These sweet and sour meatballs are made with lean and protein packed chicken meatballs and our homemade healthier sweet and sour sauce. Instead of reaching for the Chinese takeaway menu, try making this super easy and lighter alternative to a takeaway favourite.
We love ordering a takeaway, but we try to make our own versions as often as possible, and this is one of our favourites. Meatballs are total comfort food, and this is a nice twist on the usual spaghetti and meatballs. We love all things sweet and sour and are always looking for ways to use our homemade sauce and it goes perfectly smothered over these juicy and tender meatballs.
Why you will love them
- A delicious takeaway alternative
- A twist on meatballs
- Uses our homemade healthy sweet and sour sauce
- Easy to adapt
- Freezes well
- Chicken breast - this recipe uses homemade chicken meatballs, however you could use store bought meatballs if you wanted to save some time.
- Shallots - these add a bit of extra texture to the meatballs, and some sweetness too. However you could swap it for half a small onion.
- Chinese five spice - this Asian seasoning is a mixture that consists of star anise, cloves, cinnamon, Szechuan peppercorns, and fennel seeds. You could make it yourself, but we buy a good quality one to save time.
- Garlic cloves - you could crush these fresh yourself, or use a spoonful of lazy garlic in a jar.
- Ginger - if you find yourself always wasting ginger, then you could freeze it and then grate it frozen straight in to the dish.
- Egg - this will help to bind the meatballs.
- Panko breadcrumbs - breadcrumbs also help to bind the meatballs, however using panko also helps them to get nice and crispy. You could swap the panko for regular breadcrumbs though.
- Green pepper - this adds a nice crunch to the whole dish, however you can use any colour bell pepper.
- Pineapple - these adds lots of sweetness, and is a must in any sweet and sour dish. You can use fresh, or a can of pineapple.
- Sesame oil - this adds lots of flavour to the dish, however you could use vegetable, sunflower or olive oil instead.
- Sweet and sour sauce - we used our own homemade sweet and sour sauce, however you could use a good quality store bought one instead.
A full ingredients list with measurements is in the recipe card below.
Step by step
One: Grind the chicken breasts up. Add to a bowl with shallots, five spice, garlic, ginger, egg, panko and salt and pepper. Mix into meatballs. Refrigerate for 15 mins.
Two: Put on a baking tray and bake for 12-15 mins until cooked through.
Three: Heat oil in a pan and add the peppers and cook for 4 mins. Add cooked meatballs, pineapple and sweet and sour sauce. Heat through.
Homemade chicken meatballs
You can go the easier route and use really good quality ready made meatballs from the supermarket or butchers, however we really recommend making your own following this recipe, as the meatballs themselves have loads of extra flavour in them.
Packed with Chinese five spice and plenty of garlic and ginger, these homemade meatballs pack a serious flavour punch. We have also added some panko breadcrumbs to make them a little bit crispy.
Sweet and Sour Sauce
If you love a Chinese takeaway, then you need to try making your own Sweet and Sour Sauce. It's is much easier than you think and in less than 10 minutes, using ingredients you probably already have in your cupboard, you have yourself a deliciously smooth sauce that you can use for so many recipes, or just as a dip.
We use passata instead of ketchup and honey to sweeten it, so it is lower in salt and sugar than a store bought sauce. However, you could swap it for a really good quality store bought sweet and sour sauce if you would prefer.
What to serve it with?
There are lots of options when it comes to how to serve these sweet and sour meatballs. You could serve them up as mini meatballs with sticks in them for party food or if you want them as a main meal then they go well with noodles or rice.
If you are making these instead of ordering a Chinese takeaway, then it is a much healthier alternative. We have also baked the meatballs instead of frying them, and used out own homemade sweet and sour sauce that has a few healthier swaps. This recipe is also a good opportunity to add lots of vegetables.
Yes, you can freeze this recipe. Wait for it to fully cook and then store in an air tight container and it will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. It will also keep fresh in the fridge for 2-3 days.
You can either reheat this in the microwave or on the hob until heated through. You could also put them in a preheated oven for around 10 minutes.
Yes, this works really well in a slow cooker. You will need to fry the meatballs first, to brown the outside of them and then put them in the slow cooker with the sweet and sour sauce. Cook on high for 3 hours.
We naked the meatballs for a healthier twist, however there is no reason why they couldn't be fried - they would get nice and crispy that way. Just make sure to use a meat thermometer to make sure that they are cooked all the way through.
Sweet and Sour Meatballs
- 300 g (10.5 oz) Chicken breast - ground in to mince
- 2 portion Homemade sweet and sour sauce
- 3 Shallots - finely diced
- 0.5 teaspoon Chinese five spice
- 2 Garlic clove - crushed
- 30 g Fresh ginger - grated
- 1 Egg
- 50 g (0.75 cups) Panko breadcrumbs
- 1 pinch Sea salt and black pepper
- 1 Green bell pepper - chopped
- 100 g (0.5 cups) Pineapple chunks
- 1 tablespoon Sesame oil
- Sesame seeds - (for serving)
- Spring onion (Scallion) - (for serving)
- Preheat your oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6.
- Grind 300 g Chicken breast into mince.
- Add the chicken mince to a bowl with 3 Shallots, 0.5 teaspoon Chinese five spice, 2 Garlic clove, 30 g Fresh ginger, 1 Egg, 50 g Panko breadcrumbs and 1 pinch Sea salt and black pepper.
- Mix well and then form into meatballs. Refrigerate for 15 mins.
- Put the meatballs on a baking tray and bake for 12-15 mins until cooked through.
- Heat 1 tablespoon Sesame oil in a pan and add 1 Green bell pepper and cook for 4 mins. Add the cooked meatballs, 100 g Pineapple chunks and 2 portion Homemade sweet and sour sauce. Heat through.
- Serve over rice topped with Sesame seeds and Spring onion (Scallion) (optional).
- You could make this spicier by adding a sprinkling of red chilli flakes before serving.
- To make sure you have even sized meatballs (this will help them all to cook evenly), use an ice cream scoop to scoop out the mixture.
- Once you have rolled the meatballs in to ball shape, put them in the fridge for 30 minutes - this will help them to keep their shape when they are baking in the oven.
- You can swap the chicken breast for boneless and skinless chicken thighs when making the meatballs - they will be much juicier.
The nutritional information provided is approximate and is calculated using online tools. Information can vary depending on various factors, but we have endeavoured to be as accurate as possible.