The best sweet and sour sauce isn’t just sweet; it’s sour, too. Listen, I know you probably read that and muttered something like, “Yeah, no shit,” but it bears saying. I haven’t ordered a sweet and sour dish at a Chinese restaurant in ages because I was burned one too many times by flavorless fried chicken nuggets coated in something that too closely resembled pink corn syrup. Predictably, a lot of store bought sweet and sour sauce leaves sourness out of the equation—but the best sweet and sour sauce has plenty of sugar and that craveable mouth-watering tang, too.
For this in-office taste test, I rounded up all the bottles of sweet and sour sauce we could find at the grocery store (some jugs, too; some people must use a lot of this stuff) and tasted them off of a spoon to most accurately judge their flavor. Buy these sauces if you don’t want to take your chances on crummy takeout sweet and sour ever again.
- La Choy Sweet & Sour Sauce
Okay, I know I just went on and on about how essential sourness is to the best sweet and sour sauce, and I’ll be the first to admit that this La Choy sweet and sour sauce is a little one note. Still, there’s something so comforting about it. It’s delightfully simple—water, sugar, vinegar, and a few added flavor components, like pineapple juice and dried bell peppers. It’s not the best sweet and sour sauce on this list, but it’s perfect for a greasy egg roll right out of the toaster oven when you’re drunk at 2 a.m.
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- Lee Kum Kee Sweet & Sour Sauce
Lee Kum Kee makes a lot of sauces we’ve enjoyed. Their sweet chili sauce is pleasantly funky. Their sriracha is nice and savory. Their sweet and sour sauce is also good, mostly for people who don’t require a ton of tang. Vinegar isn’t even among the ingredients, but it does have acetic acid, which has the same effect and gives it a tangy pop. It’s violently red and will taste great on chicken or pork.
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- Dynasty Sweet & Sour Sauce
While I wholeheartedly endorse the other sauces on this list, Dynasty is the best sweet and sour sauce we tasted by a mile. It has so much more going on! The main components are the same as most sweet and sour sauces—water, sugar, vinegar—but it’s specifically made with rice vinegar, which gives it more depth of flavor. It also has onions, garlic, and ginger in the mix, which many other sauces don’t. The garlic really comes through. The best part, though? It’s genuinely sour. “It’s literally sour,” my colleague Jordan Myrick said when they tasted it. “It’s making me salivate when I eat it.” If that isn’t the sign of a good sweet and sour sauce, I don’t know what is. Buy this; I guarantee you’ll use it all the time.
Credit: Merc / Walmart
Best of the Best
Other products we tried: Panda Express Sweet & Sour Sauce, Sun Luck Sweet & Sour Sauce, PF Chang’s Mango Sweet & Sour Sauce, Kikoman Sweet & Sour Sauce, Minor’s Sweet & Sour Sauce