Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Sweet & Sour Meatballs

These meatballs are proof that food can create a legacy. I’ll share more of that story in a bit but for now, suffice it to say, this recipe came from a dear friend and it changed my attitude about meatballs.

I really only remember two kinds of meatballs growing up: porcupine and ham balls. If you aren’t from “around here”, porcupine meatballs are made with ground beef, rice, a tomato sauce, onion and a few light seasonings. Ham balls are as Lutheran as green jello. They are made with a combination of ground pork and ground ham and have a tangy, barbecue-esque sauce. Both are delicious but I am a lover of variety. Enter Jenna, to the rescue.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

a legacy begins with meatballs

This gal walks into a … you guessed it … church potluck with a pan full of these beauties. My boys, who were pretty young at the time, devoured them (still do). This recipe gave me the nudge to take a basic recipe and create all kinds of variations (see “MEATBALLS: TIPS AND RECIPES” below for more ideas).

Never, ever, be afraid to ask someone for their recipe. It is a compliment. It’s a BIG compliment when, 20 years later, you tell that person it is still a family favorite! And it’s a true gift when that compliment results in a friendship that endures and thrives.

Thanks, Jenna, for this recipe which has fed our family many meals over the years. Thank you even more for all the time, energy and passion you directed (and still direct) into children’s ministry. I have two adult men who cannot go through Lent without hearing the song, “Run Peter Run” in their heads. Now that’s a legacy!

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

tips and recipes

If you go to The Meatball Files on my site, you will find Meatballs 101 (a post filled with tips and tricks on everything from breadcrumbs to cooking methods) and a variety of recipes to try. It’s actually quite addictive. You will be making your own recipes before you know it!

Make sure you share them with me.

Print Recipe
Sweet and Sour Meatballs
Sweet and Sour Meatballs
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Servings
60 meatballs
Ingredients
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 pound ground pork sausage
  • 1 pound ground ham
  • 2 cups bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup Milk divided
  • 1 cup brown sugar packed
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 cup vinegar apple cider vinegar or white
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Servings
60 meatballs
Ingredients
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 pound ground pork sausage
  • 1 pound ground ham
  • 2 cups bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup Milk divided
  • 1 cup brown sugar packed
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 cup vinegar apple cider vinegar or white
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice
Sweet and Sour Meatballs
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325°. 
  2. Mix ground meats, bread crumbs, eggs, and 1/2 cup of the milk (by hand is easiest) until well combined. If the mixture is too dry, add the remaining milk, 1/4 cup at a time, until desired consistency is reached. Form into 1 1/2" meatballs (see note below). 
  3. Place in three 9"x 13" metal pans or two large, rimmed, baking sheets (12"x16"x1") that have been coated with cooking spray. Do not overcrowd.
  4. Combine all sauce ingredients. 
  5. Pour half of sauce over meatballs. 
  6. Bake meatballs, uncovered, for 20 minutes. 
  7. Turn meatballs. Pour remaining sauce over the top. Return to oven and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until centers of meatballs are thoroughly cooked.
  8. Remove from oven and serve.
Recipe Notes

Some grocery stores have ham loaf instead of ground ham. This is fine to use. It probably has more ground ham than pork but that is okay. You can either buy two pounds of ham loaf and add the pound of pork sausage or you can buy a pound and a half of ham loaf, a half pound of ground pork and add the pound of pork sausage.

Leftover sliced ham can be used here too. Simply grind the ham in a food processor to a fine consistency. One pound of ground ham is approximately 2 cups.

A cookie scoop is a perfect tool to mold meatballs to a consistent size. For this recipe I used a 1.5" cookie scoop.

These meatballs freeze really well, either before or after baking. BEFORE: After forming meatballs, place a single layer on a cookie sheet and freeze. Transfer to resealable bags, label bags with contents and date and return to the freezer. When ready to bake, remove desired number of meatballs, defrost for 30 minutes and bake as directed. Add a few minutes of time in the oven, if necessary, to ensure they are thoroughly cooked. AFTER: Place the cooked and cooled meatballs in a resealable plastic bag, eliminating as much excess air as possible and freeze. When ready to use, remove the desired amount and thaw to room temperature. Mix up half of a recipe of the sauce and warm it in a pan on the stove until steaming. Add the meatballs and slowly heat through. Too hot a temperature will tighten up the meat and cause it to be tough.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs Recipe Pin

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