Sweet & Sour Meatballs

Sweet & Sour Meatballs
Sweet and Sour Meatballs Header

Sweet & Sour Meatballs with a Ketchup based Sweet & Sour Sauce with Citrusy Complex Flavors. Serve it with some White Steamed Rice. This recipe make a big batch. So you can easily double the recipe for the Meatballs or freeze half of the Sauce.

It’s like a Sweet and Sour Sauce with Plum Sauce. In fact, this sauce can be chilled and served with Chinese Egg Rolls or any other place where Plum Sauce is typically served.


The Meatballs are pretty simple and flavored with Paprika, Onion & Garlic Powder with 1 Tbl of Flour for binding, that’s it. Just mix everything together and shape the meatballs into 1 1/2 Tbl portions. Lay them out on a baking tray to freeze for about 30 minutes or longer.

The Meatballs can be made with 1 lb of Ground Beef, Pork or Chicken.

Sweet & Sour Meatball Mix


  • 1 lb Ground Beef
  • 1 Tbl Flour
  • 1 tsp Sea Salt, Smoked Paprika, Onion Powder, & Garlic Powder

Use 1 1/2 Tbl to portion and shape into Meatballs. Makes about 20 Meatballs.

Freezing Sweet & Sour Meatballs

Frozen Meatballs

Place the meatballs on a baking sheet as they are made and freeze for about 30 minutes.

Sweet & Sour Sauce

This version of a Sweet & Sour Sauce has Ketchup in it. Standard Ketchup or even better is Heinz Chili Sauce which adds a very beautiful flavor and certain other elements that make this dish so good. I prefer not to use Ketchup in Sweet & Sour Sauce. Here though, for Meatballs, it results in a Fantastic Sauce.

The Sweet & Sour Sauce itself tastes Fruity and much like a Plum Sauce. It can be used as a Sweet & Sour Sauce for Chicken Balls. However, I find this type of Sauce more suited for Meatballs.

Heinz Chili Sauce

Heinz Chili Sauce

Regular Ketchup can be used. However, Heinz Chili Sauce offers much better flavors.

Unthickened Sweet and Sour Meatball Sauce

Meatball Sweet & Sour Sauce Base

  • 3 C Water
  • 1 C Ketchup 
  • 1 C Sugar
  • 5 Garlic Cloves 
  • 1 Orange 
  • 1 Lemon 
  • 1 Plum 
  • 1 inch Ginger
  • 5 Tbl White & Apple Vinegar
  • 1 tsp Sichuan Peppers
  • 1/2 tsp White Pepper 

Substitute Sichuan Peppercorns with 1/2 tsp Coriander and Black Pepper. For a Spicy Sweet & Sour Meatballs, up the White Pepper or Sichuan Peppercorns to the desired level.

Fruity Sweet & Sour Sauce

The Sauce is based on 3 fruits (Lemon, Orange, and Plum). Chop the Fruits in half or quarters and squeeze the juice out into a stockpot and then add in the whole fruit itself. For the Plums, remove the seed and add the plum to the stockpot. Tangerines or Clementine can be used in place of Oranges.

You can make this sauce without the Oranges, Lemon and Plum. However, adding these in really does a wonderful job at creating a Citrusy, Complex Plum Sauce Flavor that is really enjoyable.

Sweet & Sour Meatballs
Sweet & Sour Meatballs

Slurry Mix

Equal parts of cold Water & Potato Starch or Cornstarch is called a Slurry. It is used to thicken the Sweet and Sour Sauce at the end.

For this recipe, we use 2 Tbl of both Water & Potato Starch. If you want it thicker, add in 3 Tbl of each. Add this to the Sauce at the end while it is simmering to thicken it. Once thickened, remove from the heat and let it sit 5–10 minutes before serving.

How to make Sweet & Sour Meatballs

Prepare the Meatballs and throw all the ingredients in a pot for the Sweet and Sour Sauce. Simmer the Sweet and Sour Sauce for 15 minutes and then set aside until needed.

Pan Meatballs


Place a wok or large pan over medium heat and let it heat up 1–2 minutes. Add the frozen Meatballs and cover. Let it be for 3 minutes.

Move or dislodge the meatballs from the pan and cover and let cook. Keep shaking the pan to move the Meatballs around every 30 seconds or so for a total cook time of 8 minutes.

Sieved Sweet and Sour Sauce

Sweet and Sour Sauce

Add the set aside Sweet & Sour Sauce through a Sieve into the Pan with the Meatballs. Bring this to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer 5 minutes.

Thickened Sweet & Sour Meatball Sauce


Mix equal parts of Cold Water and Starch (2 Tbl each or 3 Tbl for a thicker sauce). Pour while mixing into the Sweet and Sour Meatballs until thickened. Remove from heat and let rest 5–10 minutes before serving.

Sweet & Sour Meatballs With Rice

Chinese Steamed White Rice

Steamed White Rice

Just the Classic Water and Rice or with the optional ingredients for added flavor. You can also use Calrose Rice for a Stickier Rice side dish.

Sweet & Sour Meatballs Pin

Sweet & Sour Meatballs

Sweet & Sour Meatballs with a Ketchup based Sweet & Sour Sauce with Citrusy Complex Flavors. Serve it with some White Steamed Rice. This recipe make a big batch. So you can easily double the recipe for the Meatballs or freeze half of the Sauce.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Freezer Time30 minutes
Servings: 20 Meatballs


  • 1 Sauce Pot
  • 1 Bowl
  • 1 Baking Sheet
  • 1 Large Wok
  • 1 Sieve


Sweet & Sour Sauce

  • 3 C Water
  • 1 C Ketchup - preferably Heinz Chili Sauce
  • 1 C Sugar
  • 5 cloves Garlic - roughly chopped or crushed
  • 1 med Orange - sliced in half or quarters
  • 1 med Lemon - sliced in half or quarters
  • 1 med Plum - seed removed
  • 1 inch Ginger - thinly sliced
  • 5 Tbl White & Apple Vinegar - each
  • 1 tsp Sichuan Peppers - or use 1/2 tsp Black Pepper & Coriander each.
  • 1/2 tsp White Pepper - or 1 tsp Whole White Peppercorn


  • 2 Tbl Cold Water & Cornstarch or Potato Starch - each


  • 1 lb Ground Beef - can use ground Pork or Chicken
  • 1 Tbl Flour
  • 1 tsp Sea Salt, Smoked Paprika, Onion Powder, & Garlic Powder - each


  • Place into a pot all the ingredients for the Sweet & Sour Sauce including the whole Fruits with the Juices squeezed. Bring to a boil and lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes. Set aside until needed.
  • Combine all the ingredients together in a bowl for the Meatballs and mix well. Shape into meatballs using 1 1/2 Tbl portions and lay them out on a baking sheet. Once all the Meatballs are made place them into the freezer for about 30 minutes.
  • Place the Wok over medium heat for about 1 – 2 minutes. Then add the Frozen Meatballs and cover with a lid. Leave for 3 minutes. Uncover and move the meatballs around. Cover again and cook another 5 minutes. Shake the Wok around every 30 seconds – a minute to move the meatballs around for a total cook time of 8 minutes.
  • Add the Sweet & Sour Sauce to the Wok with the Meatballs through a sieve and mix well.
    Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium. Simmer for about 5 minutes.
    Add the Slurry and mix well while it thickens. Remove from heat and let sit 5–10 minutes before serving.


This is a lot of Sauce that can be saved for other dishes or frozen and used again for another batch of Sweet & Sour Meatballs. You can also double the meatball recipe.
For Spicy Sweet & Sour Meatball up the Sichuan or White pepper to taste. 
Course: Lunch, Main Course, Snack
Cuisine: American, Canadian
Keywords: S&S Meatballs, Sweet & Sour Meatballs, Sweet and Sour Meatballs, Sweet n Sour Meatballs
Author: JAH
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