Try our mouthwatering sweet and sour chicken thighs today! It's easy – you'll get that yummy mix of sweet and tangy flavors in each bite.
Craving a delicious homemade meal? Our oven-baked sweet and sour chicken thighs recipe is a must-try! With minimal effort, you can enjoy tender chicken in an incredibly flavorful sweet and sour sauce, a family-friendly dinner that will surely please.
And if you like sweet and sour flavors, check out our Sweet and Sour Tofu with Broccoli, Sweet and Sour Pickled Zucchini, Sweet and Sour Fish Curry, or make a copycat McDonald’s Sweet and Sour Sauce to serve with chicken nuggets.
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Why should you try this recipe?
- Tender, flavorful, crispy chicken thighs baked to perfection and bound to make your family happy.
- Delicious sweet and sour flavors, a combination that most people love.
- Create a restaurant-quality meal in the comfort of your own home without breaking the bank.
- Bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs.
- Alternatively, you can use whole chicken legs/ chicken quarters, drumsticks, or a combination of drumsticks and thighs.
- In this case, the baking time might change slightly depending on the size of the parts; that’s why it’s always the best idea to check the doneness using an instant-read meat thermometer (the Amazon affiliate link opens in a new tab).
- Spices: Ground coriander, ginger, cumin, all spices, red chili or red pepper flakes, fine sea salt, and black pepper.
- Use chili to taste. You can also replace it with a smaller amount of cayenne pepper, which is best used to taste.
- Sweeteners: Granulated sugar and clear, runny honey.
- Sherry vinegar is made from sherry wine; it has a mild and slightly woody/ nutty flavor. (See Expert Tips if you need to substitute it).
- Orange and lemon juice: I definitely recommend using freshly squeezed juice.
- Butter (salted or unsalted) to finish the sauce.
How to make sweet and sour chicken thighs?
- Mix all the spices in a small bowl and rub the meat pieces with this mixture. Leave them to marinate for about 2 hours (1).
- Remove from the refrigerator about 20-30 minutes before baking to allow the meat to reach room temperature.
- Roast the thighs for about 40 minutes in the preheated oven, flipping them twice in between. The skin side should be up during the last third of the baking time (2,3).
- Transfer the meat to a plate and keep it warm while making the flavorful sauce.
Sweet and sour sauce:
- You can make the sweet and sour sauce for the thighs directly in the roasting tin (if you have one that can be used on the stovetop), or you can transfer the meat juices to a saucepan and make the sauce there.
- Caramelize sugar and honey (about 2 minutes).
- Add vinegar and let bubble on medium-high heat until reduced by half (about 5-6 minutes).
- Add juice and reduce by half again (about 10 minutes) (4,5).
- Strain the sauce into a bowl and beat in the butter using an egg whisker.
- Adjust the taste with extra honey if necessary and with salt and pepper.
- Sherry vinegar is made from sherry wine. It has a milder flavor than regular red or white wine vinegar.
- As this particular vinegar is not always available, you can substitute it with rice wine vinegar, which comes the closest in flavor and acidity.
- You can also use red or white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar, but as they are slightly stronger, you might want to use a mild sort or add a little more sugar to the sauce, definitely to taste. Don't just add more sugar; taste the sauce and decide if it is really needed.
- Straining the sauce is recommended to remove the citrus pulp and any other impurities from roasting the meat. Straining means the sauce will be velvety smooth, especially after adding the butter.
- Butter technique: Monter au beurre or "Mounting the butter" is a culinary technique used to finish sauces and enhance their texture and flavor.
- It means adding cold, cubed butter to a hot sauce just before serving and then gently swirling or whisking it in until it melts and incorporates into the sauce.
- This technique enriches the sauce, making it smooth and extra delicious.
Sure, you can use whole legs (quarters) or drumsticks. You can even make the recipe with baked boneless skinless chicken breasts, but you will have to adjust the cooking time.
Absolutely! Adjust the amount of red chili flakes to make the dish milder or spicier, according to your taste preferences.
How to store and reheat?
- Store the thighs and the leftover sauce in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator. They will be ok for about 3 days.
- Freeze the leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 months, defrost in the fridge, and reheat before serving.
- Reheat the meat in the preheated oven (350°F/175°C) for 15-20 minutes or until heated through.
- Reheat the sauce in a small saucepan on the stovetop or microwave.
How to serve?
- You can serve the baked thighs and the sweet and sour sauce separately or coat the thighs with some of the sauce and serve the rest separately.
- If you serve the sauce extra, the skin of the thighs will remain crispy. If you coat the thighs, they will become sticky. Both ways are delicious.
Side dish ideas
- Potatoes. Try our Slow Cooker Potatoes, Cast-Iron Potatoes, or Oven-Baked Potato Wedges.
- Rice: It’s particularly delicious when you mix a bit of the sauce into it. Plain long-grain white rice like Basmati or Jasmin rice is perfect. Or how about serving the juicy chicken pieces on top of cauliflower rice?
- Other grains like bulgur, couscous, or quinoa.
- Salads: Simple green salads with vinaigrette, fresh vegetable salsa, tomato or cucumber salad, etc.
- Vegetables: Try our French Green Beans or Roasted Leeks. Serve the sweet and sour chicken with Asian-style veggies like sauteed pak choi, Chinese cabbage, and so on.
The inspiration was a recipe from Gordon Ramsay's book “Secrets” (the Amazon affiliate link opens in a new tab), but I have changed it heavily. He cooked duck legs this way, but I preferred the chicken.
More chicken thigh recipes
Sweet and Sour Chicken Thighs
- Roasting tin
- 6 chicken thighs Notes 1, 2
- 1 ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon all-spice
- ¼ teaspoon red chili flakes or to taste
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
Sweet and sour sauce:
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons honey + ½ - 1 extra tablespoon, if required
- ⅔ cup sherry vinegar 150 ml, Note 3
- 1 cup orange juice freshly squeezed, 230 ml, Note 4
- ¾ cup lemon juice freshly squeezed, 170 ml, Note 4
- 2 teaspoons butter cold
- fine sea salt and black pepper
- Marinate the chicken: Mix the spices in a small bowl and rub the thighs with the mixture. Place them in a large dish and leave to marinate for 2 hours (optional but highly recommended). Remove from the refrigerator about 20-30 minutes before baking to allow the meat to reach room temperature. 1 ½ teaspoon coriander + 1 ½ teaspoon ginger + 1 teaspoon cumin + ½ teaspoon all-spice + ¼ teaspoon red chili flakes + 1 teaspoon fine sea salt + 6 chicken thighs
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/ 180°C.
- Roast chicken thighs: Place them, skin-side up in a roasting pan and roast for about 40 minutes. Turn twice in between; the skin side should be up during the last third of the baking time.
- Check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer; it should be 165°F/74°C (the Amazon affiliate link opens in a new tab).
- Transfer the chicken to a warm plate and keep it warm while making the sauce.
Sweet and sour sauce (Note 5):
- Caramelize: Sprinkle the sugar into the meat juices in the tin. Add honey and cook, stirring, until caramelized; it will take about 2 minutes. Add vinegar and let bubble until reduced by half; it will take about 5-6 minutes. Add orange and lemon juice and reduce by half again; it will take about 10 minutes, but it really depends on the level of heat, your hob, and the pan. 3 tablespoon sugar + 2 tablespoon honey; ⅔ cup/ 150 ml vinegar; 1 cup/ 230 ml orange juice + ¾ cup/ 170 ml lemon juice
- Add butter: Strain the sauce into a bowl and beat in the butter using an egg whisker. 2 teaspoon butter
- Adjust the taste with extra honey if necessary and with salt and pepper. Serve the chicken thighs with the sauce on the side or covered in sauce with extra sauce on the side. ½ - 1 extra tablespoon honey, salt and pepper to taste
- Servings: 6 chicken thighs will serve 4 to 6 people or 2 adults and 2 children.
- Chicken cuts: You can also use whole chicken legs (chicken quarters) or chicken drumsticks if you prefer. Keep in mind that you might have to adjust the cooking time slightly. To ensure the chicken is fully cooked, using a meat thermometer is a good idea.
- Sherry vinegar substitutions: Rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or red wine vinegar. Depending on the type of vinegar, you might need to adjust the amount of sweetener to balance the flavors.
- Juice: For best results, use freshly squeezed lemon and orange juice.
- Sauce: You can make the sauce in the roasting tin, but if it’s easier for you, transfer the pan juice to a wider saucepan and make the sauce in there. If using a small saucepan, the cooking time might increase as the sauce will probably need longer to reduce.