Mom’s Sweet and Sour Meatballs

It feels like winter! I like it…because it gives me an excuse to eat a ton of comfort food! When I would come home for the holidays, my mom would make these three things for me: sweet and sour meatballs, chicken wild rice soup, and jerk chicken. These family recipes were hands down my favorites. Hearty, comforting, and when I was living 2000 miles away, these meals always reminded me of home.

I’m not going to lie – these meatballs are not the most healthy thing in the world. I tried “lightening” them up by using turkey instead of hamburger and replacing half of the brown sugar with 1/4 cup of honey. Those turned out good, but they weren’t “mom good” – know what I mean?

Try out these meatballs – maybe try the “mom” version and the “healthy” version – and let me know what you think!

A Good Place to Start

Ground beef (or turkey or both), onions, garlic salt, pepper, salt, bread, tomatoes, brown sugar, vinegar, gingersnap cookies

Ingredients for meatballs

Make the meatballs first. I thought making homemade meatballs was going to be hard, but it’s not. And they taste a whole lot better than the frozen kind.

Preheat the oven to 400°.

Soak the bread in water. I used wheat bread, but you could use any kind of bread. I asked my mom why she used bread like this and she told me two reasons: it helps keep the meatballs from drying out and it stretches your meat so you get more bang for your buck. (She was so thrifty!)

Soak the bread in water

Next, add the meat, finely chopped onion, garlic salt, pepper, and salt to a large bowl.

mix the meat

Squeeze the water from the bread. It should be soggy, but not dripping. I just use my hands, but you could put it in a colander and press most of the water out into the sink. Add the bread to the meat mixture.

squeeze water out of bread

Mix well using your hands. Make sure there are no big clumps of bread, but be careful not to overwork the meat. (Looking back, I should have chopped my onions much smaller than this!)

mix the ingredents

Form your meatballs. I use a cookie scoop to make sure they are relatively the same size so they cook evenly.

Form the meatballs

turn the meatballs

Put them on a broiler pan so the grease drains away from the meat during cooking. If you don’t have a broiler pan, a 9 x 13 cake pan will work just fine. Bake the meatballs at 400° for 25 – 30 minutes or until there is no pink in the center and the meatballs are browned.

Use a  tongs to carefully turn the meatballs once during cooking.


Meanwhile, make the sauce. Mix the tomatoes, brown sugar, vinegar, onion, salt, and gingersnaps in a large pot. Cook over medium-low heat until the cookies dissolve and the sauce is bubbly and thickens. Stir often, the sugar can burn easily.


When the meatballs are done, add them to the sauce and stir until well coated.

add meatballs to saucecoat meatballs with sauce

Serve over rice or noodles, or serve on toothpicks as an appetizer at a party!

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Mom's Sweet and Sour Meatballs

  • Servings: 6 - 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


For the meatballs:

  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 5 slices bread, soaked in water and then squeezed

For the sauce:

  • 1 15 oz can of diced or crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 lbs brown sugar (a little more than 1 cup)
  • 1/4 c vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 10 ginger snap cookies


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°.
  2. Soak the bread in water. Squeeze most of the water out.
  3. Make the meatballs. Mix the ground beef, wet bread, onion, garlic salt, pepper, and salt in a bowl. Shape into uniform sized meatballs.
  4. Cook on a broiler pan for 25 – 30 minutes until no longer pink. Turn once.
  5. Make the sauce. Mix tomatoes, brown sugar, vinegar, salt, onion, and gingersnaps. Cook over medium-low heat until the cookies dissolve and the sauce is thick and bubbly.
  6. Add the cooked meatballs to the sauce and coat evenly.
  7. Serve over rice.

Author: Andrea M

Oh man, what an adventure! I went into labor unexpectedly when I was 23w3d pregnant. Jaxson was born weighing 1 lb 8 oz. A tiny little peanut, but boy was he feisty. He still is! We love it now, but we probably won't when he is a teenager. I write about our journey and all other things that come with it, including a brain tumor. We look forward to "meeting" you - come hang out with us...we're pretty cool.

6 thoughts on “Mom’s Sweet and Sour Meatballs”

      1. I made my own meatballs and used turkey meat, but I made the sweet and sour sauce As recommended in Mom’s Recipe. They were wonderful. There were so many meatballs I thought I would freeze some, WRONG, they were such a big hit that there were none left. This is a very different sweet and sour sauce and so easy. Thanks for sharing.


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