Easy Crock Pot Sweet and Sour Chicken (Gluten Free)

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I have always loved sweet and sour chicken. Unfortunately, celiac disease and most fast-service Chinese food do not go hand in hand. Well, this gluten free sweet and sour chicken recipe isn’t as easy as picking up a takeout order, but it’s pretty darn close.

The Origin of the Gluten Free Sweet and Sour Chicken Recipe

This is a funny one, because I honestly don’t know. I typed it up and added it to my personal cookbook ages ago, but I don’t know where I saw the recipe that I riffed on to make my version. I could have sworn it came from this well-worn little mini cookbook that came with my ancient Crock Pot, but no dice.

It will remain a mystery for the ages, like Stonehenge, or why hot dogs come in 8-packs but hot dog buns come in 6-packs.

Allergen info

Without the breading you often see on takeout sweet and sour chicken, you’d think you’d already be at a totally Gluten Free dish.

Not so fast, friend. The “hidden gluten” in this particular dish comes from a place most people never consider: the soy sauce.

“But soy sauce is made of soy!” you say. Well, yes and no. Soy sauce definitely contains soy. However, it also contains wheat.

Tamari is often marketed as “gluten free soy sauce”, and it is absolutely a great soy sauce substitute. It’s not just “regular soy sauce but made without wheat” – it’s actually made using a completely different method.

tamari soy sauce - the gluten free soy sauce alternative to use in gluten free sweet and sour chicken
The soy sauce of celiacs

What matters most, though, is the taste, and I personally really like tamari. It’s a little more mellow than regular soy sauce but still packs a flavor punch. In my local grocery stores, SanJ and Kikkoman both sell gluten free tamari soy sauces.

Another offender is the ketchup. A lot of ketchups will list “natural flavors” as an ingredient. Natural flavors sounds great, but they are another potential source of hidden gluten.

a gluten free ketchup option
“Gluten free” right on the front?!
Be still my heart

If it has “natural flavors” listed, you have three options: (1) look for “gluten free” listed somewhere on the packaging like in the picture above, (2) check the FAQ on the manufacturer’s website to see if there’s a question related to the gluten free status of their projects, and (3) call the company directly and get someone on the phone who can tell you for sure.

You were probably expecting me to say “go look at their website’s product listing”, but, unfortunately, I’ve found that most times if it’s not explicitly stated on the packaging, it won’t be on the website, either.

How to Store Leftovers

This recipe freezes incredibly well. My go-to for freezer storage for the past 5 years has been Reditainer 8 oz and 16 oz Food Containers. I use them along with Scotch Freezer Tape to make single and double servings of leftovers to freeze and then label. The 8 oz size is perfect for holding a single serving of sweet and sour chicken.

freezer containers, freezer tape, and a sharpie
The tools of my freezing trade

I know I listed this as an “8 serving” recipe, but after I made this recipe to take the pictures for this post (and then ate the photogenic meal), I had about 8.5 individual servings left over that went into the freezer. Like pretty much every recipe you’re going to find, serving size is highly dependent on what amount you personally like. Me, I prefer a little smaller portion for my main dish.

Anyways, back to freezing. I find it’s always nice to have some homemade “frozen dinners” on hand when you just don’t feel like cooking – or when you want something different to take to work for lunch.

How to Reheat It

I’ve experimented with various ways to heat up foods (especially frozen foods). Here’s my magical method for a portion of sweet and sour chicken:

If you have a single frozen portion, put that portion into the smallest microwave-safe bowl that will hold it. Then add a little water to the bottom (maybe 1/4 – 1/2 inch deep). Then take a piece of paper towel big enough to completely cover the top of the bowl, soak it in water, then drape it over the top.

Microwave it at about 50% power for 3 minutes, then check to see how thawed it is. Repeat if necessary.

The water at the bottom combined with the damp paper towel on top lets you reheat the food without drying it out. I’ve used this method with tons of different food items (even frozen homemade lasagna!), and it works wonders for me.

How to make the sauce as thick as you like it

The recipe says to add a mixture of 2 tablespoons of corn starch and 2 tablespoons of water to the sauce at the end of its cooking time to thicken it.

In my experience, if you’re wanting a more “glaze-like” sauce to replicate that takeout feel, you may need to repeat this process several times.

adding the corn starch to thicken the gluten free sweet and sour chicken
Adding the corn starch mixture while stirring.

Just be aware that the sauce will thicken a bit more as it cools, so stop short just before you hit your desired thickness and it should be perfect.

The recipe

And here’s what you came here fore: the Easy Crock Pot Gluten Free Sweet and Sour Chicken recipe!

The nutrition information was obtained in good faith from Whisk.com.

Easy Crock Pot Sweet and Sour Chicken (Gluten Free)

This easy sweet and sour chicken has much lower fat and sodium than the average takeout version - and it's Gluten Free to boot!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings 10


  • 2 tbsp Ketchup (make sure the brand is Gluten Free)
  • 1 cup Water
  • ½ cup White vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Low sodium tamari soy sauce (I used San-J for this recipe. Kikkoman has one, too. Make sure it is labeled Gluten Free)
  • 1 cup Brown sugar (dark, packed)
  • 1 Red bell pepper (diced)
  • 1 Green bell pepper (diced)
  • 2 lbs Chicken breast (boneless, skinless, cubed)

To thicken sauce:

  • 2 tbsp Corn starch
  • 2 tbsp Water


  • Combine the first seven ingredients (that is, everything in the top group except the chicken) and mix until sugar is dissolved.
  • Add mixture to Crock Pot.
  • Stir in the diced chicken breast.
  • Cook on low for 4-6 hours or on high for 2-3 hours. (As individual Crock Pots may vary, please make sure the chicken is cooked to 165° for food safety).
  • At the end of the cooking time, mix together the corn starch and water in a small bowl. Stir into the slow cooker mixture slowly, and mix well to eliminate any lumps.
    -- If you prefer a thicker sauce, repeat this step until the desired thickness is reached. Please note that sauce will get slightly thicker as it cools.
  • Enjoy! (I like it over brown rice.)

If you’d like more recipes for these same specific dietary issues, head to these pages for all our gluten free recipes, dairy free recipes, nut free recipes, egg free recipes, and shellfish free recipes. For our full list of recipes, please visit our complete recipe list. For our full list of reviews of allergen free food and related products, please visit our review page.

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