These tangy gluten free sweet and sour meatballs are full of delicious flavors! Make them in your slow cooker or stovetop any time you need an awesome appetizer. Nobody will know these homemade meatballs are gluten free!

A white serving dish filled with sweet and sour meatballs.

If you haven’t tried sweet and sour meatballs with pineapple, you are in for a treat! Sweet and sour meatballs are small, bite-sized meatballs made with ground beef, turkey, or pork. They are cooked in a tangy, sweet and sour sauce. You can cook them in several different ways including baked, fried, or cooked in a slow cooker.

The sweet and sour sauce I created is a combination of vinegar, sugar, ketchup or tomato sauce, tamari, and pineapple, which gives the dish a distinctive sweet and sour flavor. You can also add some crushed red pepper flakes to give it a kick of spice.

If you love meatballs, I have a lot of great Gluten Free Meatball Recipes for you to try.

Two meatballs on a small white plate.

Why we love these gluten free sweet and sour meatballs:

  1. Delicious and flavorful: Sweet and sour meatballs are delicious and flavorful dishes that even picky eaters will love.
  2. Versatile: Sweet and sour meatballs can be served as a main dish or as an appetizer, making them a versatile dish for any occasion.
  3. Easy to make: Sweet and sour meatballs are really easy to make and can be prepared in a variety of ways, including baking, frying, or slow-cooking.
  4. Customizable: These gluten free meatballs can be customized to suit your taste preferences by adjusting the amount of sweetness or tanginess in the sauce, adding vegetables or fruits, or using different types of meat.
  5. Great for meal prep: This recipe can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge or freezer, making them a convenient option for meal prep and busy weeknights.

These Gluten Free BBQ Meatballs or these Gluten Free Sausage Meatballs are also great for entertaining!

Reader Rave

I made these for my family. They hate gluten free. They can always sniff it out. They ate the entire meal happily with barely any leftovers. They requested I make this meal again because they liked it so much even after they found out it was gluten free 😂👏🏽 so thank you!! And kudos on this recipe!!” Maria H., Facebook comment

Ingredient Notes:

  • Ground Meat – Use ground beef, pork, turkey, chicken, bison, or Impossible vegan meat to make the meatballs.
  • Onion – I prefer yellow onion in this recipe.
  • Egg – Use size large.
  • Cilantro – Chop it finely. An herb chopper helps make the pieces small.
  • Tamari – You can use tamari, gluten free soy sauce, or coconut aminos.
  • Garlic Powder – You can use minced fresh garlic if you prefer.
  • Ginger Powder – Always check your spice labels to ensure they are not cross-contaminated.
  • Gluten Free Panko or Bread Crumbs – I typically make my own with the ends of gluten free bread loaves. (It is a lot less expensive to make them from scratch!)
  • Crushed Pineapple – You want the juice too! I used canned pineapple in pineapple juice. Do not use one in syrup.
  • Sesame Oil – This is a staple in Asian cooking.
  • Rice Vinegar – Always check your label to ensure there is no malt.
  • Brown Sugar – Light or dark brown sugar is fine.
  • Ketchup – This adds a little more flavor.
  • Grape Jelly – This is an optional add-on to these sweet and sour meatballs with jelly if you want a sweeter flavor.
  • Cranberry Sauce – This is also an optional add-on to make sweet and sour meatballs with cranberry sauce for a slightly different flavor.

Tips For Sucess:

  • Roll the meatballs into small balls. They will cook faster and make them the perfect size for appetizers.
  • Store-bought gluten free bread crumbs are expensive. Make these Gluten Free Bread Crumbs easily from scratch.
  • Be sure to have enough liquid in your slow cooker so the gluten free sweet and sour meatballs don’t burn on the bottoms.

Recipe Step-By-Step Directions:

Rows of meatballs on a tray ready to be dropped into the cooking sauce.

Step 1: Add the meat, onion, and chopped cilantro to a large mixing bowl. Add the seasonings and tamari. Mix well.

Step 2: Roll little meatballs and put them on a tray. You can make the meatballs any size, but I prefer bite-sized cocktail meatballs.

🔑 Sandi says: The amount of meatball shrinkage will depend on the type of meat you use. Ground beef and pork have a higher fat content, so make those meatballs a little bigger than if you are using ground turkey or chicken.

The sweet and sour sauce in a pot.

Step 3: Add the sauce ingredients to a pot. Stir it then cover the pot. Bring to a low boil over medium-low heat.

Adding the raw meatballs to the cooking sauce.

Step 4: Add the meatballs to the sauce. Cover the pot and continue to cook on medium-low heat.

Do not stir the meatballs until they have been cooking in the sauce for 15 minutes. Otherwise, they will fall apart. Add water if you notice the liquid level getting low. This can happen if you use ground chicken or turkey because they have lower fat levels.

Step 5: Gently use a spoon to stir the meatballs. Use a meat thermometer to ensure your meatballs are 165º F if you cook chicken or turkey meatballs and ground beef to 145º F (minimum.)

Slow Cooker Directions:

  • Follow Steps 1 and 2 as outlined above.
  • Pour all sauce ingredients into the slow cooker. Add 2/3 cup water and mix well.
  • Add the meatballs to the Crock Pot and add the lid.
  • Slow cook for 5 hours at low temperature or 4 hours at high temperature. I do recommend giving them a gentle stir after the first hour so all of the meatballs are coated in the sauce.
A close up of the sweet and sour meatballs in a white serving dish.

If you love these gluten free Asian meatballs, you may also love these Gluten Free Ground Turkey Italian Meatballs.

Recipe FAQ:

What do you do if the amount of liquid cooks off?

Add a little water to the pan.

Can you make these sweet and sour meatballs with grape jelly?

Yes, you can add 1/3 cup of grape jelly for some added flavor.

How much cranberry sauce would you add?

If you want to add cranberry sauce, add 1/3 of a cup.

How do you store sweet and sour meatballs?

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They will keep fresh for up to 4 days.

Can you freeze these gluten free Asian meatballs?

You can easily freeze these Asian meatballs.

Serve With:

The meatballs are often served with rice and can be garnished with green onions, sesame seeds, or chopped cilantro for added flavor and texture. If you are serving as an appetizer, check out some of these other appetizers below so that you are serving a fun variety of foods.

More Gluten Free Appetizer Recipes:

Or check out all of my gluten free appetizer recipes!

Love This Recipe?

If you made and enjoyed this recipe, I would be incredibly grateful if you could leave a comment below. Include which flour blend you used. This helps others know this recipe is delicious. Thank you!

A white serving dish filled with sweet and sour meatballs.

Easy Gluten Free Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Sandi Gaertner
This is an easy recipe for gluten free sweet and sour meatballs. I share two ways to cook them, either stovetop or slow cooker.
5 from 4 votes
dairy free allergen icon
gluten free allergy icon
nut free allergen icon
soy free allergy icon
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Course Gluten Free Appetizer Recipes, Gluten Free Dinner Recipes
Cuisine Chinese
Servings 24 meatballs
Calories 72 kcal

Ingredients
  

For Meatballs

  • 1 pound ground turkey note you can use any ground meat
  • ¼ cup onion diced
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup gluten free panko or bread crumbs see note
  • 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro chopped finely
  • 3 tablespoons tamari see note
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon salt

For Sauce

  • 1 ⅓ cups crushed pineapple with juice
  • cup rice vinegar see note
  • ¼ cup brown sugar light or dark
  • ¼ cup tamari see note
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil

Optional Ingredients (add one or the other, or neither)

  • ⅓ cup grape jelly
  • ⅓ cup cranberry sauce

Instructions
 

  • Add the meat, diced onion, egg, and chopped cilantro to a large mixing bowl. Add the seasonings and tamari. Mix well.
  • Roll the meat mixture into little meatballs and put them on a tray. You can make the meatballs any size, but I prefer bite-sized cocktail meatballs.
  • Note: The amount of meatball shrinkage will depend on the type of meat you use. Ground beef and pork are a higher fat content so make those meatballs a little bigger than if you are using ground turkey or chicken.
  • Add the sauce ingredients to a pot. I used a large sauce pan. Stir it then cover the pot. Bring to a low boil over medium-low heat.
  • Add the meatballs to the sauce. Cover the pot and continue to cook on medium-low heat.  
  • Do not stir the meatballs in until they have been cooking in the sauce for 15 minutes. Otherwise, they will fall apart. Add water if you notice the liquid level getting low. This can happen if you are using ground chicken or turkey because they have a lower fat level.
  • Gently use a spoon to stir the meatballs. Use a meat thermometer to ensure your meatballs are 165º F if you are cooking chicken or turkey meatballs and ground beef to 145º F (minimum.)
  • See notes for slow cooker directions.

Notes

  1. You can use ground turkey, chicken, beef, pork, or vegan meat.
  2. You can use store-bought gluten free panko or bread crumbs or make them from scratch with my gluten free bread crumbs recipe.
  3. Use tamari, gluten free soy sauce, or coconut aminos.
  4. Always read the label when buying rice vinegar to ensure there is no malt.
  5. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  6. You can freeze these meatballs in a freezer bag.
Slow Cooker Directions:
  • Follow the directions above to make your meatballs.
  • Pour all sauce ingredients into the slow cooker. Add 2/3 cup water instead of the 1/2 cup and mix well.
  • Add the meatballs to the Crock Pot and add the lid.
  • Slow cook for 5 hours at low temperature or 4 hours at high temperature. I do recommend giving them a gentle stir after the first hour so all of the meatballs are coated in the sauce.

SPECIAL NOTE

Please know that every gluten free flour blend has a different starch to grain ratio. If you use a blend I didn’t test, you may need to adjust your moisture levels in your baked goods.

Nutrition

Serving: 1meatballCalories: 72kcalCarbohydrates: 8gProtein: 5gFat: 2gSaturated Fat: 0.4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0.004gCholesterol: 18mgSodium: 359mgPotassium: 102mgFiber: 0.4gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 37IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 8mgIron: 0.4mg
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Nutrition Disclaimer

Nutritional information is an estimate provided to you as a courtesy. You should calculate the actual nutritional information with the products and brands you are using with your preferred nutritional calculator.

5 from 4 votes (1 rating without comment)

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Recipe Rating




8 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    So delicious and super easy!! My whole family enjoyed these! These are great as an appetizer but I made it as a meal served over rice with broccoli on the side. My whole family raved! Thanks so much for another great gf recipe!!

  2. 5 stars
    Yummy! Easy and delicious dinner. I used ground chicken and it was perfect. Served over some rice – my two year old exclaimed yummy!

  3. The recipe list includes an egg but the instructions don’t mention when to add it. Is there an egg in the recipe?
    Thank you.