Recipes come from a lot of different sources of inspiration.
Sometimes, you’re making something your family has made for generations, refining it to your own tastes and doing it justice. Sometimes, you’re making something you really like from a cookbook or recipe site you’ve found. Sometimes, you’re trying to mimic something you’ve had at a restaurant. And sometimes, you’re just trying to make something for dinner, you want to change things up a bit, and you have an odd selection of ingredients.
Today’s recipe is kind of a mixture of the last two. We wanted to throw something together for dinner, we had chicken and rice, but we didn’t want to make the usual chicken and rice recipe we normally make. (Ask me about that some time; it’s tasty and super easy.)
My thoughts turned to Chinese, but rather than make the same sort of Asian teriyaki-style chicken I usually do, I decided to experiment. The end result is an almost restaurant-style pineapple chicken. It’s good enough that, in just the span of a month, I’ve made it several times.
I hesitate to call it purely restaurant-style Chinese Pineapple Chicken. That’s because here where I live, there’s over a dozen different Chinese restaurants around, and every single one of them has a very different kind of sweet & sour chicken, pineapple chicken, or similar kind of chicken dish. This one doesn’t quite match any of them, but it’s close enough that it will hit all of the right buttons for you.
The heart of this recipe is the sauce. The chicken is just chicken tenders, chicken strips, or popcorn chicken from a frozen bag! The breading absorbs the sauce really well. And, of course, the rice is just white rice; I use Jasmine rice, but any kind you like will do.
The sauce is a simple sauce, with diced pineapple chunks in it, and a bit of sliced cabbage for texture and crunch. I know a lot of recipes use bell peppers for that purpose, but we didn’t have any at the time, and besides, cabbage is great. You can use bell peppers if you prefer, though.
I also don’t usually add much heat to these kinds of dishes. But, if you like a bit of spice to your pineapple chicken, a dash of your favorite hot sauce or spice is easy to add. Alternatively, you can use a chicken tender with a spicy breading. This is a very flexible recipe, after all!
So, how do you make this sweet and sour pineapple chicken? Read on to find out.
Sweet and Sour Pineapple Chicken
- Baking Sheet
- Rice Cooker
- Sauce Pan
- 12 Oz. Popcorn Chicken Any frozen breaded chicken you like is fine.
- 2 Cups Rice
- 1 Can Pineapple In juice, not in syrup.
- 1 Cup Cabbage Coarsely chopped; bell pepper also works.
- 1 Onion Diced.
- ⅓ Cup Brown Sugar
- 3 Tbsp White Vinegar
- 2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
- 2 Tbsp Ketchup
- 2 Tbsp Corn Starch
- 1 Tbsp Canola Oil
- Cook your chicken and rice according to packages and your preferences.
- Pour the pineapple juice from the can, reserving 1⅓ cup. If you don't have quite enough, top off with a bit of water. Set the pineapple itself aside for later.
- Combine the brown sugar and corn starch in a bowl and set aside.
- To the pineapple juice, add the vinegar, soy sauce, and ketchup. Stir until fully mixed.
- Add the brown sugar and corn starch mixture and stir until smooth and mixed.
- Add the oil to a sauce pan, deep skillet, or dutch oven on medium-high. Add in the onion and cabbage (or pepper) and saute until tender.
- Pour your sauce mixture over the cabbage slowly. Bring it to a boil and stir until it thickens, about 5-10 minutes.
- Add your pineapple chunks and chicken to the sauce mixture and let cook for a minute or two, to ensure everything is evenly hot.
- Serve over rice and enjoy!