Sweet and Sour Baked Chicken Meatballs

$8.30 per recipe / $2.08 per serving

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These Sweet & Sour Chicken Meatballs are baked in a deliciously sweet and tangy homemade sauce. They have all the amazing flavors of sweet and sour chicken packed into a tasty meatball that makes them perfect to serve as dinner or as an appetizer for parties. They’re so tender and full of flavor, and they stay juicy even when reheated! Plus, this recipe is fairly easy and calls for mostly budget-friendly pantry staples.

oven baked chicken meatballs served with sweet and sour sauce
ground chicken used for making budget-friendly homemade meatballs

Today’s Freezer Essential: Ground Chicken or Ground Turkey

Finding frozen meatball is often easy and convenient. But when you’re wanting to add more budget-friendly chicken to the menu and still craving meatballs, ground chicken can be a flavorful alternative to ground beef or pork. This is a kid-friendly, budget-friendly, quick meal to make on a busy weeknight – even when making from scratch.

A Homemade Favorite

If you want to make a yummy appetizer or quick dinner without spending too much, these sweet and sour chicken meatballs are just the ticket. Easily doubled or tripled, this recipe can be made ahead of time and kept warm in a crockpot for a tailgating party.

While I love being able to make recipes from scratch, don’t worry if you don’t have time or the ingredients for the sweet and sour sauce. Pick up a bottle pre-made from your grocery store. Make the meatballs but don’t bake them. Add them and the sauce to a slow cooker then cook that way, stirring occasionally. Just a few hours will get these cooked all the way and will remain juicy.

You can use the same recipe with beef, pork, turkey, or any combination. Grab a bag of frozen chopped vegetables like peppers and onions, and serve over a bed of rice for a full meal.

Ingredients Needed

ingredients for sweet and sour chicken meatballs

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

  • Ground Chicken: Ensure you’re using ground chicken and not ground chicken breast, which is too lean and would make a tough and dry meatball. 
  • Binder: Plain bread crumbs and egg will be used as the binder for these meatballs. If you have seasoned bread crumbs or panko only, use those. If they’re seasoned you’ll just have some extra flavor.
  • Spices: Garlic, onion, salt, pepper, soy sauce, and green onions all work together to ensure each bite of these baked meatballs are full of flavor.
  • Pineapple Juice: Use as an acid and flavor in the sauce. Apple juice or orange juice can be used in a pinch, but it will alter the flavors. This is the main ingredient in the sauce. If you have a can of chopped pineapple, just use the juice and finely dice the pineapple to make up the 1 cup needed.
  • Other: Brown sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, ketchup, cornstarch, and water all work together to make a thick, balanced sauce.

Recipe Variations

  • To add a little spice to this recipe, add crushed red pepper flakes or your favorite hot sauce to the meatball mix.
  • Switch the chicken out for beef meatballs for an equally delicious meatball.
  • Use the sauce for other dishes, like baked chicken or pork chops, or as a dip for chicken tenders, dumplings, or even spring rolls. It’s so flavorful, you’ll want to put it on everything!

Tips for making it your own!

Don’t want to leave a can of pineapple juice half used? Make this sauce in bulk. You can add it to a bowl of ramen, or to a leftover meatball sandwich for added flavor! You can also freeze the sauce in ice cube trays before transferring to a Ziploc bag for long term storage. Then grab one and add to a skillet any time you want!


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

  1. Mix all the meatball ingredients into one bowl.
  2. Form into meatballs using a 2 Tablespoon scoop, and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  3. Bake for 25-30 minutes while making the sauce.
  4. Mix all the ingredients of the sauce (except the slurry) into a saucepan over high heat, reducing to medium.
  5. Add the slurry and whisk until thick and shiny.
  6. Coat the meatballs in sauce and serve to your liking.
how to make sweet and sour baked chicken meatballs with step by step photos

How to store and love your leftovers

  • Refrigerate: Leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
  • Freeze: Once the dish is completely cooled, transfer to an airtight container for 2-3 months.
  • Reheat: Thaw in the refrigerator overnight if possible. Transfer to a slow cooker and warm, stirring occasionally. Or heat on high in the microwave slightly covered to prevent splatter, for 30-second increments, rotating and reheating.

Use leftovers from this recipe served over ramen with extra sauce, chicken stock, and stir-fry vegetables for a chicken ramen meatball dish.

sweet and sour baked chicken meatballs served as a party appetizer dish.

Food Storage Guide

Print off this food storage guide from the FDA. Laminate or put into a plastic sleeve and tape to the inside of a cupboard or pantry, or in your meal planning binder for easy access.


How do I properly mix and shape the chicken meatballs?

To make rolling out the meatballs easier, use a scoop and wet your hands. Roll the meatballs in the palm of your hand with even, light pressure.

How do I keep my meatballs from becoming tough?

Be careful not to overmix the initial meatballs to prevent them from getting tough. They’ll mix a bit more as you roll them.

Can these be made ahead?

Absolutely! If you need your crock pot for something else on game day or at your holiday party, you can make these ahead of time and transfer to a slow cooker to keep warm.
Since this is a chicken recipe, be sure to bake the meatballs until the internal temperature reaches 165° F.

Can you use frozen meatballs?

Use whatever you have on hand, the sauce will work its magic!

sweet and sour baked chicken meatballs in rice and pepper bowl.

Serve with

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Sweet & Sour Chicken Meatballs

These Sweet & Sour Chicken Meatballs are deliciously sweet and tangy. They have all the amazing flavors of sweet and sour chicken packed into a tasty meatball. Baked to perfection, they’re so tender and full of flavor, and they stay juicy even when reheated! Plus, this recipe is fairly easy and calls for mostly pantry staples.
Katie Chase
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Recipe Cost $8.03
Recipe Servings 4 people


  • parchment paper
  • sheet pan
  • medium mixing bowl
  • mixing spoon
  • whisk
  • 2 Tablespoon cookie scoop
  • Small Saucepan
  • Spoon
  • instant-read thermometer
  • Measuring cups and spoons


Chicken Meatball Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • ¾ cup plain bread crumbs
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 3 tablespoons diced green onions divided
  • 1 egg
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder

Sweet & Sour Sauce Ingredients

  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • cup dark brown sugar
  • cup white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ¼ cup water


  • Preheat oven to 375° F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, add ground chicken, soy sauce, bread crumbs, garlic, 2 tablespoons of the green onions, egg, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. Gently combine.
    1 lb ground chicken, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, ¾ cup plain bread crumbs, 1 clove garlic, 3 tablespoons diced green onions, 1 egg, ½ tsp salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • Form into meatballs, about 2 tablespoons in size (this makes about 20).
  • Place on the baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 25-30 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 165° F.
  • While the meatballs bake, mix pineapple juice, brown sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, and ketchup in a small sauce pan over high heat until simmering then reduce heat to medium.
    1 cup pineapple juice, ⅔ cup dark brown sugar, ⅓ cup white vinegar, 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce, ¼ cup ketchup
  • Mix the cornstarch and water and pour into the sauce. Continue whisking until the sauce is shiny and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
    2 tablespoons cornstarch, ¼ cup water
  • When the meatballs are fully cooked, coat the meatballs with the sauce. Top with the remaining green onions and serve.
    3 tablespoons diced green onions


Ensure you’re using ground chicken and not ground chicken breast, which is too lean and would make a tough and dry meatball.
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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