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!
‘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.
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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).
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. 😉
For the Meatballs:
- 1½ 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:
- 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).
- 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.
- While meatballs are cooking, combine all sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Stir well to dissolve starch.
- 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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