Ground turkey Hawaiian Meatballs simmered in a sweet and tangy homemade pineapple teriyaki sauce. Serve these delicious little meatballs with a side of rice or wrapped in fresh and crispy lettuce for an easy, low carb, 30-minute meal.
Sweet and Tangy Hawaiian Meatball Recipe
The more I make, the more I fall in love with meatballs. Easy to make, delicious to eat, and so versatile. Sweet, savory, simple, or complicated, make your own meatballs with ground beef or ground turkey (as I did in this recipe) and call it dinner.
Today I’m excited to share with you this Easy Hawaiian meatballs recipe. Served with a sweet pineapple teriyaki sauce, these delicious Hawaiian meatballs are fantastic as a quick snack, main dish, appetizer, potluck recipe, and are always guaranteed to be a family favorite over at my house. Serve with all your favorite side dishes, a humble bowl of white or brown rice, or wrapped in lettuce wraps.
Ingredients in Hawaiian Meatballs
- Ground turkey
- Panko breadcrumbs
- Teriyaki sauce
- Green onions
- White onions
- Salt + Pepper
The ingredients are simple and basic. Meatballs shouldn’t be complicated or stuffed full of a million different things- unless, of course, that’s what you’re after. A little teriyaki sauce and a whole lot of onion- really, that’s all. Try not to over-think it.
The same thing applies to the sweet pineapple teriyaki sauce. I mean, sure, there are more than two ingredients, but the base is simple and super straightforward.
- Canned chunks of pineapple + the syrupy juice (I know I know)
- Brown sugar
- Teriyaki sauce
- Rice vinegar
- Red chili flakes
Yes, that is a whole lot of sugar in there. No, this recipe is not paleo or whole 30 or any of those other really hard lifestyle changes. However, if you’ve followed this blog for a little while now, then you probably know that I follow a lifestyle of BALANCE and MODERATION over EXTREMES. I have done extreme diets in the past and… I was actually quite good at it, but my body hated me for it.
I am a much happier person living a life of balance and moderation. The end.
Whoa, you guys. Do I need to get out or what?
Hawaiian Meatball Lettuce Wraps
Ok, so I just preached about balance and moderation, but how exactly are these Hawaiian Meatballs balanced? And what do I even mean by that?
Let’s start with the second question. When I say that I eat a balanced diet, I try to make sure that my plate is never filled with tons of carbs or tons of protein. There needs to be a balance there since my body needs carbs, protein, fruit, vegetables, and fat.
Right? Maybe? Who cares? Just get to the recipe…
Anyway, for this recipe, I knew that the pineapple teriyaki sauce would be filled with a lot of sugar. In general, I try not to cook super sugar-filled sauces on the regular, but…balance.
So, here I was forming a bunch of meatballs, about to pop them in the oven when I decided I would make a couple of changes.
- Instead of serving these awesome meatballs with white rice and loads of sweet and sour sauce, I thought…
- Lettuce wraps! A fantastic way to cut out carbs (aka glucose…aka sugar) and replace them with greens.
- You don’t have to do this, you guys – my husband still ate a big plate of rice, but why not try it?
- I also topped my lettuce wraps with more greens and chopped red onion. You can add even more veggies like green bell pepper or red peppers.
- Add additional sweetness by adding more fresh pineapple chunks, NOT more sauce because I don’t care what anyone says- fruit IS good for you.
Can These Meatballs be Made Ahead of Time?
Yes. Turkey meatballs are one of my favorite things to prepare ahead of time for various meal prep occasions. Whether you are looking for a pre-made weeknight dinner, or you want an easy take-along lunch, turkey meatballs, like these, are going to be your bff.
- Prepare the meatballs ahead of time, store them in the refrigerator, and make the sauce the next day.
- Double the recipe and have leftovers to get you through the week!
- Yes, they also taste delicious cold.
- If you’re really in a time crunch, use store-bought frozen meatballs and make the sauce homemade. Easy peasy!
Slow Cooker Hawaiian Meatballs
Everyone loves to cook meatballs in the slow cooker. Easy, and super convenient at keeping food warm for parties and get-togethers. To make easy crockpot Hawaiian meatballs simply,
- Prepare the meatballs (unless you’re using frozen). In a large bowl combine all ingredients for the Hawaiian meatballs then shape into approximately 14-16 small meatballs. Transfer to a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Brown your meatballs before adding to your slow cooker. Add 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil to a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs, working in batches if necessary, to brown for approximately 2-3 minutes on each side. It’s ok if they are not cooked through, but they need to be firm on the outside so that they don’t all clump together in your crockpot.
- As the meatballs are browning, prepare the pineapple teriyaki sauce.
Drain pineapple and reserve the pineapple juice in a separate bowl. Set pineapple chunks aside.
Add the reserved pineapple juice, brown sugar, teriyaki sauce, rice vinegar, ketchup, and red chili flakes to a saucepot set over medium-high heat. Bring to a gentle boil then immediately reduce heat to low. Dissolve cornstarch into water and transfer to simmering pineapple sauce. Stir to combine and remove from heat.
- Spray your slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray, add the browned meatballs. Cover with your pineapple teriyaki sauce and add the pineapples.
- Cook on HIGH for 2 hours, or LOW for 4 hours.
- Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve with toothpicks for easy eating.
More Meatball Recipes,
If you try making this Easy Hawaiian Meatball Recipe, please leave me a comment and let me know! I always love to hear your thoughts.
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Easy Hawaiian Meatballs Recipe
For the Turkey Meatballs
For the Sweet Pineapple Sauce
For the Lettuce Wraps (optional)
- 1 head butter lettuce
- chopped green onion
- diced red onion
- fresh micro greens
For the Hawaiian Meatballs
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl combine all ingredients for the ground turkey meatballs. Shape into approximately 14-16 small meatballs and transfer to your prepared baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Transfer to the oven and bake for approximately 15-20 minutes, or until internal temperature reads 160 degrees F.
For the Sweet Pineapple Sauce
- Drain pineapple, reserving syrup in a separate bowl. Set pineapple chunks aside.
- Add the pineapple syrup, brown sugar, teriyaki sauce, rice vinegar, ketchup, and red chili flakes to a saucepot set over medium-high heat. Bring to a gentle boil then immediately reduce heat to low.
- Dissolve cornstarch into water and transfer to simmering pineapple sauce. Stir frequently.
- When meatballs have finished cooking, add the meatballs and pineapple chunks to the sauce and continue to cook until sauce has thickened.
- Assemble your pineapple meatball lettuce wraps with all your favorite toppings or serve with cooked rice and a side of steamed veggies such as broccoli. Enjoy.
- Keep leftovers stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days.
- Check out this post to make your own teriyaki sauce recipe.
- Prefer to cook these sweet and sour meatballs in the slow cooker? Read the full instructions in the post.
- I used canned pineapple, but feel free to use fresh pineapple and fresh pineapple juice.
- Sometimes I'll add a dash of garlic powder or onion powder to my meatball mixture for extra flavor.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)