This easy Sweet and Sour Meatballs Recipe is made with frozen meatballs, juicy pineapple chunks, and sweet bell peppers in a mouthwatering homemade sweet and sour sauce. Serve with rice or noodles for a delicious dinner the whole family will love!
Easy Sweet and Sour Meatballs Recipe
I am all for making my family a delicious meal using frozen meatballs. Homemade meatballs are fantastic and certainly have their time and place, but frozen meatballs are just so much easier! Anyway, these sweet and sour meatballs (made with frozen meatballs!) are a recent dinnertime success story I had to share with you.
This recipe is perfect for anyone who loves a good sweet and sour sauce, pineapples, and juicy beef meatballs (although chicken or turkey meatballs will also work). I typically serve this recipe over rice (perfect for soaking up all that extra sauce), but noodles make an awesome second choice.
Can You Use Italian Meatballs for Sweet and Sour Meatballs?
I do not recommend using frozen Italian meatballs as they are usually seasoned with Italian seasoning or herbs like oregano and basil. Instead, look for frozen meatballs labeled “Homestyle Meatballs”. These meatballs are more versatile and taste better with sweet and sour sauce.
How to Make Sweet and Sour Meatballs
1. Combine the ingredients for the sauce (pineapple juice, water, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and Mirin) in a large pan and bring it to a boil. Dissolve the brown sugar in the simmering sauce, reducing the heat if needed to prevent the sauce from burning. Add the canned pineapple, reserving the juice in the can for the next step.
2. Whisk together the cornstarch with the reserved pineapple juice until any lumps have been dissolved. This “cornstarch slurry” is what will thicken the sweet and sour sauce. Slowly add this cornstarch slurry to the sauce, mixing well.
3. Add the meatballs and the chopped peppers. Toss to coat and cover. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until the meatballs are warmed through and the sauce has thickened.
- The pineapple juice is essential to the overall flavor of this recipe. Try not to skip it.
- To make this recipe in your slow cooker or Crockpot, first prepare the sauce on the stovetop as instructed. Transfer the sauce, pineapple chunks, frozen meatballs, and bell peppers to a large slow cooker and cook for 3-4 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low. In the last 30 minutes of cooking, add the “cornstarch slurry” to the sauce, mix well to combine, and cook until the sauce is thickened.
- Keep leftovers stored in an airtight container and in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- You may also freeze any leftovers for up to 3 months.
What to Serve with Sweet and Sour Meatballs
I like to serve these meatballs with a side of brown rice or cooked noodles and a side of veggies like steamed broccoli or bok choy.
Have you tried making this Sweet and Sour Meatballs Recipe?
Tell me about it in the comments below! I always love to hear your thoughts. And tag me #theforkedspoon on Instagram if you’ve made any of my recipes, I always love to see what you’re cooking in the kitchen.
Sweet and Sour Meatballs
- 1½ cups pineapple juice
- 1 cup water
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons Mirin - see notes
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 (20 ounce) can pineapple chunks - juice reserved (see notes)
- 4 tablespoons cornstarch - mixed with the reserved pineapple juice (about 4 tablespoons)
- 2 medium bell peppers - stemmed, seeded, and chopped
- 24 ounces frozen meatballs
- sesame seeds - to garnish
- chopped green onions - optional
- Whisk together the pineapple juice, water, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and Mirin (or substitute) to a large heavy-bottomed pan or skillet set over medium heat. Bring to a gentle boil.
- Reduce heat to medium-low. Add the brown sugar and whisk continuously until the sugar is dissolved in the sauce. Add the pineapple chunks and return to a simmer.
- Meanwhile, whisk together the reserved pineapple juice (about 4 tablespoons) with 4 tablespoons of cornstarch. Add to the simmering sweet and sour sauce, whisking well to completely combine with the sauce.
- Add the meatballs (frozen or thawed) and chopped peppers. Toss well to coat in the sauce. Cover and cook for approximately 8-10 minutes, or until the meatballs are heated through and the sauce has thickened.
- Serve garnished with sesame seeds or chopped green onions, if desired.
- Pineapple: You may use canned or fresh pineapple. If you plan to use fresh pineapple, add approximately 1-2 cups of chopped pineapple pieces (more if you really love pineapple).
- Pineapple juice: Most grocery stores sell pineapple juice. You can also buy pineapple juice on amazon.
- Mirin: If you can’t find Mirin, substitute with dry sherry or sweet marsala wine. You can also substitute with dry white wine or additional rice vinegar PLUS 1 teaspoon of sugar.
- Bell Peppers: I chose to add yellow and red bell pepper. Any color bell pepper will work in this recipe, or simply leave the bell pepper out if preferred.
- Leftovers: Keep leftovers stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)
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