Most recipes for sweet and sour pork/chicken I see include pineapple example.

But what if someone does not like pineapple?

What are candidate substitutes?

Do they necessarily need to be fruits?

What purpose/taste-component does the pineapple serve?

  • 3
    Does the person in question generally like sweet and sour pork/chicken? If so, you probably don't need a substitute. Very often, people who don't like a particular ingredient actually like things that contain it, especially if it's something like this, where it's not apparent in the final dish.
    – Cascabel
    May 22, 2013 at 1:10
  • @Cascabel, the only thing I know is that one of the things they dislike is pineapple. I would like to make sweet and sour pork if possible cause I like it.
    – Vass
    May 22, 2013 at 11:07
  • 1
    Honestly, if no one had told me, I wouldn't have known pineapples were in sweet and sour sauce.
    – Jay
    May 22, 2013 at 14:50
  • 3
    @Vass Well, we obviously don't know how much they dislike it, but... as Jay said, most people don't even know it's in there if they've eaten it. On top of that, one of the main reasons a lot of people dislike pineapple is the texture, so if it's pureed, it may be a nonissue. Whether or not you can get away with it depends on your friend! (My favorite example is serving a pureed sauce containing onions to someone who hates onions.)
    – Cascabel
    May 23, 2013 at 2:03
  • 4
    Make sure the issue is taste preference and not a food allergy! I am allergic to pineapple and kiwi. I ended up nearly hospitalized because someone made a "fruit glaze" chicken and I didn't think to ask what the fruit was. It annoys people when I ask about ingredients but all too often there's a garnish or ingredient that wasn't listed and I have to send it back.
    – user29041
    Nov 2, 2014 at 19:46

7 Answers 7


The recipe title kind of answers the question--it is the sweet, and some of the sour. Pineapple also has a good firmness. Note that all of the below is speculation, as this is a most unusual substitution request, so I haven't tried any of this.

Fruit will best serve the role of both tart and sour, so almost every reasonable substitute is going to be fruit.

You have indicated you don't like the flavor of pineapple, which for your goal, is probably good as nothing else will provide that distinctive flavor. While my first choice would be to not make this recipe, where you don't enjoy one of the signature ingredients, if you do, then you want something that:

  • Has a good body and mouth feel the way pineapple does, even after the pureeing called for in the cited recipe
  • A floral, complex flavor
  • Something sweet and tart

In the recipe you cite, the pineapple is canned, so you are not losing its enzymatic action, as the enzymes in the pineapple were deactivated by the heat during the canning process.

What comes first to my mind is mango, perhaps with a mixture of lime and orange juice to replace the acidity of the pineapple juice, and maybe a touch of sugar to balance the flavor. You will have to find the right balance, depending on your particular fruit--you may want extra acidity from lemon juice, even, or perhaps extra sugar. I would use something that adds complexity like brown sugar or turbadino depending on where you live if it is needed.

If you try this, however, you will be inventing essentially a new dish, and will have to work out how long to cook the mixture.

Another more radical choice would be canned peaches, perhaps using some of their syrup for sweetness, and again, lemon or lime juice mixed with orange juice for the acidity. This will probably be even more divergent, but peaches have a good floral complexity, and with enough lemon juice, you should be able to find the sweet/sour balance. Of course, this would be far from authentic.

  • Mango would provide some enzymatic action too, unless it's also canned. May 22, 2013 at 10:06
  • 1
    I'd suggest tinned mandarins/tangerines. May 22, 2013 at 11:14
  • @PeterTaylor With the cooking method in the recipe given, the enzymes in the mango would be deactivated.
    – SAJ14SAJ
    May 22, 2013 at 12:44

To my mind the pineapple serves two purposes - to provide (some of) the sweetness of the dish, and to provide an interesting texture.

Adding some orange juice works well for the sweet flavour, but pieces of orange would not be the right texture. I find slices of water chestnut and bamboo shoot give a good texture combination to replace the pineapple chunks.


Canned lychee works really well, it is sweet, slightly floral and has a distinct texture that stays relatively firm during cooking.

There is a KAPOW (technical term for zowee) factor to the pineapple that really can't be duplicated.

Canned mandarin slice work well too, but they don't stand up to heat very well, need to be added at the very end.

The juice from both work well in the sweet component for a sweet and sour sauce.


Canned Mandarin Oranges might work for some recipes that are cold or room temperature. Once cut the have a similar texture & the juice is similar to pineapple juice and that would probably work in most recipes.


From personal experience of not having canned/fresh pineapples in the kitchen, I just used a bit of lemon juice and an orange cut into large chunks.


Peaches- apricots- oranges or juice- pineapple juice instead of chunks-


Chinese plum sweet & sour mix is one of my favorites. You can find recipes online. Also mango with a dose of red cane rum in it, but made about the same as plum. Use sweet, ripe to slightly overripe mangoes.


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