This sweet and sour sauce recipe helps you create a Chinese carry-out favorite, with a healthy twist. It has no refined sugar, but it tastes just like the real thing! Plus, it’s dairy free, and has no MSG or artificial colors.
Alright my friends, we’re getting saucy today! Consider this a 101 series for healthy homemade sauces.
Back in 2017, when I was creating my Superfoods Nourishing Bowl cookbook, I came to realize that sauces are the KEY to making healthy food shine. Not store bought sauces, although some are quite healthy these days. But rather, homemade sauces.
My homemade sauce recipes start with simple ingredients you may already have in your pantry. Which brings me to this homemade sweet and sour sauce recipe today. This version is better for you, made with less sugar. Even better news is that the sauce is dairy free, and has no MSG or artificial colors!
Uses for sweet and sour sauce
Sweet and sour sauce is delicious in so many different Asian foods, including dinners and appetizers. I keep a jar on hand to mix with rice or veggie noodles, to serve as a dipping sauce, use as a coating for chicken, etc. I’ll be sharing a recipe later this week that uses the sauce, so be sure to whip up a batch soon. Mmm k?
Now, let’s discuss how to make sweet and sour sauce that’s better for you!
How to make sweet and sour sauce healthier
The problem with many of the store-bought condiments and sauces are the excess sugar and artificial ingredients. Most of the store brand sweet and sour sauces include red food coloring and a lot of sodium, too.
To make the sauce a bit healthier requires just a few simple ingredient swaps. Here’s how we do it:
- Sweetener – Rather than using sugar to sweeten our sauce, we use some pineapple juice and honey. Both are sweet, but unrefined sugars. They add to the Asian flavor of the sauce without packing on the calories, too.
- Asian flavor-To add some umami flavor to the sauce, many manufacturers use high sodium soy sauce. Not only is it unhealthy, but it’s also not gluten free. Our healthy gluten-free swap is to use tamari sauce or coconut aminos instead.
- Chili sauce – It can be difficult to find, but when it’s available, I like to use sugar-free or low sugar chili sauce. Can you use ketchup? Yes, but I find that chili sauce gives this sauce a lot of more flavor!
Here’s the full list of ingredients you will need to make the sweet and sour sauce recipe.
- pineapple juice
- chili sauce or Asian red sauce of choice – (check ingredients for refined sugars)
- tamari sauce (or coconut aminos)
- raw honey
- rice wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- arrowroot starch or cornstarch, combined with equal amount of cold water
Step by step instructions to make sweet and sour sauce
- Add the pineapple juice, chili sauce, tamari (or coconut aminos), honey, and rice vinegar to a saucepan over medium heat. Stir well to combine the ingredients.
- Continue cooking over medium to medium high heat until the mixture comes to a boil.
- Mix the water and arrowroot together in a small bowl, then add it to the saucepan. Whisk well until the starch is fully incorporated and the sauce has thickened.
- Allow the sauce to cool before serving.
How to store this healthy homemade sauce
Although it might be safe to store the sauce at room temperature, I recommend keeping it in the refrigerator. Depending on what type of pineapple juice you use, it may not be shelf stable. It’s not worth the risk of contamination (and food poisoning… UGH.)
Other healthy sauce recipes to try:
After you make sweet and sour sauce at home, I think you’ll realize that it’s so easy, there’s no reason to keep buying it! Here are a few other healthy sauce recipes you will probably like:Print
Homemade Sweet and Sour Sauce (Healthy)
- Total Time: 15 minutes
- Yield: 1 – 1.5 cups 1x
This sweet and sour sauce recipe helps you create a a Chinese carry-out favorite, with a healthy twist. It has no refined sugar, but it tastes just like the real thing! Plus, it’s dairy fre and gluten freee, with no MSG or artificial colors.
- 1 cup pineapple juice
- ½ cup chili sauce or Asian red sauce of choice (check ingredients for hidden sugars)
- 2 Tablespoons tamari sauce (or coconut aminos)
- ½ cup honey
- 4 teaspoons rice wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 1 ½ tablespoons arrowroot starch or cornstarch, combined with equal amount of cold water
- Add the pineapple juice, chili sauce, tamari (or coconut aminos), honey, and rice vinegar to a saucepan on medium heat.
- Stir to combine and continue cooking (on medium high) until the mixture comes to a boil.
- Mix the water and arrowroot together in a small bowl, then add it to the saucepan. Note – Be sure to thorough mix the slurry (arrowroot or cornstarch with water) so that the sauce does not get clumpy when mixed.
- Whisk well until the starch is fully mixed in and the sauce begins to thickened. Just a few minutes.
- Remove from heat to cool before serving.
Sugar Swaps and Substitutes
- Substitute refined sugar free chili sauce for the traditional version if you can
- If you want to reduce spice, then substitute chili sauce for natural tomato sauce (ketchup)
- Use coconut aminos instead of tamari sauce
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 5
- Category: condiments
- Method: stove
- Cuisine: asian
- Serving Size:
- Calories: 104
- Sugar: 23 g
- Sodium: 338.3 mg
- Fat: 0.1 g
- Saturated Fat: 0 g
- Carbohydrates: 26.3 g
- Fiber: 0.6 g
- Protein: 0.9 g
- Cholesterol: 0 mg
Keywords: sweet and sour sauce, homemade Asian sauces
Alright my friends! Stay tuned for the next recipe post using this sweet and spicy sauce. Any guesses? Anyone? Bueller? 😉
MORE HOMEMADE GLUTEN FREE SAUCES HERE!
This recipe is part of our Go-To Homemade Gluten Free Sauces collection. Check it out!
Yum yum yum! We don’t have dietary restrictions here, so we used soy sauce and cornstarch. I might add more vinegar next time, we like it tangy. This was wonderful!
Yaaayy! Thanks for the feedback Brooke! Glad you loved it!
We had been not knowing about this recipe ever.
I’ve always worried about how much sugar, the bad kind, is in this sauce and have basically avoided it because I know it’s loaded with it, so really appreciate these healty sweet swaps!
I love how simple this is to throw together but so tasty too! Loved it!
This sauce is the best! So much better than anything out of a jar, YUM!
Everyone at my house loved it!! So easy to make!
Great! Glad to hear that Toni!
I always love your recipes, but this one is a lifesaver! Being able to make a sweet and sour sauce this good without added sugar- it’s amazing!
Thank you, Katie! I’m so glad you like it!
thank you for this! I’ve needed a healthier alternative
You’re welcome, Lisa! Glad to help!
What an awesome recipe! I’m really trying not to order take out so this is perfect. Thank you!
Glad to help! Thank you, Lauren!