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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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!

Comments (66)Post a Comment

  1. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    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. 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. 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!!

    1. 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!

  4. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    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

  5. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    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 :-)

  6. 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!

  7. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    Typical Question….Will these still be tasty if made in advance and frozen? What about the pineapple? Thanks…Love this blog!

    1. 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. :)

    1. 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.

  8. 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!

  9. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    I just made it for dinner tonight. It was amazing , everyone loved it even the kids, but they put the pineapples aside.

  10. 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

    1. 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. :)

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

  12. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    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!

  13. 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!

  14. 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?

  15. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    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! :)

    1. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
      make baked or mashed potatoes to put along side of the sweet/sour meatballs…or kashe varnishkes…or for pesach any starch allowed….yummy….

  16. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    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

    1. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
      Hi Helen, I made the meatballs at our Seder and used Jeff Nathan’s Kosher for Passover Panko Flakes…gluten free! Family still saying how delicious the meatballs were!! Big hit!!

  17. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    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.

  18. 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

    1. Tori, Sweet & Sour meatball recipe attached for your approval…give it a try…hope you had a great Hanukkah!

      Jack Epstein

      MOM’S Sweet & Sour Meatballs

      Meatballs:
      2 lbs ground Beef (chuck is best, but use what you like)
      2 eggs
      ½ tsp Garlic Powder
      ½ tsp Salt
      1/4 tsp Black Pepper
      1/2 sweet Onion (minced fine or grated)
      1 cup Matzoh Meal or plain Bread Crumbs
      All items in a large bowl and mix together with hands…try not to overwork as this can make them tough
      Wet hands, and roll into 1-1/4” balls (golf ball size or a bit smaller, whatever works for you
      Place on sheet pans lined with parchment paper leaving space between the meatballs
      Bake @ 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes, turning over halfway through cook time.
      This will cook most of the fat out so your dinner won’t be swimming in fat/grease.
      Remove from oven, cool slightly, remove from pans and put on a plate on the side.

      Sweet & Sour Sauce:
      2 Large Sweet Onions (I use Vidalia) sliced thin, top to bottom and separated, not across.
      1-2 cloves Garlic, minced fine (to taste, can also omit if it’s not for you)
      1 TBS Olive Oil (vegetable or safflower oil is fine too)
      ½ tsp Salt
      ¼ tsp Black Pepper
      1 28oz can Tomato Puree
      1 28oz can Crushed Tomatoes
      1 or 2 14oz cans Tomato Sauce (based on vessel size your cooking in)
      Sour Salt (to taste)
      Light Brown or White Sugar (to taste)
      In a large Dutch Oven or pot (not cast iron), add the oil and heat on medium high. Separate onions well and cook until slightly transparent, 3-5 minutes, add salt & pepper, stirring often, then lower heat to medium, add garlic for just a minute or two more…do not let garlic brown. Stir frequently so nothing browns.
      Add Tomato Puree, Crushed Tomatoes and 1 can of the Tomato Sauce, stir well to incorporate onions and garlic, and turn heat down to low, and simmer slowly for 15 minutes (very low simmer is best) and keep stirring so nothing sticks on the bottom of the pot. Keep lid on, but loosely so there is minimal evaporation. Keep stirring. If you have room in your pot, add the second can of tomato sauce. If you think the sauce is too thick for your liking, don’t add the second can and instead thin out with a little water.
      After 15 minutes, taste sauce for seasoning (you may want to add additional salt or pepper)…Season it to your taste. When you’re happy with the seasoning, this is where the fun begins.
      While still at a slow simmer. add sour salt…there’s no really saying how much…I add a few shakes, stir it in, and taste…it may take 2 or 3 times to get it as sour as you’d like it to be, but make sure it makes you “pucker” pretty good! If you over sour the sauce, it will just take more sugar to bring it back. Just “sour” in small increments until you “find it”.
      Let cook for 5 minutes as the sour salt will “cook in” and mellow slightly, then taste again and make sure it’s still as sour as you’d like. Adjust if needed.
      Now stir in the sugar (again, there’s no really saying how much), white or light brown, to your taste…the sour will remain as you left it, but the sugar will come through and sweeten the pot…keep adding sugar until you find “the spot”, where the sour and sweet are just where you like it. It’s different for everybody, therefore no measurements on these.
      Let cook for an additional 5 minutes as the sugar will “cook in” and mellow slightly, then taste again and make sure it’s as sweet & sour as you’d like. Adjust to your taste if needed.
      Still at a slow simmer, gently add the meatballs, stir gently so as not to “break your balls” and warm in the sauce for 20-30 minutes. The matzoh meal or bread crumbs in the meatballs will slowly soak in that flavor. I’m drooling!!!
      Once the meatballs are thoroughly heated through, you’re ready to eat.
      You can at this time put the whole pot in a slow cooker and keep warm for hours, if you like.
      Generally, I serve these meatballs over baked potatoes with plenty of sauce. That’s just the way I grew up eating them. Other choices would be white rice (or any rice), a good crusty bread or whatever you like. I always keep some good crusty bread on hand when making these for “sopping” up the sauce. Nothing better for me! Also makes a pretty good meatball sub/hoagie!
      The meatballs mostly go faster than the sauce and there is usually a good bit of leftover sweet & sour sauce. This freezes well and can be used again for another batch of meatballs, or for a brisket (particularly good), or whatever you think you’d like to try with this sauce. I freeze in jars once the sauce has cooled.
      Good luck & enjoy! L’chaim!

  19. 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.

    1. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    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…

    1. 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!

  22. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    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!

  23. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    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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