Sweet And Sour Meatballs

These tender meatballs in a sticky, sweet and sour, and sticky sauce make for an incredible party appetizer. It takes just under 15 minutes to make these and always wins hearts in gatherings. Add veggies to upgrade it to a main course and serve with rice/noodles.

Close up of sweet and sour meatballs in a skillet.

Sweet and sour meatballs – Looking for a party appetizer that you can bring to the table with almost zero effort? The meatballs are coated with an Asian-inspired sauce that is sweet, savory, and just the right amount of sourness.

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A bag of frozen meatballs always comes in handy for this recipe but you can also make fresh meatballs from scratch. If making from scratch check out this Baked Chicken meatball recipe or these juicy meatballs made with ground beef and pork. These sweet and sour meatballs can easily be made into a main course by adding onions and peppers and can be served with rice or noodles.

Close up of sweet and sour meatballs in a skillet.

Ingredients for Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Ingredients for Sweet and sour meatballs.
  • Meatballs – Frozen or fresh pre-cooked meatballs. Any meatball will work here. If planning to serve as an appetizer, then I would suggest using it as mini cocktail meatballs.
  • Pineapple Juice– I prefer using reserved pineapple juice from a can. You can also use fresh or packed juice. if you are using pineapple juice other than a can and it is sour, then adjust the amount of sugar to balance the sauce.
  • Tomato Ketchup
  • Brown Sugar
  • Soy Sauce
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Vegetable oil – Any neutral flavor
  • Garlic – Minced
  • Cornstarch – to thicken the sauce

Steps To Make

  1. Assuming you are using pre-cooked meatballs, this recipe starts with making the sauce. Saute garlic in oil until aromatic.
  2. Then add the rest of the ingredients to the pan except cornstarch and meatballs. Let the sauce come to a low boil. Make a slurry of cornstarch and water. Gradually stir in the slurry until it mixes completely.
  3. Next, step is to add the meatballs. If using freshly cooked meatballs, add to the skillet and keep cooking on medium-high heat for the sauce to thicken completely. The sauce should coat the meatballs really well.
  4. For frozen meatballs, you really don’t have to thaw them. Add directly the frozen ones to the skillet. Lower the heat and cook covered for 10-12 minutes. The meatballs should cooked through. Add a couple of tablespoons of water if the sauce has thickened and starts sticking to the bottom of the skillet.
4 easy steps to make sweet and sour meatballs

Can we make it in a Slow Cooker?

These can easily made in a slow cooker. In fact, if you are planning to make these for a party, then this would be completely hands-off. In a crock pot add all the ingredients except meatballs. Let the sauce cook for an hour on high. Then add frozen meatballs and cook for another 2 hours until the meatballs are cooked through and the sauce has thickened.

Tips for Sweet and Sour Meatballs

  • To serve these as an appetizer, use cocktail meatballs that are small in size and work as an appetizer.
  • Want to make these meatballs for dinner, add veggies like red bell pepper, blanched broccoli, Onion wedges, etc
  • Reserved pineapple juice from the can has the perfect balance of sweet and sour. If you are using fresh pineapple juice or from a pack, then you might have to add more brown sugar (1-2 tablespoons) to balance.
  • The cooking time of frozen meatballs depends on their size. So adjust the cooking time accordingly.
Cross section of sweet and sour meatballs showing how juicy and moist they are.

More Appetizer Recipes

Tender Cocktail Meatballs in a Sweet and sour sauce
Flavours of Kitchen Logo

Sweet and sour Meatballs

Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
You need just 15 minutes to put together these delicious meatballs. The sweet, sticky, and sour sauce is oh so good.
Servings 4 servings


  • 18-20 Cooked Meatballs fresh/frozen
  • 1.5 teaspoons Vegetable Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic minced
  • ½ cup Low-sodium chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons Brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Ketchup
  • ½ cup Pineapple juice (reserved from a can)
  • 3 tablespoons Apple cider Vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Cornstarch


  • If the meatballs are frozen, no need to thaw. Just adjust the cooking time for the meatballs to cook through.
  • In a pan, heat oil. Saute minced garlic for 30-40 seconds until the raw smell is no more.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients to the pan except cornflour. Whisk everything and bring to a low boil.
  • Make a cornstarch slurry by mixing cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of water. Lower the heat and slowly stir in the slurry into the pan.
  • Let the sauce simmer for 30 seconds. Add the meatballs(if using fresh cooked meatballs). Toss for another 2-3 minutes for the sauce to thicken and coat meatballs.
  • If using frozen meatballs, then after adding to the pan, lower the heat and cover for 10-12 minutes for the meatballs to thaw and cook through. Note- Cooking time may vary depending on the size of the meatballs.
  • Garnish with chopped green onions.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 224kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 45mg | Sodium: 115mg | Potassium: 285mg | Fiber: 0.1g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 44IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 22mg | Iron: 1mg
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