This recipe for the classic Chinese sweet and sour pork is made healthier thanks to lean pork that’s sautéed instead of deep-fried, with crunchy vegetables in a naturally sweetened stir-fry sauce.
I love taking my favorite dishes and finding clever, creative ways to lighten them up. This healthier sweet and sour pork recipe comes from my blogger friend Emilie Raffa, author of The Clever Carrot Cookbook and blog of the same name. Just like my lighter BBQ chicken salad, and Chinese chicken salad with sesame dressing, her healthier sweet and sour pork recipe cuts down on the sugar and fat, without sacrificing any flavor. Emilie titled this recipe “healthier,” because in her words, “If you’re looking for neon red sauce, this isn’t it. If you’re looking for nuggets of deep-fried pork, this isn’t that either.” Two of the exact reasons I was drawn to the recipe. Instead, this Chinese sweet and sour pork uses sliced, lean, pork tenderloin sliced thin so it takes just minutes to brown. Then, it’s tossed with sautéed peppers and the master sauce that is delicious served over perfectly cooked white rice.
What’s in This Sweet and Sour Pork?
This sweet and sour pork is brimming with fresh and flavorful ingredients, and as they say, the secret’s in the sauce.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Soy sauce
- Chicken stock
- Balsamic vinegar
- Pork tenderloin
- Vegetable oil
- Red, yellow, and orange bell peppers
- Pineapple chunks (use fresh if you can)
- Cilantro––feel free to omit it if you don’t care for it
- Brown or white rice, for serving
How to Make Sweet and Sour Pork
Make the sauces. Add the master stir-fry sauce ingredients to a jar and shake well to combine. Then, simply measure out 1 cup of that sauce and add to a bowl with the additional ingredients needed to make the sweet and sour sauce.
Sear the thinly sliced pork on both sides and set aside before sautéing the veggies in the same pan. Add the homemade sweet and sour sauce to the pan and let the mixture bubble away until thickened before returning the pork to the pan, along with the pineapple chunks. Garnish with cilantro and serve with brown or white rice and/or steamed veggies.
Is Sweet and Sour Pork Real Chinese Food
Sweet and sour pork is an authentic Chinese dish, though some iterations of this dish have different ingredients because it has become more Westernized.
Should I Use Fresh or Canned Pineapple
The sweet bite of fresh pineapple is a staple in the classic Chinese takeout version and we didn’t skip it here. However, you can use canned pineapple if you want to. If you do, please choose pineapple packed in its own pineapple juice rather than sugar-syrupy sauce. Emilie reminds readers to drain the juice and use the fruit only, otherwise, the sauce will be too watery.
Can I Prep This Recipe in Advance
This healthier Chinese sweet and sour pork is best enjoyed immediately, but it’s easy to prep ahead. The master stir-fry sauce will last up to 2 weeks in the fridge.
3 Tips for Making Sweet and Sour Pork
- While Emilie’s recipe calls for just red bell pepper, I had a few leftover colors of the pepper rainbow in my fridge after making my Shrimp in Thai Coconut Sauce recipe. Feel free to use any color of sweet bell pepper you have handy, or what is in your price range. I would avoid green bell pepper simply because it just doesn’t have that sweet bite.
- The only other change I made to this recipe was I used 2 garlic cloves instead of one.
- I totally agree with Emilie’s use of grated or pressed ginger instead of minced. Same with ginger. In pressing or grating, the ingredients seem to meld into the sauce easier, avoiding bites of chunks of either.
More Easy Asian Recipes to Make
- Instant Pot Orange Chicken Lettuce Wraps
- Slow Cooker Teriyaki Chicken
- Sesame Soba Noodles
- Slow Cooker Sriracha Meatballs
- Beef with Broccoli
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating on this recipe below and leave a comment, take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
Sweet and Sour Pork (Made Healthier!)
For the master stir-fry sauce:
- ⅓ cup soy sauce , (or tamari for gluten-free)
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 3 teaspoons cornstarch , **see note below
For the sweet and sour sauce:
- 1 cup master stir-fry sauce
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- ¼ cup ketchup
- ¼ cup honey
For the pork:
- 1 pound pork tenderloin , trimmed
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 cloves garlic , pressed or grated
- 1 2-inch piece of ginger , peeled and grated
- ½ red bell pepper , seeded and cut into strips
- ½ orange bell pepper , seeded and cut into strips
- ½ yellow bell pepper , seeded and cut into strips
- 1 heaping cup fresh pineapple , cut into bite-size pieces
- Fresh cilantro leaves
- Brown rice for serving , optional
Make the master stir-fry sauce:
- Add all of the ingredients to a jar with a lid. Shake well for the honey and cornstarch to thoroughly dissolve.
Make the sweet and sour sauce:
- Measure 1 cup of the master stir-fry sauce to a medium bowl, along with the balsamic vinegar, ketchup, and honey. Whisk well to dissolve.
Make the sweet and sour pork:
- Thinly slice the pork tenderloin into ¼-inch rounds.
- In a large 10-inch skillet, warm the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the pork, and sear for about 2-3 minutes on each side. Work in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan. Set the pork as
- Add the garlic, ginger, and sliced bell peppers. Sauté for about 2-3 minutes to soften the peppers.
- Whisk the sweet and sour sauce again and then pour it into the pan. Bring the mixture to a boil, and simmer for 1-2 minutes to thicken the sauce. Add the pork back along with the pineapple. Cook for about 1 minute to allow the flavors to ming
- Add your sweet and sour pork to a large serving bowl or platter. Garnish with cilantro leaves. Serve with brown rice if desired.
- The master stir fry sauce can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. Customize the sauce with ginger, sesame oil, lemongrass or chile flakes to use in other recipes as desired.
- **Note: Over time the cornstarch will settle to the bottom of the jar. Just give it a shake or a quick whisk before using.
More Healthy Pork Recipes You’ll Love
- Stuffed Pork Chops
- Garlic and Herb Rub Pork Tenderloin
- Mediterranean Grilled Pork Chops with Tomato Salad
- Pork Souvlaki with Lemon Rice
- 30-Minute Pork Scallopini with Lemons and Capers
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