Sweet and Sour Pork

When you're craving a Chinese food take-out fix, sweet and sour pork is just the dish to satisfy that craving. Making it the air fryer instead of deep-frying the pork makes it a little easier on your conscience and is honestly much easier to do. 

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Before you even get started, you should know that you can absolutely substitute chicken for the pork in this recipe if you prefer. Everything else will stay the same, including the cooking time (as long as your chicken chunks are roughly the same size as the pork in 1-inch cubes). Before you start, there’s another thing you should know… this dish is so quick and easy to prepare that it would be smart to start cooking your rice before you start following the recipe. Rice generally takes about 20 minutes to cook and will rest nicely with a towel over it and the lid on top for a few minutes if your pork (or chicken) is not quite finished in time. 

The sauce for the sweet and sour pork is what we call a “dump and stir” recipe. Dump all the ingredients in a pot and stir them together. Simmer for a few minutes and then add the air-fried peppers and chunks of pineapple. I like to use fresh pineapple for this dish, but you can certainly opt for the canned chunks – just make sure they are large chunks. 

Toss everything together at the end and you’ll be amazed at how quickly it all comes together. Faster than even the best Chinese food delivery!

Sweet and sour pork on a white plate on a peach placement.

Sweet and Sour Pork

  • Prep Time: 10 m
  • Cook Time: 13 m
  • Total Time: 23 m
  • Servings:


  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons Chinese 5-spice powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • ¾ pound boneless pork cut into 1-inch cubes
  • vegetable or canola oil
  • cups large chunks of red and green peppers
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 cup cubed pineapple
  • chopped scallions


  1. Set up a dredging station with two bowls. Combine the flour, cornstarch, Chinese 5-spice powder, salt and pepper in one large bowl. Mix the egg and milk together in a second bowl. Dredge the pork cubes in the flour mixture first, then dip them into the egg wash and then back into the flour to coat on all sides. Spray the coated pork cubes with vegetable or canola oil.
  2. Pre-heat the air fryer to 400ºF.
  3. Toss the pepper chunks with a little oil and air-fry at 400ºF for 5 minutes, shaking the basket halfway through the cooking time.
  4. While the peppers are cooking, start making the sauce. Combine the ketchup, rice wine vinegar, brown sugar, orange juice, soy sauce, and garlic in a medium saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil on the stovetop. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. When the peppers have finished air-frying, add them to the saucepan along with the pineapple chunks. Simmer the peppers and pineapple in the sauce for an additional 2 minutes. Set aside and keep warm.
  5. Add the dredged pork cubes to the air fryer basket and air-fry at 400ºF for 6 minutes, shaking the basket to turn the cubes over for the last minute of the cooking process.
  6. When ready to serve, toss the cooked pork with the pineapples, peppers and sauce. Serve over white rice and garnish with chopped scallions.
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Comments (17)Post a Reply

  1. 5 stars
    The sweet and sour pork is delicious. I posted a picture in the community. The dredging pans made things so much easier and less messy. Thank you for everything you do for us.

  2. 4 stars
    This recipe is amazing!! Very simple and easy too! The sauce was very on point to restaurant quality as well!! The only problem I has was that the peppers were not as crispy as I hoped they would be, but i may have added too much oil I’m not sure. Definitely gonna make this again! Also used chicken thighs instead of pork and worked out well.

  3. 5 stars
    I made this last night and honestly was skeptical the whole way that I could produce something that tasted as good as my local Chinese takeout place. Oh my goodness…this was amazing. To the point where I’m sad I didn’t take any pork out of the freezer this morning to make it again tonight. Maybe tomorrow.

  4. Thanks for posting the recipe. It’s on my shopping list. Also, for the Target advertisement that appeared on your website for Quest chips. I have diabetes. Can’t wait to try the chips.

  5. 5 stars
    Loved the sweet and sour pork. Great instructions and now I have something to make in my air fryer other than pot stickers LOL

  6. Love your recipes -have tried a few sweet treats and they were excellent!! Now I would like to try the sweet and sour pork but what can I substitute for the Chinese 5 spice powder. My grocery store doesn’t have it and I don’t keep star anise. Would a substitution still provide a great dish? Thanks for providing a comment in advance.

    1. Hi Marsha. You can make your own five spice powder: 2 teaspoons toasted Szechuan peppercorns, 3 teaspoons toasted fennel seed, 6 star anise, 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cloves and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Combine all ingredients in a blender or spice grinder and grind to a powder. Store in an airtight container. If you don’t have one or more of these spices, just leave it out or add something similar. No star anise? Try anise seed or a little extra fennel seed. No Szechuan peppercorns, use some black peppercorns.

    1. You will want to use rice vinegar or rice wine vinegar to give it that sour taste. Mirin is more sweet which is not needed because the dish also calls for brown sugar. You could also use apple cider vinegar.

  7. 5 stars
    I made this tonight using chicken thighs (not pork) and it was a crowd pleaser for this family of five. I also made chowmein and I don’t think I’ll ever order take out again, it was so delish 5/5.

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