Tender meatballs with a sweet and sour pineapple sauce, this easy Sweet and Sour Meatballs recipe makes a great appetizer or meal.
If you like this recipe with beef you may also enjoy our Creamy Beef and Noodle Skillet meal.
Sweet and Sour Meatballs with Pineapple Recipe
With an island flair this recipe is also known as Polynesian or Hawaiian Meatballs. The citrus flavor from the pineapple naturally creates the sweet flavor.
Simple ingredients that we always have on hand make this family friendly dinner easy to make. The pineapple tidbits create a bright and beautiful accent to the homemade meatballs.
If planning a party, this recipe can easily be made ahead and frozen with or without sauce. New Years Eve, tailgates, whatever type of serve yourself buffet food these meatballs fit in. Cooked meatballs can be easily warmed in a crock pot over low heat and served for longer periods of time.
Make meatballs and refrigerate. Warm in a crock pot over low heat and add sauce the day of the party for a fuss free appetizer. We like serving them with toothpicks or enjoying with a fork.
Lean Ground Beef – the featured ingredient, we like beef from our farm, Certified Angus Beef, or any other lean beef from the grocery store. Beef should be bright and reddish in color. White portions or fat should be visible as this add so much flavor to the dish.
Evaporated Milk – adds moisture and helps the ingredients bond together. Evaporated milk adds a richer flavor than regular milk which can be used in a pinch.
Onion – adds flavor and fiber to this beautiful meal.
Saltine Crackers – should be finely crushed, add substance to the meatballs while helping ingredients bind together. Fine bread crumbs can be substituted if needed, but will change the overall flavor of this dish just a bit.
Seasoned Salt – adds wonderful salty flavor along with a few other flavor profiles.
Sweet and Sour Glaze Ingredients
Pineapple Tidbits – give the recipe its classic sweet flavor naturally. The yellow triangles look so pretty served with the meatballs.
Cornstarch – helps thicken the glaze to get better coverage and stick to the meatballs.
Cider Vinegar – is acidic and gives the recipe its classic sour flavor. Vinegar provides great contrast to the other flavors involved.
Soy Sauce – includes salt and other flavor profiles.
Lemon Juice – a little more citrus and acidic flavoring to give the dish balance.
Brown Sugar – another sweetener that helps make the meatballs extra sweet. Sugar can be decreased if desired.
Do Meatballs Freeze Well?
These sweet and sour meatballs freeze very well. Cooked meatballs can be frozen plain without sauce or with sauce and reheated in a slow cooker when we are ready to enjoy.
Raw meatball mixture can also be prepared and shaped into balls. The key to freezing raw meatballs is to ensure they are not touching during the initial freezing process. If raw meat touches while freezing it will likely stick together and be more of a blob than meatballs when defrosted.
Once frozen individual meatballs can be placed in the same container or bag, just ensure separation during the defrosting process as well.
How to Make Meatballs
Generously coat a large baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray and preheat oven to 350°F
In a large mixing bowl stir together milk, crushed saltine crackers, onions, breadcrumbs and seasoned salt.
Crumble beef over mixture and mix well.
Use a cookie scoop or tablespoon to create equally sized meatballs. Wet hands will make rolling the balls into round shapes easier.
Place on the baking sheet with space on each side of the meatballs. Bake for about 15 minutes. Use a turner to flip meatballs and ensure they are not sticking to the baking sheet.
Return to the oven and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes until lightly browned and cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F.
Meatballs may be served immediately with warm glaze or cooled and then refrigerated or frozen without glaze to be warmed and served at a later date.
How to Make Meatball Glaze with Pineapples
Drain pineapple, but be sure to save the juice. Set pineapple aside.
Add enough water to reserved juice to equal one cup. Pour juice in a medium sized sauce pan along with vinegar, soy sauce, lemon juice, brown sugar and cornstarch. Use a whisk to stir until smooth.
Over medium high heat stir often and bring to a boil. Continue to stir until thickened which takes about 2 minutes.
Remove sauce pan from the heat and stir in small pieces of pineapple tidbits. Pour over cooked meatballs and serve warm.
- Using your hand to mix is often the fastest, most effective way to mix meatballs. A plastic glove can help keep hands more clean.
- I like using a larger cookie scoop to create evenly sized meat balls.
- Meatballs work well baked ahead of time and reheated in a slow cooker on low for 1 – 2 hours with fresh glaze for parties. Stir a couple times to keep meatballs covered with glaze and moist.
Safe Internal Temperature for Meatballs
Meatballs made with beef products should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F. Use a digital thermometer inserted in the center to ensure meat is cooked through.
Since ground meat touches a variety of surfaces during the grinding process always cook the entire meatball all the way through to the center to 160°F according to the USDA. There will not be any pink in the center of a properly cooked meatball.
What to Serve with Sweet & Sour Meatballs
Rice Pilaf made in the Instant Pot is super simple and goes great with so many meals!
Creamy Potato Bake is a simplified way to take instant mashed potatoes and add a little flavor. Regular Mashed Potatoes also taste great with these meatballs.
Air Fryer Broccoli makes a simple and delicious side dish. We omit the cheese to serve with these meatballs.
Buttery Noodles are another favorite side dish with the kiddos in our house!
More Easy Party Food Ideas
Cocktail Meatballs with grape jelly and chili sauce start with a similar base, but use a different glaze for more variety on the buffet table.
A Simple Fruit Tray and Vegetable Tray are always welcome and healthy additions to any party.
Potato Chip Dip made with cream cheese, ketchup and French Dressing with up your chip dip game!
Bacon Jalapeno Cheese Ball is another snack that packs lots of flavor in every bite.
More Easy Recipes with Ground Beef
Beef and Cream Cheese Stuffed Shells are a creamy and delicious
Crock Pot Spaghetti and Lasagna are similar yet simple ways to make classic meals in the slow cooker.
Printable Sweet & Sour Meatballs Recipe
Sweet and Sour Meatballs
- 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
- 5 ounces evaporated milk
- 1/3 cup onion finely chopped
- 2/3 cup saltine crackers crushed
- 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
- 20 ounces pineapple tidbits drain & reserve juice
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/2 cup cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/2 cup brown sugar backed
- In a bowl combine milk, onion, crushed saltines and seasoned salt.
- Crumble beef over mixture and mix well.
- Generously grease a large baking sheet and preheat oven to 350°F
- With wet hands shape into 1-inch balls and arrange on baking sheet with space in between each ball.
- Bake for 15 minutes and gently shake sheet to prevent balls from sticking.
- Return to oven for another 15 to 20 minutes until lightly brown and cooked through.
- Drain pineapple and reserve juice. Set pineapple tidbits aside.
- Add enough water to juice to measure 1 cup.
- In a saucepan combine pineapple juice mixture, vinegar, soy sauce, lemon juice, brown sugar and cornstarch. Whisk until smooth.
- Bring to a boil over medium high heat and reduce heat when mixture begins to boil. stir often for 2 minutes or until thickened.
- Remove sauce from heat and stir in pineapple. Pour over meatballs and serve warm.
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