Sweet and Sour Meatballs: tender meatballs simmered in a tangy sweet & sour sauce. Make them in the crockpot or on the stovetop; they’re easy & so delish!

Glazed sweet & sour meatballs in a white crock with scallions.

I’ve been meaning to share this recipe for sooo long! I’m so happy I’ve finally gotten around to it, because these sweet and sour meatballs are seriously delicious and so easy to make. I love them as a party appetizer!

Lately I’ve been trying to include more of these types of recipes here on Baking a Moment. We’ve done buffalo chicken dip, spinach artichoke dip, and a really fabulous chili recipe that my family just loves.

These kinds of dishes are THE BEST for entertaining. Keep them warm in a crockpot and your guests can graze on them all throughout the party.

It’s the same for these meatballs. Just set them out with toothpicks, and everyone will nibble to their hearts content.

Two sweet and sour meatballs on a cocktail pic, with a text overlay reading "Sweet & Sour Meatballs."

HOW TO MAKE THE MEATBALLS

This is a pretty basic meatball recipe that tastes great with just about any kind of sauce.

Overhead shot of ingredients for making homemade meatballs.

You can use any kind of ground meat you like, but I am partial to what they call “meatloaf mix.” It’s a combination of ground beef, pork, and veal, and it yields a really rich flavor and tender texture. But if you have trouble finding it at your supermarket, just use ground beef or ground turkey instead.

You’ll also need:

  • plain breadcrumbs
  • milk
  • a little finely chopped onion
  • egg
  • and a little salt and pepper for seasoning

Just mix everything together and then roll it into 1-inch balls.

Seasoned ground meat for making meatballs.

I like to portion my meatballs out with a little ice cream scoop. Here’s a link to one similar to what I have.

Rolling meatballs and placing them in a crock pot

Mist the insert of your crockpot with a little nonstick spray and carefully place your meatballs in an even layer. Then you can get going on the sauce.

HOW TO MAKE SWEET AND SOUR SAUCE

This sweet and sour sauce is made with ingredients you probably already keep on hand. No need to run out to the store for a can of pineapple, or anything like that! Just:

  • orange juice
  • brown sugar
  • ketchup
  • apple cider vinegar
  • soy sauce
  • and a little crushed red pepper for heat

Overhead shot of ingredients for making sweet and sour sauce.

(If you don’t like spice, feel free to leave out the crushed red pepper. Or if you want your meatballs spicier, add a little more!)

Top down view of homemade sweet and sour sauce in a glass bowl.

Whisk all of these ingredients together until smooth, and pour the sauce over the meatballs.

Pouring sweet and sour sauce over meatballs in a slow cooker.

Let everything simmer away for a few hours. And then about 30 minutes before you’re ready to serve, make your slurry. This will thicken the sauce to a sticky, glaze-like consistency.

Adding water to cornstarch to make a slurry.

Stir cornstarch and water together to make a slurry, then add that to the sauce.

Cornstarch slurry for thickening.

Adding cornstarch slurry to sauce to thicken.

After about thirty more minutes simmering, your meatballs will be glazed in a thick, luscious sweet and sour sauce.

CAN THESE BE MADE ON THE STOVETOP?

If you don’t have (or don’t want to use) a slow cooker to make these, you can definitely do them on the stovetop instead. Just put them in a heavy-bottomed pot (I’m especially partial to this kind.), and let them simmer over low heat until they register 165 degrees F on a meat thermometer.

HOW TO SERVE SWEET AND SOUR MEATBALLS

I really like these meatballs as a party appetizer, just garnished with sliced scallions and a little pinch of sesame seeds. Guests can eat them off of toothpicks, so they’re a really great finger food!

Overhead shot of sweet & sour meatballs in a white crock, with cocktail picks and a small plate of meatballs on skewers.

CAN SWEET & SOUR MEATBALLS BE A MAIN DISH?

You can totally make a meal out of these! Serve them over rice or noodles, alongside a nice steamed vegetable like broccoli or green beans.

Or you could split a baguette, add some pickled veggies, and tuck a few meatballs inside for the banh mi sandwich of your dreams!

CAN SWEET AND SOUR MEATBALLS BE MADE AHEAD?

If you’re pinched for time, try making this dish a few days ahead. Then just transfer them to your crockpot (or gently reheat on the stovetop) until warmed through and bubbling.

HOW LONG WILL SWEET AND SOUR MEATBALLS KEEP

These sweet and sour meatballs can be kept warm in the slow cooker for a few hours. If you have any leftovers, let them come to room temperature, and then transfer them to an airtight container.

They’ll keep in the fridge for several days, or in the freezer for a month or two.

Sweet and sour meatballs on toothpicks with scallions and sesame seeds.

Next time you’ve got something to celebrate, whip up a batch of these tangy sweet and sour meatballs! They’re such a fun party app and your guests will love them!


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Sweet and Sour Meatballs
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
2 hrs
Total Time
2 hrs 30 mins
 

Sweet and Sour Meatballs: tender meatballs simmered in a tangy sweet & sour sauce. Make them in the crockpot or on the stovetop; they're easy & so delish!

Course: Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: sweet & sour meatballs crockpot, sweet and sour meatballs, sweet and sour meatballs slow cooker
Servings: 48 1-inch diameter meatballs (approx.)
Calories: 45 kcal
Ingredients
For the Meatballs:
  • 1 pound ground beef, ground turkey, or meat loaf mix
  • 1/3 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
  • 1 egg (large)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
For the Sweet & Sour Sauce
For garnish (optional)
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
Instructions
To make the Meatballs
  1. Place the ground meat, bread crumbs, milk, onion, egg, salt, and pepper in a large bowl and stir together until combined.  

  2. Mist the crock pot insert with non-stick spray, roll 1-tablespoon sized balls of the mixture between your palms, and place in a single layer at the bottom of the slow-cooker. 

  3. Pour the sweet and sour sauce over the meatballs, and cook (covered) for 1 to 2 hours on high heat, or for 3 to 4 hours on low heat.

To make the Sweet & Sour Sauce
  1. In a smaller bowl, whisk the brown sugar, vinegar, ketchup, soy sauce, crushed red pepper, and orange juice together, and pour it over the meatballs. 

  2. About 30 minutes before serving, whisk the cornstarch and water together and stir into the sauce.

  3. Cover and continue to cook until the sauce has thickened.

  4. Garnish with sliced scallions and sesame seeds.

Nutrition Facts
Sweet and Sour Meatballs
Amount Per Serving
Calories 45 Calories from Fat 18
% Daily Value*
Fat 2g3%
Cholesterol 10mg3%
Sodium 113mg5%
Potassium 56mg2%
Carbohydrates 4g1%
Sugar 3g3%
Protein 2g4%
Vitamin A 35IU1%
Vitamin C 4mg5%
Calcium 9mg1%
Iron 0.3mg2%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.