Gluten Free Chinese-Style Chicken Balls with Sweet and Sour Sauce

Gluten Free Chinese-Style Chicken Balls with Sweet and Sour Sauce | The Baking Beauties

Ahh…this meal really hit the spot. We talked about it for days after. We were absolutely amazed & delighted with how well this dish turned out. Since going gluten-free last May, we haven’t done any Chinese take-out. We loved ordering the sweet & sour chicken balls; that was something everyone in the family enjoyed. We finally decided to try our hand at making our own gluten-free Chinese dinner, and let me tell you, we were over-joyed with how well it turned out! These Gluten Free Chinese-Style Chicken Balls with Sweet and Sour Sauce are not only gluten-free, but they are also the BEST chicken balls we’ve ever had…anywhere!

The batter mixed up quickly, the chicken fried up beautifully, the sauce was amazing as well. The sauce did not clump up when it cooled the way I’ve seen other homemade sweet & sour sauces do. The batter was perfect on the chicken, it wasn’t a huge doughy mass around a small piece of chicken, it was a nice thin, but crisp coating. We will definitely be making this again! Delicious!!

Gluten Free Chinese-Style Chicken Balls with Sweet and Sour Sauce
Sweet and Sour Sauce
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 teaspoon gluten-free soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup white vinegar (for a sweeter sauce reduce to 1/4 cup)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup cold water
Chicken Balls
  • 1 /2 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/3 cup potato starch
  • 1/4 cup tapioca starch
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups cold water
  • oil (for frying)
  • 2 lbs boneless chicken breasts, cut into chunks (you should get about 3-4 dozen pieces)
  • seasoning salt (optional)
Sweet and Sour Sauce
  1. In a saucepan combine the first 6 ingredients; bring to a boil whisking constantly.
  2. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to simmer stirring for 2 minutes.
  3. In a small bowl or cup dissolve the cornstarch in 1/4 cup cold water until smooth, then add to the simmering sauce stirring constantly.
  4. Cook stirring until bubbly and thickened (about 3 minutes, the sauce will thicken as it simmers).
  5. Cool to room temperature then chill.
  6. Remove from heat; set aside to cool.
Chicken Balls:
  1. In a bowl combine rice flour mix, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and water until smooth.
  2. Heat oil in a deep-fryer or Dutch oven to 375 degrees.
  3. Dip the chicken pieces into the batter, then drop in hot oil and fry until golden and the juices run clear (about 5 minutes).
  4. Remove to a paper towel.
  5. Sprinkle with seasoning salt immediately after frying if desired.
  6. Serve immediately with sweet and sour sauce.
Adapted from a recipe on


Gluten Free Chinese-Style Chicken Balls with Sweet and Sour Sauce | The Baking Beauties

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59 Responses to Gluten Free Chinese-Style Chicken Balls with Sweet and Sour Sauce

  1. betty r February 9, 2009 at 9:31 pm #

    Yummo..this looks fabulous! Good for you Jeanine! I’m happy that you can make some of your favorite dishes GF.

  2. pinga February 13, 2009 at 9:08 am #

    this looks great, I can’t wait to try it.
    but, in the sauce recipe, is it really only half teaspoon of soy sauce?

  3. Jeanine February 13, 2009 at 9:17 am #

    Yep, only a 1/2 tsp soy sauce (make sure it’s GF as well, if necessary). This sauce was amazing, I was very pleased with it, and can’t wait to to chicken balls again. :)
    If you find you want more soy sauce after tasting it, feel free to add some more to taste.

  4. Anonymous March 16, 2009 at 8:57 pm #

    Thank you for this awesome recipe. My gluten-free, 15 year old son came home from school today frustrated and tired of the dietary restrictions that come from being gluten-free. He really wanted chicken balls! I googled and voila, your amazing blog and an amazing gluten-free chicken ball recipe. You have made our day!

  5. Jeanine March 16, 2009 at 9:39 pm #

    Anon, you have just made my day! I can’t imagine being a teenager and having these restrictions, it’s hard enough to do this as an adult! I’m so glad that your son liked the chicken balls, we LOVED them! So great to be able to eat normal food. Foods that have been taken off your take-out lists. So glad to hear that this made his day. Thanks for your story! :)

  6. stepmomof2 May 21, 2009 at 9:08 pm #

    Hi, I recently discovered your blog and tried this recipe tonight. It was so good that the kids were fighting over it! I also made the restaurant style fried rice and it was a hit too. It’s great to have some new gluten-free recipes to try. Thank you!

  7. Jeanine May 22, 2009 at 11:30 am #

    I’m so glad that you liked them! We loved them too. I need to make them again soon. :)

  8. Kathleen @BubbleTummy December 26, 2009 at 10:10 pm #

    I made these for Christmas Eve dinner with all kinds of other Chinese food.

    They turned out awesome. Much better than the Chinese restaurant since they weren't doughy inside.

  9. Jeanine January 6, 2010 at 3:32 pm #

    That's great, Kathleen! Glad to hear that they turned out well for you guys. I think we'll have to make these again one day…soon…very soon… YUM! And I totally agree about being better than take out, they aren't doughy, and they aren't just a big piece of dough with a teenie, tiny piece of meat inside.

  10. chris February 1, 2011 at 9:12 am #

    I made these a couple of weeks ago and my husband absolutely loved them! He has celiac disease and misses so many things…and this is one he can have back!!! He even took them for lunch the next day and said they warmed up very well :) Thank you so much!! Now if I can find a good pizza dough recipe (hint, hint)….

  11. Jeanine February 1, 2011 at 9:29 am #

    @chris They are fantastic, aren't they? :) I'm not usually so confident, but I really think these GF chicken balls are better than any we'd ever had with take-out. so glad that your husband can enjoy it again.
    As for pizza…I make pizza quite regularly, and will have to write down what I do next time. I know it took us a LONG time to find recipes that didn't taste like cardboard (some, I couldn't even cut through, ugh!). I'll work on that. 😉

  12. beebokay February 27, 2011 at 12:06 pm #

    Wow. I can't wait to try this recipe. i haven't had anything like this in over 3 years now. Thank you for working on the leading edge.

  13. Jeanine March 1, 2011 at 8:16 pm #

    @beebokay Oh, 3 years without…then you MUST make these soon! We like them even better than any we ordered from take-out before going GF.
    Let me know how they work for you!

  14. Leana September 10, 2011 at 5:42 pm #

    I have made this recipe many times but my batter just dosen’t seem to stay on the chicken pieces. The batter is somewhat runny. How can I overcome this?

  15. evelyn September 20, 2011 at 10:07 am #

    This recipe is great! I thought i’d never have chicken balls again, but they tasted exactly as i remember them. The sweet and sour sauce was fantastic as well!
    Thank you so much for this!

  16. balvinder September 23, 2011 at 9:25 am #

    Hi Baking Beauties.
    You have been my mentor since I became gluten free I have tried many of your recipes. The first one I recently posted on my blog
    Do visit and I would love if you leave a comment to encourage me more. I am following you since I made my blog. It is fairly new.

  17. Maureen Fleury December 2, 2011 at 11:31 am #

    I noticed one poster said the batter didn’t stick to the chicken pieces. Do you have an answer for that? I need a workable recipe for Christmas Eve. Thanks!

    • Jeanine December 3, 2011 at 7:20 am #

      I’ve never really had that problem at all, but I would suggest maybe drying the chicken pieces before dipping them into the batter. The batter won’t stick on really thick, but it fries up just beautifully. Definitely a favorite in our family, and has been made numerous times. :)

    • jen April 29, 2012 at 3:25 pm #

      I juts made these and the batter stuck just fine. I rinsed and dried my whole chicken breats before cutting them into pieces though…

  18. Chris January 5, 2012 at 7:08 am #

    Made this last night. Amazing and simple!
    Some days just need something battered and fried.

    • Jeanine January 6, 2012 at 8:52 pm #

      “Some days just need something battered and fried.”

      Isn’t that the truth! Glad that you liked them!

  19. Rachel January 12, 2012 at 12:38 pm #

    I was wondering in the flour mixture where it says part, do you mean cup?

    I would like to make these this weekend, I am craving chinese food but really don’t want to accept the self torture of eating foods filled with gluten just to satisfy a craving.

    • Jeanine January 12, 2012 at 12:47 pm #

      Hi Rachel, If you already have an all-purpose gluten-free flour blend, feel free to use that in place of the flour. If you have to mix up your own, you can use the recipe above using any measurement you want for the parts. If you use 1/8 cup as a part, it would be 3/4 cup rice flour, 1/4 cup potato starch, and 2 Tbsp tapioca starch. Mix this together until blended. You will only have 2 Tbsp of flour mixture leftover using these amounts.
      Enjoy your Chinese feast!

  20. jen April 29, 2012 at 3:24 pm #

    Made these last night – AMAZING!!!! I can’t get enough! and sooo happy to have a recipe that is dairy and egg free! You have no idea how badly I was craving Chinese (yes, I am pregnant) but I can’t eat out at a restaurant due to my food allergies. THANK- YOU for this recipe!!!!

  21. Lorna October 22, 2012 at 11:45 pm #

    I have been copying your tasty recipes as there is a better chance they will get created if I have a recipe.
    I am enquiring about the sweet and sour chicken dish as to a workable substitute for the corn starch. My son, 8 years old, and I have bonus allergies of corn, dairy and soy. With baking I use guar gum, x. gum and yeast usually made from corn, El Peto from Ontario, Canada make yeast from potatoes. So there is always a way to work around the corn issue, but it is frustrating as many people do not think of corn as an allergy food. Also, in one of your other recipes, can’t remember which one, there was milk powder and egg replacer, what would be a replacement for each of these ? Amazingly, we are good with eggs. Thanks again for the recipes.

  22. Ms Do October 28, 2012 at 3:18 am #

    I’ve been planning on looking up a GF s&s sauce. Perfect timing. Thanks.

  23. GF Mom November 1, 2012 at 1:30 pm #

    Used for sweet and sour shrimp. I got a quick and easy recipe for the sauce and used my GF Soy Sauce. Steamed some rice and vegies and had a full course lunch!

  24. Lynda November 7, 2012 at 10:40 pm #

    These look AMAZING! We are not a gluten free family however we ARE a tree nut and seafood free family (my husband cannot eat seafood, so we can’t ‘order’ chinese take out for fear of cross contamination)
    I do have a question about this recipe though, we do not own a deep fryer or a dutch oven, how else could I cook these (and no, fatty food is NOT an issue when it comes to these yummmmmmy looking chicken balls!) :)

    • Jeanine November 7, 2012 at 11:02 pm #

      Ah, yes, cross contamination would be an issue with your family as well! Do you have a larger pot with a thick bottom (a bit heavier, not just a thin pot?). When deep frying on the stove, always use a frying thermometer to make sure the oil isn’t getting too hot!

      • Lynda November 10, 2012 at 11:04 am #

        I don’t have a ‘thick’ bottom pot, I was thinking I could just heat up veggie oil to deep fry the chicken balls, but am not sure that I wouldn’t catch the kitchen on fire lol

        • Jeanine November 10, 2012 at 11:15 am #

          Hmm…maybe it’s time to get one. 😉 Kidding, whatever you do, please be careful!

          • Lynda November 10, 2012 at 1:18 pm #

            I think I will have to wait until I have the proper tools to make these, shame though, they look and sound AMAZING! :) (it’s worth the wait)

          • Jeanine November 10, 2012 at 1:34 pm #

            Sounds like a good excuse to go shopping. 😉

  25. Tara December 28, 2012 at 9:52 pm #

    Made the chicken balls and sweet n sour sauce tonight…Wow! I haven’t had Chinese since being diagnosed this summer. This was a great, easy, delicious recipe–as good as or better than any sweet n sour chicken I’ve ever had! The only thing I did differently was to use natural canned chicken, and sauté up some red, orange, and yellow peppers. The whole thing took about 30 minutes (with help from my hubby:). Thank you so much for this fantastic recipe!

  26. Kathryn December 28, 2012 at 11:20 pm #

    Okay so I’ve actually been meaning to share this for a while now …. I make the batter for the chicken balls almost weekly. However I use it to batter fish. You are responsible for giving us back our Friday night fish fry. Oh and onion rings and omg deep fried mushrooms too! I halve the recipe for 1 lb of fish and substitute sorghum for the rice and sweet rice for the potato starch. So 1/2 of the all purpose mix would equal 1/4 cup sorghum + 2 Tbsp sweet rice flour + 2 Tbsp tapioca flour. Cut the meat , coat it with sweet rice then dip in batter – transfer to a plate to let excess drip then fry. Thought the substitutions might be useful to anyone avoiding rice or potatoes and maybe wanting calculations on the flour mix. I know when Gfree was new the mix ratios were a bit daunting especially when you don’t want to waste ingredients experimenting.

  27. Michelle Hoag January 11, 2013 at 1:36 pm #

    I am serving this up for dinner tonight. As I was cutting up my chicken I thought.. maybe I should just pop a couple in to taste test before serving to my family. OMG… they are amazing!! I just fried them up in veggie oil in my 5 quart skillet. I can’t wait to serve to my family and then tell them they are gluten free!! Thank you sooo much!!

    • Jeanine January 11, 2013 at 1:47 pm #

      What time is supper, Michelle?? :) I hope you like it as much as my family does, it’s a HUGE treat to have those for dinner! Have a fabulous weekend! :)

  28. Vivi February 18, 2013 at 3:47 am #

    Hi Jeanine,
    I am Chinese (born in Indonesia though), so I made this forever (I don’t even have recipe, just beat some eggs, add flour and baking powder then water, lol). We made this with all sort of meats; chicken, pork, shrimp). This recipe is so versatile. When I became celiac, I just change my flour to whatever GF flour that I have and they work well, always. I however season my meat with salt and pepper, before I mix it in the dough. I also put a lot of scallions, which add to both the colour and taste.
    I never put soy-sauce in sweet and sour. However, I put Chinese wine (you can get it in asian supermarket, but be careful, some of the brands ate not gluten free). I also love to put veggies (pineapple, cucumber, onion, bell pepper) to the mixture.

    • Jeanine February 18, 2013 at 8:46 am #

      Sounds great, Vivi! thanks for all the additional suggestions. :)

    • Penny March 7, 2013 at 1:45 pm #

      What is in Chinese wine?

      • Jeanine March 7, 2013 at 1:52 pm #

        Not a clue, Penny. I’ve never seen it.

  29. Penny March 7, 2013 at 1:35 pm #

    I wonder if we’d even miss that 1/2 tsp of soy sauce? (One of my kids has a soy allergy, too!) I’d love to make this!

    • Jeanine March 7, 2013 at 1:53 pm #

      Absolutely not, shouldn’t be a problem to omit it, just put in a pinch of salt instead.

  30. Vanessa March 7, 2013 at 3:24 pm #

    Hi Jeanine:

    Do you think your sweet and sour sauce could be used to make sweet and sour pork as well or does it work best as a dipping sauce?

    • Jeanine March 7, 2013 at 7:28 pm #

      I think it works best to pour over a cooked food, not sure how it would hold up to being cooked with the meat, it might get too thick and start to burn then.

  31. Jann December 28, 2013 at 9:05 pm #

    I just recently was diagnosed with a gluten intolerance so I’ve been slowly replacing all of my flours with gluten free ones. I saw this on my newsfeed and thought I’d give it a try. I ran out of cornstarch and substituted with potato starch; and the batter came out nice and crispy. These are indeed the best chicken balls I’ve tried!! Not doughy at all. Also the sweet and sour sauce was outstanding! Thank you for developing recipes for favourites I thought I would have to give up. I look forward to trying some other recipes.

    • Jeanine Friesen January 13, 2014 at 3:59 pm #

      So glad to hear that, Jann! It really is better than any take-out I ever had before! :)

  32. Kathy December 30, 2013 at 12:01 pm #

    Do you really use 1/2 cup ketchup. So many recipes use tablespoon,
    Just double checking, thank you for all your efforts in sharing recipes,
    The sauce was so sweet, not too much sour. May just be my taste,
    Thank you, I am chilling the sauce, I am sure my boys will devour it, we rarely have so much sugar,but everyone needs a treat, thank you again,

    • Jeanine Friesen December 30, 2013 at 1:47 pm #

      Hi Kathy!
      Yes, exactly as written, it is a very sweet sauce, just like the sauces from restaurants. If you want it a little more sour, add a few more tablespoons of vinegar, that should do the trick. :) Enjoy! We just ate our leftovers yesterday – YUM!

  33. Kathy December 30, 2013 at 3:20 pm #

    We just served this meal,thumbs up from 3 teen boys.
    In regards to corn, we substituted arrow root, as it has near the same weight,as we have corn intolerance, The color is lighter when fried, but taste great.
    For soy, we sub. Coconut amnios,as one son has soy issue.
    The arrow root in the sauce made it very thick, would use a bit less two tablespoons,
    Thanks again, rarely can we find egg free,dairy free,gluten free,soy free recipe that tastes great. My boys are thankful for this treat,
    Thank you again

    • Jeanine Friesen January 13, 2014 at 3:47 pm #

      Yes! When teenage boys give food thumbs up, it’s good! :) Thanks for sharing the substitutions you made, Kathy, I know it will help someone else to make it corn and soy free for themselves!

  34. Heidi January 13, 2014 at 7:47 pm #

    This was awesome!!!! My three teenage boys all loved it as well! Great replacement for an old favorite. Thank you!!!

    • Jeanine Friesen January 14, 2014 at 7:15 am #

      So glad that everyone gets to enjoy Chinese “take out” again. :)

  35. jackie June 25, 2014 at 1:36 pm #

    These are amazing! Thank you for sharing. I made these last night and everyone loved them

    • Jeanine July 24, 2014 at 7:45 am #

      Glad to hear that, Jackie! It’s a huge hit at my house too.

  36. Ashley Ferrell1 July 23, 2014 at 2:37 pm #

    Is there anyway I can bake this?? I am trying to find a healthier to cook this.

  37. Sarah May 5, 2015 at 10:52 am #

    For the chicken balls, it says “1 /2 cup brown rice flour.” Is that supposed to be 1/2 cup? Or 1 1/2 cup? I assume 1/2 cup (and that you accidentally put a space in there), but the batter ended up *really* soupy. So then I thought that maybe I was mistaken about the typo, and that it was 1 1/2 cup and I added a whole other cup of rice flour. Then the mixture ended up ridiculously thick. Like a solid block of starchy thickness.

    So I had to add water to water it down. It still worked though. It was pretty good!


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