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Vegan Sweet and Sour Sauce

Vegan sweet and sour sauce is so easy to make and uses simple, pantry ingredients. Slightly sweet, tangy, thick and so flavorful, this healthy sweet and sour sauce is perfect as a dip or poured on top of anything to make sweet and sour anything. Vegan and gluten free.

Yellow napkin next to a white bowl filled with vegan sweet and sour sauce.

Why you will love this recipe

  • So easy to make – all you have to do to make this vegan sweet and sour sauce is combine the ingredients in a pot and let it come to a simmer to thicken. So easy!
  • Simple ingredients – you likely have all the ingredients you need to make this healthy sweet and sour sauce in your pantry or fridge right now. All you need is vinegar, ketchup, maple syrup (or your favorite sweetener), coconut aminos (or soy sauce) and arrowroot powder (for thickening).
  • So flavorful and made with no pineapple – many homemade sweet and sour recipes are made with pineapple juice for sweetness. This recipe uses maple syrup instead of pineapple juice.
Ingredients to make vegan sweet and sour sauce on a marble countertop.
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Ingredients

  • Rice wine vinegar (or apple cider vinegar) – this makes the vegan sweet and sour recipe tangy and balances out the sweetness.
  • Ketchup – use your favorite ketchup in this recipe. You can make this with unsweetened ketchup, homemade ketchup, or your favorite organic ketchup. If you don’t love ketchup or don’t have any on hand, use ¼ cup of tomato paste and 2 more tablespoons of maple syrup.
  • Maple syrup – maple syrup sweetens this homemade sweet and sour sauce naturally. The maple syrup gives a deep flavor to the sauce. You can also use honey (not vegan) or coconut sugar, brown sugar or organic sugar in place of the maple syrup.
  • Coconut aminos – coconut aminos are made from coconut nectar and are a gluten free and soy free substitute for soy sauce. You could also use gluten free tamari in place of the coconut aminos or soy sauce if you can tolerate it.
  • Water – water helps to ensure the sweet and sour sauce has the perfect consistency after cooking.
  • Arrowroot powder (or tapioca starch or corn starch) – this is a thickening agent that will thicken the sauce as it starts to simmer and low boil on the stove. These thickeners need to be added to cold or room temperature liquid or they will clump. Often, it’s recommended that you make a slurry in a small bowl by combining the arrowroot with some cold liquid and stirring to ensure there are no clumps before adding it to the rest of the sauce.

How do you make vegan sweet and sour sauce

Start by measuring out all the ingredients (except the arrowroot) in a saucepan and stirring well.

Ingredients for vegan sweet and sour sauce in a stainless silver pot.

Take about ¼ cup of the mixture into a small bowl. Add the arrowroot powder and whisk with a fork until it’s completely dissolved.

Steps on how to add arrowroot powder to sweet and sour sauce.

Add this arrowroot mixture into the pot with the rest of the ingredients and stir well.

Bring to a simmer/low boil over medium heat (takes about 8-10 minutes), stirring occasionally so the bottom of the pot doesn’t burn.

Before and after cooking the vegan sweet and sour sauce on the stove.

Turn off and use immediately or allow to cool and store in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Top tips

  • Be sure to add the arrowroot (or tapioca or corn starch) to cold or room temperature liquid. If you add it to hot liquid, it will clump and it’s impossible for you to get the sauce smooth once it clumps up. I like to stir the arrowroot in with a little bit of the liquid in a small bowl (this process creates a slurry) to ensure that the arrowroot doesn’t clump.
  • To add more flavor, you can add fresh or dried ginger, garlic or green onions.
  • As the sauce cooks, it continues to get thicker. If you find that the sauce isn’t thick enough, add 1/2 teaspoon of arrowroot powder to 1 tbsp. water. Stir together then add to the sauce in the pan.
  • If you find that the sauce has gotten too thick, stir in 2 tablespoons of water at a time, until the sauce reaches the consistency you desire.
Vegan sweet and sour sauce being poured over breaded cauliflower.

How to use healthy sweet and sour sauce

  • As a dip for spring rolls or egg rolls
  • As a dip for chicken nuggets or crispy cauliflower
  • Over tofu, chicken, shrimp
  • Over meatballs or crispy mushrooms
  • Over vegetable stir fry for more flavor

Common questions

Do you have to use pineapple juice to make sweet and sour sauce?

No, you don’t need to use pineapple juice to make sweet and sour sauce. Often pineapple juice is used to naturally sweeten the sauce, but it’s not required. This recipe uses maple syrup instead of pineapple juice.

Does the vegan sweet and sour sauce continue to thicken?

The sauce thickens on the stove and will stop thickening once cooled. If you find that the sauce gets thicker as it sits, add in 1-2 tablespoons of water until it reaches your desired consistency.

Large spoonful of sweet and sour sauce over a glass jar of sauce.

What is the best way to store sweet and sour sauce

Be sure to allow the sweet and sour sauce to cool completely before transferring to a well-sealed container (I love Weck jars for this). Store in the fridge for up to 5 days.

You can also freeze vegan sweet and sour sauce in 1-2 tablespoon servings so you can defrost only what you need. I like to use Soupercubes or a silicone ice tray for this.

What if you don’t have ketchup?

Ketchup adds some unique flavors to the sauce but can be substituted if needed. You can make your own ketchup with tomato paste and a few other ingredients or you can simply use ¼ cup of tomato paste and 2 more tablespoons of maple syrup. You may decide to add a pinch of garlic powder or onion powder as well.

Storing leftover sweet and sour sauce

Fridge: Store cooled leftover sweet and sour sauce in the fridge for up to 5 days. Be sure to use a well-sealed container to keep it fresh. When you are reheating, you can reheat over low heat or in the microwave. Add 1-2 tablespoons of water at a time to the sauce if you notice the sauce is getting too thick when reheating.

Freezer: Freeze leftover sweet and sour sauce in the freezer for up to 3 months. Defrost in the fridge or on the counter.

Breaded cauliflower being dunked in vegan sweet and sour sauce in a white bowl.

Substitutions

  • Rice wine vinegar – you can also use apple cider vinegar or even white vinegar in place of the rice wine vinegar. The vinegar helps create that tangy flavor profile in the sauce so it shouldn’t be excluded.
  • Ketchup – ketchup is a simple pantry ingredient that most everyone has on hand. If you don’t have ketchup on hand you can make your own or you can use ¼ cup tomato paste and 2 more tablespoons of maple syrup.
  • Maple syrup – use any sweetener you love in this recipe. You could use honey (not vegan), coconut nectar (low glycemic), coconut sugar, brown sugar or organic cane sugar. Be sure to stir the sauce well and add extra water if needed if you are using a granulated sugar.
  • Coconut aminos – these help to provide a deep flavor in the sauce and also add a salty element (so no salt is needed). You can also use gluten free tamari sauce (not soy free) or soy sauce (not gluten free or soy free).
  • Arrowroot powder – this is used to thicken the sauce. You can substitute tapioca powder or cornstarch for the arrowroot.

If you love this recipe, you should try

Vegan Orange Chicken

Creamy Asian Spaghetti Squash

Sesame Asian Low Carb Noodles

Spicy Creamy Asian Slaw

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Air Fryer Teriyaki Chicken

Instant Pot Asian Chicken and Noodles

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Spoonful of healthy sweet and sour sauce over a white bowl with yellow napkin.

Vegan Sweet and Sour Sauce

Vegan sweet and sour sauce is so easy to make and is ready in just 10 minutes! Made with pantry ingredients, this healthy sweet and sour sauce is naturally gluten free and naturally sweetened.
Print Pin Save Rate
Course: sauce
Cuisine: American, Chinese
Keyword: healthy sweet and sour sauce, vegan sweet and sour sauce
Prep Time: 1 min
Cook Time: 10 mins
Total Time: 11 mins
Servings: 4

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Combine the rice wine vinegar, ketchup, maple syrup, coconut aminos and water in a small pot. Stir well.
  • Remove about 1/4 cup of the liquid and add 2 teaspoon of arrowroot to the liquid. Whisk with a fork to ensure all the arrowroot is dissolved.
  • Add the arrowroot mixture back to the pot and heat over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • If you find the sauce is not thick enough, combine 1 teaspoon arrowroot with 1 tablespoon water. Whisk with a fork until smooth then add to the boiling liquid. Stir. This should thicken almost immediately. Turn off heat when sauce reaches desired thickness.

Notes

Top tips
  • Be sure to add the arrowroot (or tapioca or corn starch) to cold or room temperature liquid. If you add it to hot liquid, it will clump and it’s impossible for you to get the sauce smooth once it clumps up. I like to stir the arrowroot in with a little bit of the liquid in a small bowl (this process creates a slurry) to ensure that the arrowroot doesn’t clump.
  • To add more flavor, you can add fresh or dried ginger, garlic or green onions.
  • As the sauce cooks, it continues to get thicker. If you find that the sauce isn’t thick enough, add 1/2 teaspoon of arrowroot powder to 1 tbsp. water. Stir together then add to the sauce in the pan.
  • If you find that the sauce has gotten too thick, stir in 2 tablespoons of water at a time, until the sauce reaches the consistency you desire.
Storing leftover sweet and sour sauce
Fridge: Store cooled leftover sweet and sour sauce in the fridge for up to 5 days. Be sure to use a well-sealed container to keep it fresh. When you are reheating, you can reheat over low heat or in the microwave. Add 1-2 tablespoons of water at a time to the sauce if you notice the sauce is getting too thick when reheating.
Freezer: Freeze leftover sweet and sour sauce in the freezer for up to 3 months. Defrost in the fridge or on the counter.
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Nutrition Information

Nutrition Facts
Amount per Serving
Calories
95
Fat
 
0.2
g
Carbohydrates
 
23
g
Fiber
 
0.1
g
Sugar
 
20
g
Protein
 
0.4
g
Where does nutrition info come from? Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy, sourced from the USDA Food Database.
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