I promise, even though this Sweet and Sour Meatballs recipe is made with homemade meatballs it’s so easy to make! The meatballs are tender and flavorful and I could literally eat the sauce with a spoon!
And, being able to prep them ahead of time makes dinner time so doable! It takes me less than 30 minutes to throw them together, then all that’s left is baking them in the oven!
Quick and Easy Dinner Make Ahead Dinner
Sweet and Sour Meatballs are a go-to at our house because:
- I’m always looking for recipes that can be prepped early in the day when my life is a little bit more calm. Dinner time is always chaotic and when I’ll I have to do is throw something in the oven it makes my life a million times easier!
- They taste AMAZING! The meatballs are savory and the sauce is tangy and sweet which is the perfect combo!
- This is one of my favorite take in dinners to bring to friends that have just had a baby or just need a little help. everyone LOVES them!
- I always have everything I need to make them.
If you’re really in a hurry you can use store-bought meatballs instead of making homemade meatballs from scratch.
Don’t let the fact that this recipe has quite a few ingredients fool you. They’re all normal ingredients I bet you already have on hand. And if you don’t, they’re great ingredients to add to your food storage.
This recipe isn’t a fussy recipe, meaning you can substitute these ingredients for other things if you need to. Here are a few ideas.
- Brown Sugar – You can use honey instead.
- Vinegar – Although I think cider vinegar adds the best flavor you can totally use white vinegar is you need to.
- Mustard – Regular yellow mustard is tangy so it works best in this recipe, but if you have dijon or something like that around already, go ahead and use it.
- Salt – Use regular table salt if that’s what you have
If you want to make Hawaiian meatballs feel free to add pineapple chunks. Be sure to drain the juice if you’re using canned pineapple. I also really like adding green peppers, but my boys are NOT fans so I don’t usually add them.
I like using a baking dish that’s a little bit deeper and smaller than an 9 x 13″ pan. This 7″x11″ pan works great. You want the meatballs to be squished in there. The sauce will almost cover the meatballs which is EXACTLY what you want!
STEP 1: Whisk eggs. Add oats, seasonings, and Worcestershire sauce. Mix together.
STEP 2: Add ground beef.
STEP 3: Mix together with your hands. You want to mix it thoroughly, but be careful to not overmix. Overmixing will make the meatballs tough.
STEP 4: Shape the meat mixture into meatballs and place in a greased baking dish. 1 1/2 inch meatballs are a good size, about 2 Tablespoons.
To make meatballs ahead of time, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until later.
All the meatballs should be about the same size so they’ll bake evenly. The easiest way to do this is with a cookie scoop.
Most of the time I go for a rustic meatball and don’t bother rolling them at all. If you have time and wan to go ahead! It works best scoop the meatballs with a cookie scoop. Spray your hands with non stick baking spray, and then roll the meatballs until they are smooth.
If you want those browned bits on the edges of your meatballs you can either broil them for a few minutes or fry them in a little bit of oil in a skillet. I always SKIP this step because it takes too long and I don’t like cleaning up oil splatters. Besides I think they taste the same either way!
STEP 5: Whisk barbecue sauce, mustard, brown sugar, vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce together in a bowl.
When I make this recipe ahead of time I mix the sweet and sour sauce for the meatballs and refrigerate. Just before baking pour over the meatballs.
STEP 6: Pour the sauce over the meatballs.
STEP 7: Bake the meatballs.
STEP 8: Really you can serve the meatballs exactly as they are, but I love adding a few fresh herbs. Parsely is my favorite. If you don’t have fresh, go ahead and add dried. It just makes the meatballs pretty!
Yes! Meatballs make a great freezer meal. Make this recipe through step #4. Freeze meatballs. Then store in an airtight container or a freezer bag. When you’re ready to bake them you want to either thaw them in the fridge first or increase baking time by 30 minutes.
We love leftovers! Store them in the fridge for up to three days. Microwave when you’re ready to eat them!
Simple Sweet and Sour Meatballs
- 1 pound ground beef
- 3/4 cups oats
- 2 whole eggs beaten
- 1 1/2 teaspoon season salt
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
- 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Sweet and Sour Sauce
- 3/4 cup barbecue sauce
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 teaspoon prepared mustard
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- Spray 9" x 13" baking dish with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Whisk eggs. Add oats, seasonings, and Worcestershire sauce. Mix together.
- Add ground beef. Mix together with your hands. You want to mix it thoroughly, but be careful to not overmix. Overmixing will make the meatballs tough.
- Shape the meat mixture into meatballs and place in a greased baking dish. 1 1/2 inch meatballs are a good size, about 2 Tablespoons.
- Whisk barbecue sauce, mustard, brown sugar, vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce together in a bowl to make the sweet and sour sauce.
- Pour the sauce over the meatballs.
- Bake uncovered, at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.