Easy Sweet and Sour Meatballs Recipe (2024)

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This sweet and sour meatballs recipe is bursting with tangy pineapples and peppers. It’s an easy, 20-minute version of Chinese takeout.

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of all things sweet and sour. Sweet and Sour Chicken, Sweet and Sour Pork, and these sweet and sour meatballs are no exception!

Easy Sweet and Sour Meatballs Recipe (1)

Quick and Easy!

These sweet and sour meatballs are one of my favorite weekday dinner ideas when I’m craving those flavors.

The sauce has all the complexity, richness, and balance of a takeout dish. But because it uses pre-made meatballs, it takes less than 20 minutes to make. So anytime I’m craving Chinese takeout, I just make this easy recipe instead!

This recipe has a lot going on. There’s a rich sweetness from brown sugar and ketchup, some tang from the vinegar, pineapple chunks, and pineapple juice, and a fresh element from peppers and scallions.

It’s not as good as takeout – it’s better!

Easy Sweet and Sour Meatballs Recipe (2)

What Kind of Meatballs to Use

Use almost any type of premade meatball that you like for this sweet and sour meatball recipe. Try to find meatballs that are all-purpose, or neutral in flavor. Meatballs that have a strong flavor added to them might clash with the Chinese sauce.

Meatballs. I find ground pork meatballs are the best with the sweet and sour sauce, but beef meatballs work just fine, too. For a healthier option (but one that’s still juicy and packed with flavor), use chicken or turkey meatballs.

Homemade meatballs. Part of the beauty of this dish is its simplicity. By using store-bought meatballs, you’re able to make this recipe in under 20 minutes.

That said, To make these sweet and sour meatballs a little bit more gourmet, make your own meatballs. Here’s my go-to Easy Meatball Recipe. Use ground turkey, ground beef, or ground sausage.

Easy Sweet and Sour Meatballs Recipe (3)

how to make Sweet and Sour Meatballs

This recipe is so easy to make and takes less than 20 minutes!

SAUCE. Add brown sugar, vinegar, ketchup, soy sauce, and 2 cups of pineapple juice to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil.

In a small bowl, mix cornstarch and the remaining ¼ cup pineapple juice together, whisking to get out all the lumps.

MEATBALLS. Whisk into your skillet and add meatballs and chopped red bell pepper. Bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for 8-10 minutes until the sauce has thickened and the meatballs are heated through.

SERVE. Stir in pineapple chunks. Serve warm over rice.

Thicken the sauce. For a thicker sweet and sour sauce, add more cornstarch.

  • In a separate bowl mix together 1-2 teaspoons of cold water with an equal amount of cornstarch. Pour the mixture into the sauce and simmer.
Easy Sweet and Sour Meatballs Recipe (4)

Variations

Sweet and sour meatballs with pineapple are pretty perfect as is, but sometimes it’s also fun to change it up.

Make it spicy. Chinese food and spice go hand in hand. Turn up the heat with chili flakes or minced chilis when you add the meatballs and peppers for a deep, spicy kick. Or replace some of the ketchup with sriracha.

Veggies. The sweet and sour sauce goes well with the meatballs, but it also goes well with veggies. You can saute vegetables to use in place of the meatballs or simply add veggies along with the meatballs.

Carrots, broccoli, mushrooms, and onions will all go wonderfully with this sauce. Add them at the same time that you add the peppers.

Balance the flavor. Some people love a sauce that tastes sweeter, while others prefer a more sour sauce. Adjust the sweet and sour flavor by reducing or increasing the amount of pineapple juice or rice vinegar used.

Easy Sweet and Sour Meatballs Recipe (5)

Storing Info

How much to serve. These meatballs can be served alone as an appetizer or paired with sides and served as the main entrée.

  • Party appetizer: 2-3 (2-inch) meatballs
  • Main entrée: 4-5 (2-inch) meatballs per serving

Keeping meatballs warm. This recipe comes together so quickly that I don’t have a crock pot version. However, I will make this recipe and then keep them warm in a crock pot set to warm.

STORE. Sweet and sour meatballs will last in the fridge for up to 4 days if stored in an airtight container.

Reheat. The best way to reheat meatballs is in the oven, for 8-10 minutes at 350°F. This will help the meatballs retain their juicy consistency. However, if you’re in a rush, the dish reheats just fine in the microwave.

FREEZE these easy sweet and sour meatballs in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Defrost before reheating in the oven, stovetop, or microwave.

Easy Sweet and Sour Meatballs Recipe (6)

What to serve with Sweet Sour Meatballs

My favorite way to serve this sweet and sour meatballs recipe is simply over white rice. That’s really all it needs!

But it’s also fun to serve it alongside some other Asian dishes. Here are a few of my go-to dishes for pairing with this meatball recipe:

  • Homemade Fried Rice
  • Asian Citrus Chicken Salad
  • Fried Egg Rolls
  • Baked Cream Cheese Rangoon
Easy Sweet and Sour Meatballs Recipe (7)

Recipe FAQ

Do I use precooked meatballs for sweet and sour meatballs?

I used a package of precooked frozen meatballs for this recipe, but you can easily use uncooked meatballs. You will want to brown them in a skillet or broil them in the oven before you add them to the sauce to finish cooking all the way through.

Can I freeze sweet and sour meatballs?

I love a recipe that I can double so that I have extras I can freeze for later and this recipe fits the bill. Cook the sauce according to the recipe and toss it with the meatballs and peppers, before allowing them to cook, add the desired amount to a freezer-safe container. Freeze for up to 3 months. You can heat them up in the slow cooker or stovetop.

What do I do if the sweet and sour meatballs are too sweet?

You can balance out the flavor by adding in something acidic like more vinegar or citrus juice. If the dish is too sour, you can add a sweetener like more brown sugar, pineapple juice, or honey.

For More Meatball Recipes, Try:

  • Buffalo Chicken Meatballs
  • Asian Meatballs
  • Pineapple Meatballs
  • Chicken Pesto Meatballs
  • Grape Jelly Meatballs

Easy Sweet and Sour Meatballs Recipe (8)

Easy Sweet and Sour Meatballs Recipe (9)

4.98 from 392 votes

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

By: Lil’ Luna

This sweet and sour meatballs recipe is bursting with tangy pineapples and peppers. It's an easy, 20-minute version of Chinese takeout.

Servings: 6

Prep: 5 minutes mins

Cook: 15 minutes mins

Total: 20 minutes mins

Ingredients

  • ½ cup brown sugar loosely packed
  • ½ cup rice vinegar
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • cups pineapple juice
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 25 all-purpose meatballs (frozen is fine)
  • 2 bell peppers chopped (optional)
  • 1 cup drained small pineapple chunks
  • 2 tablespoons sliced green pnions for garnish
  • rice for serving

Instructions

  • Add brown sugar, vinegar, ketchup, soy sauce, and 2 cups of pineapple juice to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil.

  • In a small bowl, mix cornstarch and the remaining ¼ cup pineapple juice together, whisking to get out all the lumps. Whisk into your skillet.

  • Add Meatballs and chopped peppers. Bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for 8-10 minutes until the sauce has thickened and the meatballs are heated through.

  • Stir in pineapple chunks. Serve warm over rice. Top with green onion.

Video

Notes

Keeping meatballs warm. This recipe comes together so quickly that I don’t have a crock pot version. However, I will make this recipe and then keep them warm in a crock pot set to warm.

STORE. Sweet and sour meatballs will last in the fridge for up to 4 days if stored in an airtight container.

Reheat. The best way to reheat meatballs is in the oven, for 8-10 minutes at 350°F. This will help the meatballs retain their juicy consistency. However, if you’re in a rush, the dish reheats just fine in the microwave.

FREEZE these easy sweet and sour meatballs in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Defrost before reheating in the oven, stovetop, or microwave.

Nutrition

Calories: 325kcal, Carbohydrates: 42g, Protein: 11g, Fat: 13g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 6g, Cholesterol: 42mg, Sodium: 301mg, Potassium: 480mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 36g, Vitamin A: 1341IU, Vitamin C: 65mg, Calcium: 49mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Main Course

Cuisine: American, Chinese

Making this recipe? Tag us!

Share it with us on Instagram using the hashtag #lilluna, so we can see what you’re creating in the kitchen!

Adapted fromfoodnetwork.com

Categorized as: American Recipes, Appetizers, Asian Recipes, Beef, Cuisines, Main Dishes, Pork, Recipes

About Kristyn

My name is Kristyn and I’m the mom of SIX stinkin’ cute kids and the wife to my smokin’ hot hubby, Lo. My mom’s maiden name is Luna, and I’m one of the many crafty “Lil’ Lunas” in the fam. On this site I like to share all things creative - from recipes to home decor to gifts and home decor ideas. Welcome!

More About Kristyn

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Easy Sweet and Sour Meatballs Recipe (2024)

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