This easy sweet and sour meatballs recipe is sure to be a family favorite! Melissa has a great way to shelf cook and use up ingredients that you already have to make this delicious meal.

Sweet and sour meatballs in a dish, from Fun Cheap or Free

Hey Freebs! Melissa here from Beautiful Life and Home, ready to celebrate #Shelftember with you! All month long, we are going to be saving money by making meals with what we already have on hand. If you're not sure what I'm talking about, make sure that you go read Jordan's post about it so that you can get on board with us!

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I love this sweet and sour meatball recipe because you can mix and match and swap out ingredients left and right! The best part is, no matter what you do, these meatballs always turn out super tasty and delicious! Let’s get started!


These meatballs are great because you basically need three types of ingredients that you can usually find in your pantry, refrigerator or freezer.


For the ground meat, you can use hamburger, ground turkey, ground pork, or ground chicken. Don’t have any ground meat on hand? No worries! Quickly make your own! Just toss some chicken breasts, thighs, or pork chops into a food processor and pulse until everything is chopped to your liking.


For a binding agent, you can use eggs, bread crumbs, or oatmeal. Or a combo! I have a child who is allergic to eggs and wheat, so I just use oatmeal.


Ketchup, barbecue sauce, and hoisin sauce, from Fun Cheap or Free

For sauce, the sky's the limit! Just go to your fridge and see what you’ve got! I like to use a combination of ketchup with teriyaki sauce, hoisin sauce, barbecue sauce, or any other type of Asian sauce.

Play around with the ingredients until you find a combination that you like best. But even if you don't have everything on hand, you can always improvise!


  • Brown sugar (or white sugar, or white sugar with a bit of molasses)
  • Chopped onion, or dried onion (optional, especially if you have kids who don’t like onions)
  • Worcestershire sauce (optional)
  • Vinegar
  • Mustard
  • Salt
  • Pepper


Sweet and sour meatballs are so easy to make! You can whip up the meatballs and sauce and have them baking in no time.


Ingredients in a food processor, from Fun Cheap or Free

Before we start, I want to say that it’s easiest to make these if you have a food processor. But if you don’t, you can mix the ingredients for the meatballs together in a bowl with a fork or with your hands.

The first step is mixing 1 pound of ground meat with ¼ cup finely chopped onion (or 2 tablespoons dried onion), ¾ teaspoons salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce and ½ cup of rolled oats (or ½ cup breadcrumbs, or 1 egg).

One benefit of using a food processor is that you can get those onions chopped really small and mixed in thoroughly so that your kids don’t notice! 🙂

Cookie scoop making the meat the same size, from Fun Cheap or Free

Next, get a small cookie scoop and scoop out the meat mixture. Place the meatballs into a 9×13 baking dish. After I’ve scooped out all the meat, I gently roll each meatball between my hands to smooth them out. (This is totally optional). This recipe makes 30-40 small meatballs.


Sweet and sour meatballs on a foil-lined sheet, from Fun Cheap or Free

If you don’t want to bake all of them, you can easily freeze some for later. Simply place them on a small foil-lined cookie sheet and place in your freezer, uncovered, for several hours to flash freeze.

Once they're frozen, transfer them to a freezer bag. You can easily bake them from frozen, too! When you're ready to bake, make the sauce, pour it over, and bake for ten extra minutes.


Sweet and sour meatballs in a baking dish, from Fun Cheap or Free

For the sauce, mix together 1 cup of brown sugar, 2 teaspoons of mustard, 2 teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce, and ¼ cup of ketchup with ¼ cup of barbecue sauce (or any of the other Asian sauces I mentioned earlier). Then add ½ cup of vinegar and stir. Pour the sauce over the meatballs and bake them at 350°F for 25 minutes.

Note: The sauce does not thicken up in the oven. If you want your sauce to be thicker, add 2 teaspoons of cornstarch to it before pouring over your meatballs. I suggest mixing it in with the sugar before you add any other ingredients for the sauce.


Try out this delicious sweet and sour meatball recipe from Fun Cheap or Free

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Mix and match ingredients you already have in your pantry and fridge to make these Sweet and Sour Meatballs! Use beef, chicken, turkey, or pork and any kind of Asian sauce for these best-loved meaballs!
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Chinese
Servings 4 servings


For the Meatballs

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten (optional)
  • ¼ cup onion, finely chopped
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce (optional)

For the Sauce

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp mustard
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup teriyaki sauce (or other Asian sauce, like hoisin, or barbecue)
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce (optional)
  • ½ cup vinegar


  • Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  • Mix the ground beef, oats, egg, onion, salt, pepper, and 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce together.
  • Using a small cookie scoop, scoop out the meat mixture to make meatballs. Place into a 9×13 baking dish.
  • In a small mixing bowl, stir together the brown sugar, mustard, ketchup, teriyaki sauce, and 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce. Once smooth, add the ½ cup of vinegar and stir until well-blended.
  • Pour over the top of the meatballs. Bake for 25 minutes.
Keyword easy, freezer, make-ahead


These meatballs will go with pretty much anything! Here are my favorite pairings.


Rice is the traditional pairing with these meatballs (I like Japanese rice best). You can use brown rice, Minute rice, Jasmine rice, Basmati rice–whatever is in your pantry!


Another option is to use ramen! Cook up the ramen (without the flavor packet) and top the noodles with the meatballs and sauce.


Sweet and sour meatballs on a counter, from Fun Cheap or Free

These meatballs would also be great over some riced or mashed cauliflower or mashed potatoes!

Basically, these Sweet and Sour Meatballs taste good with anything 🙂 If you have anything leftover, try out using them in these recipes!

Try these out and let me know how you like them in the comments!

Sweet and sour meatballs ready for dinner, from Fun Cheap or Free

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