Sweet and Sour Chicken Over Rice (Frugal Friendly Food)

Preparation Time: 10 minutesCooking Time: 25 minutes

A delicious sweet and sour sauce that will leave your family begging for more. It is healthy, inexpensive, and takes less than 30 minutes to make. You can feed your entire family for less than it would cost for one plate at your local Chinese restaurant.

This sweet and sour sauce is far superior to most of the sauces that you will find that are made with sugar and food coloring. The secret ingredient in our recipe is pineapple. It is healthier and quite frankly much better tasting that the fake stuff.

Start with this basic sauce recipe and change it up to meet your unique dietary preferences. Sam loves it with fried chunks of Spam.

Sam’s favorite sweet and sour with Spam over rice.

Benjamin prefers a vegetarian version and likes the sauce served over steamed veggies and rice. Personally, I’m a fan of the sauce with chunks of rotisserie chicken in it. It turns plain garden vegetables into a delightful meal that the kids will love.

Sweet and sour chicken over white rice with garden veggies on the side. The sauce is amazing over vegetables.

Best of all, this recipe is incredibly inexpensive and can be made from start to finish in less time than it takes to drive to pick up takeout. It can easily be made from all shelf-stable ingredients or fresh.

Sweet and sour sauce vegetarian style. Served over steamed vegetables and rice. Ben loves this!

I recommend using a rice pot to make the rice. While you can totally make it on the stovetop a rice pot makes it easier and foolproof.

Sweet and sour chicken over freshly-picked garden vegetables without rice. This is Kylene’s favorite!


  • 3 cups white rice
  • 6 cups hot water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar or honey
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup chicken broth or water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • pinch crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped sweet peppers (fresh, dried, or freeze-dried) optional
  • 1 can pineapple tidbits (juice reserved)
  • 1 can chicken or canned ham


  1. Add the white rice, water, and 1 teaspoon salt into a rice pot. Push start and the rice should be ready to eat when the sauce is finished.
  2. If using canned ham, cut into small cubes and brown in pan. Set aside.
  3. Drain pineapple juice into a 4 cup measuring cup. Combine chicken broth (if using), pineapple juice, liquid from chicken, and water to make a total of 2 1/2 cups of liquid.
  4. Whisk brown sugar or honey, cornstarch, salt, vinegar, soy sauce, ketchup, and crushed red pepper into liquid and pour into a saucepan.
  5. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.
  6. Reduce heat to low and simmer until mixture starts to thicken.
  7. Add canned meat, pineapple tidbits, and sweet peppers.
  8. Simmer until heated through. Serve over cooked rice and/or vegetables.
  9. Omit the meat for a vegetarian version.


Kylene Jones is a blogger, content creator, published author, motivational speaker, homesteader, prepper, mother, and grandmother. She practices self-reliance, provident living, and emergency preparedness in her everyday life. She loves working with her husband, Jonathan, and is committed to helping our community be prepared to thrive during the challenges that lie in our future.

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