Hawaiian Meatballs + Video

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Hawaiian Meatballs capture all the best flavors of the Islands with lightly seasoned beef and a tangy pineapple glaze. 

The secret to these sweet and sour meatballs is the deliciously sticky sauce. Not only is it soaked into every bite, but it creates a glossy coating that lets these beauties shine!

bowl of hawaiian meatballs covered in sweet and sour sauce

These tasty morsels can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion, whether you want a quick and easy meal or need a crowd-pleasing appetizer.

It’s also easy to double or triple this sweet and sour meatballs recipe. Trust me, you’ll want to have extra tucked away in the freezer for a quick and easy dinner or whenever a craving strikes!

overhead: bowls and plates with hawaiian meatball ingredients

Hawaiian Meatballs

Why buy a bag of frozen cocktail meatballs when you can make your own from scratch? All you need is some ground beef, plus milk, eggs, breadcrumbs, and a few seasonings.

Looking for more meatball recipes? Check out the meatball meals roundup, with ten of our all-time favorite recipes. 

Recipe Video

Be sure to watch the video to see this meatball recipe made from start to finish! Look for it in the recipe card, at the bottom of this post.

scooping meat mixture for sweet and sour meatballs

Ingredients Needed For Cocktail Meatballs

  • Ground beef – An 80/20 blend is perfect for this recipe, but I recommend going even leaner if you want to use a combination of beef and pork. You could also use ground chicken or turkey if you prefer.
  • Bread crumbs – This, along with the eggs, acts as a binder to hold everything together. Use the plain variety (without any extra flavors or seasonings) or try panko breadcrumbs for extra texture.
  • Seasonings – A little onion powder, salt, and pepper are all you need to season the beef. Worcestershire sauce makes these taste extra savory.
  • Milk – The breadcrumbs soak up this liquid, adding extra flavor and plenty of moisture to each of the cocktail meatballs.
  • Sweet and Sour Sauce – If you’re short on time, a bottle of your favorite from the store is just fine. Personally, I like to use my homemade sweet and sour sauce recipe, and it only takes about 15 minutes to make.
placing hawaiian meatballs into baking pan
overhead: uncooked cocktail meatballs in white baking dish

Hawaiian Meatballs FAQ

What do you eat with sweet and sour meatballs?

Dinner Ideas
Serve a few Hawaiian meatballs over jasmine rice with a side of snow peas for an easy meal. We especially like to create delicious sliders by stuffing them into sweet Hawaiian rolls with extra sauce.

Appetizer Meatballs
You could even pair them with some other party appetizers for game day or a themed party! Make a double batch, keep them warm in the crockpot, and let guests serve themselves.

What’s a good substitute for pineapple juice?

Orange juice is probably the closest substitute, but the tropical flavor of your meatballs won’t be quite the same. Try adding a squeeze of lime juice to the orange to get the perfect balance of sour and sweet.

pouring ladle of sweet and sour sauce over small balls of ground beef
Should you fry or bake meatballs?

I prefer to bake meatballs whenever possible. Not only is it less messy, but they come out perfectly tender and evenly cooked every time!

Plus, while they are baking, you can spend time preparing side dishes for your quick and easy meal.

How do you prevent tough meatballs?

The most important thing to remember when making meatballs is to handle the meat as little as possible! Mix until the ingredients are just combined – this prevents them from becoming tough and dry.

I also recommend using a scoop to portion them out before gently rolling them into shape. Wet or grease your hands before rolling — this prevents the mixture from sticking to your skin.

Make Ahead Instructions

This sweet and sour meatballs recipe is the perfect make-ahead appetizer. Bake and refrigerate until it’s time to serve, then reheat right in the sauce!

You can also freeze Hawaiian meatballs for later, either raw or baked. It’s safe to store them in the sauce, or you can freeze them alone and make a fresh batch of sauce for serving.

  • Cooked: Cool to room temperature, then freeze in a single layer on a baking sheet. Once firm, transfer to a storage bag or container and store for up to 2 months.
  • Uncooked: Once formed, flash freeze in a single layer for 1 to 2 hours. Store in a large Ziploc bag or airtight container, adding parchment between each layer if needed.
bowl of hawaiian meatballs, one on a toothpick

Storing and Reheating Sweet and Sour Meatballs

The cocktail meatballs should last 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator when kept in an airtight container. You can store them right in the sauce for easy reheating.

For a quick snack, reheat your Hawaiian meatballs in the microwave on 50% power, using 30-second bursts. Covering the plate with plastic wrap or a paper towel will keep the meatballs nice and moist, and it also helps them to heat evenly.

Otherwise, pour everything back into a baking dish and pop them in the oven! Heat for 10 to 15 minutes at 350°F, or until warmed through. If frozen, add another 5 to 10 minutes to the cooking time.

With love, from our simple kitchen to yours. 

hawaiian cocktail meatballs close up

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Other Fabulous Meatball Recipes

cocktail meatballs close up, toothpick in one of them

Hawaiian Meatballs + Video

Donna Elick
Hawaiian Meatballs are tender and juicy, covered in a sticky sweet and sour sauce. This recipe is perfect for party appetizers or game day!
4.50 stars from 2 reviews
Tried this recipe?Please comment and review!
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Method Oven
Servings 54 meatballs


  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 cup plain breadcrumbs
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 cups sweet and sour sauce, (1 batch of my recipe, or store bought sauce)


  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Add all ingredients to a large mixing bowl and use your clean hands or a mixing spatula to combine.
  • Using a 1 tablespoon scoop to portion, lightly shape the scoops and use your hands to roll them into meatballs.
  • Place meatballs in a 9×13-inch baking dish. Cover with sweet and sour sauce.
    Bake for 30 minutes, remove from oven, serve and enjoy!


Donna’s Notes


Calories: 31cal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 12mg | Sodium: 60mg | Sugar: 2g | Fiber: 1g | Calcium: 10mg | Iron: 1mg

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Originally published October 2012. Updated and republished July 2021

titled pinterest collage for sweet and sour meatballs recipe

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      1. 4 stars
        Donna, my videos with the arrow to the side never play. What am I doing wrong? I’m a visual learner and love to watch from start to finish.
        Also, what happens if you soak the bread crumbs in the milk before adding?

  1. Excellent and easy recipe. I have made it twice in 2 weeks and we love it. The sauce makes it. Thanks.

  2. the receipe reads put all in and make meatballs, but then it says to pour the sweet and sour sauce over the meatballs at the end. which is it please, mix it in or just pour all over? thank you.

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