These Chinese Chicken Balls are puffy on the outside, juicy on the inside, and served with the best sweet and sour sauce. Learn how to make batter for chicken balls the right way!
Do you love Chinese buffet-style food? Try my Sweet And Sour Pork next!
🥡 About This Recipe
Fried Chinese chicken balls are one of my favorite dishes at Chinese-American restaurants. You can't resist the bite-sized chicken pieces in a puffy crust and dipped in a sweet and tangy sauce.
This recipe was taught to me by an actual Chinese chef.
Make sure you fry the chicken at the right temperature. 350℉ is perfect. This will ensure that the chicken cooks quickly without becoming too oily.
🍗 The Chicken Ball Batter
The chicken ball batter is made with a mixture of flour and cornstarch. Chinese restaurants commonly use this combination to give fried foods a crispier and lighter crust.
The secret to a puffy crust is in the amount of baking powder. I did several trials and found that two teaspoons resulted in a perfect puffy crust. You can also use self-rising flour or carbonated water to achieve the same effect.
Using cold water in the batter is a must. This slows down the gluten development so the crust isn't dense and chewy.
- Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts: Today, we'll use 3-4 chicken breasts cut into 1-inch thick chunks. Chicken thighs can also be used.
- Cornstarch: Adds a light and crispy texture to the crust. It can be replaced with equal parts rice flour or other starches.
- Flour: Use all-purpose flour. You can also use self-rising flour or cake flour.
- Baking Powder: Gives the sweet and sour chicken balls their signature "puffed" appearance.
- Sugar: Helps give the crust a nice brown color due to caramelization.
- Cold Water: To avoid gluten formation in the batter, use the coldest water possible. The crust will become crisper as a result.
- Salt: A little bit to add flavor to the crust.
STEP 1: In a large mixing bowl, combine cornstarch, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
STEP 2: Whisk in the cold water until well combined. The batter should be thick but still easy to pour. You should be able to dip a chicken in and have batter stick to it, with a little bit dripping off.
STEP 3: Dip a chicken piece in the batter, ensuring it's completely covered, shake off excess, and lower into the hot oil one at a time. 3-4 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Drain on a wire rack.
Serve hot with a side of sauce (recipe follows).
🥫 Sweet And Sour Sauce
STEP 1: Bring brown sugar, ketchup, lemon juice, vinegar, water, and cornstarch to a boil in a small saucepan.
STEP 2: Remove from the heat and set aside until serving. The sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
🥡 Storage & Leftovers
Storing: Chinese chicken balls can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. The sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Reheating: Bake them at 375°F for five to seven minutes or until warm and crispy. The air-fryer will be even better. Pop them in at 400℉ for 2-3 minutes.
🍽 More Recipes You'll Love
Chinese Chicken Balls With Sweet And Sour Sauce
Sweet Sour Sauce
- ½ cup water
- 3 tablespoons ketchup
- 4 tablespoons brown sugar (or white sugar)
- 2 tablespoons vinegar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 ½ teaspoon cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon salt
Sweet and Sour Sauce
- In a small saucepan, combine all the sauce ingredients and bring to a boil.
- Remove from the heat and set aside until serving. The sauce will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine cornstarch, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
- Whisk in the cold water until well combined. The batter should be thick but still easy to pour. You should be able to dip a chicken in and have batter stick to it, with a little bit dripping off.
- Dip a chicken piece in the batter, ensuring it's completely covered, shake off excess, and lower into the hot oil one at a time. 3-4 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Drain on a wire rack.
- Serve immediately with sauce on the side.