If you love sweet and sour chicken then you have to try this meatball version! Baked chicken meatballs are simmered in a sweet and tangy sauce. Serve on top of rice for an easy and delicious weeknight meal!
If you love sweet and sour sauce, try this sweet and sour shrimp stir-fry!
Why I love these chicken meatballs
Baked meatballs – The meatballs in this recipe are baked, which not only yield a tender meatball, but I find it’s less messy when you bake them versus pan frying.
Family friendly dinner – Meatballs are a kid favorite! They’ll love how colorful this meal is and the sweet sauce and pineapple.
Healthier version – Traditionally sweet and sour chicken is fairly high in sugar and the chicken is deep fried. This version has significantly less sweetener and the meatballs are baked. Also, if you’re like me and red food coloring freaks you out, you won’t find any in this recipe.
Meal prep – If you meal prep, this is a meal that holds up well for several days.
- Ground chicken – Ground turkey or ground beef can also be used.
- Green onion – A milder flavored onion that works well in these meatballs.
- Panko – Panko is a lighter crispier type of breadcrumb compared to regular breadcrumbs.
- Garlic and ginger – Garlic and ginger are the flavorful aromatics for the meatballs. If you prefer to use garlic powder instead of fresh substitute with 1/2 teaspoon.
- Soy sauce – Use low sodium if possible to avoid having meatballs and a sauce that are too salty. Tamari can be used as a gluten-free replacement.
- Sriracha – A spicy, tangy, sweet Asian condiment. Chile garlic sauce such as sambal oelek can also be used.
- Egg – The binder for the meatballs.
- Canned pineapple – If possible used canned pineapple in it’s own juices, not the sweetened versions. Fresh pineapple can also be used. You’ll be using both the pineapple and the juice.
- Ketchup – I used a naturally sweetened ketchup. If you’re using a more popular brand which is generally sweeter, you may want to cut back on the amount of honey that the recipe calls for.
- Apple cider vinegar – It gives the sauce that sour tang.
- Honey – Used to sweeten the sauce. Maple syrup can also be used.
- Cornstarch – Thickens the sauce.
- Red bell pepper and white onion – Peppers and onions are commonly found in sweet and sour chicken, so we’re sticking with the theme in this recipe.
How to make sweet and sour chicken meatballs
Bake the meatballs – Combine all of the ingredients for the chicken meatballs in a bowl and use your hands to mix the mixture together. Use a cookie scoop or tablespoon to scoop out the meat mixture.
Roll it into a ball and place the meatball on parchment paper lined baking sheet sprayed with cooking oil. You should be able to get 20-22 meatballs. Spray the tops of the meatballs with cooking spray and then bake at 450° F. for 10-12 minutes or until golden and cooked through.
Make the sweet and sour sauce – Whisk together the ingredients for the sweet and sour sauce in a bowl or measuring glass. The cornstarch can be whisked directly into the sauce before heating it on the stove.
Sauté veggies – Add the onion and peppers to a large skillet and sauté them until crisp tender with a little olive oil. Add the pineapple to the skillet and cook for another minute, then add in the meatballs.
Pour in the sauce and stir everything together until it’s coated. Simmer over medium-low heat until the sauce thickens and everything is warmed through. Serve on top of rice and garnish with sliced green onions.
Tips for perfect baked meatballs
- Don’t over mix the meat mixture. Over mixing will make the meatballs tough and dense.
- Use a cookie scoop or tablespoon to scoop out the meat mixture. This will ensure that they are the same size and bake evenly in the oven.
- When rolling the meat mixture into balls, lightly wet your hands with water or spray them with cooking oil to keep them from sticking to your hands.
Storage and freezing
The sweet and sour meatballs will keep for up to 4 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Unfortunately the sweet and sour sauce will not freeze well since it has cornstarch in it. You can however freeze the baked meatballs to save time. The meatballs can be frozen for up to 3 months.
More meatball recipes
Did you make these sweet and sour chicken meatballs? I’d love if you’d leave a recipe rating and review below.
- 1 pound lean ground chicken
- 1/4 cup panko
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup finely chopped green onions
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- 1 clove of garlic, grated
- 2 teaspoons low sodium soy sauce or tamari
- 1 teaspoon sriracha
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 1/4 cup pineapple juice, use the juice from the canned pineapple
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce or tamari
- 1 teaspoon sriracha
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 20 ounce can pineapple chunks
- 1/2 of a white onion, diced
- Preheat oven to 450° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Spray it with cooking oil.
- Combine all of the ingredients for the meatballs in a bowl and use your hands to mix everything together. Use a cookie scoop or tablespoon to scoop out tablespoon sized amounts of the meat mixture. Roll into balls and place them on the prepared baking sheet. Spray the tops of the meatballs with cooking spray and then bake at 450° F. for 10-12 minutes or until golden and cooked through.
- In a bowl or measuring glass, whisk together the ingredients for the sweet and sour sauce. Be sure the cornstarch is dissolved and there are no lumps.
- Add a little olive oil to a large skillet and heat it over medium-high heat. Add in the onion and peppers and sauté them until they’re crisp tender. Add the pineapple and meatballs to the skillet and cook for another minute.
- Pour in the sweet and sour sauce and stir everything together until coated. Simmer over medium-low heat until the sauce thickens and everything is warmed through.
- Serve on top of rice and garnish with sliced green onions.
Nutritional information doesn't include rice.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 452Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 169mgSodium: 855mgCarbohydrates: 52gFiber: 3gSugar: 39gProtein: 32g
Nutritional information is an estimate. Please consult a registered dietician for the most accurate nutritional information.