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Copycat McDonald’s Sweet and Sour Sauce Recipe – with Chicken Nuggets

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Our favorite chicken nuggets are dipped in a homemade copycat of McDonald’s sweet and sour sauce.

mcdonald's copycat sweet and sour sauce

Just like probably every other child on the planet, my children like McDonald’s chicken nuggets with fries and sweet and sour sauce. That’s like the only thing they ever wanted there (well, except the vanilla milkshake, which is the only thing I ever order there, it’s unbeatable, and I don’t really want to know what’s in it).

So after the last visit, they made there with my husband, I decided it was time to take the matter into my own hands and make the stuff at home. The result was super: tastier, healthier, and cheaper! And a copycat of McDonald’s sweet and sour sauce that was just amazing!

This McDonald’s copycat sweet and sour sauce recipe is not exactly healthy, considering that it still contains sugar, but the portion was small and at least free from chemicals and other stuff.

This is an easy copycat McDonald’s sauce recipe, something that you can definitely make at home. It takes less than 10 minutes from start to finish; the longest part is searching for the ingredients in your pantry probably.

mcdonald's copycat sweet and sour sauce

Recipe ingredients

Apricot jam:

  • First of all, you will need some good-quality apricot jam. I have made this McDonald’s sauce recipe many many times, sometimes with bought apricot jam and sometimes with my homemade apricot jam.
  • It works perfectly with both kinds of jam; the slight differences I’ve noticed regarded the color (my homemade jam made the sauce a bit lighter in color) and consistency (using bought jam made the sauce slightly stiffer).


  • You will also need some vinegar, and I strongly recommend using apple vinegar. I’ve made the sauce once with white wine vinegar and was not pleased with the result; I thought the McDonald’s sweet and sour sauce to be a bit too acidic and not as good as it usually was.


  • When it comes to mustard, I always use medium mustard, the regular sort, nothing fancy. I would not use Dijon or hot mustard for this sweet sour sauce recipe; I think it would interfere with the flavor.


  • The original recipe for McDonald’s copycat sweet and sour sauce uses garlic powder; I used to take that as well, but not anymore. I always use fresh garlic for everything that needs garlic, and whenever I buy a small jar of garlic powder, I end up throwing away most of it because I don’t use it often enough, and after a few months, it gets rock hard, so hard I cannot even scratch it out of the jar. And fresh garlic tastes better anyway…

All the other ingredients are pretty straightforward, things you probably have in your cupboard.

copycat mcdonalds sweet sour sauce

Step-by-step instructions

  • Place all the ingredients except for the water in a small pan, and blend shortly with a hand blender. Add the water, and turn on the heat. Simmer on medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, stirring very often and making sure you scrape the bottom of the pan when you do so.
  • You will notice that the McDonald’s sweet and sour sauce changes its color, becoming darker as it cooks. It will also thicken.
  • Once the cooking time is over, take it off the heat and let it cool. Stir well before serving. That’s it!
how to make copycat mcdonalds sweet sour sauce

How to serve?

I always make it to serve it with chicken nuggets and oven potatoes. I never make fries at home, we are generally not big fans, and if we really need some, we get plenty of opportunities of eating good fries at any village celebration there is.

You can only get bratwurst or currywurst and fries or white bread rolls there. So, I save my fries cravings for those occasions; God knows there are plenty of them!

Instead of fries, I always make oven potato wedges, a very simple and delicious affair involving only some potatoes and some spices. Cut the potatoes into wedges or sticks, rub them with a little oil and lots of spices of choice, and put them in the oven. Depending on their thickness, they will need a bit more or less than half an hour.

And then come to the chicken nuggets; I have made them so often that I could prepare them in my sleep.

how to bread chicken nuggets

How to make chicken nuggets?

One thing I have to mention now is that I pre-bake the panko breadcrumbs I use for making the chicken nuggets. I find that the short baking time that the chicken nuggets need is not long enough for the panko breadcrumbs to achieve a nice golden color.

So, I pre-bake them for about 5-7 minutes or until nicely golden. The gold color should be light gold at this point; after baking the chicken nuggets, the golden color will turn to a golden brown, the way it’s supposed to be.

Let the baked panko breadcrumbs cool completely before mixing them with the Parmesan cheese.

copycat McDonald's sweet and sour sauce recipe

What to do with the leftovers?

Although this sweet sour sauce recipe makes a rather small batch, a little goes a long way, and we always have some leftovers. They keep well in the fridge; we had them for at least one week before I scraped the last bits out of the jar.

My favorite way of using the leftovers of this sweet and sour sauce recipe is to smear them on a slice of good sourdough bread and top the bread with Camembert slices and salad leaves. So good, I would make myself a sandwich now if I only had some sweet and sour sauce in the fridge.

I have also stirred one or two teaspoons in this yogurt dressing for salad and had it as some kind of chutney substitute with lentil dal or curry.

Another idea would be to smear some puff pastry squares with it, top it with Camembert again and bake it until the cheese is nicely melted. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper and add some rocket on top just before serving. A beautiful appetizer or light meal.

copycat mcdonalds sweet sour sauce

More breaded chicken recipes

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homemade mcdonalds sweet sour sauce

Copycat McDonald’s Sweet and Sour Sauce Recipe – with Chicken Nuggets

Our favorite chicken nuggets dipped in a homemade copycat McDonald’s sweet and sour sauce.
4.49 from 224 votes
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Course: Chicken Breast
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 704kcal
Author: Adina


  • Sweet and sour sauce:
  • 1 1/4 cup apricot jam
  • 2 tablespoons light sugar syrup or corn syrup
  • 3 tablespoons apple vinegar
  • 3 teaspoons corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder or 1 garlic clove grated
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • Chicken nuggets
  • 2 lbs chicken breast
  • 2 1/2 cups panko or other dried breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup Parmesan very finely grated
  • 1 teaspoon dried herbs
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 eggs


  • Sweet and Sour Sauce
  • Place all the ingredients for the sauce except the water in a small pan and blend until smooth using a hand blender. Add the water to the pan and bring everything to a boil. Let simmer on medium-low heat, often stirring for about 5 minutes.
  • Don't forget to scrape the bottom of the pan while stirring so that the sweet and sour sauce will not catch. You will notice that the sauce will become darker and thicker while cooking.
  • Cool: Take off the heat and let cool completely. Stir well before serving.
  • Chicken Nuggets
  • Preheat the oven to 210 degrees Celsius/ 410 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Pre-bake panko: Place the panko breadcrumbs on a baking sheet lined with baking paper, level well, and bake until golden, about 5 to 6 minutes, stirring once and leveling again after the first 3 minutes. The panko breadcrumbs should be nicely golden but not too dark.
  • Cool: Place the panko into a large shallow bowl, let cool completely. I usually bake the panko just after or before making the sweet and sour sauce, so they both have time to cool.
  • Preheat the oven to 230 degrees Celsius/ 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two baking sheets with baking paper.
  • Mix the panko breadcrumbs with the Parmesan and the herbs.
  • Cut the chicken breast into bite-sized pieces. Season the chicken pieces generously with salt and pepper.
  • Bread chicken: Place the flour into a shallow bowl and the lightly beaten eggs into another bowl. Place the bowl containing the panko breadcrumbs near these bowls.
  • First, coat the chicken pieces with flour, shake off excess. Next, dredge the chicken pieces through the eggs, shake shortly to allow the excess egg to drip off, and coat in panko breadcrumbs.
  • Bake: Place the chicken pieces on the prepared baking sheets and bake the sheets one at a time for about 10 minutes or until cooked through. Flip the chicken nuggets once after 5 minutes. Be careful not to overcook the chicken.
  • Serve the chicken nuggets with sweet and sour sauce and baked potato wedges. See the suggestions above regarding the leftover sweet and sour sauce.


Serving: 1/6 of the dish | Calories: 704kcal | Carbohydrates: 87g | Protein: 55g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 260mg | Sodium: 1162mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 30g
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Recipe Rating


Friday 16th of December 2022

Which soy sauce is needed the Bright or Darker one?


Saturday 17th of December 2022

The regular light one. When dark soy sauce is needed in any recipe, it's always mentioned. Not only in my recipes but in any you might find.

Jess Mac

Thursday 8th of December 2022

Thank you so much for this recipe! My 4yo is obsessed with McDonald’s S&S and considers himself an expert ;) I had to tweak the recipe to get his approval a little. I added one more tablespoon corn syrup and about 1/4c light brown sugar because he wanted it slightly sweeter and less sour. I also did an extra 1/4tsp of the soy sauce. Final tweak is 1/2c peach preserves and 3/4c apricot. This was because I’ve tried many recipes and didn’t have enough apricot tonight. I think I can finally stop going to McDonalds!

Thank you again for solid bones!


Thursday 8th of December 2022

Thank you so much for your feedback, Jess.


Friday 23rd of September 2022

Hi would like to know the quantities of each ingredient you use please, would love to give this a go!


Saturday 24th of September 2022

Adam, check the recipe card, it's all there.


Tuesday 4th of May 2021

I made the sauce but felt it was missing something. I crumbled in half a chicken stock cube and it was perfect! :)


Wednesday 5th of May 2021

Thank you for the feedback! Glad to hear you liked it.

James Hoshauer

Wednesday 23rd of December 2020

I appreciate this recipe. I have made it and I enjoy it but I wouldn't call it a copy cat. The apple vinegar imparts a strong tang that is not in the original sauce. I did add onion and chilli powder, just a ½ teaspoon each. I plan to make it again with a more mild flavored vinegar, so obviously I like what you did here. Thank you