Gluten Free Sweet and Sour Pork Recipe

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by Carol Kicinski on September 19, 2010

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Gluten Free Sweet and Sour Pork Recipe

I don’t often lament the fact that I need to be gluten free.  But I will say one thing I miss is take out Chinese food!  There is just something about getting home, tired and hungry, picking up the phone and having some nice person bring food right to your front door.  Plus I love eating the food right out of the paper Chinese take out boxes with those cheap wooden chopsticks in front of the TV after a long day.

Why no more Chinese food on a gluten free diet?  Well for one thing, in my experience, almost every food item contains some soy sauce so unless you have a Chinese restaurant that makes everything to order (and they are usually not the ones who deliver) and you can request no soy sauce in your food, your gluten free diet is foiled right there.

Another thing is MSG.  Lots of places advertise that they do not add any MSG.  With a little research, I found this statement to be true but misleading.  They do not ADD MSG but if they use prepared products from China (which a lot do) the sauces and other products come with MSG already in them from China. And to make matters worse, the MSG in China contains wheat, unlike the MSG in the U.S.

And then of course there is cross contamination. If your rice paper wrapped, guaranteed soy sauce and Chinese MSG free spring roll is fried in the same oil as the wontons you are, well, fried.

If you happen to be lucky enough to have a gluten-free Chinese restaurant that delivers in your area, then yeah!  If you happen to be like most of the rest of us, the answer is to make your own.

I did a little experiment the other day and decided to see if I could easily whip up some gluten free Sweet & Sour Pork in the same amount of time it would have taken the delivery guy to show up.  And I can!  The trick is to get everything cut up and mixed first then start your woks!

This recipe is loosely based on one I saw Emeril make a while ago.  His was with shrimp and he used, of all things, maraschino cherries.  Yep, that’s right; they are not just for garnishing Manhattans anymore.  At first I was skeptical about adding the maraschino cherries to my sweet and sour pork but then I did some research and found that most of those red sauces in Chinese places contain either maraschino cherries or the juice in them. Besides, this was Emeril, who was I to argue?  Turns out I loved the cherries! They added not only a nice pop of color but a great sweet counter point to the tang of the pineapple, onions and peppers and the richness of the pork.

If you really, really want to eat your gluten free Sweet & Sour Pork out of the container in front of the TV, then get yourself some  Chinese take out boxesGluten Free Sweet and Sour Pork Recipe Image from the craft store or your local Chinese joint and have fun!

Gluten Free Sweet and Sour Pork Recipe

Gluten Free Sweet and Sour Pork Recipe


1½ pound lean pork tenderloin, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes – use divided
9 tablespoons gluten free chicken stock – use divided
¼ cup ketchup
¼ cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons wheat free soy sauceGluten Free Sweet and Sour Pork Recipe Image
3 teaspoons corn starch
2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
1 medium white onion, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 bell peppers (green, red, yellow or orange or a combination) cut into 1 inch pieces
1 – 8 ounce can sliced water chestnuts in water, drained
1 – 20 ounce can pineapple chunks in juice, drained and juice reserved
18 maraschino cherries, drained and patted dry
1 green onion, thinly sliced on the diagonal for garnish


In a mixing bowl, toss the pork pieces with the ginger, garlic and ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes.  Let set while preparing the rest of the ingredients.

Prepare the sauce by mixing ¼ cup of the reserved pineapple juice with 6 tablespoons chicken stock, the ketchup, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce and remaining ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes in a small mixing bowl.

In another small bowl mix the remaining 3 tablespoons of chicken stock with the corn starch until well blended.

Heat a wok Gluten Free Sweet and Sour Pork Recipe Imageor large skillet over high heat. Add the oil and swirl it to coat the sides and bottom of the pan. Add the pork mixture and stir fry for 5 minutes or until they are cooked through. Remove the pork from the pan to a plate and set aside. Add the onions, peppers and sliced water chestnuts and stir fry until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Add the sauce mixture to the vegetables and cook, stirring until the sugar dissolves and it comes to a boil. Add the cornstarch mixture, the pork (along with any juices that have accumulated on the plate), the pineapple chunks and the maraschino cherries. Cook until everything is heated through and the sauce has thickened, about 2 minutes.

Garnish with sliced green onions and serve with hot rice.


This Gluten Free Sweet and Sour Pork Recipe serves 6

The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the blog owner’s. This blog accepts free manufacturers’ samples and forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation. Affiliate links may be included in this post.

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

The Celiac Husband September 19, 2010 at 7:11 am

OK. These images make me book a flight to China.
I am overdue anyway.


Heather @CeliacFamily September 19, 2010 at 7:16 am

Oh my, another recipe I MUST try. And, I'm thinking that the cherries will inspire my kids to try it, too! (My son created a meal with maraschinos he calls Chicken Cherry Hot Dog when he was 3. Still one of his favorites.)


Jenn September 19, 2010 at 2:03 pm

Oh I know my husband would just love this!!! Awesome recipe, I will definitely be trying this!


gfe--gluten free easily September 19, 2010 at 2:14 pm

Carol, these photos are gorgeous per usual and the recipe wonderful. But, most importanly, the post is so helpful and timely. I had a discussion with a support group member about the issues with eating Chinese out at most spots just the other day and she just emailed with follow-up questions. Now I'll just send the link along to your post and echo your concerns! Thank you!



Meg September 19, 2010 at 2:41 pm

Ooh I can't wait to try this! I never would have guessed about the addition of maraschino cherry syrup…do you know where to find maraschino cherries *without* high fructose corn syrup (other than homemade)?


Fuat Gencal September 19, 2010 at 4:17 pm

Merhabalar, Ne kadar iştah açıcı görünüyor. Ellerinize sağlık.(Bugün bloglardan seçmelerde lezzet adasının saç kavurması tarifi yayınlandı.(
Sizinde her pazartesi yayınlamasını istediğiniz yemek tariflerinizi beklerim.



Diane-The WHOLE Gang September 20, 2010 at 3:29 am

I love sweet and sours. I've not had any for such a long time. After I make this dish I'm flying down for some photography lessons. Beautiful.


Heidi September 20, 2010 at 6:40 am

I LOVE IT Carol!!!!! This is soooo right up my alley with the takeout boxes! Your pictures are making my mouth water and it's not even 8am yet.

Can't wait to share this with everyone.



WendyGK September 20, 2010 at 10:13 am

Count me as one of those who miss Chinese takeout. My kids love sweet and sour, so this one should be a hit. Yep, I wouldn't ague with Emeril either.


The InTolerant Chef September 21, 2010 at 3:30 am

There is no way I would have thought of using marischino cherries! I always wondered how they got that red colour! What a cool idea..


Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella September 21, 2010 at 5:30 am

I never realised that Chinese food was off limits for GF eaters! Great way to eat it while still remaining GF! :D


Kim-Cook it Allergy Free September 21, 2010 at 10:34 am

Okay that looks amazing! I love the take out container! Your pictures are always so amazing and inspiring.
Coming from SF, I so so miss good Chinese food! I will definitely make this one to impress the hubby. And I never never realized that those cherries were a part of many of the chinese recipes! Yum!


Tasty Eats At Home September 21, 2010 at 11:56 am

When I saw this, I thought "Carol, you have more recipes that include marschino cherries than I've even made in my entire life!" But then I saw your reasoning behind the cherries, and so I can't blame you! This looks great. I love making Chinese "take-out".


Simply...Gluten-free September 21, 2010 at 12:07 pm

Hi Alta (Tasty Eats at Home),

For some reason the same comment showed up 7 times, so I deleted the extra 6:)


Sandy September 21, 2010 at 1:13 pm

So that's why I get ill everytime I eat Chinese food even though I am sooo careful! Thanks for this recipe, I agree the cherries add a nice pop of color and I think they will inspire my kids to try it as well :)


Lisa (bakebikeblog) September 21, 2010 at 2:31 pm

Oh this is wonderful! And yes – Chinese Restaurants are generally avoiding by me! Great tip re the MSG disclosure too – my neiece has a severe MSG allergy so I will be sure to pass that on.


Cynthia September 21, 2010 at 3:52 pm

Just stopping by to say hello to my fav gluten-free blogger!

Hey that pear-almond cakes looks so moist!


jacobithegreat October 1, 2010 at 5:20 pm

I really miss Chinese food too. This looks amazing.


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