Tangy yet sweet and addictive, this Vegan Sweet and Sour Sauce is made in just 5 minutes and is the perfect sauce for dinners and appetizers. Use it in any sweet and sour type of dish, or pour it over vegan meatballs, use it as a dipping sauce for spring rolls, or whatever else you’d like.
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Hey Internet, sauce is where it’s at as a vegan. I mean, you can take a bowl of plain roasted or air fried veggies, a cooked grain or starch, and some beans or tofu and fine, yeah, it hits your macros. But how does it taste?
Enter sauces. The true vegan hero.
The hero we need but don’t des- just kidding, we totally deserve it.
Like I said though, the right sauce can spice up any food. So today I’m giving you a new sauce recipe.
My vegan sweet and sour sauce is just how it sounds, and it only takes 5 minutes to make!
Store it in your fridge and use it in whatever you like all week. Or, make my sweet and sour tofu. Just saying.
Whatever you make it for, you’re going to laugh when you see how easy it is to make, or at least when you try it yourself.
What You’ll Need
- Organic cane sugar: I mean, it wouldn’t be SWEET and sour sauce without sugar. I used organic cane sugar, since regular cane sugar sometimes isn’t vegan (sugar can be filtered through animal bone char, and companies aren’t required to print this on their labels. Coconut sugar or brown sugar would also work, your sweet and sour sauce will just be quite dark.
- Coconut sugar: That said, I did use a pinch of coconut sugar because I like the warmth and flavor it provides, I just didn’t want to use too much because, hey, color. I have to make my food look appetizing, right? Brown sugar will also work here, or you can skip it.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: Now for the sour part. I liked the sweet sour thing apple cider vinegar has going on, but you could use rice vinegar or white vinegar instead if you’d like.
- Low Sodium Soy Sauce or Gluten-Free Tamari: If you’re gluten-free, use gluten-free tamari. If you’re soy-free, try No Soy or Coconut Aminos. Alternatively, you can just use salt to taste.
- Ketchup: This flavors and colors the sauce. If you hate ketchup, try tomato puree.
- Minced or grated garlic: If you want your garlic to be barely detectable in the sauce, either grate it or just use garlic powder to taste instead.
- Arrowroot powder or cornstarch: So technically, because of the sugar, you can boil this sauce until it reduces and thickens, but then you’ll also have less sauce. In order to save time, half the calories, and produce a fair amount of sauce, we can just instead use a little water + arrowroot powder or cornstarch to thicken the sauce and make it sticky (the sugar helps with that).
How to Make Vegan Sweet and Sour Sauce
- In a small bowl, mix together the sugars, vinegar, soy sauce/gluten-free tamari, ketchup, and garlic. Add to a small nonstick sauce pan and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Let boil for 1-2 minutes.
- Mix the arrowroot powder/cornstarch with the water with a whisk in a small bowl or measuring cup. Pour the mixture into the pot and whisk or stir constantly until the sauce has thickened to your liking. If you want it thicker, you can either add another tablespoon of the powder to another 2 tablespoons of water (the same way you did before, with the whisk as it avoids lumps), or you can just refrigerate it since it will thicken as it chills.
- I like to use this right away in whatever I’m making. Use it on whatever you like--vegan meatballs, vegan brisket, seitan chicken nuggets, even my sweet and sour tofu which is why I’m creating this recipe in the first place (hi). Just saying.
- Refrigerate the sauce for up to 3-4 days.
History and Culture of Sweet and Sour
In researching this recipe, I fell down a bit of a research rabbit hole (reminds me of my graduate school days, so fun!) learning about the origins of sweet and sour sauce.
So the origins are somewhat debated since most cultures have their version of a sweet yet sour sauce. The combination is very pleasing to the palate and fun to play with.
However it is commonly agreed that sweet and sour did originate in China, more specifically in the Canton region, making it a Cantonese originated dish.
It of course starts out with a non-vegan item--pork in this case, which is understandable since I realize that meat has traditionally been a staple in many culture’s culinary traditions.
This dish also has roots in other Chinese regions including Henan and Jiangsu.
The dish traveled to the US with Chinese immigrants, and around the time of WWII it had become a popular dish in Western culture as well.
Some of the ingredients I use may not be entirely traditional, but I like to think my recipe is inspired by the original Chinese dish, and definitely not better--just different.
Remember that this recipe is just for the sauce, and I have a recipe for sweet and sour tofu (instead of pork) as well.
More Vegan Sauces
Sauce is the vegan’s answer to everything. Sauce can make anything exciting and delicious. Here are some of my favorite vegan sauce recipes:
- Vegan Teriyaki Sauce
- Vegan Honey
- Easy Vegan Caramel Sauce
- Easy Vegan Chocolate Sauce
- Vegan Ranch Dressing
- Vegan Cauliflower Cheese Sauce
- BBQ Sauce
- Vegan Honey Mustard
- Vegan Tzatziki Sauce
- Mushroom Gravy
- Quick Vegan Gravy
As always, I hope you love this recipe–I know I do and so does Mr. Zardyplants.
This vegan sweet and sour sauce is:
- And the perfect base for sweet and sour tofu, or a great sauce for any bowl of vegan goodness.
Let me know in the comments below if you make this recipe or tag me @Zardyplants on Instagram so I can see your beautiful recreations! If you tag me on IG, I will share your post in my stories :)
Also, one quick request: if you love how this recipe looks or tastes, please leave me a 5-star rating and a nice comment–ratings help more people find my recipes which helps me keep providing them! Thank you!