Sweet and Sour Chicken (paleo, starch free)

by Sara Lilian



Sweet & Sour Chicken was one of my most favorite dishes to get at Chinese Restaurants when I was a kid, but it has been so many years since I have dared to eat anything that resembled the “real thing”. Baking the chicken in the coating of sesame seeds gives them the perfect light “crunch”, and the apricot based sauce provides a naturally tangy sweet, while the vinegar provides the lively sour.  If you try this recipe, please let me know what you think below in the comments! And if you do any modifications, please share those too!!

This little yellow jacket buzzed in and asked to try my sweet and sour sauce! He is so cute up close, isn’t he?

Sweet and Sour Chicken (paleo, starch free)

Servings: 2 to 4

Note: This dish can be served on it’s own (that’s how I enjoy it!) or over a plate of lightly sauteed cauliflower rice, or over lightly warmed shredded napa cabbage (yum!) or if you aren’t avoiding starches and prefer real rice, you can do that too! I have special notes to adjust this meal for 100% Starch Free and AIP at the bottom.


1/2 to 1 pound pasture raised, organic boneless chicken thighs or breast meat (or try using chunks of white fish or salmon*)
1/2 to 3/4 cup white hulled sesame seeds (omit AIP, see notes below)

1 to 2 cups pineapple chunks (fresh or canned in juice only)
1 small red onion
3 stalks celery
1 teaspoon coconut oil
Garnish: 2 green onions, chopped and a pinch sea salt
Optional: cucumber, broccoli, or bell peppers go great in this dish too!!


Set oven to 375*F.

Cut chicken into small chunks.

Dredge the chicken in sesame seeds and then set onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. You can easily omit the sesame seed, many of my recipe testers still enjoyed this dish without them!

Bake for 20 minutes at 375*F.

While chicken is cooking: Cut fruit and veggies into chunks

Sauté fruit and veggies in coconut oil over medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes.

Sweet & Sour Sauce

Sweet & Sour Sauce ingredients, you made need to double the sauce ingredients for a large batch or if you want your dish to be extra saucy! See AIP Sweet & Sour Sauce Recipes down below.


1/2 cup apricot jam, (fruit sweetened only)
3 Tablespoons, or more, rice vinegar (coconut vinegar, or lime juice)
2 Tablespoons coconut aminos
Optional: 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil


Mix the sweet & sour sauce ingredients together in a small dish, adjust vinegar and sweetness to taste.

At the last minute toss in 1/2 of the sweet and sour sauce into the veggie/fruit mixture you are coking. Stir well, then put the veggies on a plate.

Add the remaining sweet and sour sauce to the pan, then stir in the cooked sesame chicken to get a nice glaze on it. Pour the chicken over the fruit/veggies, and serve. Garnish with a pinch of sea salt and sliced green onions.

The leftovers make a great lunch when lightly reheated the next day!

*If you are eating Starch Free for AS, and highly sensitive to starch, just a heads up apricot jam can be a little starchy, so you can use 1/2 cup pineapple juice or 1/4 honey instead to be 100% starch free. I prefer it with the apricot jam though.

*If you are eating AIP, then omit sesame seeds, and cook the chicken the same way without it. Or you can coat the chicken in something AIP friendly like tigernut flour or tapioca flour, but these ingredients are starchy (if avoiding starches, just cook chicken naked)

For AIP, you can also make your own apricot jam by soaking 1/2 cup dried apricots in water for an hour, and then blending it the soaked apricots with enough of the soaking water.

*I sent this recipe to my friend in Alaska, and she said it turned out great when she used chunks of salmon instead of chicken. She coated the salmon in sesame seeds and baked it, though I think you might lower the baking time a bit for fish to around 15 minutes.

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