These Sweet and Sour Crockpot Meatballs are made with fresh or frozen meatballs and covered in the best pineapple sweet and sour sauce! An easy slow cooker meal!
See the full step by step video down in the recipe card.
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Let me tell you, we are big meatball lovers year round but there is just something about a cool day that make me crave them like crazy!
More often than not, it’s these Sweet and Sour Crockpot Meatballs that are hitting the table (no crockpot? Check out my stovetop Sweet and Sour Meatballs here!).
The sweet and sour combo is one that just never gets old around here, especially if they’re loaded with pineapple and peppers (if we throw some veggies in we can call it dinner, right??).
I also love how versatile meatballs are.
They can stand alone as an appetizer (one that leaves you free to enjoy the party!), or be served over rice or noodles or mashed potatoes — that sweet, sticky sauce is good on so many things!
Some of our other favorite ways to serve up meatballs?
These Slow Cooker Swedish Meatballs with a creamy gravy (I have a stovetop version here too!), classic Spaghetti and Meatballs or cook up a batch of Air Fryer Meatballs and munch them straight out of the basket!
I will usually try to stock up on lean ground beef when it’s on sale and make a giant batch of meatballs for the freezer so I know what’s going into our bellies, but sometimes, life is crazy and that just doesn’t happen.
Frozen, store bought meatballs to the rescue!
How to choose frozen meatballs:
- Read the ingredient list. I know it seems obvious, but I think a lot of people don’t. Meatballs, especially if they’re frozen, don’t need to include a lot of random, weird ingredients you can’t pronounce. Look for something made with the basics: meat, bread crumbs, seasonings. Grocery stores sometimes even sell their own variety made in store, which are often made with just ground meat.
- Go big. Even if you don’t use them all for this one recipe, buying a large bag will get you a better deal overall and you can stash the rest in the freezer for a crazy day down the road. We all know they’re coming!
- If you’re looking for healthier options, look for frozen turkey or chicken meatballs, or meatballs with lower sodium.
- Look for frozen meatballs without extra sauce, so you can add your own flavors and do them up however you want!
Tips for Cooking Frozen Meatballs in the Crockpot:
- Don’t thaw. It will be easier to stir them into the sauce if they are still firm and frozen, resulting in a better texture overall.
- Don’t stir — often. And this goes for fresh meatballs as well. If you stir too often, you are losing a lot of heat from the slow cooker, but you’re also going to end up mashing them and your meatballs won’t be balls anymore. You will have sweet and sour meat sauce.
- Don’t overcook. Meatballs, particularly if they’re precooked, really don’t need much cook time. If you overcook, you risk ending up with — you guessed it — sweet and sour meat sauce.
Variations on these Crockpot Meatballs:
- These Sweet and Sour Meatballs are naturally dairy-free and gluten-free provided that the meatballs you choose are gluten-free. Please double check all of your ingredients to make sure.
- You can use store bought or homemade meatballs for this recipe. This is our favorite homemade meatball recipe if you’re looking for one.
- You can use fresh or frozen meatballs for this recipe, and I’ve included approximate cook times for both in the recipe. I actually prefer to use frozen, because they hold together really well in the slow cooker, but either works just fine.
- If you’re not a fan of sweet and sour sauce (or pineapple, or peppers…) you can make some adjustments to the recipe to suit your tastes. Keep in mind that if you’re removing sweetness, or seasoning, you’ll likely want to replace it with something else.
How to prep these Sweet and Sour Meatballs ahead:
- If you’re making homemade meatballs, that is a great thing to prep ahead of time and keep refrigerated or frozen until you need it, since it can be a time consuming process.
- The sweet and sour sauce can be stirred together and refrigerated for several days before using — just give it a good stir before adding to the crockpot!
- Earlier in the day or the night before, you can combine the sauce with the peppers in the slow cooker, and add in the meatballs just before cooking. If you’re using fresh refrigerated meatballs, you can let them hang out in the crockpot the day before, too.
- You can cook the entire meal ahead and simply reheat throughout the week — I don’t recommend reheating in the slow cooker as they may break apart quite easily.
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Sweet and Sour Crockpot Meatballs
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup white vinegar
- 1/2 cup tomato ketchup
- 3 tablespoons corn starch
- 3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger
- 25 frozen beef meatballs
- 398 ml canned pineapple chunks with juice about 2 cups with pineapple and juice
- 1 red bell pepper cut into 1/2" chunks
- 1 green bell pepper cut into 1/2" chunks
- Whisk together sugar, vinegar, ketchup, corn starch, soy sauce, garlic and ginger in a medium bowl.
- Place meatballs, peppers and pineapple with juice in a 4 quart slow cooker (anywhere from 3-6 is fine). Top with sauce mixture and stir.
- Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours, or high for 2-3 hours, until meatballs are heated through and sauce is thickened and bubbly. Serve immediately over rice, noodles, or as an appetizer.
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