Weeknight Sweet and Sour Chicken Legs

Sep 22, 2021 | Chicken and Poultry, Quick Meals, Recipes

Are you looking for the perfect weeknight meal? Do you want to change up your usual chicken recipe? Are you in need of a delicious recipe that will satisfy even the pickiest eater? You may have just found what you’re looking for. This Sweet and Sour Chicken Leg recipe comes together in less than an hour. It is a great way to jam a bunch of flavour into some chicken legs. And it tastes great. That sounds like a win, win, win to me. Alright, enough chit-chat, let’s get cooking! You can find the recipe directly below, but keep reading for a more detailed explanation.

Weeknight Sweet and Sour Chicken Legs

This recipe takes about 45 minutes to make from start to finish. A lot of that time is passive, meaning you don't have to do anything but wait. That makes this Sweet and Sour Chicken Leg recipe perfect for any weeknight meal.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Canadian
Keyword: Chicken, Sweet and Sour, Weeknight Meals
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Chef Ben Kelly


  • 12 chicken drum sticks
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup red bell pepper, large dice
  • 1 cup green pepper, large dice
  • 1 cup onion, large dice
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock


  • Preheat your oven to 375°f.
  • Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and the chicken. Sear the chicken until browned. About 3 minutes per side.
  • Remove the seared chicken from the pan and set it aside. Drain the excess fat out of the pan and add in the bell peppers, onion, and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes.
  • Add the ketchup to the vegetables and sauté for 1 minute.
  • Pour the vinegar, sugar, salt, and chicken stock into the skillet and bring to a boil.
  • Return the chicken to the pan, bring it back to a boil, then put it in the oven for 15 minutes.
  • After 15 minutes remove the chicken from the oven, flip the legs, and put them back in the oven for an additional 10 to 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked.
  • Take the chicken out of the oven, and serve with rice.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Preparing The Sweet and Sour Chicken Leg Ingredients


The vegetables used in this Sweet and Sour Chicken Leg recipe are red and green bell pepper, onion, and garlic. Cut the bell peppers and onion into pieces that are about the width of your thumb. For the peppers, I like to cut them into thumb-width pieces, then do an alternate angle cut, creating a diamond pattern. You don’t have to do this, but it adds to the visual appeal.


To prepare the garlic, remove the peel by cutting off the stem and gently crushing the cloves with the side of your knife. Pull the peel away and discard. Cut the garlic lengthwise into three or four pieces, then slice those pieces across as thinly as you can. Or…just cut the garlic as fine as you can. It doesn’t really matter that much.

Sweet and Sour Sauce Ingredients

The ingredients for the sweet and sour sauce are ketchup, sugar, white vinegar, and chicken stock or water. If you prefer a thicker, more traditional Sweet and Sour Sauce, you can also add 2 teaspoons of cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons of cold water. I’ll explain in a few minutes when you would add that in if you were to use it.

Making Sweet and Sour Chicken Legs

Searing the chicken legs

The first step in making this Sweet and Sour Chicken Leg recipe is to sear the chicken. To do that, get a pan nice and hot, then add in a few teaspoons of oil (canola, grapeseed, etc.). Put the chicken in the pan and leave it alone, don’t even look at it for about 2 1/2 to 3 minutes. Then flip it over and do it again. For a better sear, pat the chicken dry with a paper towel first. Also, you may have noticed that I didn’t season the chicken with salt and pepper. The sauce has more than enough flavour. Salt and pepper are not needed. (That is probably the only time in my life I’ll say/write that.)

Sautéing The Vegetables

Once the chicken legs are browned, remove them from the pan and set them aside on a plate or something. Pour all the oil out of the pan except for about 1 tablespoon. Add the bell peppers, onion, and garlic. Sauté for 3 to 4 minutes on medium-high heat until the onion softens and browns around the edges. DO NOT TURN THE HEAT DOWN!! You need that heat to make sure the vegetable juices don’t stay in the pan. Just keep the vegetables moving, and they won’t burn.

Making Sweet and Sour Sauce

After the vegetables get a little colour on them, you can add the ketchup into the pan. Cook the ketchup for about a minute, then throw in the sugar, vinegar, and a pinch of salt. Bring that to a boil, then add the chicken stock. Bring it back to a boil. If you are using cornstarch and water, you can add that now.

Finishing the Sweet and Sour Chicken Legs

Once the chicken sauce comes back to a boil, after the stock has been added, you can add in the chicken legs. Again, bring it back to a boil, then put the whole pan uncovered in a 375°f for 15 minutes. Then, take the chicken out, flip the pieces and put it back in the oven for another 10 to 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked. Serve the Sweet and Sour Chicken Legs over rice, and you’ve got yourself a full meal just like that.

The Wrap-Up

Who said delicious had to be hard? Probably no one, but that doesn’t change the fact that delicious doesn’t have to be hard. What’s great about this Sweet and Sour Chicken Leg recipe, other than how tasty it is, is that you don’t have to use chicken legs. You can use chicken breast or thighs. You can use turkey, beef, pork, turkey, or chicken meatballs. Hell, throw in some tofu for a nice vegetarian meal. The point is, this recipe is versatile, so get cooking! Thanks for reading and subscribe below, so you never miss a post.

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1 Comment

  1. Cathy Berthier

    This recipe sounds great! Love the hint about the bowl of cold water! I’ll be trying that trick next time. Uniform meatballs look so much better!!!


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