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Sweet and Sour Meatballs

These sweet and sour glazed meatballs are tender, flavorful, and oh-so-easy. Dress them up for a Hawaiian Luau style appetizer, or keep them simple for a weeknight dinner. Delicious served over fluffy white rice.

sweet and sour meatballs with pineapples and sesame seeds
Sweet and sour meatballs are the perfect appetizer or easy weeknight meal.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

It matters not that many years have passed since our cross country move away from family. Big family dinners are etched in precious stone, and I remember them well.

In fact, little has changed.  Our big family meals are still bursting with loudness and good eats. The food is like no other.  A mouthwatering array of both Asian and American dishes that everyone brings to the tables (plural), until there’s no more table left to be seen.

These sweet and sour meatballs remind me of food that’s simple yet celebratory, perfect for party appetizers yet devoured for dinner any busy night of the week.

sweet and sour meatballs with toothpicks
Sweet and sour meatballs are a balance of sweet, savory, and tangy flavors.

Scrumptious appetizer for parties

One of my aunts is famous for bringing delectable appetizers that taste as delicious as they look. These sweet and sour meatballs, thickly glazed and tender, remind me of such fabulous finger food.

These tender, juicy meatballs are every bit as tasty as they look.  They are the perfect balance of savory, sweet, and tangy.  Each bite delivers the succulent flavors of a Hawaiian Luau in a convenient cocktail meatball.

And, they are super easy to make. In fact, feel free to freeze baked meatballs for easy future meals.

sweet and sour meatballs on fork
For a simple weeknight meal, serve sweet and sour meatballs with fluffy rice.

Meatballs for Weeknight dinner

This is the appetizer that people will crowd around and eat more than their fair share of. Easy, delicious, and adored by adults and kids of all ages. I’m thinking these are also going to be a hit at someone’s next Game Day bash, too.

On the flip side, our family loves these sweet and sour meatballs over a bed of fluffy rice for dinner any busy night of the week.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs (Crock-pot)

5 from 1 vote
These meatballs are the perfect blend of savory, sweet, and tangy. You'll experience tender, juicy, succulent meatballs – great for party appetizers or an easy meal.
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
Total Time: 35 mins
Servings: 40 meatballs

Ingredients  

For the Meatballs

For Sweet and Sour Sauce

  • ½ cup pineapple juice
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 4 TB tomato paste
  • 2 TB tamari sauce, or soy sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 ½ TB corn starch, completely dissolved in 2 TB water

Garnish Options: toasted sesame seeds or diced pineapples.

    Instructions

    • Make Sweet and Sour Sauce: In a saucepan off heat, combine all Sweet and Sour Sauce ingredients; whisk to ensure there is no trace of white cornstarch left, as even a tiny bit of undissolved cornstarch will cause clumps. Turn heat on to medium and continue to whisk until tomato paste is smooth and sauce is thickened.
    • Set oven to 350F with rack on middle position. In a large bowl, mix together ground beef, bread crumbs, eggs, kosher salt, black pepper, pineapple juice, and onion powder. Form into 40 meatballs; place on large baking sheets. Bake 20 minutes, or just until meatballs are cooked through.
    • For Slow Cooker: add sweet and sour sauce and meatballs to the slow cooker, gently fold to coat with sauce. Cook on low setting for about 30 minutes or just long enough to warm up sauce (if sauce simmers for long, it will thicken too much.) Taste and add more kosher salt and black pepper, if needed. Switch to warm setting and serve saucy meatballs straight from slow cooker.
      For Stovetop: Add meatballs and sauce to a pot and let meatballs bring to a simmer; remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Transfer to serving dish and garnish as desired. 

    Notes

    *Seasoned, frozen meatballs may be baked according to package instructions, and then mixed with sauce, per recipe (although homemade ones will yield best flavor) 
    *Baked meatballs can be frozen for future use.
    *Sweet and Sour Sauce can be made several days in advance. Keep in airtight container in fridge until ready to use. 
    *You can freeze these homemade meatballs after baking, for easy future use. 

    Nutrition

    Serving: 1meatball | Calories: 50kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 23mg | Sodium: 19mg | Potassium: 88mg | Fiber: 0.03g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 17IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 6mg | Iron: 1mg
    Course: Appetizer
    Cuisine: Asian American
    Method: Bake, Slow Cooker

    Did you make this?

    Leave a comment below and tag @chewoutloud on Instagram

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    Recipe Rating




    24 comments

      • Mary

      When you say ground onions, what do you mean?

        • chewoutloud

        Ah, updated it to say onion powder. Thank you, Mary!

      • Shyla Young

      I have everything for this recipe because I think my son will love these!!! BUT I CANNOT find this Campbell’s Gawain luau sauce. Any suggestions? I checked target Walmart and KTA. and what’s a good side with these meat balls? Can’t wait to t eh them!!

        • J

        It’s been discontinued. I’m trying to find a replacement….

          • chewoutloud

          Yes, I just discovered that as well :/ I’ve re-tested the recipe using classic Asian sweet and sour sauce instead, and it’s just as delicious. You can find sweet and sour sauce in most major grocery stores 🙂

      • Shawn Scarbrough

      Hi!! I’m making these meatballs, right now, what size do I make the meatballs?

        • chewoutloud

        Hi, Shawn! I usually make mine about 1-1.5 inches diameter. Enjoy!

          • Jocelyn Williams

          How about already made of
          Meatballs ?

            • chewoutloud

            Yes, you can use pre-made meatballs 🙂

      • Trisha

      Question… if I use frozen meatballs do I need to cook them before I put them in crockpot?

        • chewoutloud

        No, you don’t need to precook them. Hope you love this, Trisha! Enjoy and thanks for coming over 🙂

          • Sylvia

          Hi there
          If I’m usung frozen meatballs should I cut out the egg and bread crumbs?

            • chewoutloud

            Yes, Sylvia, if using frozen meatballs, omit egg and crumbs. Enjoy!

      • Lisa

      Can coat the meatballs in the sauce in a half tray pan and cook them in the oven? It should come out the same right? If so, any idea on temperature and for how long? Thank you!

        • chewoutloud

        Lisa, you can absolutely do these in the oven, with sauce and all. I would try 350F for about 15 min, or just enough to thoroughly heat the meatballs. Once sauce is bubbly, it should be great. Enjoy!

      • Holly

      where can I find the campbells slow cooker sauce (Hawaiiam Luau) in stores in Edmonton?

        • chewoutloud

        Oh, I’m not sure about Canada. I get mine at any local super market… My best guess would be to try your largest nearby super market, in the prepared soups aisles. I’m sure the employees could help you out also. Thanks for coming over, Holly! 🙂

      • GingerSpice

      Hi, these look great and I”m going to make them!

      My only question is, can I make these meatballs ahead of time and then let them refrigerate overnight before adding them to the crockpot or should I just shape them and not actual bake them and leave them overnight to then bake them later and add to crockpot.

      Sorry, I’m planning on making these for a party and would like to do the prep work beforehand.

        • chewoutloud

        Yes, you can definitely make them ahead and add to crockpot the next day! 🙂

      • Liz

      These meatballs sound so good. Thank you.

      • Curious Girl

      I’m thinking of making the Hawaiian Luau Meatballs. It calls for ground onion? Is it granulated onion powder or an onion that you grate on your grater? Thanks!

        • chewoutloud

        Hi! Yes, just ground onion powder. Enjoy, and glad you’re here. 🙂

      • missfoodfairy

      Thank you for sharing these delicious meatballs – I just love meatballs! I’m in Australia and have never heard of the Campbells Hawaiian packet sauce. Would you be able to tell me the sort of spices that would be in that by any chance? thank you for the inspiration

        • chewoutloud

        Hi, Food Fairy :). This sauce is similar to a sweet and tangy sauce you’d get in sweet/sour Asian dishes. Such as sweet and sour chicken or pork. In general, a common blend would include pineapple juice, sugar, vinegar, and soy sauce/salt. Keep checking back, as I plan to have a sweet and sour chicken recipe post :). Thanks for visiting, and love your gravatar!

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