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Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

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Sweet and Sour Meatballs
Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Recipe At-A-Glance

These sweet and sour meatballs are the perfect comfort-food appetizer for your holiday parties.

Slow Cooker

Ready in 20 minutes

Yeah, I’m one of those people.

One of those people who is totally listening to Christmas music as I write this post. I try really hard to embrace the present, but Christmas is my absolutely favorite thing in the history of all things—so it’s really friggin’ hard for me to wait until after Thanksgiving to start thinking about my favorite season. It doesn’t help that we already had Thanksgiving (we celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving last month).

I tried for years to hold out, but I’m going to just let myself soak in my Christmas cheer this year. I promise I’ll wait a little bit before overwhelming you with eggnog and peppermint and all things red and green, but I won’t wait to share with you some of my favorite holiday season eats.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

These sweet and sour meatballs are new to my holiday repertoire, but they are a staple of my husband’s Christmas celebrations. He had these meatballs every year growing up. And the first year that we went up to visit his family for Christmas after we were married, I ate no less than 40,000 of these at his parents’ Christmas Eve party. I pretty much just camped out next to the slow cooker with toothpicks at the ready. So. Good.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

When Craig’s parents were visiting us last month, my mother-in-law brought down an old, weathered cookbook that her mother had bought her as a wedding gift. I adore flipping through well-loved cookbooks. You can tell which recipes are the most-liked because the pages are torn, stained, and have lots of hand-written notes. I took photos of a ton of recipes from the book that I can’t wait to try, plus I snagged a few family favorites that I’ve always wanted to recreate, like these meatballs.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Because I am who I am, I couldn’t leave well enough alone and just follow the recipe, so I went to town and made my own version of both the meatballs and the sauce. The major change I made was because I knew I wanted to use some of the Concord grape jam I made from last year’s grape crop. We’ve been rationing our jam—it’s seriously amazing—and we’re on our last jar. This year’s grape harvest happened right went JuneBug was making her arrival, so we didn’t get a chance to pick them before the birds got to them, but next year, you better bet I’ll be making a triple batch of the jam.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

If you want to serve this for a crowd, just dump the meatballs and the sauce in a slow cooker, put it on low and let it simmer away. Just add some toothpicks, and you’ve got an appetizer ready to go. These also work really well as a protein-packed, grab-and-go snack. I made a big batch of these for snacking on. I’m always looking for protein-based snacks, and these meatballs were perfect.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

I can’t wait to share all the holiday goodness I have in store for you over the next few months! I hope you’ve got your spatulas at the ready.

Happy November! Enjoy.



Sweet and Sour Meatballs

  • Cook Time: 20 mins
  • Total Time: 20 mins
  • Yield: 16 appetizer-sized servings 1x


These sweet and sour meatballs are the perfect comfort-food appetizer for your holiday parties.



For the Meatballs:

  • 1 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon dried minced onion
  • 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

For the Sauce:

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup grape jam
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch


  1. Preheat oven to 425°. In a medium-sized bowl, combine together all the meatball ingredients with clean hands. Form mixture into 1-1/2″ meatballs and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes or until the meatballs are dark brown and cooked through.
  2. Meanwhile, to repare the sauce, combine the water, brown sugar, vinegar, worcestershire sauce, ketchup, and grape jam in a small sauce pan over medium high heat. Bring to a boil. Mix the cornstarch with 3 tablespoons of water, and whisk into the sauce mixture. Reduce heat and simmer until the sauce is thick and bubbly, about five minutes.
  3. Toss the meatballs in the sauce and serve immediately, or transfer the sauce and meatballs into a slow cooker on the low or warm setting to keep warm for serving.

Cassie Johnston

Cassie is the founder and CEO of Wholefully. She's a home cook and wellness junkie with a love of all things healthy living. She lives on a small hobby farm in Southern Indiana with her husband, daughter, two dogs, two cats, and 15 chickens.

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18 thoughts on “Sweet and Sour Meatballs

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  • even though x-mas is really not my holiday i absolutely love it!! i love mariah careys station on pandora..with the weather lately, i am so tempted to start listening to those music but i have been holding off. maybe i should get started too..these meatballs look so scrumptious!!

  • Shauna SAYS

    I am totally going to try this recipe! We often eat sweet and sour meatballs as a dinner! We serve it with rice and some sort of veggie. YUMMMM. I’ve never tried homemade, though, I just always use sauce from a jar.

  • These look delicious! And they look pretty easy to make.

  • Julie SAYS

    These look amazing! I’m also very excited to start embracing the holiday spirit and season but have been trying to hold out as well-it’s proving to be difficult though, especially with stores going full-tilt now and with yummy things like this to make! I can’t wait to see what else you have to share with us :)

  • Angela SAYS


    These look great!

    Are you making a wellness calendar for November? I LOVE your calendars and print them for everyone in my office every month. I hate to be a pest but the people love the calendars! :)


  • Julie in TX SAYS

    Perfect timing! I had taken ground beef out of the freezer, and I wasn’t too sure what we were going to have yet. I, too, think I will serve this over rice with some sauteed veggies. We don’t have any grape jam, but I think subbing in apricot is going to be good!

  • Yesssssss!!!! I LOVE old cookbooks. Esp if I don’t know what an ingredient is. Thankful for the internet! Then you get to make comments about Myrna LeBlanc being a saucy lady or what an epic cook Vickie Wright probably is/was :) Probably more humorous if you are having a drink while you cook, which is the right way, imho!

  • Oooh these look so great! Plus I love a hot appie that I can prepare ahead of time. Most of all though, I’m super stoked that you suggested making these as a snack… I’ve never considered meatballs a snack but I’m adding it to my meal plan because that’s genius.

  • I loooove these kind of meatballs. Like, at a party, I park myself by the crockpot filled with meatballs. So good. I’m totally trying your recipe!

  • Melanie SAYS

    These look great for entertaining! Saving for later!

  • it’s just not a party without the meatballs! these look SO good!!

  • Audrey SAYS

    I just made these for the first time tonight and, man, are they delicious! This is definitely going in my stash of keeper recipes!

  • Lori SAYS

    My friend made the sauce recipe with meatless meatballs from Trader Joe’s. EXCELLENT!!

  • Amy SAYS

    Do these freeze well?

    • Cassie SAYS

      Yes! You can either freeze them pre or post baking, and just make the sauce separately when you’re ready to serve.

  • J hughes SAYS

    Simplify the sauce recipe. For years our meatballs sauce consist of a jar of grape jelly and a jar of Heinz 57 Chili Sauce. Rather than ketchup etc this combo has the right sweet and sour tang with kick.

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