3-Ingredient Asian Meatballs

$11.24 per recipe / $0.70 per serving

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3-ingredient Asian Meatballs are a quick and easy spin on Grape Jelly Meatballs. These make for a fun, crowd-pleasing appetizer, or the start to an Asian-Italian Fusion Meatball Sub!

pantry ingredient hoisin sauce for recipes

Today’s Pantry Essential: Hoisin Sauce

Anyone else make a stir-fry and then have a bunch of condiments in their fridge for months? Just me? Okay. Well we’re taking a few of those condiments and combining them to make an easy, flavorful, sticky meatball slow cooker meal. Yey!

A Party Favorite

These Asian meatballs are the perfect recipe to take to a party for several reasons. First, they are incredibly inexpensive to make, so you can feed a lot of people with a small budget.

Using frozen meatballs also makes it super easy to calculate how many you need. I usually plan 6 meatballs per person when I’m serving this dish as an appetizer, which means the recipe below will make appetizers for about 16 people. If you need more or less than that, just adjust your quantities!

You don’t need to worry too much about the hoisin vs orange marmalade ratios because this recipe is very forgiving. We use 3 parts hoisin sauce to 4 parts orange marmalade, but change it up according to what you have and how sweet you want it to be.

Ingredients Needed

ingredients hoisin sauce, orange jelly and mini meatballs for 3 ingredient meatball recipe

Exact measurements can be found in the printable recipe card below.

  • Hoisin Sauce: Any brand you have will be fine. If you prefer, you can also substitute teriyaki sauce, tamari, or oyster sauce. Just use less oyster sauce as it is pretty strong.
  • Orange Marmalade: You can use any type of citrus jelly, jam, marmalade, or chutney in this recipe.
  • Frozen Meatballs: You can also make your own meatballs if you prefer, but this will add quite a bit of prep time unless you have made them in bulk and pre-froze them.

Recipe Variations

  • Add some spice to your Asian meatballs by adding red pepper flakes, sriracha, or fresh ginger to the mix.
  • Substitute the orange marmalade with pineapple preserves or apricot jam for a tropical twist.
  • Sautee vegetables like bell peppers, onions, bamboo shoots, and water chestnuts and add them to the slow cooker to make this into a whole meal you can serve over rice.
asian orange sweet and sour mini meatball appetizer

Need it in a hurry?

Let’s be honest- life happens and sometimes you are running behind on trying to get an appetizer ready for a party.

Check your meatball package for microwaving instructions and heat them up. Add the already hot meatballs to to slow cooker with the sauces and stir to coat.

Now your slow cooker is just there to keep it all warm for serving!


This is an overview of the instructions. For complete directions, scroll down to the bottom.

  1. Add all ingredients to the slow cooker. Cook on low 3 hours, stirring halfway through.
  2. Keep on warm, top with scallions and sesame seeds if desired.

Make clean up a breeze

No one likes looking at their slow cooker soaking the whole next day, waiting to be scrubbed out. Consider using a slow cooker liner to prevent food from sticking to the pot.

How to store and love your leftovers

  • Refrigerate: Place the leftover meatballs in an airtight container and refrigerate within 2 hours of cooking. They can be safely stored in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
  • Freeze: To freeze, arrange the meatballs in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze until solid. Transfer them to an airtight container or freezer bag, separating layers with parchment paper, and label with the date. Frozen meatballs can be stored for up to 3 months.
  • Reheat: Reheat refrigerated meatballs in the microwave or on the stovetop until heated through. For frozen meatballs, thaw them in the refrigerator overnight before reheating using the same methods. Or of course, pop them back into a small slow cooker and set to warm.

Grab a travel slow cooker for lunches to bring to work!

asian sweet and sour meatballs in the crock pot topped with cilantro


Where can I find hoisin sauce in the grocery store?

Hoisin sauce is typically found in the Asian or international foods section of most grocery stores. Look for it near the soy sauce.

Can I make these meatballs in the oven instead of a slow cooker?

Yes, you can bake them in the oven according to the meatball package instructions, then coat them with the sauce before serving. Combine the sauce ingredients in a small pot on the stove to warm and thicken before glazing. For added stickiness, broil the meatballs once glazed, before serving.

Can I use fresh meatballs instead of frozen ones?

Yes, you can use fresh homemade meatballs if you prefer. Just ensure they are fully cooked before adding them to the slow cooker to minimize any excess grease.

Is this recipe spicy?

No, this recipe is not inherently spicy. If you want some heat, consider adding a pinch of red pepper flakes or a dash of sriracha sauce.

close up image of glossy sweet and sour meatballs in a slow cooker

Serve with

  • Noodle or rice
  • Steamed vegetables
  • Fried rice
  • Asian slaw

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3-Ingredient Asian Meatballs

3-ingredient Asian Meatballs are a quick and easy spin on Grape Jelly Meatballs. These make for a fun, crowd-pleasing appetizer, or the start to an Asian-Italian Fusion Meatball Sub!
Katie Chase
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 5 minutes
Recipe Cost $11.24
Recipe Servings 16 servings


  • 6 quart slow cooker 'q
  • Spoon


  • 3 ounces hoisin sauce about 1/4 cup
  • 40 ounces frozen meatballs homemade or italian
  • 4 ounces orange marmalade or other citrus jelly


  • Combine ingredients in a slow cooker and stir well to coat.
  • Cook on low for 3 hours, stirring halfway through.
  • Top with sesame seed, sliced green onion, or parsley if desired.
Disclaimer: Please note all serving sizes, pricing, and nutrition is an estimate based on 2023-2024 pricing and nutrition guides. For accuracy please do your own calculations.

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