Sweet & Sour Chicken Skewers
These Sweet & Sour Chicken Skewers are a fun summertime spin on the classic Chinese takeout dish. The skewers are loaded with marinated chicken, peppers, onions and chunks of juicy pineapple which are all coated in an easy to make sweet and sour sauce. These delicious Sweet and Sour Skewers are Whole30, Paleo, Grain Free, Gluten Free and Dairy Free.
WHY YOU ARE GOING TO LOVE THESE SWEET & SOUR SKEWERS?
- These Sweet and Sour Chicken Skewers are a great way to switch up your summer barbecue menu. The combination of sweet and sour flavours is unique and absolutely delicious.
- These Sweet and Sour Skewers take less than 30 minutes to prepare making them perfect for an easy weeknight meal.
- Unlike store bought jarred sweet and sour sauce, this easy homemade sweet and sour sauce contains all natural ingredients and no additives or refined sugar.
- They can be prepared a day in advance and quickly thrown on the grill before serving, and leftovers are delicious!
- These chicken skewers are Paleo, Grain Free, Gluten Free, Dairy Free and can easily be made Whole30 with a simple modification I’ve listed below.
WHAT IS ON THESE SWEET & SOUR SKEWERS?
These Sweet & Sour Chicken Skewers contain the main ingredients commonly found in the popular dish found at most Chinese restaurants in North America.
- Chicken: I prefer using chicken thighs because the meat is more flavourful, but feel free to use chicken breasts instead. I like to cut the chicken thighs into longer pieces and thread each piece twice on the skewer whereas I find that chicken breasts are best cut into smaller 1 inch cubes and only thread once.
- Pineapple: I like buying fresh pineapple and cutting it into chunks, but as an alternative you can buy canned pineapple. If you are buying canned, choose the rings over chunks or tidbits and make sure its in pineapple juice rather than syrup.
- Bell Peppers: yellow, red or orange bell peppers which are sweetener than green.
- Onion: cut the onion into pieces approximately an inch in size. If you prefer a milder onion flavour feel free to use red onion.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH THESE SWEET & SOUR SKEWERS?
These Sweet & Sour Chicken Skewers are super versatile and can go with a variety of sides. I like serving them over cauliflower rice (or regular rice) and pouring any excess sauce over the rice for added flavour. These skewers would also go well with a simple salad, roasted potatoes or oven roasted broccoli, asparagus or green beans.
ARE THESE SKEWERS WHOLE30?
With a simple ingredient swap these Sweet & Sour Chicken Skewers can be Whole30. For the sauce replace the honey with 2 large medjool dates. Don’t forget to remove the pits before adding them to the blender along with the other sauce ingredients.
CAN I ADD OTHER VEGETABLES TO THE SKEWERS?
Absolutely! I liked the combination of bell peppers, onion and pineapple because those are common ingredients in a sweet and sour chicken dish you might order at your local Chinese restaurant. That being said, this sauce would work well with a variety of other vegetables, so feel free to add slices of zucchini, mushrooms or asparagus.
WHAT’S IN THE SWEET & SOUR SAUCE?
Why buy store bought sweet and sour sauce that’s loaded with refined sugar and additives when you can make a much healthier version in a matter of minutes. All you need is a blender and a few ingredients that you likely already have in your kitchen. I recommend using a high speed blender such as a nutribullet as it will do the best job of breaking up the dried apricots into a smooth sauce.
- Pineapple Juice: If you are using canned pineapple then simply use the leftover juice from the can for the sauce. Otherwise you can buy a jug of pineapple juice if you are using fresh pineapple for the skewers.
- Coconut Aminos: Use coconut aminos if you are on Whole30, or Paleo. Alternatively if you are only Gluten Free you can use Tamari, or Soy Sauce if you are ok eating soy and gluten.
- Vinegar: Both apple cider vinegar and rice vinegar work well in this sauce. 1/4 cup is the perfect amount to balance out the sweeter ingredients in the sauce and make it sour without being lip puckeringly overpowering.
- Ginger: a great time saving trick is to add the piece of ginger into the blender with the peel still on, it’s so thin that it easily blends up and is undetectable in the sauce, plus it adds extra fibre, just be sure to rinse it thoroughly before adding it to the blender.
- Garlic: use whole cloves rather than jarred crushed garlic for the best flavour.
- Tomato Paste: only a small amount of tomato paste thickens the sauce and adds a nice tartness.
- Honey: This acts as the primary sweetener in the sauce. Feel free to swap it for maple syrup, stevia or any other sweetener you prefer. If you are doing a Whole30 swap the 2 tbsp honey for 2 large medjool dates.
- Dried Apricots: Try to use plump dried apricots that will be easier to blend. If you only have dried apricots that are quite firm, soak them in hot water for 10 minutes to help them soften.
WHY IS BAKING SODA USED IN THE MARINADE?
Baking soda is my not so secret trick that I use in the majority of my Asian inspired recipes to tenderize the meat and give it an underlying flavour and texture that can be found in a lot of Chinese takeout dishes. Don’t skip the baking soda marinade step, it really makes a big difference in the end flavour and texture of this sesame chicken.
HOW LONG SHOULD THE CHICKEN MARINATE FOR?
I would leave the chicken to marinate in the baking soda for a maximum of 20 minutes any longer and the chicken will begin to develop a strong baking soda flavour that is hard to mask.
CAN I USE A DIFFERENT TYPE OF MEAT FOR THESE SWEET & SOUR SKEWERS?
The chicken in these Sweet & Sour Chicken Skewers can be replaced with pieces of cubed pork (I prefer using pork tenderloin), shrimp or even cubes of beef. The baking soda marinade can be used for pork or beef but the baking soda should be left out of the marinade if using shrimp as it will turn them to mush.
CAN I COOK THESE SWEET & SOUR SKEWERS IN THE OVEN?
You can! If you don’t have a barbecue these sweet and sour chicken skewers can easily be made in the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Alternatively if you want to get those nice grill marks that you would get from barbecuing the chicken, you can use a cast iron grill pan. Cook the skewers for 18-20 minutes, turning them over and basting with excess marinade half way through cooking. If you are unsure if the chicken is cooked through you can insert a meat thermometer into the thickest piece of chicken to check to make sure it has an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. If you would like to get those charred corners like you would get on the grill, turn the oven to broil and leave them to broil for just 1-2 minutes until they begin to darken, be sure to watch them very closely to ensure that they don’t burn.
CAN I MAKE THESE SWEET & SOUR SKEWERS IN ADVANCE?
Absolutely! The chicken can be marinated and then thread onto the skewers along with the onions, peppers and pineapple up to a day in advance. To save time the sauce can be made up to 3 days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the fridge. The skewers will simply need to be grilled for 12-15 minutes before serving.
WHAT ABOUT LEFTOVERS?
Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. If using metal skewers be sure to remove everything from them if you are planning on reheating in the microwave. Alternatively they can be put in the oven at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes until warmed through.
Here are a few more skewer recipes that you might enjoy:
- Moroccan Chicken Skewers with Cauliflower Couscous
- Jerk Chicken & Peach Skewers
- Asian Chicken Skewers
- Shrimp, Zucchini & Asparagus Skewers
- Pesto Chicken & Tomato Skewers
- Beef, Fig & Red Onion Skewers
If you make this recipe let me know in the comment section below, I would love to hear what you think or take a photo and tag me (@everylastbite_) on Instagram, I love seeing your photos!
Sweet & Sour Chicken Skewers
- 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 2 tbsp coconut aminos
- 2 tbsp pineapple juice
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 large orange or yellow bell pepper cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1 large yellow onion cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1 cups cubed pineapple
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 inch piece ginger
- 1/4 cup pineapple juice
- 3 tbsp coconut aminos
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (or rice wine vinegar)
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tbsp honey (or 2 medjool dates for whole30)
- 6 dried apricots
- Cut the chicken thighs into 2-inch sized cubes and place them in a bowl. Add in the coconut aminos, pineapple juice and baking soda and stir to ensure all of the pieces of chicken are well coated. Leave to marinate for 10 minutes (but not longer then 20) while you make the sauce.
- Preheat the grill to medium high heat and if using wooden skewers, soak them in water.
- In a high speed blender combine all of the sauce ingredients and blend until smooth. Pour ⅓ in a bowl and place in the fridge. Put the other ⅔ in a bowl to baste while cooking.
- Thread the marinated chicken, onion, bell pepper and pineapple on the skewers until filled.
- Place the skewers on the grill and brush with some of the reserved sauce. Grill for 15 minutes, turning the skewers and brushing with more sauce every 5 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and golden.
- Transfer the skewers to a platter, brush them with the reserved sauce from the fridge and sprinkle with sesame seeds before serving.