Our Favorite Sweet and Spicy Main Dish Recipes
One of the best flavor combinations going is the seemingly odd-couple marriage of sweet and spicy. In many recipes, sweet alone would be cloying; and just spicy would be all pain, no pleasure; combined, though, it's a double whammy that delights us every time. We can't get enough of chili sauces tempered by honey, of spicy peppers pacified by a touch of brown sugar, or hot salsas cooled off with sweet pineapple. And here are some of our very favorite recipes that deliver both the sweet and the spicy.
Sweet and Spicy Stir Fry with Chicken and Broccoli
"Garlic, crushed red pepper, and chili paste add heat; hoisin sauce and ginger sweeten the deal," says amanda1432. "Great served over jasmine rice!"
Vietnamese Lemongrass Meatballs
Spicy, salty, tangy, and sweet flavors play well together in this ground pork meatballs recipe. "We enjoy these tasty meatballs served over a bowl of rice or wrapped in lettuce cups," says lutzflcat. "They also make wonderful appetizers. Leftover meatballs may be stored in the freezer in a resealable plastic bag."
Sweet Korean Crispy Chicken
"This yummy and addicting chicken recipe brings authentic Korean flavors together and creates sticky and sweet (with a little heat) goodness!" says Shelby Lynn. "Great for snacks at a dinner party or just munching on throughout the night. Garnish with chopped peanuts."
Pineapple Jalapeno Pizza
"Tropical goodness with a kick!" says Catherella1. "A perfect balance of sweet, savory, and spicy in every bite! A great party pleaser or a quick and easy meal for those hectic days!"
Pineapple Salsa Chicken
"These flavorful chicken breasts are grilled to perfection, then topped with a sweet and spicy, colorful pineapple salsa," says France C. "The dish is mildly spicy, however you can adjust the amount of jalapeno to suit your tastes. Use your favorite brand of seasoning and adjust the salt right before serving, as some brands are saltier than others."
Korean Spicy Chicken Tenders with Sweet Apple
The natural sweetness of apples balances out the spicy Korean red pepper paste. "The chicken is so tender," says mirikim03. "And the spicy Korean red pepper paste with the fresh big chunks of apple, celery, and bell pepper are just so wholesome and hearty. Serve with a bowl of steamed white rice, tortilla, pita bread, or sandwich bread."
Grilled Pork Burgers with Pineapple Salsa
"Slightly spicy grilled pork burgers are topped with a sweet and zesty pineapple salsa," says waterlily78.
Sweet, Sticky and Spicy Chicken
The sweet and spicy sauce is the star of this quick chicken breast stir-fry. It features garlic, hot sauce, fresh ginger, honey, brown sugar, and soy sauce.
Chicken thighs, carrots, and eggplant slowly cook with dried apricots, cranberries, tomato paste, and Moroccan spices. "This Moroccan slow cooker dish is the perfect blend of sweetness and spice," says KJones. Serve over couscous.
Sweet and Spicy Green Beans
"The flavors of this side dish are intense!" says COOKOFTHEHOUSE. "It is great as a starter to an Asian menu, or as a significant addition to a light stir-fry meal."
Marrakesh Vegetable Curry
"So yummy!" says Nikky. "I love the mixed taste of sweet and spicy, and this is a great balance." This curry features sweet potato, eggplant, spinach, zucchini, and peppers, along with blanched almonds, chickpeas, raisins, and spices. Enjoy over brown rice or couscous.
Sweet and Spicy Ground Beef Chili
"A meaty, sweet and spicy ground beef chili with ground beef, kidney beans, and tomatoes, great for fall football tailgates and parties," says John Neely. "This recipe makes a lot so be prepared to use a big pot!"
Sweet and Spicy Jerk Shrimp
"Get a taste of island life with Jamaican jerk-seasoned shrimp, juicy pineapple, roasted veggies, and spicy jalapenos," says Jamie. "Serve over salad greens or, for a heartier meal, with cooked brown rice."
Sweet Spicy Wings
A wing sauce made with Louisiana-style hot sauce, butter, honey, and cayenne gives these grilled chicken wings the full flavor treatment. "Sweet and spicy wings!" says Lisa I. "You can make two batches of the sauce, use one as a marinade before grilling the chicken, and pour the second batch over the chicken after it is grilled. It is not mandatory to do it this way, just better!"
Sweet and Spicy Pepper Relish
"This relish spices up everything from grilled cheese sandwiches to burgers and hot dogs," says foodinjars (Marisa McClellan). "Or, for an easy appetizer, spoon some over a block of cream cheese and serve with crackers."
Best Bulgoki - Korean Barbeque Beef
Thin slices of sirloin marinate in a spicy sauce of garlic, gochujang, dark soy, mirin, pear, brown sugar, and fresh ginger. "This is the best bulgoki recipe I've come up with, adapted from a few different ones," says mollymayo. "It is very forgiving and you can adjust sweetness and spiciness as you prefer. Serve over rice."
Crushed red pepper flakes and dark brown sugar play well together in this classic sweet and tangy sauce for caramel chicken, which also features rice vinegar, fish sauce, soy sauce, garlic, and ginger. "Quick and easy dinner recipe packed with flavor!" says cookingi.
Kimchi Udon Noodle Stir-Fry
"This is a sweet, nutty, and spicy kimchi udon stir-fry your whole family will love -- and it takes mere minutes to make from start to finish!" says chpmnk42. "Top with cooked eggs and shredded nori if you like."
Easy Pineapple Chicken
Add red chile flakes to the mix here for something sweet and spicy! "An easy weeknight dinner, this quick chicken stir-fry with pineapple is as delicious as it is colorful!" says Natasha. "Serve with rice for a complete meal, or fried rice for a treat. "
Simple Sweet and Spicy Chicken Wraps
Sweet, spicy chicken is simmered in salsa and then rolled up in flour tortillas with a cooling cucumber, honey, and pepper mayo. "Honey and salsa come together to make an easy summer meal that will rock your taste buds!" says Nuclear Rich.
Kai Kang Dang (Chicken Curry with Coconut Milk)
Sweet coconut milk tempers spicy red curry paste in this chicken and vegetable curry. "I'll definitely make this again—it was just as good as the Thai takeout we get all the time!" says Lauren Fitch.