Crockpot Sweet & Sour Meatballs

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These delicious Asian-inspired Sweet & Sour Meatballs made in either the slow cooker or oven (instructions for both methods.)Image of the sweet and sour meatballs in a bowl over rice

CROCKPOT or oven-made Asian Meatballs with the BEST sweet and sour sauce! Easy dinner recipe via chelseasmessyapron.com

My good friend, Carrian, from the famous Oh Sweet Basil blog, recently released a cookbook. I couldn’t be more excited to share a little bit about the book and these sweet & sour meatballs (from her book) with you today!

These sweet & sour meatballs are insanely good and packed with the best Asian flavors. And even with how insanely good the meatballs are, the sauce is what we all went crazy for!

The sauce starts with diced bell peppers and then the usual suspects of a sweet & sour sauce. But the ingredient that I think takes it over the top? Mandarin oranges! You’ll add half a can of the oranges + the juice of the can and I swear that is the best addition to this amazing sauce!

Image of the sweet and sour meatballs crockpot

As mentioned earlier, these meatballs can be made either in the oven OR the crockpot. Once you roll the meatballs out you can quickly bake them while you make the sauce on the stovetop. OR you can throw all the meatballs into the crockpot (and cover them in the sauce) and cook on low for a few hours.

If you’re making them stovetop method, they come together very nicely — this is one of those recipes that flows really well in the kitchen. However, if you want to make them ahead of time, the crockpot is a great way to do that!

I also like cooking them in the crockpot because I find the meatballs to be just a bit more tender and more flavorful from the slow cook. They get a longer time for the flavors to really develop.

One little trick that I like to do before cooking meatballs in the crockpot is to broil them in the oven for a few minutes. I’ve found this helps the meatballs to keep their shape when cooked in the crockpot. This is, of course, an optional step and if you don’t mind meatballs that separate a bit (from being SO tender), then don’t even worry about it!

Image of the sweet and sour recipe on a bed of rice in a bowl ready to eat

My whole family went nuts over this recipe and I know if you’re a fan of sweet and sour sauce and/or meatballs that these will be a hit in your home!

This recipe is one of over 100 beautifully created and photographed recipes in Carrian’s cookbook. The book includes pictures for each of their recipes as well as clearly written out directions and cute anecdotes about the recipes.

Make sure to grab a copy of the Our Sweet Basil Kitchen Cookbook.  You will love all of the recipes inside just like my family has already and will continue to for years!
Image of the sweet & sour meatballs recipe

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Crockpot Sweet & Sour Meatballs

5 from 1 vote
Easy crockpot sweet & sour meatballs! Oven method included.
Print Recipe

Crockpot Sweet & Sour Meatballs

5 from 1 vote
Easy crockpot sweet & sour meatballs! Oven method included.
Course Dinner
Cuisine Chinese
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 35 meatballs
Calories 807kcal
Author Carrian, from the "Our Sweet Basil Cookbook"

Ingredients

Meatballs

  • 2 pounds ground beef 85-15 mix
  • 2/3 cup Panko breadcrumbs*
  • 2 tablespoons dried minced onion
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • Salt and Pepper

Sweet & Sour Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 3 large bell peppers (1 red, 1 orange, 1 green)
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 cups white granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 of 1 full (11 oz. can) mandarin oranges, smashed with their juices
  • 2-3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • Optional: toasted sesame seeds, green onions, rice for serving

Instructions

  • IF USING THE OVEN: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9x13-inch baking pan. IF USING THE CROCKPOT: lightly oil the cooking insert. In a large bowl, add ground beef, Panko breadcrumbs, minced onion, egg, coconut milk, ginger, salt and pepper (2 teaspoons salt & 1/4 teaspoon pepper). Mix with your clean hands until just combined. Rub a little oil on your hands and then roll the meat mixture into 1-inch balls. Place meatballs in prepared baking pan or slow cooker.
  • Bake 20 minutes in the preheated oven OR set slow cooker to low and bake, covered with sauce, 3-4 hours.**
  • To make the sauce: In a saucepan over medium heat, add the oil, chopped peppers and garlic. Sauté until tender, about 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the onion powder, vinegar, ketchup, soy sauce, sugar and sesame oil. Stir to combine and then add the oranges and juice. Bring to a boil.
  • Meanwhile, stir the cornstarch and water together and then whisk into the sauce. Bring back to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 10 minutes. Serve over meatballs with sesame seeds and green onions to garnish. Serve all over rice if desired.

Recipe Notes

*Panko is generally used in Japanese cooking and it can be found in the grocery store in the Asian foods aisle.  **I like to broil the meatballs in the oven before putting them in the crockpot to help them hold their shape better and keep the moisture in. This is totally optional, but if you want to do it, place all the meatballs on a large foil-lined cookie sheet and broil in the oven for 2-3 minutes per side (watch carefully).

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 807kcal

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Nutrition facts in sweet and sour meatballs

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9 Comments

  1. Hi!
    I have a question. With the mandarin oranges, are you using half the oranges in the can, but all of the juice? Or half of both the oranges AND juice?
    Thanks!
    -A

  2. If I am making it in the crock pot do I need to cook the sauce or just mix it all and pour it in? And if so would I add the corn starch at the beginning or towards the end?

    1. You’ll form the meatballs and put them in the crockpot raw (or give them a quick broil first), prepare the sauce, pour the sauce over the meatballs and cook it like that 🙂 The cornstarch goes into the sauce while making it. Enjoy!

  3. I’ve got these cooking right now! The house smells amazing! I can’t wait for dinner tonight! I’m serving them over whole wheat pasta!

    1. It is a lot! You can definitely reduce to your personal preference; I’ve just included the exact recipe from the author’s book I’m sharing 🙂 And I think brown sugar or 1/2 and 1/2 would be delicious!

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