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There are fewer foods that hold as much charm as a meatball.  As least that’s how the members of my house see it.  Big meatballs, small meatballs, meatballs with sauce, on pasta, in a sub.  Italian meatballs, buffalo chicken meatballs, Swedish meatballs, turkey meatballs, there are no unwelcome meatballs in our house.  And that includes frozen meatballs, by the way — a great thing to keep in the freezer for last minute dinners.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs on a bed of couscous.

The latest meatball trend to flash through my house (and this is intentionally tongue in cheek: these are not the newest meatball-kid on the block) is sweet and sour meatballs. Beefy meatballs glazed with a tangy sauce made from a very pleasing combo of ketchup, jellied cranberry sauce, tomato paste, red wine vinegar, soy sauce and a splash of Worcestershire sauce are hard to stop eating.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs with Cranberry Sauce

Many sweet and sour meatball recipes use some sort of jelly to provide the sweetness, but here I chose jellied cranberry sauce, which has the sweetness, but also the appealing tartness from the cranberries. The fact that it’s jellied helps make the sauce shiny, silky and smooth.

Worcestershire Sauce in Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce add notes of salt and savory, which plays off the tartness of the red wine vinegar. The richness of the tomato paste smooths it all out.

You could use a meatball or meatloaf mix here if you prefer instead of the beef; equally as delicious, and a nice blend of different ground meats. And while they are perfect as a main course, they are also great served with cute little skewers or toothpicks as appetizers for a cocktail party.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs: Beefy meatballs are glazed with a simple tangy sauce and pretty hard to stop eating! (Pile them over rice, or skewer them up for cocktail parties).

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Skillet of Sweet and Sour Meatballs on a table.

How to Make Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and place the meatballs in the pan, making sure not to crowd them; you may need to do this in batches, if your pan isn’t large enough.   

Cook the meatballs for 1 to 2 minutes, until the bottoms are browned.

Meatballs in a skillet.

Then flip them and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes until the other side is brown.  The meatballs should be browned on at least two sides, but not cooked through. 

Remove meatballs from the skillet and drain any excess oil from the skillet. In the same skillet, add the ketchup, cranberry sauce, tomato paste, vinegar, soy sauce, water and Worcestershire sauce

Whisk in a skillet of a ketchup and soy sauce mixture.

Heat the sauce over medium heat, stirring, until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes.  

Return the meatballs to the pan, then cover, and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes, adjusting the heat so that the sauce stays at a gentle simmer, until the meatballs are cooked through and the sauce has thickened.  

Meatballs in a skillet of sweet and sour sauce.

Serve hot, sprinkled with parsley if desired. 

Parsley on a skillet of Sweet and Sour Meatballs.

Also check out Sweet and Sour Chicken!

What to Serve with Sweet and Sour Meatballs:

Sweet and Sour Meatballs on a plate with broccoli and couscous.

Other Meatball Recipes:

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Sweet and Sour Meatballs

4.75 from 4 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 18 minutes
Total: 33 minutes
Servings: 4 People
Beefy meatballs glazed with a tangy, simple pantry ingredient sauce are hard to stop eating.

Ingredients 

For the Meatballs:

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • ¼ cup minced onion
  • ¼ cup unseasoned bread crumbs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

For the Sauce:

  • cup ketchup
  • ½ can jellied cranberry sauce (about ½ cup)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • cup water
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Chopped parsley to serve (optional)

Instructions 

  • In a medium bowl beat the egg. Add the beef, onion, bread crumbs, salt and pepper and use your hands to combine thoroughly (or use a spoon; it will take longer, but if you are not a hands-in-the-ground-beef person you can do that). Form the mixture into 1-inch meatballs.
  • Heat a large skillet over medium heat and place the meatballs in the pan, making sure not to crowd them; you may need to do this in batches. If your pan isn’t large enough. Cook the meatballs for 1 to 2 minutes, until the bottoms are browned, then flip them and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes until the other side is brown. The meatballs should be browned on at least two sides, but not cooked through. Remove meatballs from the skillet and drain any excess oil from the skillet.
  • In the same skillet, add the ketchup, cranberry sauce, tomato paste, vinegar, soy sauce, water and Worcestershire sauce. Heat the sauce over medium heat, stirring, until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Return the meatballs to the pan, then cover, and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes, adjusting the heat so that the sauce stays at a gentle simmer, until the meatballs are cooked through and the sauce has thickened. Serve hot, sprinkled with parsley if desired.

Notes

Many sweet and sour meatball recipes use some sort of jelly to provide the sweetness, but here I chose jellied cranberry sauce, which has the sweetness, but also the appealing tartness from the cranberries. The fact that it’s jellied helps make the sauce shiny, silky and smooth.

Nutrition

Calories: 426kcal, Carbohydrates: 28g, Protein: 23g, Fat: 24g, Saturated Fat: 9g, Cholesterol: 121mg, Sodium: 942mg, Potassium: 555mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 20g, Vitamin A: 299IU, Vitamin C: 5mg, Calcium: 50mg, Iron: 4mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Comments

  1. Made this for my family last night. It was hit and miss only because some don’t care for sweet and sour, but I wanted to try something new. Had a convert as well in my oldest who said he didn’t like sweet and sour, but was hungry enough to try it, and eat like 3 of them. I made them bigger then 1″. I have a bigger ice cream scooper so I used that to try and keep them evenly sized. I personally LOVED it and will make it again. It was so easy and quick for a weeknight meal, I couldn’t believe how fast I had it on the table. I will make it again, even if I make a variation of sauces for a switch up.

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