Sweet and Sour Meatballs Recipe

5 from 137 votes
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My Mom’s sweet and sour meatballs recipe! These meatballs are baked in the oven in a retro sweet and sour sauce that can’t be beat!

Sweet and Sour Meatballs in a plate with rice
Sweet and Sour Meatballs

How to Make Sweet and Sour Meatballs

The success of these sweet and sour meatballs is all due to the sauce – and this is a great sauce. The ketchup is a must have in it, and adds that extra zing! Mike’s mom used to make this for him many years ago and it’s still one of his favorite recipes. The best sweet and sour meatball recipes simply must have ketchup in it, that’s what makes this classic old fashioned meatball recipe the best one you’ll ever taste!

  1. Combine the meatball ingredients : bread crumbs, garlic, salt, pepper, egg, onions and ground beef
    together in a stand mixer bowl. Use the paddle attachment and mix on low until combined.
  2.  Roll the meat mixture into meatballs, it makes approximately 24.
  3. Place the meatballs into a preheated 375°F oven.
  4.  After about 20 minutes, take the meatballs out and drain the fat.
  5. Now you can cover those meatballs up with sauce. Pour the sauce over the meatball, covering them
    completely. Finish cooking them until done. This can take up to another 20-
    30 minutes depending on the size of your meatballs.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs Recipe Video

Sweet and Sour Sauce ingredients

The sweet and sour sauce is really simple! All you need is:

  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour or cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup ketchup

How to Make Sweet & Sour Sauce

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 °F
  2. Mix the sauce ingredients together in a medium sized sauce pan until fully combined.
  3. Bring to a low rolling boil, and cook until it thickens. Remove from the heat and set aside.

close up Sweet and Sour Meatballs in a plate with rice

 

 Sweet and Sour Meatballs Recipe Step by Step Photos

Mix the brown sugar, soy,vinegar, water and ketchup in a pot.

Mixing the brown sugar, soy,vinegar, water and ketchup in a pot using plastic whisk

Combine the breadcrumbs, egg and ground beef together in a bowl.

combining breadcrumbs, egg and ground beef together in a bowl

Roll the meat mixture into meatballs, whichever size you want. I prefer slightly larger ones, they don’t dry out as quickly.

Pop them into the 375 degrees oven and start them cooking.

meatballs on baking pan ready for cooking

Mix your flour or cornstarch in cold water….

Pyrex measuring cup with flour and cold water mixed together

..and add it to the sauce.adding the flour and cold water mixture to the sauce

After about 20 minutes, take the meatballs out for a second, and drain the fat out of them. And to gross you out and demonstrate why I do this, look at the cup of fat that I drained. Eeeew.

draining the fat of meatballs

Now you can cover those babies up with sauce.

adding the sauce to cooked meatballs

Finish cooking them until done, and they look oh-so saucy and delish like this!

When cooking meatballs I like to insert a thermometer in them and make sure they have reached a temp of at least 165 degrees. With all the beef recalls lately, it’s far better safe than sorry! It’s also good to be familiar with safe internal temperatures.

close up Sweet and Sour Meatballs in a plate with rice

I love sweet and sour meatballs on rice, especially bad-for-you, white rice!

You don’t have to commit to eating these on rice, however. If you really want to go all retro, stick toothpicks in these babies and call them an appetizer. I’m thinking that these might make it into my second cookbook as just that : sweet and sour meatball appetizers.

Nothing says classy like a sweet and sour meatball on a toothpick…..

plate with rice topped with Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Happy cooking everyone! These meatballs are one of THE most popular recipes here on The Kitchen Magpie, and I’m sure it’s because they are a retro delight! Everyone loves a good sweet and sour meatball!

Also, if you love sweet and sour, check out my Retro Sweet & Sour Meatloaf

Happy cooking!

Love,

Karlynn

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My Mom's sweet and sour meatballs recipe. These meatballs are baked in the oven in a retro sweet and sour sauce that can't be beat! #meatballs #sweetandsour

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Sweet and Sour Meatballs

My Mom's sweet and sour meatballs recipe. These meatballs are baked in the oven in a retro sweet and sour sauce that can't be beat!
5 from 137 votes
Prep Time
5 minutes
Cook Time
40 minutes
Total Time
45 minutes
Course
Main Course
Cuisine
American
Servings
24 meatballs
Calories
156
Author
Karlynn Johnston

Ingredients
 

Meatball Ingredients

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup of diced onion   (if you like onion in them)

Sweet and Sour Sauce

  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour or cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup ketchup

Instructions
 

  • Preheat your oven to 375 °F
  • Mix the sauce ingredients together in a medium sized sauce pan until fully combined. Bring to a low rolling boil, and cook until it thickens. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  • Combine the meatball ingredients : breadcrumbs, garlic, salt, pepper, egg, onions and ground beef together in a stand mixer bowl. Use the paddle attachment and mix on low until combined. This makes for the BEST distribution of egg and crumbs through the meat!
  • Roll the meat mixture into meatballs, whichever size you want. I prefer slightly larger ones, they don’t dry out as quickly. 
  • Pop them into the 375 degrees oven and start them cooking.
  • After about 20 minutes, take the meatballs out for a second, and drain the fat out of them.
  • Now you can cover those meatballs up with sauce. Pour the sauce over the meatball, covering them completely.
  • Finish cooking them until done, and they look oh-so saucy and delicious. This can take up to another 20-30 minutes depending on the size of your meatballs.
  • When cooking meatballs I like to insert a thermometer in them and make sure they have reached a temp of at least 165 degrees. With all the beef recalls lately, it’s far better safe than sorry!
  • I love sweet and sour meatballs on rice, especially bad-for-you, white rice! Serve with the side of your choice.

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes

NOTE that  I make a double batch of these now, using two pounds of ground beef! This makes around 24!

Nutrition Information

Calories: 156kcal, Carbohydrates: 12g, Protein: 7g, Fat: 8g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 42mg, Sodium: 296mg, Potassium: 146mg, Sugar: 9g, Vitamin A: 35IU, Vitamin C: 0.7mg, Calcium: 23mg, Iron: 1.1mg

All calories and info are based on a third party calculator and are only an estimate. Actual nutritional info will vary with brands used, your measuring methods, portion sizes and more.

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Karlynn Johnston

I’m a busy mom of two, wife & cookbook author who loves creating fast, fresh meals for my little family on the Canadian prairies. Karlynn Facts: I'm allergic to broccoli. I've never met a cocktail that I didn't like. I would rather burn down my house than clean it. Most of all, I love helping YOU get dinner ready because there's nothing more important than connecting with our loved ones around the dinner table!

Learn more about me

Site Index Appetizer Beef Beef meatballs Ground beef Meatballs Sweet and sour

Reader Interactions

Comments & Recipe Tips Share a tip or comment!

  1. Darlene says

    Would this recipe with work with 1 lb of ground beef and 1 lb of ground pork?

  2. Debbie says

    I have a question on your sweet and sour meatballs. Can you make them ahead and place in the freezer? Or will the cornstarch in the sauce breakdown upon re-heating?

    Thanks,

    • Christine says

      Just made these! They are deliciously simple and perfect. Even my 13 year old daughter ate them up happily and she is a picky eater. Most times she doesn’t like sauce on her meatballs- but this one did the trick 😉
      I used one pack of ground beef (about a pound) and I found that I had way too much sauce – I will probably cut some of it down for next time. Great recipe! Thanks5 stars

      • Dallas says

        Wow! I really enjoyed this and so did my family! and it made so many meat balls. I didn’t have vinegar so i replaced it with lemon juice and it was very good! definitely gonna try again and i’ll have to get vinegar5 stars

  3. Shannon says

    The first time I made these, I didn’t have any white vinegar so I had to use apple cider vinegar. They were good, but I just knew once I had white vinegar they’d be perfect… so I went out and got the white vinegar and made them again 2 days later. Magical! These are the best meatballs! Thank for this wonderful piece of classic comfort food perfection.5 stars

  4. Nellie Atleo says

    So so good! Instead of water I used organic orange juice from Costco, added red and green pepper and onion to the sauce. Thank you!

  5. Ida says

    I have never left a comment on a recipe before- here is a first! After a way too sour sweet and sour sauce recipe fail, I tried your recipe to see if I can salvage my meatballs. It was so so good! I did add a clove of garlic to the sauce recipe. Thank you for saving my meatballs!

  6. Michelle says

    I did everything exactly as written and it was SO delicious! Bonus – there was enough left over for lunch tomorrow after feeding 5 tonight. Awesome recipe!

  7. Aimee says

    These are SO good. Didn’t change a thing. Perfection!!5 stars

  8. Tammy says

    Yup, this is it… my go to sweet and sour meatball recipe. Easy and we all love it.5 stars

  9. Tammy says

    I’m giving these a 5 star rating because they are pretty much exactly what I remember from childhood. And so easy to make! Given my adult palette, I would probably ease up on the brown sugar and add a little more soy sauce. But YUM! Loved them in all their over sweetness as a Christmas Eve treat.5 stars

  10. Melissa says

    Cannot wait to try these. I was wondering if adding a can of pineapple chunks would be good?

    • Char says

      Agreed I do 3/4 brown sugar and 4 tbsp soy sauce, love it so good everytime

  11. Mariah French says

    I love this recipe! I don’t consider myself a cook at all, but it’s so easy to follow and it actually uses normal ingredients that I already have.5 stars

    • Char says

      My go to recipe, my hubby loves it and so do I. Its so easy to make and i usually have everything already in my pantry and fridge.

  12. Marcy P Gutierrez says

    HI. I just ran across the Sweet and Sour Meat Balls. I enjoy the recipe collection. Let’s just say I had a memory of my Mom & and Dad making it! Being from a large Irish family, They always made these in the Crockpot! I’m making them tomorrow!Thank you for a wonderful memory that I didn’t know that I had!!! God bless 🙏.

  13. Joyce cantin says

    Thanks so much! Loved this recipe. Served with soba noodles and brocoli , just the right amount of sweet and sour5 stars

  14. Mitch says

    It’s good and easy to make. Not the best ever, but still great!5 stars

  15. Karyn says

    Oh Karlynn! Thankyou for this recipe!! I have been hunting for this (lost) recipe for years…many searches but never exactly quite right…this is the one…big hug to you!!

  16. Carmen de la Chevrotiere says

    I made just the sweet and sour sauce for ready-made meat balls. It was a hit and will now have to replace my current go-to sweet and sour sauce recipe!!5 stars

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