Homemade sweet and sour meatballs are so delicious and easy to make. A simple meatball recipe using ground meat is paired with an easy and delicious sweet and sour sauce with pineapple chunks as the base.
Sweet and Sour Meatballs
This is one of my favorite recipes to make for dinner! Homemade meatballs are incredibly easy to make and cost way less than store-bought versions.
There are a few easy hacks to cut down on the cost of homemade meatballs too! You can use ground turkey which is my personal favorite because it’s leaner and way cheaper than ground beef.
You can also use a ground beef and ground pork blend which will cut down on the cost versus just using ground beef.
Another easy hack is to add lentils which will cut the ground meat down in half. Just check out my budget friendly meatballs recipe for details.
For The Meatballs
- 2 lbs ground turkey – I like to use ground turkey or a ground pork/ground beef mix for my meatballs. Turkey is leaner with less fat. And the beef-pork mixture tends to hold together more than just ground beef.
- 1 cup breadcrumbs – Flavored or unflavored breadcrumbs, panko crumbs or rolled oats will work.
- ¼ cup yellow onion – be sure to chop very small to help meatballs stick together.
- 2 large eggs – see notes in recipe card at bottom for substitutions
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp ground pepper
- ½ tsp garlic powder
For The Sauce:
- ¼ cup warm water
- 2 Tbsp cornstarch
- 1 cup pineapple juice – or orange juice
- ½ cup ketchup
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 cup pineapple tidbits – drained
- 1 green onion – chopped (optional)
How To Make Sweet and Sour Meatballs
Follow the steps below or see the full ingredients and instructions in the recipe card at the bottom of this blog post.
PREHEAT – Preheat your oven to 425°F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and set aside.
MIX – Using a large mixing bowl, combine 2 lbs ground turkey (or other ground pork / ground beef combo), 1 cup breadcrumbs, ¼ cup diced yellow onion (chopped very small), 2 large eggs, ½ tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp salt, and ½ tsp black pepper.
Break apart the ground meat – I like to use this easy meat chopper – and mix everything thoroughly. The ground meat should be evenly coated with all ingredients.
ROLL – Now you will make balls that are roughly 2” in diameter and place each one on the baking tray about ½” apart. I like to use a cookie scoop for this step but a measuring spoon will also work.
BAKE – Place each one in a single layer and bake at 425°F for 15-20 minutes, or until the juices run clear and the meatballs have been cooked through.
START SAUCE: Now mix 2 Tbsp of cornstarch and ¼ cup warm water in a small bowl together. Make sure there are no lumps.
STIR – Using a saucepan, add the cornstarch liquid, 1 cup of pineapple juice (or orange juice), ½ cup ketchup, ¼ cup brown sugar, 2 Tbsp soy sauce, and 1 tsp garlic powder.
THICKEN – Cook over medium heat but stir the sauce frequently to prevent it from burning. It will start to thicken after 2-3 minutes.
ASSEMBLE – Once the sauce has thickened, mix it with the cooked meatballs and pineapple tidbits. You can do this straight in the pot or in a large bowl. Serve it with cooked rice, pasta, mashed potatoes or quinoa.
- Make sure that the onion has been diced small enough for the meatballs. If not, the meatballs won’t roll into balls properly. You can use a cheese grater to help you do this, or just chop really small.
- Fry them – You can also cook the meatballs in a frying pan. Add a bit of oil to a frying pan over medium-high heat. Brown the meatballs on each side, flipping gently with a fork. This will take about 1-3 minutes each side.
- Change the size – For this recipe I made 2” diameter meatballs using a cookie scoop. But you can make them as big as you like. Just remember to adjust the cooking time to allow them to cook fully.
- Try Barbecuing – Once the outside of the meatball has cooked in the oven, transfer them to the barbeque to finish for a smoky taste.
- Use frozen – If you are in a pinch, use pre-made frozen meatballs instead of making your own from scratch. This will save time, and no one will know because the sauce is that good.
- Stir Often – when making the sauce, stay near the stove! I recommend stirring the sauce slowly for the full 2-3 minutes while the sauce thickens. This will prevent the sauce from burning. The sugar content can burn really easy and frequent stirring can help to prevent that.
How To Store Leftovers
If possible, I suggest storing the sauce separately from the meatballs until just before you need it. This will keep everything fresher for longer.
- Refrigerate – Store leftovers in the fridge using cling wrap or an airtight container for up to 3-4 days.
- To Freeze – For meal prep you can freeze the meatballs and sauce separately in an airtight container and freezer bag for up to 3 months.
- To Reheat – Thaw overnight in the fridge and reheat using a saucepan over low-medium heat. Or defrost and reheat in the microwave.
Tools For This Recipe
(Amazon affiliate links) – Check out all of my kitchen essentials here.
- USA Bakeware Baking Sheet (Extra Large) – I like to use larger baking sheets so you can cook more on them!
- Meat Masher – You can break up the ground meat so much quicker using this handy tool! It’s one of my favorites to help save time.
- Cookie Scoop Set – I use a cookie scoop to add the meatball mixture to the baking sheet. This helps to make sure everything is the same size.
- Meat Thermometer – Check when the meatballs are fully cooked by using this digital meat thermometer.
- Parchment Paper Sheets – I LOVE these parchment paper sheets! They are so easy to use and make cleanup a breeze. I highly recommend these. Just make sure you check the size to fit your baking sheets!
- 3.5 Qt Cast Iron Dutch Oven – Same size as the one I used in the pictures. It’s perfect for sauce making and one of my favorite pots.
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Sweet and Sour Meatballs
For The Meatballs:
For The Sauce:
- cooked rice - pasta or mashed potatoes for serving
- Cook the rice (or pasta or mashed potatoes) according to package instructions. Set it aside.
Make The Meatballs:
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
- In a large bowl, combine the ground turkey (or beef/pork combo), onion, egg, salt and pepper. Mix until everything is evenly coated and ground meat is broken apart.
- Use a cookie scoop or a measuring spoon to roll into 2" balls in between palms of your hands and place on the baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until cooked through.
Make The Sweet and Sour Sauce:
- Mix together the warm water and cornstarch in a small bowl until it's smooth without any clumps.
- Add the cornstarch liquid to a small pot along with the pineapple juice, ketchup, brown sugar, soy sauce, and garlic powder.
- Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently until the sauce thickens, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.
Assemble The Meal:
- Add the meatballs and diced pineapple to a large bowl along with the sweet and sour sauce. Toss everything together.
- Serve the sweet and sour meatballs on a bed of rice. Sprinkle on chopped green onion and sesame seeds if desired (it's optional).
The nutritional information provided is an estimate and is per serving.