• March 2, 2018

    The Best Easy Sweet & Sour Meatballs Recipe


    oven baked sweet and sour meatballs

    Mom’s Best Oven-Baked Sweet and Sour Meatballs

    This sweet and sour meatball recipe is very near to my heart because it transports me back to a million warm gatherings at in my mama’s kitchen – baby showers, New Year’s Eves, birthdays. So many cozy times around my that well-loved family dining table. See, some incarnation of sweet and sour meatballs are always on the menu when mom hosts parties, along with her to-die-for dry garlic ribs.

    I partnered with Tropicana Canada to bring you this recipe. I used Tropicana Pure Premium Orange Juice as the base for the sauce (it has nothing but the yummy juice of fresh oranges – only one ingredient).

    I made them recently for my book club (which I call “cook club” because I’m unapologetically there for the food – and company, of course – but not so much the literature) and everyone loved them.

    Hand-picked: Crispy Baked Buffalo Wings with Homemade Blue Cheese Dressing

    We had them again for dinner the next day and I’ve made them twice again since. It makes a large batch, big enough for a party, but the meatballs are equally wonderful at home on the dinner table (more on this later).

    Feel free to halve the recipe, but I recommend you make the whole thing and freeze leftovers. Future you will be very happy you did.

    How to Make Sweet and Sour Meatballs

    When it comes to making sweet and sour meatballs, there are two main camps: those who are die-hard crockpot/pressure cooker fans, and those who use the stovetop to heat their sticky sweet and sour sauce to perfection.

    I prefers the latter.

    Here’s how to make the most heavenly sweet and sour meatballs:

    1. Add ingredients for meatballs to a bowl and combine
    2. Form meatballs and bake in the oven on a parchment-lined sheet
    3. Simmer sweet and sour meatballs sauce 
    4. Bring sauce a boil, reduce heat and add meatballs

    How to Make Sweet and Sour Meatballs Sauce

    Using the direct heat of the stovetop really coaxes some beautifully rich flavours out of the onion, garlic and ginger.

    This makes for a sweet and sour sauce with more depth and full flavours than you’d achieve in the slow and low environment of a crockpot.

    Here’s how to make sticky, flavourful sweet and sour meatballs sauce: 

    1. Sautee onions, garlic and ginger in a heavy saucepan, seasoning with salt to pull water from the onions and deepen the flavour
    2. Add orange juice, ketchup and brown sugar and bring sweet and sour sauce to a simmer
    3. Whisk cornstarch into sauce until smooth to thicken
    4. Bring sweet and sour sauce to a boil, then simmer for another 10 minutes until thickened 
    5. Taste and season accordingly

    What to Serve with Sweet and Sour Meatballs

    For Entertaining

    Planning to entertain a crowd with a spread of tempting appetizers? These delicious sweet and sour meatballs would be just stellar alongside any one of my favourite finger foods:

    Easy Sour Cream Spinach Dip

    Heavenly Hot Artichoke and Spinach Dip

    Baked Brie with Cranberry-Ginger Chutney

    Mini Mozzarella Sticks with Jalapeno Ranch

    For Dinner

    Throwing these sticky sweet and sour meatballs together for an easy weeknight meal? They are delicious served atop steamed rice, noodles or mashed potatoes with a side of veggies or crisp salad.

    However you choose to serve this recipe, I truly hope you enjoy! From my kitchen to yours.

    oven baked sweet and sour meatballs

    Best Ever Easy Sweet & Sour Meatballs Recipe

    These easy, sticky sweet and sour meatballs are a cherished recipe passed down to me from my Mom. They truly are the best homemade meatballs I've ever had - oven-baked to perfection. This delicious sweet and sour sauce is a mix of ketchup, brown sugar, garlic, ginger and orange juice. 
    Prep Time: 20 minutes
    Cook Time: 30 minutes
    Total Time: 50 minutes
    Course: Dinner
    Cuisine: Chinese
    Servings: 8 servings
    Author: Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD


    For Meatballs

    • 2 lbs ground beef
    • 1 2/3 lbs 750 g ground pork
    • 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
    • 2 large eggs beaten
    • 1/2 cup packed finely chopped green onion
    • 1 medium carrot peeled and grated
    • 1 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
    • 2 1/2 tsp kosher salt
    • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

    For Sauce

    • 3 tbsp olive oil
    • 1 large sweet onion finely chopped
    • kosher salt
    • 4 cloves garlic minced
    • 2 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
    • 1 cup ketchup
    • 3 cups orange juice
    • 1/4 cup brown sugar
    • 3 tbsp cornstarch
    • 1/2 cup soy sauce


    • Preheat oven to 400ºF. In a large bowl, combine all meatball ingredients together (using your hands is the easiest way). Roll into lime-sized meatballs and place in a single layer on parchment-lined baking sheets.  Bake until browned, about 20 minutes. 
    • Meanwhile, heat oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and a pinch of salt, then cook until very soft, about 12 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and cook a minute more, then add the ketchup, orange juice and brown sugar and bring sauce to a simmer. 
    • Whisk cornstarch into soy sauce until smooth, then whisk into the sauce. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer for 10 minutes, until thickened and glossy. Taste and season with more salt if desired. 
    • Add meatballs and continue cooking until sauce is very thick and meatballs are cooked through to 165ºF, about 15 minutes more.
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    Hi, I'm Jennifer Pallian, BSc, RD. I studied cooking, baking and food chemistry in a university lab, have years of experience as a professional test kitchen recipe developer and providing technical baking support to bakeries and home bakers. Want to know why your bread didn't rise? I've got your back.I now work full-time as a blogger, putting the years of science and baking to work right here. On Foodess, I share the best recipes in my arsenal - tested-till-PERFECT recipes for cozy baking, easy recipes for weeknight meals and delicious globally-inspired comfort food, plus lots of science-based cooking and baking tips. Welcome!

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