Skip to Content

Sweet and Sour Chicken Meatballs

Sweet and sour chicken meatballs are the perfect flavorful weeknight dinner! These sweet and sour meatballs are juicy, tender, and so easy to make! You can make these in the oven or in the air fryer in about 15 minutes!

Great for meal prep, appetizers, or game day parties! These sweet and sour chicken meatballs are made with better-for-you ingredients and have the most incredible homemade sticky sweet and sour sauce.

Chicken meatballs covered in sweet and sour sauce in a white bowl with sweet and sour sauce behind.

Why you will love this recipe

  • Easy to make – these chicken meatballs with sweet and sour sauce are so simple. The chicken mixture comes together quickly and bakes in the oven or air fryer. The sweet and sour sauce comes together in about 10 minutes on the stove in a small saucepan. You can even prep the meatballs and sweet and sour sauce in advance if needed (wait to combine them until right before serving).
  • Crowd pleaser – who doesn’t love things covered in sticky, sweet and tangy sauce! From small kids to guests at your parties, these sweet and sour chicken meatballs are the perfect dish to make when you have picky eaters or just want to make something you know everyone will enjoy! Serve with a toothpick as an appetizer.
  • Simple ingredients – You likely have all the ingredients you need to make these sweet and sour chicken meatballs in your fridge and pantry. Be sure to check out the substitutions below if you are missing an ingredient or two.
  • Great for meal prep or large parties – You can easily double or triple this recipe to make for meal prep or parties. They store well in the fridge (try to keep the sauce separate from the meatballs if possible) and are easy to reheat in the microwave, oven or air fryer.
Ingredients to make sweet and sour chicken meatballs in white bowls.
This post contains affiliate links. As an amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Click here to read my policy and more about affiliate links.

Ingredients

Chicken Meatballs

  • Ground chicken – ground chicken is very neutral tasting, so it’s a great base for the sweet and sour sauce on top. This recipe would also be great with ground turkey or even ground pork. I don’t recommend ground beef.
  • Coconut aminos (you can also use gluten free tamari or soy sauce) – coconut aminos are a gluten free, soy free substitute for soy sauce. They provide a deep depth of flavor to the chicken meatballs.
  • Maple syrup – maple syrup adds a touch of sweetness to the recipe.
  • Almond flour (or oat flour) – almond flour helps to bind the meatballs so they stick together during baking.
  • Spices: Salt, garlic powder, dried chives (optional) – these spices add a depth of flavor. The dried chives are optional but really do provide a nice flavor to the meatballs. You could also use 3 tablespoons of finely chopped green onion in place of the dried chives.

Sweet and Sour Sauce

  • Rice wine vinegar (can also use apple cider vinegar) – this makes the sweet and sour sauce nice and tangy and provides balance to the sweetness.
  • Ketchup – ketchup has it’s own unique flavor that adds both a slightly sweet and very savory aspect to this recipe. If you don’t have ketchup on hand, you can use ¼ cup of tomato paste and 2 more tablespoons of maple syrup.
  • Maple Syrup – maple syrup naturally sweetens the sweet and sour sauce. You could also use honey.
  • Coconut aminos (you can also use gluten free tamari or soy sauce) – this helps create the deep flavor in the sauce.
  • Water – water is added to help ensure the sauce has the right consistency after cooking.
  • Arrowroot powder (or tapioca or cornstarch) – this naturally thickens the sweet and sour sauce so you don’t have to wait for it to boil down and get sticky. Be sure to always mix arrowroot (or tapioca) with room temperature water to create a slurry before adding it to hot liquids as it will clump.

How to make sweet and sour chicken meatballs in the oven

Preheat the oven to 400F.

In a bowl, combine the chicken meatball ingredients. Stir to combine (try not to overmix).

Ground chicken and spices in glass bowl.

Place parchment paper or a silicone mat down on a baking sheet. Scoop out the chicken meatball mixture using a 1 tablespoon cookie scoop.

Cookie scoop picking up ground chicken meatball mixture.

Cook the chicken meatballs in a 400F oven for 15 minutes.

While the meatballs are cooking, make the sweet and sour sauce. Combine the ingredients in a sauce pan (be sure to mix the arrowroot powder with 1-2 tablespoons of water and stir well to fully dissolve the arrowroot before adding it to the sauce pan).

Steps on how to add arrowroot powder to sweet and sour sauce.

Allow the sweet and sour sauce to come to a simmer until thickened (5-10 minutes total).

Before and after cooking the vegan sweet and sour sauce on the stove.

Once thickened, pour the sweet and sour sauce over the chicken meatballs. Stir well.

Sweet and sour sauce being poured over baked chicken meatballs.

Top tips

  • Try not to overwork the chicken mixture, it can make the meatballs tough when baking.
  • Be sure to always mix arrowroot (or tapioca) with room temperature water to create a slurry before adding it to the sauce. Stirring it until it dissolves helps to ensure the sauce will not have any clumps.
  • Line your baking sheet with parchment paper for easy clean up.
  • Make the sweet and sour sauce while the chicken meatballs are cooking to have dinner ready in 15 minutes. You can even make it in advance and reheat over low heat on the stove while the meatballs are cooking.
  • You can also make these sweet and sour chicken meatballs in the air fryer in about 12 minutes.
Sweet and sour chicken meatballs and jasmine rice on a white plate with green onion on top.

Other additions

  • Roasted red pepper – add this to the sauce at the end before pouring over the meatballs
  • Pineapples – these add a touch of sweetness to the dish. Be sure to use small pineapple tidbits so they are easy to eat with the meatballs.
  • Red pepper flakes or sriracha for some heat
  • Sesame seeds for some added crunch on top
  • Chopped green onion for contrast in color and added flavor

What to serve with healthy sweet and sour chicken meatballs

Common questions

How to make air fryer sweet and sour chicken meatballs

To make sweet and sour chicken meatballs in the air fryer, follow the same instructions on how to form the meatballs and how to make the sweet and sour sauce.

  • Instead of putting the meatballs on a baking sheet, put them in the air fryer basket.
  • Cook at 390F for 12-13 minutes. (Be sure to check out all my tips on making the juiciest air fryer chicken meatballs.)
  • Once the chicken meatballs are done cooking, pour the sweet and sour sauce over top and enjoy.
Sweet and sour chicken meatballs being picked up by wooden chopsticks.

Can I use a cookie scoop to shape the meatballs?

Yes! A cookie scoop will ensure that the meatballs are all the same size, which ensures they will cook evenly.

How to make this nut free?

Use 2 tbsp. oat flour in place of the almond flour.

Can you double this recipe?

Yes! This recipe doubles well but you should use an extra-large baking sheet or two separate baking sheets to ensure the chicken meatballs cook through evenly in the oven.

If you choose to make this in the air fryer, you will need to cook each batch separately.

Can you freeze chicken meatballs?

Yes, you can freeze chicken meatballs before or after cooking.

  • Raw chicken meatballs: place on a parchment paper or wax paper lined baking sheet in the freezer. Once frozen, transfer to freezer safe bag for up to 3 months. Put directly in oven from frozen and add 5-7 minutes to cooking time (be sure to check the internal temp to ensure they are done).
  • Cooked chicken meatballs: allow to cool completely then transfer to a freezer safe bag or container for up to 2 months. Defrost in the fridge or put directly into a hot oven (375F for 10 minutes or until hot).
  • Store the sweet and sour sauce separately and defrost on the countertop. Reheat in a small skillet over low to medium low heat then pour over meatballs once reheated.
White bowl filled with chicken meatballs with sweet and sour sauce.

Storing leftovers

Fridge: Store leftover chicken meatballs in the fridge for up to 3 days. If possible, store the sweet and sour sauce separately if you will be reheating in the oven or air fryer.

Freezer: Freeze chicken meatballs for up to 2 months (cooked) or 3 months (raw). Be sure to store the sauce separately for best results. Store in a freezer safe bag or container.

Substitutions

  • Ground chicken – substitute the ground chicken with ground turkey or ground pork.
  • Coconut aminos – you can use gluten free tamari or soy sauce (not gluten free or soy free).
  • Maple syrup – replace the maple syrup with honey, date syrup or brown rice syrup.
  • Almond flour – you can use oat flour or gluten free flour in place of the almond flour.
  • Rice wine vinegar – use apple cider vinegar or white vinegar in place of the rice wine vinegar.
  • Ketchup – If you don’t have ketchup, you can make your own or use ¼ cup tomato paste + 2 tablespoons maple syrup.
  • Arrowroot powder – use tapioca or cornstarch in place of the arrowroot.

If you love this recipe, you should try

Sweet and Sour Cauliflower

Vegan Orange Chicken

Air Fryer Teriyaki Chicken

Air Fryer Teriyaki Salmon

★ Did you make this recipe? Please give it a star rating below!
Chicken sweet and sour meatballs with jasmine rice on white plate.

Sweet and Sour Chicken Meatballs

Sweet and sour chicken meatballs are the ultimate weeknight dinner. Ready in just 15 minutes, you can make these in the oven or air fryer. Gluten free, paleo friendly and simple ingredients. Tangy sweet and sour sauce poured over baked chicken meatballs.
Print Pin Save Rate
Course: dinner
Cuisine: American, Asian
Keyword: chicken meatballs with sweet and sour sauce, sweet and sour chicken meatballs, sweet and sour sauce chicken meatballs
Prep Time: 2 mins
Cook Time: 15 mins
Total Time: 17 mins
Servings: 4

Ingredients

Chicken Meatballs

Sweet and Sour Sauce

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400F.
  • In a large bowl combine the chicken meatball ingredients. I like to combine all the spices and liquid ingredients first then stir in the ground chicken to ensure the flavors are well distributed.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Use a 1 tablespoon scoop (or a spoon) and portion out 12-14 chicken meatballs.
  • Bake the meatballs at 400F for 15 minutes.
  • While the meatballs bake, make the sweet and sour sauce.
  • Combine the ingredients for the sweet and sour sauce in a saucepan (except the arrowroot). Remove 1-2 tablespoons of the liquid and stir the arrowroot into the liquid. Stir well to ensure the arrowroot is dissolved before adding it to the rest of the ingredients.
  • Cook the sweet and sour sauce over medium heat. Bring to a simmer to thicken.
  • When the chicken meatballs are done cooking, pour the thickened sweet and sour sauce over the meatballs.

Notes

Top tips
  • Try not to overwork the chicken mixture, it can make the meatballs tough when baking.
  • Be sure to always mix arrowroot (or tapioca) with room temperature water to create a slurry before adding it to the sauce. Stirring it until it dissolves helps to ensure the sauce will not have any clumps.
  • Line your baking sheet with parchment paper for easy clean up.
  • Make the sweet and sour sauce while the chicken meatballs are cooking to have dinner ready in 15 minutes. You can even make it in advance and reheat over low heat on the stove while the meatballs are cooking.
  • You can also make these sweet and sour chicken meatballs in the air fryer in about 12 minutes.
How to make air fryer sweet and sour chicken meatballs
To make sweet and sour chicken meatballs in the air fryer, follow the same instructions on how to form the meatballs and how to make the sweet and sour sauce.
  • Instead of putting the meatballs on a baking sheet, put them in the air fryer basket.
  • Cook at 390F for 12-13 minutes. (Be sure to check out all my tips on making the juiciest air fryer chicken meatballs.)
  • Once the chicken meatballs are done cooking, pour the sweet and sour sauce over top and enjoy.
Storing leftovers
  • Fridge: Store leftover chicken meatballs in the fridge for up to 3 days. If possible, store the sweet and sour sauce separately if you will be reheating in the oven or air fryer.
  • Freezer: Freeze chicken meatballs for up to 2 months (cooked) or 3 months (raw). Be sure to store the sauce separately for best results. Store in a freezer safe bag or container.
See how I calculate food cost.

Nutrition Information

Nutrition Facts
Amount per Serving
Calories
260
Fat
 
11
g
Carbohydrates
 
19
g
Fiber
 
1
g
Sugar
 
12
g
Protein
 
21
g
Where does nutrition info come from? Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy, sourced from the USDA Food Database.
DID YOU LOVE THIS RECIPE?Let others know by rating and leaving a comment below!

Recipe Rating