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Sweet and Sour Cabbage Stir Fry with Pork

This quick and easy Sweet and Sour Cabbage Stir Fry with Ground Pork will get your taste buds dancing! Serve over noodles or rice, or on its own for a light grain-free meal. Read the full post for a few substitution ideas and tips for making this recipe.

image of sweet and sour cabbage stir fry with pork in a bowl

When I mentioned to my husband that I am making sweet and sour cabbage, his response was "oh. uh, why?"

In his mind he pictured some kind of sauerkraut stir fry so I can't blame him for his initial reaction. I can blame him for doubting my recipe idea though. Does he really think I would feed him something that tastes bad? Does he have no faith in my cooking? So many questions.

This Sweet and Sour Cabbage and Ground Pork Stir Fry is a delicious crunchy stir fry made with a sauce that is similar to the sweet and sour sauce you get from Chinese takeout places... but without the artificial color or flavors.

In this dish, crunchy cabbage and browned ground pork are tossed together in with the tasty sweet and sour sauce.

image of sweet and sour cabbage stir fry in a bowl

Related recipe: Soba Noodle and Red Cabbage Stir Fry

Sweet and Sour Sauce

The sauce is a tasty, tangy sticky sweet sauce that is a perfect addition to stir fry. It's very easy to make from scratch with ingredients that you probably have in your pantry. The sauce comes together while you're cooking the rest of the recipe, so it actually doesn't take any extra time to prepare the sauce.

image of sweet and sour sauce

The recipe below makes just enough sauce for this cabbage dish, so if you would like to have some left over to use in another recipe, feel free to double the sauce recipe below. The sauce will keep well for up to a week in the refrigerator in a sealed container.

You can use the sauce in a more traditional stir fry recipe (such as with sliced chicken, peppers, snow peas, zucchini), or use it as a dipping sauce for chicken satay, meatballs, or shrimp.

You can also spice up the sauce by adding a squeeze of sriracha or a generous pinch or crushed red pepper flakes.

image of sweet and sour cabbage on a plate

Related recipe: Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

The Cabbage and Pork:

I absolutely love this recipe because it uses a large amount of cabbage that cooks down into a crunchy and tender stir fry. It's a great way to eat a large portion of vegetables in one serving.

If you want, you can grate a carrot or two and cook it with the cabbage. It'll add a burst of color and nutrients to this dish.

Ground pork is the protein in this recipe because pork is a very versatile ingredient that goes well with sweet and sour flavors (I mean, have you seen my Maple Glazed Pork Chops? Or my Honey Sriracha Glazed Pork Chops? Or my Pork and Vegetable Kebabs with Pineapple?). Ground pork is not greasy like ground beef, and it has a great crumbly texture that works really well with crisp sauteed cabbage. 

Don't want to use ground pork? Try this recipe with ground beef, ground turkey, chopped up pork chops, or thinly sliced chicken breasts.

Related recipe: Savory Cabbage Pancakes

How to make sweet and sour cabbage and pork:

Start by cooking the ground pork in a large skillet with a bit of salt and pepper. Remove the browned pork from the skillet and set aside on a separate plate. To the same skillet, add the chopped onion and saute for a few minutes:

image of sauteed sliced onion

Then add the cabbage right on top of the sauteed onion:

image of sauteed cabbage stir fry in skillet

After the cabbage cooks for about 10 minutes, stir in the cooked ground pork:

image of cabbage and pork in skillet

Then, add the sweet and sour sauce (reserving a few tablespoons for garnish) and remove from heat immediately. Transfer to a serving plate or directly into your bowls. Top with garnish: a drizzle of sweet and sour sauce and sliced scallions, toasted sesame seeds, and/or red pepper flakes.

image of sweet and sour cabbage stir fry with pork in a bowl

Related recipe: 20 Minute Hot Honey Chicken

What to serve with this Sweet and Sour Cabbage and Pork:

This recipe can make a great light meal on its own if you are trying to keep it healthy, or you can serve it over rice, over thick noodles such as linguine or udon (sort of a lo-mein type of situation), or over some super thin rice noodles. It will taste great either way, and the extra sauce from this dish will give lots of flavor to your rice or noodles.

So to recap:

  1. Make extra sauce if you like. Add spice to the sauce if you like. Use the extra sauce in other stir fries or as a dip.
  2. Serve this over rice or noodles, or on its own.
  3. Try a variation of this recipe, such as adding a grated carrot to the sliced cabbage, or using ground turkey, ground beef, chopped pork chops, or sliced chicken breast instead of ground pork. 

Other easy stir fry and cabbage recipes you will love:

Other ground pork recipes to try:

Did you enjoy this recipe? Let me know with a comment and a star rating below! And don't forget to save it for later on Pinterest:

pinterest image of sweet and sour pork stir fry with cabbage

 

image of sweet and sour cabbage stir fry with pork in a bowl
Print Recipe
4.67 from 36 votes

Sweet and Sour Cabbage Stir Fry with Pork

This quick and easy Sweet and Sour Cabbage Stir Fry with Ground Pork will get your taste buds dancing! Serve over noodles or rice, or on its own for a light grain-free meal. Read the full post for a few substitution ideas and tips for making this recipe.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Side Dish
Cuisine: Asian
Servings: 6
Author: Kate

Ingredients

Cabbage and Pork
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seed oil , divided (you can use olive oil instead)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1 onion , roughly chopped
  • 1 green cabbage (small, about 2-2.5 lb), chopped
  • Optional: diced scallion, red pepper flakes, or toasted sesame seeds for garnish
Sweet and Sour Sauce

Instructions

Cook the pork and cabbage:
  • Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil or sesame oil in a large skillet with high sides. Add the ground pork and let it cook for 2 minutes over high heat undisturbed, so that the bottom browns. Season with salt. Break up the meat with a spatula and continue to cook over high heat stirring frequently for about 5 minutes, or until the pork is fully cooked. Transfer the cooked pork to a large plate or bowl while you work on the rest of the recipe.
     
  • Add a tablespoon of oil to the same skillet and add the chopped onion. Allow to cook over medium-high heat for 1-2 minutes to let the onion caramelize slightly (but don't let it burn), then stir. Add the chopped cabbage and stir. Cover and cook for 3-5 minutes over medium heat. Remove the cover, stir, and continue to cook uncovered for another 3-5 minutes stirring frequently.
     
Make the Sweet and Sour sauce while the cabbage is cooking:
  • Combine all the ingredients directly in a small saucepan. Stir with a whisk or a fork and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes stirring every few minutes, or until the sauce thickens, turns translucent, and takes on a shiny reddish brown color. Remove from heat.
     
Finish the dish:
  • Add the ground pork and the sweet and most of the sour sauce to the cabbage skillet - reserve 2-4 tablespoons of sauce for garnish! Stir and cook for 1-2 minutes, until everything is heated through. 
     
  • Transfer the sweet and sour cabbage to a serving dish or directly to your plates. Add a drizzle of the remaining sweet and sour sauce. Garnish however you like - with chopped scallions, toasted sesame seeds, red pepper flakes, or a drizzle of sriracha.
     

Notes

  • Try this recipe with ground beef, ground turkey, thinly sliced chicken breast, or chopped up pork chops. 
  • The nutrition facts listed below are just for the sweet and sour cabbage and pork - without rice or noodles.

Nutrition

Calories: 383kcal (19%) | Carbohydrates: 35g (12%) | Protein: 15g (30%) | Fat: 20g (31%) | Saturated Fat: 6g (30%) | Cholesterol: 54mg (18%) | Sodium: 429mg (18%) | Potassium: 565mg (16%) | Fiber: 4g (16%) | Sugar: 28g (31%) | Vitamin A: 200IU (4%) | Vitamin C: 57.7mg (70%) | Calcium: 83mg (8%) | Iron: 1.7mg (9%)

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Sharon Breton

Wednesday 15th of June 2022

Little sweet but really tasty, in future I would lower the honey & brown sugar amounts & serve over rice to absorb some of the sauce. I also used a bag of mixed coleslaw & it worked awesome. Overall good, quick & easy🤩

Ann-Marie

Tuesday 8th of March 2022

My family including 3 small kids love this recipe. I started to also add matchstix carrots and bean sprouts. Tastes like an egg roll.

Dawn

Tuesday 7th of December 2021

Great recipe! I didn't have a few ingredients and it still turned out lovely. Any thoughts on if tomato paste would work as a sub for ketchup?

Also I don't see it claimed as gluten free, but a friendly reminder to anyone who would need it, soy sauce is not GF, but anyone who needs to be GF should have their substitution on hand!

Great recipe that came together super quick! Thank you!! :)

Kate

Thursday 9th of December 2021

I think a little bit of tomato paste should work instead of ketchup (use less, since it's concentrated!). Good point about the soy sauce, thanks!

Sylvia

Monday 22nd of November 2021

Holy cow, between 1/4 c honey and 1/4 c brown sugar, that is 1/2 cup of sugar in a dinner that serves 4 people. That's not including the sugar that is in ketchup. For a recipe that touts being healthier than Chinese takeout because it assumes Chinese takeout includes "artificial color or flavors" (what is this assumption based on?), I would respectfully disagree. I eliminated honey and cut the brown sugar to a few pinches-plenty sweet.

Kate

Tuesday 23rd of November 2021

Hi Sylvia, totally valid points! I'm glad you were able to modify the recipe to your liking.

Also wanted to point out that this recipe yielded 6 servings for me, so there was less sugar per serving than for 4 servings. It is on par with store-bought sweet and sour sauce in the amount of sugar. Second, it *is* sweet and sour sauce after all, not claiming to be a low-sugar sauce.

But I should have been more specific. I agree, it's not "healthier" than chicken and broccoli takeout with a non-sweet sauce, but the bright orange/red "sweet and sour sauce" in many Chinese takeout places near us do contain lots of funky ingredients that I would rather avoid (see: https://cdnimg.webstaurantstore.com/documents/nutrition/lee_kum_kee_sweet_sour_sauce.pdf and I've seen other labels that listed artificial flavors in addition to the colors) But you're right, I can't speak for all places, I am sure there are some great Chinese food places that make sauce from scratch without FD&C YELLOW NO. 5, FD&C RED NO. 40, or preservatives.

Anyway, I am glad you liked it without the honey, that's really helpful info for other people looking to make this recipe!

Best, Kate

Laurel A Sorensen

Monday 27th of September 2021

This was amazing! We make homemade krab rangoon, so had egg roll skins in the fridge....not as healthy, but I chopped up some into 1/2 inch squares, and fried them. Then sprinkled on top of the cabbage. Water chestnuts would have been a nice addition too. But talk about inexpensive, fast, healthy, and really good!!

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