These easy vegan sweet and sour meatballs make a delicious appetizer or can be served over noodles or rice as a full meal. Sauteed red bell pepper, pineapple, and garlic smothered in delicious sweet and sour sauce.

A top view of a skillet filled with vegan sweet and sour meatballs with pineapple with toothpicks in the meatballs.

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Why make this recipe

These flavorful plant-based sweet and sour meatballs work great as an appetizer that both vegan and non-vegan will love. They’re made with my easy homemade vegan sweet and sour sauce that has gotten hundreds of rave reviews over the past few years.

I like to make homemade vegan meatballs from TVP when I have time, but if I want to make it super easy, I just use premade frozen vegan meatballs. You can also swap the meatballs with fried tofu and make it into sweet and sour tofu.

Ingredients and substitutions

  • Vegan Meatballs – you can use premade frozen vegan meatballs or you can make homemade vegan meatballs. I usually use the Aldi brand meatballs since they are a good price and easy to find. You can also use Gardien, Beyond, or Impossible brand vegan meatballs. (You can also make gluten-free vegan meatballs from TVP.)
  • Cooking Oil – any neutral flavored oil that you like will work.
  • Red Bell Pepper – (optional)
  • Garlic – for flavor. 
  • Apple cider vinegar – for the sourness and acidity. You can also use rice vinegar or white vinegar if you choose.
  • Brown Sugar – for the sweet. You can sub for any type of sugar that you would like. White sugar, coconut sugar, agave nectar, and maple syrup also work well.
  • Ketchup – for flavor and that nice red color. (You can swap this out for tomato paste, but your sauce will not be as sweet.)
  • Soy Sauce – for flavor (Use Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or Tamari for gluten-free.) You can use low-sodium soy sauce or light soy sauce, I don’t recommend dark soy sauce, since it has a stronger flavor.
  • Water or Fresh Pineapple Juice – If you have pineapple juice on hand, it tastes great in this sauce, but if not, water works well too.
  • Fresh Ginger – (optional) for extra flavor.
  • Corn Starch – to thicken the sauce. You can use potato starch or arrowroot instead of corn starch if you want.

Helpful tools

  • Frying Pan – to cook the sauce and coat the vegan meatballs in the sauce.
  • Baking Sheet – to bake the vegan meatballs before adding them to the sauce.

How to make vegan sweet and sour meatballs

A full printable version of this recipe with ingredient measurements is available at the bottom of this post.

Step 1 – Preheat the oven to 400° F and place frozen vegan meatballs on a baking sheet (or make homemade vegan meatballs.)

Step 2 – Place the meatballs in the oven for 15 minutes until heated all the way through. (or follow package or recipe directions)

Step 3 – While the vegan meatballs are baking, cook 3 cloves of minced garlic and 1 diced red bell pepper in 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat for about 3-4 minutes, then add 1 cup of cubed pineapple and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes stirring frequently.

Step 4 – Mix all of the sauce ingredients together in a large measuring container or bowl and pour it into the hot skillet with the peppers and pineapple. Stir continuously until the sauce thickens and gets shiny.

Step 5 – Turn the heat to low then add the baked vegan meatballs to the sauce and carefully stir so that you don’t break the balls.

Step 6 – Place toothpicks in the vegan meatballs so your guests can easily eat them and serve them hot. You can also serve them over rice or rice noodles for a meal.

Vegan sweet and sour meatballs in a blue skillet with toothpicks in the meatballs.

Try my sweet and spicy vegan meatball recipe if you want a spicy alternative to this sweet and sour sauce.

Pro Tips

  • Heat the garlic in the oil over low heat and be careful not to burn the garlic.
  • You can also serve these vegan meatballs in a crockpot set on warm to keep them hot throughout your party.

Make it easier

I like the presentation of serving the meatballs with peppers and pineapple, but you can make this recipe even easier by omitting them. Simply make the vegan sweet and sour sauce then add pre-cooked vegan meatballs to it and serve.

Vegan sweet and sour meatballs without pineapple.

Storage and reheating

Refrigerate: Leftover meatballs will keep well in the fridge for 3 – 5 days in an airtight container.

Reheating: Reheat the sweet and sour meatballs in the microwave for about 2-3 minutes until heated through.

Someone picking up a tooth pick with a vegan sweet and sour meatball out of a pan of vegan meatballs.

More meaty vegan recipes

Vegan sweet and sour meatball recipe

A blue skillet full of vegan sweet and sour meatballs with pineapple and red bell peppers.
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5 from 1 rating

Vegan Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Vegan meatballs served with vegan sweet and sour sauce, red peppers, and pineapple.

Ingredients

Vegan meatballs

Fruits and veggies

  • 1 tablespoon oil, any neutral-flavored oil will work.
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper
  • 1 cup pineapple (cubed), (Fresh or canned)

Sweet and Sour Sauce

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce, or Tamari for gluten-free
  • 1/4 cup water, or pineapple juice
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

Instructions
 

Bake the vegan meatballs

  • Preheat the oven to 400° F and place frozen vegan meatballs on a baking sheet (or make homemade vegan meatballs.)
  • Place the meatballs in the oven for 15 minutes until heated all the way through. (or follow package or recipe directions)

Make the sauce

  • While the vegan meatballs are baking, cook 3 cloves of minced garlic and 1 diced red bell pepper in 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-low heat for about 3-4 minutes, then add 1 cup of cubed pineapple and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes stirring frequently.
  • Mix all of the sauce ingredients together in a large measuring container or bowl and pour it into the hot skillet with the peppers and pineapple. Stir continuously until the sauce thickens and gets shiny.

Add the meatballs

  • Turn the heat to low then add the baked vegan meatballs to the sauce and carefully stir so that you don’t break the balls.
  • Place toothpicks in the vegan meatballs so your guests can easily eat them and serve them hot. You can also serve them over rice or rice noodles for a meal.

Notes

  • Heat the garlic in the oil over medium-low heat and be careful not to burn the garlic.
  • You can also serve these sweet and sour meatballs in a crockpot set on warm to keep them hot throughout your party.
Serving: 12oz, Calories: 206kcal, Carbohydrates: 29g, Protein: 11g, Fat: 5g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2g, Trans Fat: 0.01g, Sodium: 511mg, Potassium: 268mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 21g, Vitamin A: 532IU, Vitamin C: 23mg, Calcium: 52mg, Iron: 1mg
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