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Sweet and sour meatballs are a staple from when I was a kid and this recipe brings back lots of memories and tastes delicious!

sweet and sour meatballs

Read on for my easy and delicious Sweet and Sour Meatballs Recipe.

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!


Sweet and Sour Meatballs


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

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

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

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

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.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Mix your flour or cornstarch in cold water….

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

..and add it to the sauce.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

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.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Now you can cover those babies up with sauce.

Sweet and Sour 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.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

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…..


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

Here’s the video we did of this recipe to show you how easy it is:



3.93 from 14 votes
Sweet and Sour Meatballs
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Total Time
45 mins

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!

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: sweet and sour meatballs
Calories: 3762 kcal
Author: Karlynn Johnston
Meatball Ingredients
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp 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
  1. Preheat your oven to 375 °F

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

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

  5. Pop them into the 375 degrees oven and start them cooking.
  6. After about 20 minutes, take the meatballs out for a second, and drain the fat out of them.
  7. Now you can cover those meatballs up with sauce. Pour the sauce over the meatball, covering them completely.

  8. 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.

  9. 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!
  10. 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 

Nutrition Facts
Sweet and Sour Meatballs
Amount Per Serving
Calories 3762 Calories from Fat 1746
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 194g 298%
Saturated Fat 73g 365%
Cholesterol 1016mg 339%
Sodium 7120mg 297%
Potassium 3522mg 101%
Total Carbohydrates 308g 103%
Dietary Fiber 6g 24%
Sugars 238g
Protein 186g 372%
Vitamin A 17%
Vitamin C 18.4%
Calcium 56%
Iron 147.9%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Hey guys, I'm Karlynn! Welcome to The Kitchen Magpie, my website full of family friendly recipes, cocktails & homesteading tales of chickens & cows from the family farm! Make sure to check out my bestselling cookbook, Flapper Pie & a Blue Prairie Sky ,stay tuned for info on my second cookbook!


  1. Carrie Davies Reply

    Karlynn, thank you!!! I’ll be honest, I rarely make my own meatballs anymore & have been using your sauce with leftover roast pork, diced or because I love it so much, roast up a small pork loin & chop it up. Still a very fast meal! I do saute a knob of fresh ginger & 2-3 cloves of garlic in a small amount of light oil before adding the the other sauce ingredients. I also add some peppers, white onion & fresh pineapple cubes just before serving because I find that easier than prepping another veg, another pot, etc. I NEVER alter your base sauce ingredients because it’s perfect as written! And I’m with you, this loves white rice!! Thank you for sharing all your recipes!

  2. The sauce instructions are confusing. Do you say to put all the ingredients into a pot because it’s meant to be cooked first? From what I can tell you don’t include instructions to cook the sauce on the stovetop first so I’m a bit confused as to why it would make sense to combine the ingredients in a pot, and later add in the cornstarch slurry if it’s not being cooked in the pot. Do you just pour the mixed sauce ingredients over the meatballs and it thickens in the baking dish?

    • Carrie Davies Reply

      Yes, heat all the sauce ingredients. Reserve a small amount of your water to mix a slurry with your cornstarch. Bring it to a VERY slow bubble and simmer at that point a few minutes (after adding cornstarch slurry), stirring almost constantly. It will thicken a bit. I like to add my meat into the sauce & simmer at a low bubble for a few minutes before serving. Don’t simmer too long at this point it the meat will be saturated with the sauce and your flavour combination will get lost.

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  4. Carrie Davies Reply

    Making this sauce for the 4th or 5th time tonight. I use the sauce with leftover roast pork or cook a tenderloin on purpose and dice it up into bite size chunks. Also add a good nob of fresh ginger, some assorted sweet peppers and fresh pineapple. The sauce if over the top good replacing my mother’s recipe.

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  7. Anne Alcock Reply

    I printed the recipe off and made it from there. I watched the video afterwards and noticed you put minced garlic in the meatballs; however, our recipe doesn’t call for garlic. I wish I had watched the video first, and now it’s too late because they’re cooking in the oven. Perhaps you should put garlic in the printed recipe?

    • Mary Record Reply

      I want to try this , in the video , there was salt and pepper and garlic, I hope i guess the right amount, thanks

  8. This is my fave sauce. I make it the same except put 2 tbps Frank’s Red Hot in it Yum. Everyone always loved them ????

  9. Raven Wanders Reply

    I used to love them until i lived in the South. They made the sauce with a jar of chili sauce and jar of grape jelly\U0001f628

    • Raven Wanders Reply

      Im not sure if chili sauce is up here but if you can find it is worth a try for the retro meal\U0001f606

  10. Donna Nielson-Weale Reply

    I’ve used this recipe … The meatballs were delicious (and so easy to make).

    • The Kitchen Magpie Reply

      Awesome to hear!! The old classics are always the best, aren’t they?

  11. Sandra Casson Reply

    I can’ t remember the last time I had these, likely at a 4H function!

  12. Arleigh Gladwin Stockwell Reply

    I have made this for a couple of potlucks – it’s a winner!

  13. Elisa Boyce Reply

    Love anything retro. Lol except the casseroles that were fabulously decorated with half wieners lining the top of casserole. \U0001f633

    • Elisa Boyce Reply

      Lol my mom had a cookbook and that was the cover photo casserole! Never forgotten!

  14. Kathy Elson Reply

    I made these tonight and they were delish. A new favourite!

  15. Wondering … do you heat the sauce on the stovetop before pouring it over the meatballs? Or does the sauce thicken up in the oven?  Thanks!

  16. Dawn Schwartz Reply

    This is probably my most made recipe from your site. I can’t get enough of them! Rice and a green veggie and everyone’s happy!!

  17. James Lori Shipley Reply

    We love the simple recipe I created for these-one can crushed or diced pineapple with juice and brown sugar bbq sauce. Dump over meatballs and heat to serve. We do these for all our parties and will serve with rice and veggies if doing it as a meal. Alternatively make spaghetti sauce and serve with noodles or on skewers with peppers and mushrooms, onions etc. So versatile!!!

  18. I followed the recipe and mine are falling apart. Well.. I used magic bullet for the onions. Lol probably why. And they stick to my casserole dish. I think I ruined them 🙁

  19. This is fool proof, so delicious and easy! It is my go to for meatballs. 

  20. MsFarmLover Reply

    These are the most delicious meatballs I have ever made. They were a huge hit for dinner tonight. Thank you very much for sharing this great recipe.

  21. Just made this recipe (Sweet & Sour Meatballs… yea right!) Followed the instructions to the letter, guessed the steps left out. Was pretty much the worse meatballs I ever tasted. I would highly recommend that you not waste your good time preparing this. Sorry, but, just being honest.

  22. I made these with ground chicken, tripled the recipe for a large crowd and added 1 cup of sour cream to help keep them moist, otherwise followed recipe – fabulous!! Everyone raved about them!! Thanks for the recipe.

  23. Hi – I’m making this recipe right now. But I see 1 and 1/2 Cups water listed in the ingredients. Does that go in the sauce with the brown sugar, vinegar, soy and ketchup?

  24. Hatteras propellers Reply

    After reading many of your website I staleness say i launch this fact one to mostly be top notch. I soul a weblog also and require to re post a few shears of your articles on my own diary site. Should it be alright if I use this as eternal I own testimonial your website

  25. If you use grass fed beef, you would not get near as much fat.. and what fat you get, is delicious and healthy. I would leave it in, Fat is where the favour is. 

  26. I made these last week & loved them…couldn’t believe I made them from scratch!!!  I just wanted to share this: since I did not have any bread crumbs, I improvised(very unlike me) & used 1 package of onion soup instead.  It was good 🙂
    thx for sharing your recipe! 

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