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Vegan Sweet and Sour “Pork” Recipe

Indulge in the sweet and tangy flavors of Vegan Sweet and Sour “Pork,” a delicious plant-based twist on a classic favorite. Crispy and succulent vegan pork pieces are coated in a vibrant sweet and sour sauce, creating a delightful harmony of tastes and textures. Enjoy this cruelty-free version that brings the essence of Chinese takeout to your table.

Vegan Sweet and Sour “Pork” Recipe



Prep time


Cooking time






  • For the Vegan “Pork”:
  • 2 cups textured vegetable protein (TVP) or tempeh, cubed

  • 1 cup cornstarch

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup water

  • Vegetable oil for frying

  • For the Sweet and Sour Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup ketchup

  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce or tamari

  • 1/4 cup agave nectar or maple syrup

  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

  • 1 bell pepper, diced

  • 1 onion, diced

  • 1 cup pineapple chunks (fresh or canned)

  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • Red pepper flakes to taste (optional for heat)

  • For Garnish:
  • Sliced green onions

  • Sesame seeds


  • Prepare the Vegan “Pork”:
  • In a bowl, mix cornstarch, flour, and water to create a thick batter.
  • Alteration: If using tempeh, marinate it in soy sauce for 15-20 minutes before coating.
  • Modification: Experiment with different protein sources like seitan or chickpea-based alternatives.
  • Heat vegetable oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Fry the coated “pork” pieces until golden brown and crispy. Set aside on paper towels to drain excess oil.
  • Make the Sweet and Sour Sauce:
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together ketchup, rice vinegar, soy sauce, agave nectar, and cornstarch until smooth.
  • Modification: Add a tablespoon of pineapple juice for an extra burst of flavor.
  • In a pan, heat vegetable oil over medium heat. Add ginger and garlic, sauté for a minute.
  • Add diced bell pepper and onion, cook until slightly softened.
  • Pour in the sweet and sour sauce, stirring continuously until it thickens.
  • Modification: Adjust sweetness and tanginess by tweaking the amounts of agave nectar and vinegar.
  • Add pineapple chunks and red pepper flakes (if using). Simmer for an additional 2-3 minutes.
  • Combine and Serve:
  • Add the crispy vegan “pork” pieces to the sweet and sour sauce, ensuring they are evenly coated.
  • Allow the “pork” to absorb the flavors by simmering for an additional 5 minutes.
  • Garnish and Serve:
  • Garnish with sliced green onions and sesame seeds.
  • Modification: Experiment with additional garnishes like chopped cilantro or crushed peanuts for added texture and flavor

Tips and Tricks for Perfecting Vegan Sweet and Sour “Pork”:

  1. Crispy Texture:
    • Ensure the vegan “pork” is well-coated in the batter and fried until golden brown for the best crispy texture.
  2. Adjusting Heat:
    • Control the spiciness by adjusting the amount of red pepper flakes. Start with a small amount and add more if desired.
  3. Fresh Pineapple:
    • If using fresh pineapple, cut it into bite-sized chunks. If using canned pineapple, drain the syrup before adding.
  4. Serving Variations:
    • Serve over rice, quinoa, or noodles. For a low-carb option, try cauliflower rice.
  5. Garnish Creativity:
    • Experiment with additional garnishes like chopped cilantro or crushed peanuts for added texture and flavor.
  6. Marinating Tempeh:
    • If using tempeh, marinate it in soy sauce for 15-20 minutes before coating. This enhances flavor.
  7. Adjusting Sweetness and Tanginess:
    • Taste the sweet and sour sauce as you go, adjusting the amounts of agave nectar and vinegar to your preference.
  8. Adding Pineapple Juice:
    • For an extra burst of flavor, add a tablespoon of pineapple juice to the sweet and sour sauce.
  9. Experimenting with Protein:
    • Try different plant-based proteins to find your favorite. Seitan and chickpea-based alternatives offer unique textures.
  10. Quick Weeknight Version:
    • If short on time, use store-bought vegan “chicken” for a quick and convenient weeknight meal.

Storage and Freezing Instructions:

  • Storage: Refrigerate any leftovers promptly in an airtight container. The dish can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
  • Freezing: While the texture of the “pork” may change slightly upon freezing, you can freeze the cooked dish for up to 2 months. Portion the leftovers into airtight containers, leaving some space for expansion. Thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.
  • Reheating: To reheat, gently warm the sweet and sour “pork” in a pan on the stove over medium heat. You can add a splash of water to the pan to prevent sticking and help restore moisture to the dish.
  • Note: If the dish was initially frozen, it’s best to thaw it in the refrigerator overnight. Once thawed, reheat it on the stove as directed.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for Vegan Sweet and Sour “Pork”:

Can I use a different protein source in this recipe?

Absolutely! Tofu, tempeh, or even cauliflower florets work well. Adjust cooking times and methods accordingly.

Is there a gluten-free option for this dish?

Yes. Use tamari or coconut aminos instead of soy sauce, and ensure all ingredients, including the vegan protein source, are gluten-free.

How can I make this dish low-carb?

Substitute rice or noodles with cauliflower rice or spiralized zucchini for a low-carb alternative.

Can I make an oil-free version of Vegan Sweet and Sour “Pork”?

Certainly! Skip frying and opt for baking or air-frying the vegan “pork” for an oil-free version.

How do I reduce the sodium content of the dish?

Use low-sodium soy sauce or tamari and adjust seasonings. Consider adding a bit more orange juice for balance.

Is it possible to adjust the spice level of the dish?

Absolutely. Reduce or omit red pepper flakes for a milder version. Add hot sauce if you prefer more heat.

Can I make Vegan Sweet and Sour “Pork” without sugar?

Yes. Substitute sugar with erythritol or monk fruit sweetener, adjusting to taste.

What vegetables can I add to enhance the dish?

Experiment with bell peppers, broccoli, snap peas, or other favorites. Stir-fry or steam them and add to the sauce.

Can I use store-bought vegan “chicken” for a quicker version?

Absolutely! Cook the store-bought vegan “chicken” according to package instructions and toss it in the prepared sweet and sour sauce.

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