Gluten-Free Sweet and Sour Chicken Balls Recipe

Oct 14, 2020 | Chicken and Poultry, Recipes

This gluten-free sweet and sour chicken balls recipe with classic red sauce will make you forget that you’re eating gluten-free. It tastes just like what you’d find in an American-style Chinese Food Restaurant. More importantly, you don’t need a culinary degree to make this. The basic recipe is to make flavourful chicken meatballs, batter and fry them and toss them with the homemade red sweet and sour sauce. Anyone, no matter their skill level, can make this recipe.

Mixing The Chicken


In the meat mix itself, there are only five ingredients. This recipe will seem too simple for how delicious it is, but it works very well. The ingredients are two pounds of ground chicken, one teaspoon of salt, a quarter teaspoon of black pepper, one tablespoon of puréed garlic, and one tablespoon of grated ginger. Put all of those ingredients together in a bowl and mix.

Forming Chicken Balls

To form the balls, divide the meat into sixteen even pieces. If you’d like more petite chicken balls, you can get as many as 24 out of this recipe. Wet your hands with cold water when rolling the balls to prevent the chicken from sticking. Put the formed chicken balls on a greased baking sheet and cook at 400°f for twenty minutes. If you make twenty-four balls, it will only take seventeen minutes to cook them.

Why precook the chicken balls?

Precooking the chicken balls does three things. It makes them easier to batter. It makes them quicker to fry, giving them a lighter and crisper batter. And it makes them safer because they are fully cooked before they go in the fryer.

Gluten-Free Batter

While the chicken balls are cooking in the oven, make the batter and the sauce. Start with the batter because it needs to chill before being used. I’ve made this batter with two gluten-free flour brands, and both have come out very differently. This recipe would work the same with non-gluten-free flour as well. Depending on your flour, you may need to add more water than the recipe calls for. One of the gluten-free flour brands only required one cup of water, while the second brand needed two cups. The vital thing to note isn’t the exact quantity of water you add but the consistency of the batter. It should have the same consistency as melted ice cream.

Batter ingredients

The batter ingredients are one cup of all-purpose gluten-free flour, one teaspoon of baking powder, half a teaspoon of salt, one egg, and one to two cups of soda water (or sparkling water). Mix the dry ingredients first, then add the egg and soda water and mix. Again, add more water as needed to get the batter to the correct consistency. Once the batter is made, put it in the fridge for about fifteen minutes or until ready to use. The batter should be as cold as possible when it hits the hot oil to ensure a crisp texture.

Why Soda Water?

The reason the recipe calls for soda water over plain water is for the bubbles. The bubbles in the soda water will make the batter light and crisp. It is the reason why beer is used to batter fish. It’s all for the bubbles.

Sweet and Sour Sauce

The Red Colour

The red colour in some sweet and sour sauce recipes comes from either food colouring or ketchup. To get the red colour and that perfect sweet and sour flavour, this recipe uses the juice from a jar of Maraschino Cherries. If you’d like, you could use food colouring; cherry juice is a much better option because of the flavour although it obviously has food colouring in it.

Sweet and Sour Sauce Ingredients

The sweet and sour sauce ingredients are one cup of white vinegar, one cup of sugar, a quarter teaspoon of salt, half a cup of Maraschino Cherry juice, and a quarter cup of water mixed with a quarter cup of cornstarch.

Making Sweet and Sour Sauce

To make the sweet and sour sauce put the vinegar, sugar, salt and cherry juice in a medium-sized pot. Bring the pot to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring every minute or so. Once the sauce starts to boil, add the cornstarch and water mixture (stir the cornstarch and water before pouring it into the sauce). Whisk the sauce until it is thick and completely translucent. Take it off the heat until you are ready to serve.

Storing Sweet and Sour Sauce for later

You can store the sweet and sour sauce in the fridge in an airtight container for up to three weeks. To use it, heat it in a pot over medium heat with a tablespoon or two of water.

Finishing The Gluten-Free Sweet and Sour Chicken Balls

All that is left to do is to batter and fry the chicken balls. To do that, dredge the cooked balls in about half a cup of gluten-free flour first, dip them in the batter, then into a fryer set to 365°f and fry for five minutes. You can do this without a fryer, but it’s not recommended unless you know what you are doing. Deep-frying can be very dangerous. If you don’t have a deep-fryer, maybe you can borrow one from a friend. They would be glad to let you use their fryer in exchange for some chicken balls.

Once the chicken balls have cooked for five minutes, take them out of the oil and place them on a cooling rack set over a sheet pan. Continue until all of the balls have been cooked. At this point, the chicken balls can be cooled and frozen. They can be cooled and reheated in the oven or the fryer. Or, you can fry them again to brown them and eat them right away. If you want to eat the chicken balls immediately, keep the fryer’s temperature at 365°f and cook them for another four minutes or until they are browned. Once browned, take the balls out of the fryer, let them drain a little on a rack, then plate them and top them with the sweet and sour sauce.

Gluten-Free Sweet and Sour Chicken Ball Recipe

Make classic Chinese Take-Out Sweet and Sour Chciken Balls at home. You won't even know they are gluten-free.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: Chicken, Chinese Food, Chinese Food Series, Sweet and Sour, Take-out
Servings: 4 people
Author: Chef’s Notes


Chicken Ball Mix

  • 2 lbs Ground Chicken
  • 1 tbsp Puréed Garlic
  • 1 tbsp Grated Ginger
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 tbsp Vegetables Oil


  • 1 cup All-Purpose Flour (Gluten-Free)
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 cup Soda Water Plus More As Needed

Sweet and Sour Sauce

  • 1 cup White Vinegar
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Maraschino Cherries Juice
  • 3 tbsp Water
  • 3 tbps Cornstarch


Chicken Ball Mix

  • Mix together the chicken, ginger, garlic, salt, and pepper.
  • Form the mix into 16 – 24 evenly-sized balls depending on the size chicken balls you'd prefer.
  • Place the balls on a greased sheet pan and bake them at 400°f for 17-20 minutes.


  • In a medium mixing bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt.
  • Break the egg into the flour mixture and add 1 cup of soda water. Whisk until a smooth batter forms. Whisk in more water as needed. The batter should be the consistency of melted ice cream.
  • Put the batter in the fridge to chill for about 15 minutes before using.

Sweet and Sour Sauce

  • Put the vinegar, sugar, and cherry juice in a medium pot and bring to a boil.
  • Separately, combine the cornstarch and water then whisk it into the vinegar, sugar mix.
  • Boil and whisk the sauce until it is thick. Take it off the heat and let it sit until you're ready to serve.

Frying The Chicken Balls

  • Toss the chicken balls in a 1/2 cup of flour, dip them in the cold batter, and fry on 365°f for 5 minutes.
  • Let the balls cools on a rack then refry on 350°f until golden brown.
  • Serve with the sauce over them.


The last time I made these I used a different brand of gluten-free flour than I normally do and had to add about double the amount of water. Start with 1 cup of soda water then whisk in more as needed. The batter should be the consistency of melted ice cream.  
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!


It’s a good idea to take an afternoon and make a double or even triple batch of this recipe because once you taste these Gluten-Free Sweet and Sour Chicken Balls, you’re going to wish you had made more. The sauce works very well on all sorts of things from beef meatballs, to chicken legs. And it lasts a long tie in the fridge.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy my other Gluten-Free Chinese Food Recipes.

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