Sweet and Sour Meatballs with Pineapple and Bell Peppers, served over basmati rice and garnished with fresh cilantro

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

A close up shot of Sweet and Sour Meatballs.
Meatballs, pineapple, bell pepper, and water chestnuts; tossed in a sweet and sour sauce.
An aerial shot of Sweet and Sour Meatballs, garnished with fresh cilantro and sliced Thai chilies.
Sweet and Sour Meatballs, a 90’s staple recipe. Oh-so nostalgic for me!
A close up shot of Sweet and Sour Meatballs.
Serve over steamed rice to soak up the delicious sauce.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Sacha Hirschfeld
These Sweet & Sour Meatballs are a throwback to my childhood! Where are my 80's kids at?!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Freezer Time 10 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Mains
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 575 kcal


  • 1 large skillet
  • 1 pair of tongs
  • 1 medium bowl
  • 1 whisk



  • 1 lb ground beef
  • ¼ cup red onion grated or finely minced
  • 20 oz can of unsweetened pineapple chunks in pure juice ½ cup finely chopped pineapple for the meatballs; juice and remaining chunks reserved for sauce
  • ¼ cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil for pan-frying


  • 1 cup reserved pineapple juice add water if you’re shy of 1 cup
  • ½ cup rice vinegar
  • cup honey
  • cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch mixed in with 1 tbsp water or pineapple juice to make a slurry
  • 2 scallions thinly sliced (white and green parts divided)
  • 1 bell pepper chopped into 1″ pieces
  • 8 oz can sliced water chestnuts drained
  • reserved pineapple chunks
  • freshly ground pepper
  • fresh cilantro for garnish (optional)
  • Thai chilies for garnish (optional)


  • Add all the meatball ingredients (except olive oil) to a large bowl and mix to combine using clean hands. Take care not to over mix as this will result in tough meatballs.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll into 1" balls, placing meatballs on the lined sheet as you go. Transfer the meatballs to the freezer for 10 minutes to firm up before pan-frying.
  • Warm 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the meatballs, being careful not to crown the pan. I cooked this recipe (24 meatballs) in 3 batches. Cook until browned on both sides, about 4 minutes total. Transfer browned meatballs to a plate and set aside; they will finish cooking in the sauce shortly.
  • In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together pineapple juice, rice vinegar, honey, soy sauce, and ketchup. Pour sauce into a large skillet and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  • Meanwhile, make a slurry by mixing 1 tablespoon cornstarch with 2 tablespoons water or pineapple juice; whisk until all lumps are gone. Turn heat down to medium; whisk in the slurry.
  • Add the meatballs, bell pepper, whites of the green onion, and water chestnuts. Mix well, cover, and simmer for 8-10 minutes, until sauce is thickened and meatballs are cooked through. Add pineapple chunks and cook for another 2 minutes.
  • Garnish with green onion, cilantro, black pepper, and sliced chilies.
  • Serve over Jasmine rice or mashed potatoes.
Keyword Make Ahead Recipe, Pineapple, Weeknight Dinner

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