Passover Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Passover Sweet and Sour Meatballs with Pineapple - Crowd-pleasing Passover dish the whole family will love!

This year, I decided to develop a kosher for Passover Sweet and Sour Meatball recipe. A while back, blog reader Susan Fedrow submitted her family’s delicious Sweet and Sour Meatball recipe to me. It’s a popular recipe on my site; I often get emails from readers saying how much they love it. I decided to use it as the inspiration for my Passover meatball recipe.

To make the recipe Passover friendly required some tweaking. One of the main ingredients in the recipe is chili sauce, but the most popular brand (Heinz) has corn syrup in the mix. Corn is considered kitniyot, which is not Passover friendly for Ashkenazi kosher Jews. I’m not a big fan corn syrup in general, so I was excited to recreate the sauce from scratch without the added syrup. I experimented till I came up with a sauce that has a similar flavor. Then I replaced the breadcrumbs in the meatballs with matzo meal, and made a few other minor tweaks.

Presto! Passover Sweet and Sour Meatballs. You’re going to love this one. :)

There seem to be dozens of variations on the Sweet and Sour Meatball theme out there. Different ingredients are used to capture the “sweet” flavor, as well as the “sour”… grape jelly, cranberry sauce, tomato juice, frozen lemonade, sour salt, lemon juice… the possibilities are endless. I happen to like this version because of the pineapple juice and chunks– they add so much wonderful sweetness and texture! They can be served as an appetizer with toothpicks, as a side dish, or even as an entree choice. Pour them over quinoa or mashed potatoes for a more complete entree. This is a fabulous dish. You and your Seder guests will kvell… promise!

Do you have your own version of Sweet and Sour Meatballs? Let us know how you make it in the comments section below! :)

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Matzo Meal

Medium Sized Pot

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Passover Sweet and Sour Meatballs with Pineapple - Crowd-pleasing Passover dish the whole family will love!

Passover Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Ingredients

  • 2 large cans (20 oz. each) pineapple chunks in their own juice (no sugar added)
  • 3/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar (or another Passover-approved vinegar)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt, divided
  • 3/4 tsp garlic powder, divided
  • 3/4 lb. lean ground beef
  • 3/4 lb. dark meat ground chicken
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3-4 tbsp matzo meal (use GF matzo meal for gluten free)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • Pinch of cayenne (or more to taste-- add carefully, it's very spicy!)
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 45 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour
Servings: 12-14 appetizer servings
Kosher Key: Meat
  • Note: I live in an area with a lot of great kosher markets, so I've never had trouble finding any of the items in this recipe with kosher for Passover certification. However, I'm told that in some places brown sugar and cider vinegar can be tough to track down with a KFP hechsher. If that is true in your area, feel free to swap cider vinegar for wine vinegar or Passover-approved white vinegar (not balsamic), and brown sugar for white sugar. Also, if you need to make this gluten free, use gluten free matzo meal for Passover!
  • Drain your two cans of pineapple chunks and reserve the juice.
  • In a medium pot, mix together tomato sauce, ketchup, cider vinegar, brown sugar, tomato paste, onion powder, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, and the juice from the pineapple cans. Stir together and turn meat to low to let the sauce slowly warm.
  • Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl use a fork to mix together the ground beef and chicken, egg, 3 tbsp matzo meal, paprika, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, paprika, black pepper, and cayenne. I like a little heat in the meatballs, so I add a heaping 1/4 tsp of cayenne. If you don't want them spicy, you can omit it completely-- or just add a pinch for depth of flavor.
  • Form the meat mixture into small 1-inch meatballs. If the mixture seems to moist or stick, add another tablespoon of matzo meal to the mixture. Place the meatballs into the warming sauce.
  • When all the meatballs are formed, bring the mixture to a boil and stir to cover the meatballs with sauce. Lower the heat to a low, even simmer and cover the pot.
  • Let the meatballs cook for 40 minutes, stirring frequently, till sauce thickens and meatballs cook all the way through. If the sauce seems to be reducing too fast or losing too much liquid, lower the heat and add a little water to thin it.
  • After 40 minutes, add the pineapple chunks to the sauce and stir to coat. Let the chunks warm in the sauce for 5 minutes.
  • Serve. You can serve this as an entree with a Passover-friendly starch, as a side dish, or with toothpicks as an appetizer. Enjoy!
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Category: Appetizers, Entrees, Finger Foods and Dips, In the Kitchen, Meat, Nut Free, Passover - Ashkenazi, Passover - Sephardic, Recipes, Side Dishes

Comments (65)Post a Comment

  1. Thanks for this recipe. I have made these meatballs for years, the only difference being that I use ground turkey. I also used the chili sauce and this is a great made-from-scratch way to eliminate that high fructose corn syrup! As always, I love your recipes!

  2. Jack E says:

    Tori, my mom made the best Sweet & Sour Meatballs…really, it was all in the sauce…pretty basic tomato sauce, but she’d add “Sour Salt” (Citric acid) to make you pucker, then sweeten it up with plain old sugar, until you found the “perfect” sweet & sour…I’ve made many variations through the years, experimenting with the meatballs and such, but I’m leaving the sauce alone…I guess it’s just the flavor I grew up with, and it still can’t be beat…most of my non-Jewish friends and of course my family BEG me to make this…I’ll share the recipe with you and you’ve got to try it…SO GOOD!!!!

  3. Lori Lynn says:

    These would definitely be popular at our house.
    Really enjoying the Potluck Tori!
    LL

  4. Can I use all ground meat, or does it have to have the chicken in it? Would have to look for dark ground chicken…
    My grandma made the best sweet sour meatballs….must try these and compare!!

    • Tori Avey says:

      Hi Anita! You can use all ground meat, if you’d like. I like the flavor of mixing the chicken with the meat, plus it’s a little lower in fat that way, but it’s great with all meat too. Enjoy!

  5. Valentina says:

    Tori, this is making me hungry! (And it’s bedtime!)

  6. alan says:

    Dear Tori
    this looks like a great recipe . I was getting tired of all the brisket i’ve been eating lately and this is just the right recipe. I love sweet and sour combinations.

    thank you

  7. Kristy says:

    I love the flavors in this recipe – especially the pineapple. That sounds heavenly!

  8. Ann says:

    Sweet and Sour MEATBALLS?! Brilliant! I love that sort of food and it’s perfect for Passover or any time!

  9. I love family sweet and sour meatball recipes! They always have the weirdest sounding ingredients in them and come out insanely delicious. Great idea to use matzo meal in place of bread crumbs! I just made my mother-in-law’s sweet and sour meatballs, which she makes with tomato sauce, cranberry sauce, and shredded cabbage. I’m posting it on my blog tomorrow night, I hope you’ll stop by and check it out! I’ll have to try this recipe next time :-)

  10. annie says:

    Good morning I was looking over at your recipe for sweet and sour meatballs, my family is of middleeastern descent we have a complete different take on this recipe and it does not require any matzo meal , let me explain..
    first you have to mix two cans of tomato paste , and two cans of water, after you add lemon juice (aprox 2 lemons) then add sugar (white or brown) whatever you prefer
    I prefer white granulated sugar this way I stay true to my grandmothers recipe. after you mix it up real well and add allspice make sure it turns into a nice blend, you should have a sweet and sour base now.
    put it to boil and add the finishing touch 2 cans of pitted black cherries in heavy syrup. (let it simmer)

    the meatballs only need to be rolled and fried until golden and tender inside
    after the sauce is simmered, drop the meatballs in the sauce and let the meatballs and the sauce come together.
    Its a real crowd pleaser and its best served with white rice garnished with almonds, your family will love it!

  11. loreli says:

    Typical Question….Will these still be tasty if made in advance and frozen? What about the pineapple? Thanks…Love this blog!

    • Tori Avey says:

      Hi Loreli, I do seem to get that question a lot! Perhaps I should freeze a little of every dish I post to see how it comes out. I have a feeling this would work just fine to freeze, but I can’t promise since I’ve never tried it. Let us know if you do and you have a strange result. Based on the ingredients, I think you should have no problem. :)

  12. Judy says:

    Great recipe. Can i use balsamic vinegar instead of the ones noted in the recipe?

    Thanks

    • Tori Avey says:

      Hi Judy, I would not use balsamic in this recipe– the flavor would not work to create the proper sweet and sour tang it needs. Regular white or cider vinegar works best.

  13. Sandi says:

    Have you ever tried to make these ahead and freeze them?

  14. Rita says:

    I just discovered your website and an thrilled! But since I am gluten free, do you think this will work without the matzo meal? Tia!

  15. Orsi says:

    I just made it for dinner tonight. It was amazing , everyone loved it even the kids, but they put the pineapples aside.

  16. Loreli says:

    Hi again. I did make the sweet and sour meat balls with the pineapple and they are now resting in my freezer until Passover Seder. I was wondering…the pineapple was a little tough and fiberous. Do you think once I defrost it, I can separate out the pineapple and try to saute/grill them up a little bit to soften and carmelize them and then add back to meat balls? I’d hate to have them passed over as another person mentioned, when they seem to be a nice addition. Incidentally, I used a combo of extra lean beef and turkey in lieu of chicken…Nice consistencey. Loreli

    • Tori Avey says:

      Hi Loreli, that’s interesting– I’ve never had that problem with canned pineapple, it’s usually quite soft and tender. As to the saute/grilling idea, it sounds like a good plan… if you’re looking to soften, I’d go the saute route. Grilling will add flavor, but may dry it out a bit which will make it tougher. Good luck! Let me know how it goes. :)

  17. Kim Bee says:

    Meatballs and pineapple…where have you been all my life???

  18. Fabiana says:

    Made it for our Passover dinner and oh, my! Simply DELISH!
    The family loved it. Todah for sharing this recipe with us.

  19. Jessica says:

    I made these yesterday for my mother in law’s 70th birthday party, and they were a HUGE hit! I made the sauce in the corck pot on high, browned the meatballs and then put them in the crock pot with the sauce, put it on low for about 5 hours and they came out perfect, and a great way to serve them at a party. Thank you for a keeper recipe!

  20. Loreli says:

    This is a follow-up to an earlier post I submitted re freezing the meatballs and pineapples in advance and what to do with the pineapples because they were a little dry/tough out of the can. I am happy to report that I froze a triple batch, made from chopped meat and chopped turkey and they are all gone. They were very tasty, sauce was perfect consistency and pineapples softened up on their own!

  21. Lauren says:

    These sound perfect!! I was going to use a regular beef meatball recipe and sub in half ground turkey…but I love that your recipe uses both chicken and beef. This sounds like a keeper for sure :) I can’t wait to try them out tonight.

    Do you think it will work ok if I use matzo cake meal instead of matzo meal?

  22. Olivia says:

    Hi! I am planning a Shabbat dinner on Friday and would love to try this recipe. How would I turn this appetizer into an entree meal? I have to feed about 15 people. This recipe sounds delicious but I just want to make sure that my meat and sauce ratio is enough for everyone. Also, can I make this the day before? Thank you! :)

    • clara says:

      make baked or mashed potatoes to put along side of the sweet/sour meatballs…or kashe varnishkes…or for pesach any starch allowed….yummy….

  23. Helen says:

    Hi. Looks great for the latter part of Passover. Fatigue from what to make next free! For gluten intolerant…instead of 3 tsp matzo meal, what would you substitute with? 3 tsp grated potato? Or potato starch..how many? Or 3 tsp ground almonds?
    Please advise. Thanks

  24. Suzanne says:

    I just made the original recipe using turkey in stead of chicken and am about to freeze all until Passover – hoping for the best. Tastes delicious! I am guessing it would probably have been better to reserve the pineapple and add after defrosting. Next time I will add a few ginger snaps to the sauce – compliments of my mother in law.

  25. Janet Brown says:

    My mother made sweet and sour meatballs using sour salt (citric acid) and tomato sauce and sugar. she used this to make stuffed cabbage and then would make just the meatballs for me (the cabbage tore my stomach up) but I got the flavor from them being cooked together. Jack I would love your recipe if you would share it

  26. Janet Brown says:

    I can’t wait to try this

  27. Karen Dowie says:

    MMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!!!!!!!!

  28. Indeed it looks delicious!

  29. Rebecca says:

    Actually on passover we cannot use regular white vinegar because it is chametz! but you could use kosher wine vinegar or other vinegars with a kosher l Pesach certification. But certainly not regular vinegar.

    • Tori Avey says:

      Rebecca– at my local kosher market you can get Passover-approved white vinegar from Lieber’s, Kedem and Glick’s brands. As always, those who are strictly kosher should look for a hechsher on everything they use during the holiday.

    • Ricki Spinner says:

      Can always substitute lemon juice for vinegar.

  30. BJ says:

    I make these year round, and they’re always a hit.

  31. I like the Bitter Herb Martini! Actually, I’m going for the Broccoli Potato Gratin!

  32. That looks really delish!

  33. One of our all time favorite. The very best any time of year. Thank you!!

  34. Art Simon says:

    Got to have this.

  35. Ricki Spinner says:

    Here is my favorite recipe. You can add chunky pineapples. For Passover I substitute instant mashed potato mix for the minute rice.
    Sweet and Sour Meatballs

    Meatballs:

    1 lb. of ground beef
    1 egg
    ½ cup minute rice (uncooked)
    ¼ cup matzo meal

    Sauce:

    2 small cans of tomato sauce
    1 can of water
    ½ cup of sugar (white or brown)
    ¼ cup of lemon juice
    1 large or 2 small onions

    Preparation:

    Put meatballs in sauce, cover pot tightly. Cook at least 1 hour.

  36. it’s a family favorite recipe

  37. Tessa says:

    This looks delicious, I’m making it tonight. Here’s a question; I’m actually cooking it on the stove right now and it’ll be done by 2:45. Can I switch it to a slow cooker on low and be ok? It will be in the slow cooker for about 3 hours. If it’s ok to let simmer in the slow cooker should I add the pineapple chunks? Or wait until we’re ready to eat? Would love to hear back from you, love your recipes…

    • Tori Avey says:

      Hi Tessa, it should be fine in the slow cooker on low for a few hours, I wouldn’t leave it for longer than 4 hours if it’s already cooked or the sauce might start to dry out a bit. I would add the pineapple chunks just before placing the slow cooker. Enjoy!

  38. Lindsay says:

    THANK YOU for this truly fantastic version of sweet and sour beat balls. This dish has always ranked low for me, like a casserole, as I’ve never deemed it very healthy. But with the homemade sauce, it was delish. My Jewish boyfriend has been begging me to make this, so tonight I surprised him and he just died in heaven ;) I added orange bell peppers and chili flakes to the sauce and sesame seeds, and green onion to the meat balls!

  39. Christine says:

    Once again, you saved me. The meatballs were delicious and I also made the artichoke / spinach dip. Amazing! When I (the only shiksa at Passover dinner) told everyone the name of your website (because everyone wanted the recipes) I was told “seems a lot of Jewish women could use The Shiksa’s help in the kitchen!” Thanks for making me look so good. :-)

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