Crockpot Sweet and Sour Pork is the easiest Chinese food recipe you’ll ever make. Mix up the sauce, throw everything in the slow cooker, and walk away. In just a few hours you’ll have a take-out worthy dish for dinner!
Sweet and sour pork is one of my favorite things to order for takeout, right next to beef chow mein. It’s crisp, tender, and just made for devouring. But in an effort to curb our affinity for ordering dinner way too often, I’m making a crazy easy version of this Chinese restaurant favorite. We’re going to skip deep frying the pork and turn this sweet and sour pork recipe into a set and forget meal! Once you thicken sauce, start cooking your rice and everything will be done together. Dinner win!
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Mike and I have this thing with Asian food. We’re fiends for sushi, our local Vietnamese place is pretty amazing, and I have the Chinese restaurant up the road on speed dial. It’s so had to say no to succulent meats and noodles in flavorful sauces with all kinds of fun add-ins. Case in point, sweet and sour anything. Chicken, shrimp, pork…we love it all. I think it’s probably because sweet and sour chicken was my first foray into Chinese food. What kid doesn’t love fried chicken and a yummy sauce to dip it in? (Our take-out place serves the sweet and sour sauce on the side for delivery.) But I digress. This crockpot sweet and sour pork is everything I love about this dish without the dishes and oil pop scares of deep-frying. Some nights I need that.
Where is Sweet and Sour Pork from?
- China! But this dish is particularly popular in Chinese restaurants in Western countries.
What’s Sweet and Sour Pork?
- Western Sweet and Sour Pork is made with deep-fried pork in bite-sized pieces. It is then stir-fried with sweet and sour sauce, pineapple, red & green bell pepper, and onion.
- Traditional Sweet and Sour Pork is made with pork loins, vinegar, preserved plums, and hawthorn candy to give the red color and sweet and sour taste.
What is Chinese sweet and sour sauce made of?
- White rice vinegar
- Chinese brown candy
- Worcestershire sauce
- Soy Sauce
We’re rolling with most of those same ingredients for this recipe, but we’re making our sweet and sour pork with pineapple. No Chinese brown candy on hand here, so to get that sweetness grab some brown sugar and pineapple juice. I skipped the Worcestershire sauce as well because I like a little more tang in my sauce. If you want o mellow things out, go ahead an add a teaspoon or 2 if you’d like.
How to Make Sweet and Sour Pork
- Cut up your pork and bell peppers into 1-inch pieces. Drain the canned pineapple. Throw that all in a 6-quart slow cooker.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the pineapple juice, ketchup, brown sugar, soy sauce, and rice wine vinegar. Pour this sauce into the slow cooker. Give everything a stir.
- Cover the slow cooker and cook on LOW for 6 hours or HIGH for 3 hours.
- Stir together cornstarch and water to make a slurry. Pour into the slow cooker with everything and stir together. Cook for 30 minutes on HIGH heat to thicken the sauce.
- Season the pork and sauce with salt and pepper to taste. (I like to wait to season until after cooking since there’s already so much salt in the soy sauce. I usually end up using about 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.) Serve warm over cooked rice and garnish with sliced green onion.
If you want to use whole pork chops for this recipe instead you 100% can do that! Prepare everything the same, but don’t cut up your boneless pork chops. Cook for 8 hours on LOW or 5 to 6 hours on HIGH for sweet and sour pork chops. Super easy adjustment, right?!
Is Sweet and Sour Pork Breaded?
- Any sweet and sour pork dish you order at a Chinese restaurant is going to have pork pieces that are lightly breaded and fried to a nice golden brown. The breading used to coat the pork soaks up the sauce and help impart its flavor on the pork. So yes, it is usually bread…but not this slow cooker version.
Since the pork cooks in the sweet and sour sauce and gets that good flavor, I left the breaded and frying steps out. I was also concerned the breaded would get soggy and just fall off the pork. No one wants weird clumps in their dinner.
Why is Sweet and Sour Pork Red?
- Food coloring. Plain and simple. Many Chinese restaurants add a few drops of red food coloring to their sweet and sour sauce. Yes, there is usually some ketchup or tomato sauce to lending to the red color. Bu that really bright red is from being dyed.
“Uh, Julie. Your sauce isn’t red.”
I know. It’s okay. I skipped the food coloring because I knew everything would be cooking in the crock pot together. The dyed sauce would start to dye the pineapple and pork a pink-ish red color. I prefer au naturale for this easy sweet and sour pork recipe. You’re welcome to color your sauce before cooking, but that’s your call.
These other pork recipes are pretty amazing too!
- Pork Chilaquiles
- Jiaozi Pork Dumplings
- Cuervo & Tecate Slow Cooker Carnitas
- Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Avocado Peach Salsa
- Spinach Dip Stuffed Pork Loin
- Slow Cooker Pork Tinga
- Dry Rub for Ribs
- Grilled BBQ Pulled Pork & Peach Pizza
- Easy Garlic Ginger Glazed Sticky Pork
- Crock Pot recipes
- Little Smokies
- 6 ounces pineapple juice
- 1/3 cup ketchup
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 4 thick-cut pork chops, (1-inch thick)
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 cup pineapple chunks, (canned and drained, not fresh)
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons water
- Salt & pepper, to taste
- Green onions, thinly sliced (for garnish)
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the pineapple juice, ketchup, brown sugar, soy sauce, and rice wine vinegar.
- Cut pork chop into 1-inch pieces. Remove stem and seeds from bell pepper and then cut into 1-inch pieces.
- Place pork chops, bell pepper, and pineapple in a 6-quart slow cooker. Pour sauce over the top and stir to coat everything.
- Place lid on slow cooker and cook for 6 hours on LOW heat or 3 hours on HIGH heat. (The internal temperature of your pork should be 160 degrees F.)
- Mix together cornstarch and water to create a slurry. Pour into slow cooker and stir into sauce. Recover slow cooker and cook on HIGH heat for 30 minutes to let the sauce thicken.
- Season sweet and sour pork with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm with cooked rice and garnish with green onion, if desired.