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Sweet and Sour Meatballs – The Real Food Dietitians


Need a last-minute appetizer that’s more than just cheese and crackers? Try these easy one-skillet Sweet and Sour Meatballs!

A pile of Sweet and SourA pile of Sweet and Sour Meatballs on a long white tray with steamed rice and green beans.

‘Tis the season for parties, parties, and more parties.

But it’s also the season for easy meals, so these Sweet and Sour Meatballs do double-duty as both a weeknight dinner or a hearty party appetizer. They can easily be made up to three days in advance and reheated prior to serving. Try popping them into a slow cooker set on low to reheat before switching them to the ‘keep warm’ setting if you’re serving them at a party, or reheat them in a covered skillet on the stovetop for dinner.


Overhead view of ingredients for the sauce to make Sweet and Sour Meatballs.

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Just 10 simple ingredients

Using pre-made ketchup keeps the ingredient list short and makes making the sauce super simple. If you want to keep these Whole30-friendly, be sure to use unsweetened ketchup (such as Primal Kitchen or Tessemae’s).

A word about substitutions

Though these Sweet and Sour Meatballs are incredibly easy, I know there are times when you need a substitution – whether that’s for an allergy or you can’t source an ingredient – so here’s my short-list of substitutions that I’ve successfully used when making these:

  •  Oat flour or finely ground oats can be substituted for the almond flour. Both are great binders and keep the meatballs tender in the absence of an egg or breadcrumbs.
  • If you can’t find crushed pineapple, you can substitute canned pineapple chunks or rings that have been pulsed in a blender or food processor until they’re the consistency of crushed pineapple. If taking this route, you’ll need to blend enough pineapple to equal 2/3 cup when crushed (with its juices).
  • Apple cider vinegar can be used in place of the rice vinegar in the sauce if you don’t have, or can’t source rice vinegar.
  • Corn starch may be used in place of the arrowroot starch if desired (if keeping them Whole30-friendly isn’t a concern).

These easy one-skillet Sweet and Sour Meatballs are great for weeknight dinners, but they’re also the perfect party appetizer. #Whole30 #realfood Click To Tweet

A pile of Sweet and Sour Meatballs on a long white tray with steamed rice and green beans.

Serving Suggestions

If you’re making these Sweet and Sour Meatballs for a quick weeknight dinner (or weekend meal prep) here are some suggestions for serving:

  • Steamed rice
  • Cauliflower rice (make your own from scratch or grab a bag from the produce section or freezer aisle)
  • Rice noodles
  • Shirataki noodles – also called ‘wonder’ or ‘miracle’ noodles (these are a great low-carb option, but note they are a Whole30 ‘grey area’ food)
  • Sautéed shredded cabbage or coleslaw mix
  • Mashed cauliflower or sweet potato (sounds weird, I know, but it’s actually delicious!)
  • Steamed, roasted or stir-fried veggies of choice – green beans, bok choy, broccoli, carrots, bell peppers, and sugar snap or snow peas are all great, but so is a bag of frozen stir-fry veggies when you need a serious shortcut!

If serving these Sweet and Sour Meatballs as a party appetizer, I recommend you double the batch, sprinkle them with toasted sesame seeds (I like a mixture of black and white sesame seeds) and thinly sliced green onions just before serving – and be prepared to be asked for the recipe. 😉

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Let’s Get Cookin’

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

  • Author: Jessica Beacom
  • Prep Time: 15 mins.
  • Cook Time: 20 mins.
  • Total Time: 35 mins.
  • Yield: Serves 4 1x
  • Cuisine: Whole30, Egg-Free
A pile of Sweet and Sour Meatballs on a long white tray with steamed rice and green beans.


For the Meatballs:

  • lb. ground pork (may substitute ground turkey or chicken)
  • ¼ cup almond flour (may sub oat flour or bread crumbs if not Whole30)
  • 1¼ tsp. garlic powder
  • 1¼ tsp. onion powder
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced green onions, plus more for garnish

For the Sauce:

  • ⅓ cup ketchup*
  • 8 oz. crushed pineapple, in juice
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • 3 Tbsp. rice vinegar (may substitute apple cider vinegar)
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • ½ tsp. dried ginger
  • 1 Tbsp. arrowroot starch**


To make the meatballs:

  1. Combine ground pork, almond flour, garlic and onion powders, salt, pepper, and sliced green onions in a bowl. Mix to combine and divide meat mixture into 18-20 meatballs (about 1 Tbsp. each). 
  2. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat (medium if using cast-iron). When the pan is hot, add meatballs in a single layer. Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side or until lightly browned all over. 
  3. While meatballs are cooking, combine all sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Stir well to dissolve starch. 
  4. When meatballs are browned on all sides, add sauce and stir to coat each meatball. Bring sauce to a simmer and cook for 7-8 minutes or until sauce is thickened and meatballs are cooked through. Sprinkle with additional green onions and serve. 


  • Serving Size: 5 oz (Meatballs + Sauce)
  • Calories: 395
  • Sugar: 16g
  • Sodium: 362mg
  • Fat: 25g
  • Carbohydrates: 23g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Protein: 21g

What’s your favorite ‘hearty’ party appetizer? Share in the comments below.

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All photos and content are copyright protected. Please do not use our photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this recipe, please rewrite the recipe in your own unique words and link back to the source recipe here on The Real Food Dietitians. Thank you!

About Jessica Beacom

Jessica is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist living in Boulder, CO with her hubby and two daughters. She’s been described as a ‘real food evangelist’ and loves sharing her knowledge with others to help them break free of the diet mentality and find their own food freedom. In her spare time she enjoys CrossFit, telemark skiing, mountain biking, teaching herself how to play the banjo and camping out under the stars.


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