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Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Gluten-free sweet and sour meatballs are made without breadcrumbs. A simple meatball recipe using ground beef is paired with an easy and delicious sweet and sour sauce made with crushed pineapples as the base. This recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo, low carb, and keto.

gluten free sweet and sour meatballs in a black skillet with kitchen towel beside it.

Gluten-Free Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Ready for a delicious gluten-free meatball recipe!? It’s actually quite easy to make GF meatballs from scratch. The process is the same as you would a traditional meatball recipe, but without the added breadcrumbs.

The meatballs in this recipe are denser but taste so good when paired with this sweet and sour sauce.

There is no added sugar in this recipe – we’re just using the natural sweetness from pineapple.

The result is an easy, delicious meal that your family is sure to love.

Looking down at skillet with sweet and sour meatballs in red sauce on a marble countertop with plaid kitchen towel.

Ingredients You’ll Need

Here’s an overview of the ingredients used for this meatball recipe:

  • Ground Beef – You’ll need 1 lb of extra lean ground beef.
  • Tapioca Starch – This is used in replacement of flour or breadcrumbs from traditional meatball recipes. Tapioca starch is gluten free and a great ingredient to have in your pantry. It can be used to thicken soups, pies and gravies in replacement of flour.
  • Crushed Pineapple – You’ll need one can of crushed pineapple. Look for a brand that has no added sugar.
  • Tomato Paste – A small 6 oz can of tomato paste is used for the sauce.
  • Soy Sauce – Look for a low-sodium and gluten-free brand. Alternatively you can also use tamari sauce or coconut aminos.
  • Garlic Powder – You’ll need garlic powder for the meatballs and the sweet and sour sauce.
Close up of meatball recipe in frying pan.

How To Make Sweet and Sour Meatballs

  1. Make The Meatballs – Add the ground beef, garlic powder, tapioca starch, salt and pepper to a large bowl. Break up the ground beef and mix with the spices until it’s evenly coated. Use a cookie scoop to roll into balls.
  2. Make The Sauce – In a separate bowl, mix the crushed pineapple, tomato paste, soy sauce, and garlic powder together. This will be the sweet and sour sauce.
  3. Brown The Meatballs – 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.
  4. Add the Sauce – Once the meatballs have browned add in the sweet and sour sauce. Stir together and let it simmer for about 15 minutes. This will thicken the sauce.
  5. Serve and Enjoy – You can eat these on their own, or with a side of rice, quinoa, buckwheat groats, pasta or mashed potatoes.
Meatballs added to white bowl with skillet beside and wooden spoon.

Dietary Substitutions

  • Make it Gluten-Free: This recipe is already gluten-free. You can use a gluten-free grain to pair with the dish. For example, quinoa, rice, or brown rice pasta.
  • Make it Low Carb or Paleo: Skip using a whole grain for the side and eat the meatballs on their own, with a salad or roasted vegetables. You could also add leftovers to a lettuce wrap.
  • Make it Dairy-Free: This recipe is already dairy free!
  • Make it Sugar-Free: There is no added sugar in this recipe. However, there is natural sugar from the crushed pineapple. If you are diabetic or sensitive to sugar, I recommend eating in smaller quantitites. You can also skip the crushed pineapple and make a tomato sauce instead from crushed tomatoes or diced tomatoes.
meatballs in a white bowl with a fork. Skillet with leftovers beside the bowl.

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Gluten-Free Sweet and Sour Meatballs

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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 201kcal



Sweet and Sour Sauce:


  • Make The Meatballs: Add the ground beef, garlic powder, tapioca starch, salt and pepper to a large bowl.
  • Mix together until spices have evenly coated the ground beef.
  • Use a cookie scoop or a spoon and roll the ground beef in your hands to create the meatball shape. Set aside.
  • Prep Sweet and Sour Sauce: Add 1 can of crush pineapple (including the juices), tomato paste, soy sauce, and garlic powder to a large bowl and stir together until mixed. Set aside.
  • Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat with a bit of cooking oil (I used coconut oil). Add the meatballs.
  • Cook until they are browned on each side. Use a fork to gently flip them over.
  • Once meatballs are browned, add in the sweet and sour sauce. Let simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occassionally.
  • The sauce will cook down by the end. Remove from heat and serve on its own or with a side dish like rice, quinoa, or pasta.

Equipment Used

Calories: 201kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 70mg | Sodium: 678mg | Potassium: 856mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 648IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 28mg | Iron: 4mg

Nutrition Info Note: The actual number of servings will depend on your preferred portion sizes and the size and number of what you make. The nutritional values provided above are just an estimate. Actual numbers will vary based on brands you choose and the ingredients you use.

If you’re looking for more specific details (for example, to track your macros) then I recommend adding specific brand ingredients and this recipe to a food tracker app on your phone.

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