-a-spoon good! Plus, it all comes together in less than 25 minutes, tops.

So good, so simple, and so much faster than takeout! It’s sure to be your latest addition to your weeknight meal rotation.

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 easy pork dinner in less than 25 minutes, start-to-finish.

Meal Prep Tip

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

Diced pork loin tossed in rice flour in a large glass mixing bowl atop a light blue surface.
Swap the deep frying for a light dredge in rice flour – the pork gets beautifully golden and cleanup is a breeze.
Homemade sweet sour sauce whisked in a small white bowl atop a light blue surface.
Simply whisk together a few simple ingredients for an easy and flavorful sauce.
1

Season and dredge. Season the cubed boneless pork loin (or shoulder) with kosher salt and lightly sprinkle the rice flour over top, tossing gently to coat. Tip!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.

2

Mix up the Sweet and Sour Sauce. Add all of the ingredients for the homemade sweet and sour sauce into a bowl, and whisk to combine. Easy peasy!

Stir fried sweet n sour veggies in a large skillet with a wooden spoon.
Stir-fried bell pepper, onion, and tomato add bright color and texture.
Browning lightly dredged cubed pork loin in a large skillet.
Pork cooks until golden brown with crispy edges!
3

Stir fry the veggies: Heat up a little bit of oil in your favorite skillet. Once it’s hot, toss in all the veggies and 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.

4

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 and creates addictively crispy edges around the bits of pork (despite not having been deep-fried!).

5

Simmer and finish. Pour the sweet and sour sauce into the skillet with the pork. Let it cook and 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.

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.
Mom’s simple Chinese-style sweet and sour sauce features dark brown sugar for sweetness, rice wine vinegar for tang, ketchup for body and flavor, and soy sauce for richness.

Serving Suggestions

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

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

  • Choose a different grain: Brown rice, jasmine rice, and quinoa all work great. If you want to skip cozy carbs, cauliflower rice works too!
  • Add extra veggies to your plate with some roasted broccoli, green beans, or asparagus. Choose whatever’s in season, and 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.

Serve your sweet and sour pork with rice (or another grain of your choice!) and top with thinly sliced green onions for a simple and satisfying meal.

I can’t wait for you to try Mom’s Sweet and Sour Pork recipe. It’s so flavorful, so quick and easy, and 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 and tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. We LOVE 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.

25-Minute Sweet and Sour Pork Stir-Fry

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 17 reviews
  • Author: Jess Larson
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4
  • Category: Main Dishes, Pork Recipes
  • Method: Stovetop, Skillet Recipes, Stir Fry
  • Cuisine: Chinese, Asian-Inspired
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

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


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 ½ pounds boneless pork loin (or boneless pork shoulder), diced into ½-inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ cup finely ground rice flour
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil of choice, divided
  • 1 bell pepper (color of choice), deseeded and diced into ½-inch cubes
  • 1 red onion, diced into ½-inch cubes
  • 2 large tomatoes, deseeded and diced into ½-inch cubes
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated

for the sweet and sour sauce:

  • ⅓ 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

An overhead shot of ingredients arranged on a light blue surface in individual bowls and dishes: red onion, rice flour, soy sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, rice vinegar, oil, garlic, tomatoes, bell peppers, and 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 and 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 and 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 and shimmering, add in the bell pepper, onion, tomatoes, and garlic. Cook, stirring constantly until barely softened, about 1 minute. Carefully transfer vegetables to a large plate or bowl and set aside.Stir fried 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 and 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 and sour pork: Pour the sweet and sour sauce into the skillet with the pork. Increase heat to high. Cook, stirring often, until the sweet and sour sauce thickens slightly, 2-3 minutes. Add the vegetables back into the pot. Stir to combine and cook until warmed through.Stir fried pork and veggies 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 and 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, and a second plate of sweet and sour pork.

Notes

  • Storage: Sweet and 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 and 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 and all active prep the night you want to throw it together. Pick and choose from the list below, or do it all and all you have to do at dinnertime is get cooking – easy!
    • Prep the sweet and sour sauce: Mix the sweet and 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 and dice 1 bell pepper and 2 large tomatoes into ½-inch pieces. Peel and dice 1 red onion into ½-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)

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

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.

Follow along with Plays Well With Butter on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and Pinterest for more unfussy recipes that pack a big punch of flavor!

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. 5.14.24
    Joy said:

    Absolutely a winner! Full disclosure: I made a few minor changes due to what I had available, such as cornstarch instead of the rice flour and frozen pineapple chunks instead of the tomato, and wow! This one’s a keeper and clearly flexible enough to make a restaurant worthy dish even when you go slightly rogue. It was tangy and delicious! This may be the dish to even win my typically non-sweet n’ sour crew around!






    • 5.15.24
      Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      We are so glad you loved it, Joy! Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment, it means so much!

  2. 4.7.24
    Deanna said:

    Made this recipe tonight and it was so good! Definitely going into the regular rotation of dinner ideas ❤️






    • 4.8.24
      Emma @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      So glad you enjoyed it, Deanna! Thanks for the review!

  3. 4.2.24
    Aimee Beaulieu said:

    This was outstanding! I love how easy the sauce was to make. I did substitute sugar free brown sugar for the regular brown sugar and it was perfect! This will be added to our regular rotation!






    • 4.3.24
      Emma @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Hi Aimee, thanks for leaving a review! This is one of our faves too, and we’re so glad to hear it turned out great for you 🙂

  4. 9.23.23
    Gudrun said:

    Made this as written for dinner tonight. Hubby and I just devoured it. Served it with white basmati rice. I forgot to take a picture as I couldn’t wait to dig in, it smelled so good. Will be my go to sweet and sour pork recipe from now on.






    • 9.25.23
      Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Thanks so much, Gudrun! We are so glad you enjoyed & hope you’ll check out some of our other stir fry recipes soon!

  5. 6.7.23
    Reisa Hannig said:

    Absolutely delicious! I have a picky husband and here outed this meal tonight. Made it exactly as is and it was perfect. Easy prepping too. It’s a winner!






    • 6.8.23
      Emma @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Hi Reisa, so glad to hear it was a hit for you and your husband! Thanks so much for the kind review!

      • 9.8.23
        laura blais said:

        can I use leftover pork to make this will it turn out right

        • 9.11.23
          Emma @ Plays Well With Butter said:

          Hi Laura, it’s always preferred to use fresh pork, but leftovers should work! Just be cautious to only cook the pork long enough to heat through, so it doesn’t get overcooked. Make sure to let us know how it turns out for you!

  6. 6.1.23
    Melodee Gragg said:

    Once I had the ingredients together it went quickly…looks like a professional lol and tastes very good…family loved it

    • 6.2.23
      Emma @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Hi Melodee, so happy to hear the stir-fry turned out great for you! We love how quick & easy it is, too!!

  7. 3.14.23
    Maggie said:

    One of my favorite ways to use pork. Thank you for the delicious recipe!






    • 3.14.23
      Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Thanks Maggie! We’re so glad you love this stir fry just as much as we do! 🙂

  8. 12.19.21
    Beth Green said:

    This is perfect and simple. I’m making this tonight for a day shelter for the homeless and working poor. There will be around 50 to 70 people so I’m just going to wing it and make enough sauce and pork. It will be a hit!!!!!

    • 12.27.21
      Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Hi Beth! Thanks so much for sharing, we hope everyone loved it & that it was a comforting home-cooked meal for all! 💜

  9. 8.3.21
    Rachel Colvin said:

    10 stars. I am slightly embarrassed to admit how many times I make this recipe, but I’m also not. Because it is delicious. We eat this almost every week. The sweet and sour pork comes together so quickly. I typically make at least a double batch to enjoy leftovers for lunches. I have made for dinner guests who were shocked it was homemade. So. Good!






  10. 5.25.21
    Elizabeth Beckmann said:

    Love this different way to have sweet n sour! My hubby has a tough time with bell peppers so sometimes I swap them out for pineapple and the recipe is still so good! I’m always intimidated by recipes that require dredging, but this was so approachable!






  11. 1.28.21
    Ellen Newkirk said:

    This was so delish! I love that it is made primarily with fridge and pantry staples. I used tofu instead of pork because that is what I had and it was great!






    • 2.5.21
      Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Hi Ellen! Yes, we love that it comes together with such simple ingredients too & so glad to hear that you enjoyed with tofu! Sounds like a great plant-based option!!

  12. 1.6.21
    Kristina said:

    This was a huge hit tonight! It was so simple and I loooooooved how quickly it all came together. My family couldn’t believe how few ingredients the sauce had, but how much flavor it had! I subbed apple cider vinegar and added roasted broccoli, too. Delicious. Thanks, Jess’ mom!!!!






    • 6.12.21
      Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Wooo! We will pass along the compliments to Jess’ Mom!😁 SO SO glad you loved this one too, Kristina – it is such a flavorful & simple weeknight recipe!

  13. 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!!

  14. 12.7.20
    Beth Meyer said:

    I love this! It feels so nostalgic with the sauce and came together in a snap. Weeknight winner!






    • 3.12.21
      Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      So glad you loved this, Beth! We love how quickly it comes together, much quicker than takeout! 🙌

  15. 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!






  16. 12.6.20
    Carly said:

    This is so good! Even better than takeout. It is definitely a weeknight recipe because it came together very quickly. The only change I made was to add pineapple chunks. I made it for meal prep but every time I walk by it as it cools I sneak another bite.






    • 3.12.21
      Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Haha it’s hard not to keep sneaking bites of this one! We are so so glad you enjoyed, Carly! Thank you for sharing!!

  17. 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!






  18. 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!






  19. 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.






    • 7.3.21
      Kris said:

      Hi, can I use cornflour instead of rice flour?

      • 7.5.21
        Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

        Hi Kris! We’ve had other reader’s swap the rice flour for all-purpose flour with success but have not tested other types of flours with this recipe ourselves. It is meant to be a light coating so we’d recommend something that is finely ground & will allow for excess to be shaken off easily. Since cornflour tends to be ground into a fine powder, you can certainly give cornflour a try. If you do, please let us know how it goes!