Slow cooker sweet and sour meatballs is the perfect weeknight meal. It checks all the boxes: meat, vegetables, fruit, fast, easy, and DELICIOUS! It takes only 5 minutes to prep, then you let the crockpot do the rest.

Delicious sides to serve with this meal include baked zucchini fries, strawberry spinach salad, or homemade naan.

A bowl of Sweet and Sour Meatballs Recipe topped with chopped green onions.

Why This Recipe Works

  • Slow cooker sweet and sour meatballs takes only 5 minutes to prep, leaving you extra time to get items done, play with your kids or relax while dinner is cooking in the crockpot! It goes without saying I’ve been a bit obsessed with slow cooker recipes. My sweet and spicy chili recipe, slow cooker refried beans, and slow cooker lasagna have been HUGE crowd pleasers! I mean, what’s not to love!? You place the ingredients in, turn it on, and dinner is ready when you are ready.
  • Packed with peppers and pineapple, this slow cooker sweet and sour meatballs recipe incorporates a majority of the five food groups (grain, meat, fruit and vegetables) to make sure you and your family have a well-balanced meal.
  • We use frozen, pre-cooked meatballs so you don’t have to spend tons of time hand-making the meatballs.
Two bowls of Sweet and Sour Meatballs over a bed of white rice with a yellow cup in the distance.

Ingredients

Ingredients used to make slow cooker sweet and sour meatballs.
  • Frozen Pre-Cooked Meatballs: I use the Costco meatballs. Pre-cooked, frozen meatballs is the way to go because it cuts your preparation time way, way down.
  • Pineapple Tidbits: Save the juice from the can because we’ll use that for the sauce.
  • Bell Pepper: I like using green and red peppers because I love the difference in color.
  • Light Brown Sugar: This is how the “sweet” from sweet and sour comes into play. The brown sugar will also help thicken the sauce (along with the cornstarch).
  • Cornstarch: The cornstarch is an important ingredient because it will thicken the sauce for our slow cooker sweet and sour meatballs. Without it, the sauce will be a lot runnier and not your typical thickened sweet and sour sauce we are all familiar with.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: The vinegar is what gives us the “sour” from sweet and sour. Apple cider vinegar differs from white vinegar in color and flavor.
  • Ketchup: We use a little bit of ketchup in the sweet and sour sauce. This adds flavor depth and pairs well with the soy sauce and vinegar so the sauce isn’t super tart or sour.
  • Soy Sauce: The soy sauce brings in the Asian flavor to the dish.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Add the meatballs to a large slow cooker. Add a large can of (drained – save the juice, we will use it for the sweet and sour sauce) pineapple tidbits to the slow cooker.
A black slow cooker with frozen meatballs and pineapple chunks in it.
  1. Chop the red and green bell pepper and place them inside the slow cooker.
A crock pot with frozen meatballs, red and green chopped bell peppers, and pineapple tidbits.
  1. Make the sweet and sour sauce. In a medium sized bowl, whisk the reserved pineapple juice, brown sugar, cornstarch, apple cider vinegar, ketchup, and soy sauce.
  2. Pour the sauce over the meatballs, pineapple, and peppers. Gently stir so the meatballs are coated in the sauce.
Sauce being poured over the sweet and sour meatballs in a crock pot.
  1. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for 5-6 hours or on high for 3-4 hours. It’s done when the peppers have softened. Serve the sweet and sour meatballs over rice with a garnish of sliced green onions.

Recipe Tips

If you prefer everything from scratch, pre-cook your own meatballs and use them in this recipe.

You can use more than half of the peppers. If you’re using a particularly small pepper, chop up the full pepper and add all of it to the crock pot.

Add additional vegetables such as tiny corn, water chestnuts or onion.

Storing and Freezing

Store the slow cooker sweet and sour meatballs in an airtight container in the fridge for 4-5 days.

You can freeze this dish — separate from the rice — in a Ziplock bag in the freezer for 1-2 months. Remove from the freezer and let thaw. Put in a large pot and warm on the stove. Serve over rice.

FAQs

Can I add more vegetables?

For sure! You can double the peppers and pineapple if you’d like. You can also add baby corn, water chestnuts or onion.

How do you thicken sweet and sour sauce?

We use cornstarch in this recipe to help thicken the sauce.

Can I substitute white vinegar for apple cider vinegar?

Yes. The only difference between the two vinegars is the flavor. However, the acidity is the same.

Can you substitute pineapple juice in sweet and sour sauce?

Technically yes. Vinegar and sugar can create a similar effect on the sauce as pineapple would. However, since we are using canned pineapples, saving the juice is for the sweet and sour sauce is easy — and important!

A bowl of sweet and sour meatballs topped with green onions.

Other Slow Cooker Recipes

A bowl of sweet and sour meatballs topped with green onions.
Print Review
5 from 4 votes

Sweet & Sour Meatballs

An easy weeknight dinner that tastes delicious! This slow cooker meatball recipe is loaded with pineapple, peppers, and a homemade sweet and sour sauce.
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 4 hrs
Total Time: 4 hrs 5 mins
Servings: 8 servings

Ingredients
 

  • 32 oz frozen pre-cooked meatballs - (50 meatballs)
  • 20 oz pineapple tidbits - (just 1 can, drain and SAVE the juice!)
  • 1/2 green bell pepper - chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper - chopped
  • 1 cup canned (reserved) pineapple juice
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar - packed
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

Instructions
 

  • Place the frozen meatballs in a large crock pot. Pour the drained crushed pineapple overtop of the meatballs, followed by the red and green chopped peppers. *
  • In a medium sized bowl whisk the reserved pineapple juice, brown sugar, cornstarch, apple cider vinegar, ketchup, and soy sauce. 
  • Pour the sauce into the crockpot. Stir so that the meatballs are mixed in and covered in the sauce. 
  • Place lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for 5-6 hours, or on high for 3-4 hours.
  • Serve over rice and garnish with sliced green onions. 

Notes

If you prefer everything from scratch, pre-cook your own meatballs and use them in this recipe.
You can use more than half of the peppers. If you’re using a particularly small pepper, chop up the full pepper and add all of it to the crock pot.
Add additional vegetables such as tiny corn, water chestnuts or onion.
Storing and Freezing:
Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 4-5 days.
You can freeze this dish — separate from the rice — in a Ziplock bag in the freezer for 1-2 months. Remove from the freezer and let thaw. Put in a large pot and warm on the stove. Serve over rice.

Nutrition

Calories: 457kcal (23%)Carbohydrates: 39g (13%)Protein: 20g (40%)Fat: 24g (37%)Saturated Fat: 8g (40%)Cholesterol: 81mg (27%)Sodium: 294mg (12%)Potassium: 527mg (15%)Fiber: 1g (4%)Sugar: 34g (38%)Vitamin A: 335IU (7%)Vitamin C: 25.2mg (31%)Calcium: 48mg (5%)Iron: 1.6mg (9%)
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Chinese
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