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Sweet and Sour Meatballs

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2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 pound package frozen meatballs
1 (20 ounce) can pineapple tidbits, drained, reserving juice
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Tender meatballs and veggies in a flavorful sweet and sour sauce makes for a wonderful dinner.

  • Serves 4
  • Easy

About This Recipe

I always have many, many containers of frozen No Name Wild Rice Meatballs in my freezer. If I have fewer than three boxes I start to feel insecure. I use them to make Sicilian Meatball Supper, Meatball Tostadas, and Meatball Divan. And they are delicious in this easy recipe for Sweet and Sour Meatballs.

These meatballs can be used in so many ways. They are great thrown into spaghetti sauce, they are perfect as an appetizer cooked with cocktail sauce and grape or apple jelly, and they are perfect in this recipe.

I used to make meatballs from scratch – no longer. I don’t like having raw ground beef in the house for food safety reasons. And with delicious frozen meatballs, why would I do all that extra work?

And this colorful recipe is so easy to make! (You can even make it in the air fryer!) It’s kind of like a stir-fry, and it has the best sweet and sour flavor combination. Serve over hot cooked brown rice for a fabulous and quick meal.

Why this recipe for Sweet and Sour Meatballs works:

  • Frozen meatballs are so easy to use and so convenient. They thaw beautifully in the pan with the other ingredients. You can make your own meatballs if you’d like; brown them before adding them to the recipe. But try the frozen variety first please! You won’t regret it.
  • The sweet in this recipe is provided by the brown sugar, which also adds a molasses-like richness, and the pineapple juice. The sour is provided by vinegar and lemon juice; use both for the correct flavor.
  • The cornstarch in the sauce thickens the sauce so it coats the ingredients as it cooks. You can also use flour, but taste the sauce before you serve the dish to make sure the raw floury taste is cooked out; this usually takes three to four minutes.

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In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and garlic; stir-fry for 2 to 4 minutes or until crisp-tender.


Add the red bell peppers; stir-fry for another minute. Then add the frozen meatballs and stir.


Cook, stirring frequently, for a few minutes. Then reduce the heat to medium and cover the pan. Simmer for 3 to 5 minutes.


Meanwhile, in a medium bowl combine the pineapple juice, cornstarch, brown sugar, vinegar, lemon juice, and soy sauce and whisk to mix.


When the meatballs are thoroughly heated to 160°F, add the drained pineapple and the pineapple juice mixture to the skillet. Cook and stir until the sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Serve over hot cooked brown rice.


Air Fryer Instructions

Cut the recipe in half unless you have an air fryer that can cook 2 pounds of French fries in one batch. Assemble the sauce.


Preheat the air fryer to 375°F. Air fry the meatballs for 8 to 12 minutes or until hot. Remove from the air fryer.


In a 7-inch metal bowl, combine the oil, onions, garlic, and bell pepper. Air fry for 3 to 4 minutes. Stir.


Add the hot meatballs and pineapple and air fry for another 3 to 4 minutes; stir.


Stir the sauce and add to the bowl. Air fry for 3 to 6 minutes, stirring once during cooking time, until the sauce is thickened and the stir fry is hot. Serve over hot cooked rice or pasta.


Linda is a bestselling cookbook author and home economist who has written 54 books (53 cookbooks and Medical Ethics for Dummies) since 2005. She has worked for Pillsbury since 1988, on the Bake-Off and other projects. Linda has been a web presence since 2002, developing recipes and teaching people how to cook.

Eggs Lorraine
Eggs Lorraine
Meatball Divan
Meatball Divan