Sweet and Sour Meatballs with juicy homemade meatballs and a sweet and tangy sauce that’s delicious on steamed rice. A great make-ahead dish perfect for busy weeknights!
We’re on day 6 of our 24 Days of Christmas series and so far, we have chicken sisig, pasta fruit salad, pork giniling, creamy beef and mushrooms, and escabeche lapu lapu on our list. I hope you’ve been enjoying the recipes and continue to follow along as we have tons more delicious holiday meal ideas to come!
I love the Christmas season, and I’m all for celebrating in style, but I believe it doesn’t take an elaborate dish to make a wonderful feast. Even simple family meals such as pork adobo can be turned into a company-worthy fare by adding a few simple ingredients.
This sweet and sour meatballs recipe, for instance, is something I regularly make for our daily lunch or dinner at home but come the holidays, it’s sure to grace our Noche Buena table. With colorful chunks of pineapples and red and green bell peppers, it’s a tasty and festive addition to any special occasion.
The homemade meatballs are based on my burger steak recipe which has been super popular on the site. And rightfully so because they’re juicy, flavorful, inexpensive, a great make-ahead meal, and versatile!
Every week, I roll up a batch of these beef meatballs and freeze them to have handy for busy weeknights or when I have unexpected guests. They keep well in the freezer for up to 4 months and can be used in soups or with various sauces such as teriyaki, marinara, barbecue, and mushroom gravy.
My favorite way to dress them up, of course, is in sweet and sour flavors. The sweet and tangy sauce generously smothered on juicy, savory meatballs is just heaven on steamed rice!
Tips on How to Make Sweet and Sour Meatballs
- Use fresh breadcrumbs and soak in milk or broth. This soaked bread or panade adds moisture to the meat mixture for lighter and more tender meatballs.
- To keep the meatballs from becoming tough and rubbery, do not overhandle the meat mixture. Combine the ingredients until well incorporated but do not over mix.
- Use a small cookie scoop to portion meatballs for more uniform size. Rinse hands with cold water between shaping to keep the meat from sticking.
- To help maintain shape and keep from falling apart during frying, freeze the meatballs for about 20 to 30 minutes or until firm.
- I like to briefly pan-fry the pineapple which is an optional step but recommended. This quick “roasting” caramelizes the fruit and deepens their natural sweetness.
- The liquid or juice the pineapples are canned in is about 1 cup and can be used in the recipe. Just make sure the fruit is packed in juice and not heavy syrup.
Sweet and Sour Meatballs
- 2 slices white bread
- 1/4 cup water, broth, or milk
- 1 pound ground beef (80/20 chuck)
- 1 onion, peeled and grated
- 1 egg, well-beaten
- salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 onion, peeled and sliced thinly
- 1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1 cup pineapple chunks
- 1 cup pineapple juice
- 1/2 cup rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- In a small bowl, soak bread in broth or milk. Tear with your hands until it resembles a soft paste.
- In a large bowl, combine ground beef, soaked bread, onions, egg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Gently mix until combined.
- Using a small scoop, portion about 1 tablespoon of meat mixture and using roll between palms of hands into a 1-inch diameter ball.
- Arrange meatballs in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze for about 20 to 30 minutes or until firm.
- In a bowl, combine pineapple juice, rice vinegar, ketchup, brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir until well-blended and set aside.
- In a wide pan over medium heat, heat about 1 tablespoon canola oil. Add bell peppers and cook for about 30 to 40 seconds. Remove from pan and keep warm.
- Add pineapple chunks and cook for about 20 to 30 seconds. Remove from pan and keep warm.
- In the pan, add another 1 tablespoon oil as needed. Add meatballs in a single layer and cook for about 1 to 2 minutes on each side or just until lightly browned. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Keep warm.
- In the pan, add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil as needed. Add onions and cook until softened.
- Add pineapple mixture and bring to a boil.
- Add browned meatballs in a single layer. Lower heat, cover, and cook for about 8 to 10 minutes or until meatballs are fully cooked.
- In a bowl, combine 1/4 cup water and cornstarch and stir until smooth. Add to pan, whisking to prevent lumps. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for about 2 to 3 minutes or until thickened.
- Add bell peppers and pineapple chunks. Continue to cook for about 1 to 2 minutes or until heated through. Serve hot.