Sweet and Sour Meatballs

This is a favorite meal of ours that I have been making for years. On Sunday evenings when I am planning our weekly menu, I’ll ask my husband to give me at least one meal suggestion. No fail, he either comes up with this dish or his other fave, Sweet and Sour Chicken. (By the way, I usually veto his suggestions, though, because I have so many recipes to try that I don’t like eating the same thing week after week. Rude, I know, but how will I ever try all these recipes before I die if I am making Sweet and Sour Meatballs or Chicken every week?)

These meatballs are also a huge winner with my kidlets. The meatballs are tender and perfectly seasoned, especially after baking in the simple sweet and sour sauce. For me, this is definitely a perfect weeknight meal – and we enjoy it often (but not as often as my husband would like)!

What To ServeBaked Brown Rice
Fresh, seasonal fruit
Spinach Strawberry Salad with Homemade Creamy Poppyseed Dressing

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Yield: Serves 4-6

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Ingredients

    Meatballs:
  • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef or lean ground turkey (If using beef, you don’t want the beef to be too high in fat because the fat will all pool at the bottom of the baking dish after baking – big time grody-ness in my book)
  • 3/4 cup quick oats
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • 1/4 cup barbeque sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Directions

  1. For the meatballs: Combine all of the ingredients and mix well. Form into about 12 balls, eacha bout 2 inches in diameter. Place in a casserole dish. Cover with sauce (below). Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Serve over rice.
  2. For the sauce: Combine ingredients and blend thoroughly. Heat in a small saucepan until combined and sugar is dissolved and pour over meatballs. (This dish is not overly abundant on sauce so if you enjoy things a bit saucier, double the sauce ingredients.)

Notes

Freezable Meal: After covering the meatballs with sauce, cover the pan with two layers of aluminum foil and freeze. To bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake covered without thawing for 1 hour. Uncover and bake 20-30 minutes more, until meatballs are cooked through.

http://www.melskitchencafe.com/sweet-and-sour-meatballs/

Recipe Source: adapted from Lion House Recipes

111 Responses to Sweet and Sour Meatballs

  1. Lauren says:

    I’m going to be making these tonight. I was wondering instead of serving them with rice, would they make a good meatball sandwhich??

  2. Anonymous says:

    I have fallen in love with your blog. Like Christine (above) I too share it with my sisters and others I know. I’ve tried so many of your recipes and have loved all of them. I tried this recipe tonight. I followed it exactly, but found that there wasn’t much sauce. I think it could use more. Also, the flavor of the sauce was very strong… it tasted as though it needed to be watered down. Any suggestions?

  3. Beer Lover says:

    i love meatballs and your recipe looks so yummy!

  4. Kitchen Gadgets says:

    Meatballs are my favorite ever since i was a child. Your recipe looks really yummy!

  5. Erin says:

    YUM! I was looking for a good meatball recipe!

  6. Rebecca says:

    Loved it! I substituted soymilk since my youngest has a dairy allergy. Also, since I used almost 2 lbs of meat, it made 18 meatballs so I doubled the sauce.I’d love to try it with ground turkey next time.

  7. James says:

    Wow.. this is awesome. I love meatballs. Thnaks for the recipe, let me try.

  8. Anonymous says:

    My husband LOVES these. He also LOVES the sweet and sour chicken. It’s funny that your husband requests them often too. Seriously, he could not stop saying how good they were. Isn’t that what every wife wants to hear?

    I cannot say how much I appreciate the time you take to cook and post all of these recipes. I am sure with 4 little kids that it cannot be easy. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! -Liz K.

  9. Rebecca says:

    I made these again the other night, and substituted turkey for the beef. I used lean turkey (I assume it was the 93%) and they were delicious. The only thing I noticed was there was more fat pooling around the meatballs than when I made them with beef. I’m not sure if its due to the turkey, or b/c I doubled the recipe. The baking dish at the bottom of the stove had more fat than the one on top. I doubled the recipe which gave me around 27 balls and I quadrupled the sauce. We’re on day 3 of eating these!The first time I made them my husband ate so fast and kept saying how much he loved them, and then he kept going back for more!

  10. Lauren says:

    I love the idea of using quick oats as a binder instead of breadcrumbs!

  11. Queen B. says:

    Sooooo …I’m giving up blogging for LENT… But that doesn’t mean I can’t ‘look up’ recipes online……. I’ll be making all your recipes since I”ll have so much time on my hands !THe chili was fabby ….

  12. Nicole says:

    Hey I posted this last week on my blog and I LOVE this recipe! I’ve made it at least every month for the last year now since I got it from you! THanks! Oh and your picture is 10000 times better than mine!

  13. Kristen616 says:

    That’s so funny, my husband is the same way! He requests sweet and sour chicken every week and I just have to veto it every so often! Anyways, these look fabulous! I KNOW my husband would love them!

  14. Ashlie says:

    Please Please PLEASE make a cookbook. I am now starting to get on your blog daily to get a recipe for dinner. I have printouts of your recipes I’ve copied and pasted laying around my kitchen and would love nothing more than to have them organized. And lets be honest, I’m not going to be the one to do it. So if you had a cookbook I could have that be my organization method. No more print outs:) Do what Chris Davis said. Something about amazon only printing out so many copies or something? You’d bank on it!

  15. Netts Nook says:

    I love this recipe I haven’t made them in ages yours look yummy.

  16. Abby says:

    Definitely gonna try these. I don’t like spaghetti and meatballs, but this is a totally different ball game. YUM.

  17. Erica says:

    Mmmm, I might make those tonight! My husband’s a little different – I can’t even get him to make requests! He just says he’s good with anything and that he’d rather have a back massage. :) If only food were his love language…

  18. Melanie says:

    blakeley – glad you liked these! Several people have mentioned that doubling the sauce is a good idea so I’m glad you liked it that way!

  19. Emily says:

    Oh your picture is really making me hungry! I am so going to have to try this out! It looks like a hubby tempter!

  20. Melanie says:

    Liz – your comments are awesome. Thanks for taking the time to let me know what you think about the recipes you’ve tried. And don’t forget to keep sending me some of your great recipes.

  21. Maris says:

    These sound so good! My mom always used to make sweet and sour meatballs for company whenever we had family gatherings or dinner parties. This recipe is slightly different from hers but sounds like it would be a fun one to try. Your photos look great!

  22. jen says:

    haha my husband is the same way. he always wants the same thing. lucky for him during my first trimester he got his wish!I have a sweet & sour recipe from my father, but I will have to try this one out as well. yum!

  23. Lynda says:

    Looks so yummy!I like the the fact that the meatballs cook in the sauce; a real time saver.

  24. Melanie says:

    Yong-Sook – it was so fun to see your comment on here. I’m glad you liked the meatballs! Thanks for letting me know.

  25. Melanie says:

    Christine – your comment was so appreciated – it made my day. Thank you! I’m so glad you liked the sugar gem recipe and the rolls. Thanks for letting me know!

  26. Melanie says:

    Lauren – I like my meatball sandwiches more with a tomato-style sauce, so for me, these wouldn’t make great meatball sandwiches with the given sauce. However, if you made the meatballs and changed sauces to a tomato sauce, they would be great. I actually have another recipe on this site for wonderful meatball sandwiches if you want it: http://mykitchencafe.blogspot.com/2007/12/marianns-meatball-subs.html

  27. Chelsea and Cody says:

    I love sweet and sour meatballs, Cody on the other hand, not so much! But, I think I will slip it into our menu here soon and see if he tastes it!

  28. blakeley says:

    These were so yummy. I am a sauce kind of girl, so I automatically doubled the sauce and was glad I did. It was my favorite part! I, too, may try it next with ground turkey just to cut down a bit on fat.

  29. Woodbury Family says:

    I made this Sunday for my large family. I doubled the recipe and it was a really good thing because we were literally fighting over the last meatball. Everyone raved about them. So delicious! Thanks for another great recipe.

  30. Netts Nook says:

    Sounds like a great recipe can’t wait to try. Thanks for sharing you recipe.

  31. Aaron.Shara.Abby says:

    I would love to make this for our Sunday dinner, but was wondering if I could do it in the crockpot. Have you tried it before?

  32. Melanie says:

    Woodbury Family – thanks for letting me know your family liked these! I appreciate you checking back in to let me know.

  33. D says:

    Think I will have to make this tonight!

  34. Melanie says:

    Rebecca – I’m so glad you liked it and thank you for checking back and detailing your changes…that is helpful to anyone who might want to make it. Thanks!

  35. Melanie says:

    Jessica – thanks for letting me know you tried this recipe and liked it. I’m so glad they were a hit with your little girl – that is always good news!

  36. Julie says:

    ooh these sound divine!!!

  37. grace says:

    this is exactly how i like my balls o’ meat–the mustard is such a key player. bravo!

  38. Melanie says:

    Awesome, Rebecca! Thanks for letting me know the result with turkey. Glad that even after three days of eating the meatballs you aren’t tired of them!

  39. Ashlie says:

    Have you ever tried to re-make Great Harvest’s Fruit Bars? I’ve been looking for a recipe online and can’t find anything. (I went to GH this afternoon and they were all sold out). REALLY not a healthy choice, but delicious!

  40. Melanie says:

    Julia – I definitely think you could use ground turkey for these. I haven’t tried it before but I’ve used ground turkey for other recipes and it seems to do pretty well as a substitution for ground beef. Let me know if you try it!

  41. PheMom says:

    You know, I have wondered about that recipe for a long time. Now I’ll have to try it! Your meatballs sure do look great!

  42. Amy and David Ziehl says:

    Hey Mel- I made this tonight for dinner and just wanted to add something if I may….David and I loved the sauce and had thought that it needed some more. So I would suggest that if you LOVE sauce I would double or even triple it! We LOVE this dish!!

  43. Sook says:

    Thanks for this recipe. I made it with ground chicken and it turned out so good!

  44. Amy and David Ziehl says:

    umm….. YUM!!! Can’t wait to try this one out!!!!

  45. Leslie says:

    mmm..yummy..I love sweet and sour meatballs!!

  46. Christine says:

    I just wanted you to know that I love your blog. I use at as my new recipe book. I also send my friends and sisters to it all the time. Your sugar gem recipe is the BEST. So is your sour cream roll recipe. I think you rock.

  47. rookie cookie says:

    Looks so good. This might be dinner next week. I’ll return and give you a full report if so. I love it when people do that with my food. I am self-centered like that.

  48. Melanie says:

    Aaron.Shara.Abby – I’ve never done this in a crockpot so I don’t have any great advice. I’ve never cooked meatballs at all in a crockpot because I’m always afraid they’ll get mushy. I suppose you could bake these beforehand and keep them warm in a crockpot. Sorry I don’t have a good answer!!

  49. Julia from Dozen Flours says:

    Do you think these would work with ground turkey? We’re not beef eaters in my family. Yummers!

  50. Jessica says:

    These are so yummy! I made these tonight, and they were a BIG hit with everyone, especially my 17 month old daughter, who had refused food all day! Thanks so much, they are very easy, and taste great.

  51. Melanie says:

    Anonymous – thanks for your comment. I’m glad you liked this. It sounds like from several comments that maybe doubling the sauce is the answer for those that like things a bit saucier. I’m not sure what to tell you on the sauce question. I haven’t tried watering it down because I like the flavor but you might try adding a bit of chicken broth – although that would make it more watery and not as thick.

  52. Anonymous says:

    I used liquid smoke instead of worstershire, totally by accident! They were pretty good. I used BBQ sauce instead of the sweet and sour and called them Cowboy meatballs.

  53. Melanie says:

    Anonymous – wow, with liquid smoke and BBQ sauce, Cowboy Meatballs is an appropriate name. Interesting combo! I’m glad they still turned out alright for you. Thanks for letting me know.

  54. Jenni and Christian says:

    I’m really just learning how to cook and my in-laws happened to drop in the night I cooked this and they think I’m a master chef now! they turned out so good, and were delicious for lunch the next day too! These are now one of my husbands favs too!!! And we love sauce on our rice as well so I deifnitly doubled the sauce and it turned out perfect! :)

  55. Melanie says:

    Jenni and Christian – I’m thrilled that your in-laws are so impressed with your cooking skills! That’s awesome. Thanks for letting me know you liked this recipe – it is a favorite of my husband’s as well.

  56. Allison says:

    Okay, these are soooo delicious! I made them earlier in the week and I can’t stop thinking about them! THANK YOU!!! I’ll have to make them again!

  57. Melanie says:

    Hey Allison – thanks for letting me know you liked these!

  58. pipedi says:

    First let me say how much I enjoy – and trust! – your recipes. You and Aunt Marilyn have never let me down. Thanks so much!

    My question is, what type of mustard do you use? Is it dry, like Coleman’s in the yellow tin, or is it prepared, like Dijon or ballpark yellow?

    Thanks again for your terrific blog!

    Diane

  59. Melanie says:

    Hi Diane – thanks for your comment! As for the mustard, I use plain old French’s yellow mustard in the bright yellow plastic bottle. Hope that helps!!

  60. The Three Amigos says:

    Wow. That’s all I can say. I am a huge meatball fan, and am even more that I’m pregnant. I just made these and I’m seriously about to eat the entire pan. BUT, I won’t, because I have self control… Anyway, yet again I’m blown away by the flavor and how EASY this was. They are juicy… and oh so amazing. Thanks!

  61. Melanie says:

    The Three Amigos – glad to see your comments on here and I’m really glad that these meatballs were a hit! Thanks for letting me know (now go fill your pregnancy craving and eat your heart out!).

  62. [...] it is cheaper to buy it in bulk), bulk up and win an arm wrestle or two for me, won’t you? Sweet and Sour Meatballs Two Years Ago: Z’Tejas Style [...]

  63. Helen says:

    question about the sauce – is it dry mustard or something else? thanks.

  64. Mel says:

    Helen – the mustard in this recipe is plain old yellow mustard, not dry. Like the mustard you would put on a sandwich.

  65. Nicole says:

    This one works with elk meat too just like the teriyaki ones. I thought elk meat would be crumbly and not hold together with meatballs, but not so- they turned out great! I make these a few times a month, so I wanted to add my 2 cents in- I never have cooked my sauce beforehand, so if anybody is short on time, just mix the sauce ingredients together, pour over meatballs and bake. I also use a baster and baste the meatballs with the sauce about 10 minutes before I take them out just to get them nice and covered.

  66. Mel says:

    Thanks, Nicole – now I’ll be curious to know how many others cook with elk meat!

  67. Stephanie says:

    These were delicious! Another no fail go to recipe from you…everything I make of yours is wonderful. Thanks for going through the trial and error process for your readers!

    • Mel says:

      Stephanie – I’m glad that you had great success with this recipe! My husband is reading over my shoulder and saying he is jealous we didn’t eat that tonight. Oh well….maybe tomorrow!

  68. Danielle says:

    These were a huge hit. I’ve been on a bit of a meatless kick lately, and my husband was hankerin’ for some meat. These were perfect. BTW between these and your grilled pork chops, you may be solely responsible for getting some protein into my ever-picky 3-year-old! That puts you right up there with Mother Teresa in my book!

    • Mel says:

      Danielle – glad these meatballs helped everyone out of the meatless route and I’m happy your three-year old is ingesting a little protein in the process!

  69. Kat says:

    The sauce was a bit to strong for my husband’s taste, but I thought these were fabulous! Then again, I also grew up drinking warm water with apple cider vinegar and honey when the weather got cold and my throat got dry, so I’m used to that strong vinegar taste. I’ve also been looking for a plain meatball recipe and these meatballs (by themselves) are just what I’ve been looking for! Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      Kat – glad you found a good all-purpose meatball. Sorry your husband wasn’t a fan of the sauce but at least the meatballs saved the day!

  70. Jennifer says:

    These were so good! The kids ate them right up. Thanks for another Fabulous recipe!!!

  71. Heather Bell says:

    I love you!!! You saved me tonight when I went to make tacos and had no taco seasoning and instead made this yummy recipe!=) Now, please tell me some tricks for photographing food. I love cooking and would love to try a food website, but not sure where to start. Any tips you had would be great.=)

  72. Tomi Ann says:

    I have to tell you — I made these the other night and EVERYONE in the family ate them. Happily, even. My so-picky-I-usually-cry kids gobbled them up. THANK YOU!

  73. Jessica says:

    We all loved these! Some of us had them on rice, some of us had them on a bun. Perfect and easy. Thanks.

  74. Tanya says:

    Your recipes never fail me. Thank you so much! I made these tonight with frozen meatballs and they were yummy! I’m sure they would have been much better had I made the meatballs from scratch but I was in a time crunch.

  75. Sarah says:

    I made these tonight with ground turkey and they didn’t look so great but they taste awesome! There was a cloudy pool of fat around each meat ball but that didn’t scare my husband! I think next time I’ll set aside a little bit of the sauce to add before serving… I just really like sauce! :) Thanks so much for your website!

  76. Susannah says:

    Holy smokes…these were good! My husband exclaimed, “We have a winner!” My kids couldn’t have agreed more. I doubled the sauce, glad I did, and transferred the meatballs to another dish after baking to get rid of the leftover fat. I used the leanest beef at my store (not to exceed 7%), but there was still gunk on the bottom of the pan when I took them out of the oven. These are fantastic, and I’ve been thinking of them all morning. Can’t wait to have leftovers for lunch today. They’re SOOO good! Thanks for the EASY recipe! We’ll be eating these often. It’s my favorite recipe so far from your site.

  77. Trina says:

    Hi Mel, can you confirm what type of dish you cook these in? They didn’t fit in a single layer in a corning dish I have (without being tight together) so I cooked them in a 9″ X 13″ pan. Are your meatballs spread out or are they close together? They were very good but think I need a different pan for cooking them. I used a bbq sauce that has very little sugar and think the sauce could have been a tad sweeter. I’ll use another sauce or add more sugar next time. Thanks! I’m working my way through many of your recipes.

  78. Mel says:

    Trina – I use a 9X13 pan to cook them in. The meatballs aren’t touching but aren’t super spread out – probably half an inch to an inch apart. I just loosely set them in there and pour the sauce over the top.

  79. Lynn Gordon says:

    How would you modify this recipe to serve them as cocktail meatballs (besides doubling the sauce)?

  80. Mel says:

    Lynn – do you mean serving them as an appetizer? These are very soft, tender meatballs and probably won’t fare too well if you want to serve them on a toothpick or something like that. I’d suggest using a sturdier meatball if you want to serve them like that.

  81. Paulina Przyborowska says:

    HI,
    LOVED THEM!!!
    I was stuck for a yummy dinner idea and too lazy to go shopping. All the ingredients I had on hand, and the kids (5 and 7) loved helping me make them.
    The flavors were sensational, and everything came together so quick.
    I came across your recipe when I search Pinterest for sweet and sour meatball recipes. Pinterest is next in line as my Google :)

  82. Ava says:

    My family really enjoyed – but even though I bought lean beef it wasn’t lean enough because there was lots of fat in the bottom of the dish. Ick !

  83. Danica says:

    So I have had a bag of frozen meatballs from costco sitting in my freezer and didn’t know what to do with them (besides something obvious like spaghetti..) – and since we love the sweet and sour chicken I figured I’d give this a try. SO good and SO easy! Seriously this was great and the fact that I didn’t have to make the meatballs made it that much easier. Thanks!

  84. Julia says:

    I made these meatballs last night without the sauce. I tucked a cube of cheddar inside each meatball and baked them as the recipe directed. Delicious and both kids ate one! Thank you for all the recipes!

  85. Joy says:

    Could you bake these on a cooling rack on top of a rimmed cookie sheet without the sauce to eliminate that grease factor? Then add them to the sauce? I haven’t made them yet and am wondering if cooking them like that would ruin the texture.

  86. Julia says:

    I use lean ground beef and there is not too much fat pooling on the bottom of the dish. You could try the rack and see. My kids don’t like sauce, so I make the meatballs plain and they’re good (they dip them in ketchup). The texture is okay after cooking without sauce.

  87. Mel says:

    Joy – I’ve never baked them on a rack inside of a baking sheet but it’s worth a try!

  88. [...] Sweet and Sour Meatballs (frozen meatballs, grape jelly, chili sauce) [...]

  89. Megan says:

    Awesome recipe! I have a recipe from a friend I got years ago that has the same ingredients, just a few in different amounts. I am a big fan of these….so filling.

  90. trude says:

    I have tried this recipe and just wanted to tell you how much we loved it!!!the meatballs have a great taste and texture and the sauce is easy-peasy and oh so good. and the leftovers (if any) make really yummy sandwiches. Thank you for this recipe

  91. Amy says:

    I made the sweet and sour sauce last night to go on meatballs we have. It was really easy to put together and we’ll definitely make it again. Thanks!

  92. Stephanie says:

    I tried this recipe recently and it was delicious and so easy. Pretty much foolproof. I’ll double the sauce next time, but other than that it was perfect! Thank you so much for this site.

  93. Kristin says:

    WOW! So delicious!!!! Thank you!

  94. Meredith says:

    Made these for dinner tonight-oh my!! My most favorite meatball ever!! Super easy and sooo delicious; my husband really loved the sauce and wished that there was more, even though I had doubled the sauce prion of the recie, as suggested.

    We also ready enjoyed your slow cooker Greek chicken recie this weekend; another repeater, for sure!!

  95. Lynda says:

    My kids love pineapple, can I add a can and when?

  96. Grinch says:

    Absolutely love this recipe. Thse meatballs look wonderful!

  97. susan says:

    do you think they would be just as good without the worstershire?

    • Mel says:

      Susan – you’ll have to experiment; I think they should be fine – you might want to add a dash of hot sauce or something else to kick it up a bit.

  98. Danny says:

    What kind of bbq do you use

  99. Karen says:

    Hi Mel,
    These are sooooooo good! I used dry mustard by accident and they were still delicious. If you haven’t yet you should do this recipe on the “recipes the world forgot” series.

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