Easy Keto Sweet and Sour Meatballs (High-Protein) – Ditch The Carbs

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With keto sweet and sour meatballs you can enjoy all the flavors of one of your favorite tangy sauces without the added sugar.

At only 3.3g net carbs per serving and 30.7g of protein, this sweet and sour meatballs recipe will quickly become a permanent feature of your meal plan.

Sweet and sour keto meatballs in a bowl. One meatball is being lifted by a toothpick.

If you ever found yourself asking for an extra side of sweet and sour sauce at a restaurant then this recipe is for you. Not only are these low-carb sweet meatballs a fantastic option for busy weekday meals, but they make also make an impressive keto dish to bring to gatherings.

These sweet and sour meatballs are part of my make-ahead meatballs series on this site, and pairs well with a side of cauliflower rice.

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Is beef keto?

Ground beef is a versatile meat and is a source of complete protein.

The amount of protein and fat in ground beef will be dictated by which variety of ground beef you buy. The higher the fat content, the lower the protein.

Per 100g (3.5oz) Carbs Protein Fat Calories
Ground beef 70% lean 0 14.4g 30g 332
Ground beef 80% lean 0 17.2g 20g 254
Ground beef 90% lean 0 20.0g 10g 176
Ground beef 95% lean 0 21.4g 5g 137
Ground beef nutrition per 100g/3.5oz serving

Nutritional values from cronometer.com

Bowl of keto sweet and sour meatballs topped with white sesame seeds.

Ingredients

Sweet and sour sauce is typically made with pineapple juice and brown sugar, but since pineapple juice is full of sugar and high in carbs (and we avoid brown sugar when on a ketogenic diet) I made a few substitutions to make the sauce keto-friendly but keeping the sweet tangy flavour.

To make these keto sweet and sour meatballs extra flavourful and tender I used two types of ground/minced meat. These cooked meatballs practically melt in your mouth!

Meatball ingredients:

  • minced or ground pork
  • minced or ground beef
  • diced onion – or onion powder
  • minced garlic – or garlic powder
  • eggs
  • salt and pepper – season to taste

Sweet and sour sauce ingredients:

See the sweet and sour meatballs recipe card below for exact quantities and instructions.

How to make meatballs

Place all the meatball ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly with your hands, or a spatula. 

Grab a golf ball size of the meatball mix, squeeze together, then form into a round meatball shape. Continue until all the meatballs are prepared.

Ingredients for meatballs all together in a clear glass bowl.
Mix the meatball ingredients

You can cook these keto meatballs two ways.

How to fry meatballs in a frying pan

Preheat the frying pan, large skillet, or saute pan to medium-high heat.

Fry gently in olive oil (or coconut oil) on all sides until browned and cooked into the centre.

How to cook meatballs in the oven

Preheat your oven at 180C/350F. Place your meatballs on a baking tray, baking sheet, or baking dish and cook in the middle rack for 15 minutes (turning once so they brown all over) for 15 minutes, or until cooked into the centre.

I recommend baking your meatballs on the middle rack of your oven to ensure even distribution of heat. This will ensure your meatballs cook evenly.

Keto meatballs shaped into balls and arranged in a clear glass baking pan.
Place the prepared meatballs in an oiled baking dish.

Hint make a large batch of meatballs at one time and freeze them into serval portions. Now you can just grab a portion and bake them as needed.

How to make sweet and sour sauce

To make the sweet and sour sauce you will need to heat the oil on high heat in a skillet. When the oil is hot add a few slices of fresh ginger to the oil and sauté for several seconds.

Sautéing 3 slices of ginger in hot oil using a black skilet.
Melt butter (or favourite oil) in your frying pan

Next mix in your no sugar added tomato sauce, garlic powder, coconut aminos, granulated sweetener of choice, apple cider vinegar, and water.

Let the sauce come to a boil then reduce the heat and let the sauce simmer for a few minutes.

Sweet and sour sauce simmering in a skillet.
Simmer the sweet and sour sauce until smooth and thick.

Finally, remove the ginger from the sauce and thicken your sauce by whisking in your xanthan gum. You can also thicken through reduction by allowing the sauce to continue to simmer until it thickens.

Add your meatballs to the sauce, gently toss the meatballs to coat with the delicious sweet and sticky sauce. Enjoy!

Keto meatballs coated with sweet and sour sauce in a skillet.
How to coat meatballs in sweet and sour sauce

Substitutions

Sometimes for various reasons you may need to replace an ingredient used with something else. This could be dietary restrictions or even the availability of the ingredients at that time. Please see the list below of your recommended substitutions.

  • Tomato Sauce – A spoonful of watered down tomato paste or even sugar-free ketchup could be used in place of tomato sauce. Just be sure to read the labels to ensure it’s keto friendly and there are no added-sugars.
  • Coconut Aminos coconut aminos can be expensive or hard to find sometimes. When I am our of aminos I tend to use beef stock with a pinch of sweetener as a replacement. It doesn’t taste quite the same, but it will work. Alternatively you can use soy sauce (if you can tolerate soy) or Worcestershire sauce (but the sugars are not keto)
  • Xanthan Gumthis is used to thicken the sauce instead or cornstarch or cornflour. Any thickening agent will work so feel free to use your favorite. You can also simply reduce the sauce over the stove until it reaches your desired consistency.

Looking for an ingredient substitution that’s not listed above? Did you try something different that you absolutely loved? Comment below to ask a question or share your recommendations.

Variations

Are you looking for a new twist on sweet and sour meatballs? Try one of our recommendations below for some tasty ideas.

  • Spicy – sprinkle some cayenne pepper, chilli flakes, or red pepper flakes into the sauce to spice it up.
  • Mustard – do you have weakness for spicy mustard and sweet and sour sauce? Why not add a squirt of mustard (no sugars) to your sweet and sour sauce. It’s like a combo of both. You can even add some spice if desired.
  • Kid friendly – serve the sauce on the side of your meatballs to allow your children to dip as much or as little as they want. Kids love dipping food!

Want to change it up even more? See three amazing versions of these meatballs on my website!

Close up of sweet and sour sauce coating meatballs
Delicious sweet and sour keto meatball recipe

Equipment

You probably have all the equipment you need already to make keto sweet and sour meatballs.

Storage

Keto sweet and sour meatballs can be stored with or without the sauce on the meatballs.

Cooked meatballs can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 3-5 days.

The sweet and sour sauce that has NOT been mixed with the meatballs can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

You can also freeze these meatballs and sauce for up to 90 days in the freezer.

When you are ready to reheat the meatballs just toss it all in a skillet with a spoonful or two of water. Then cover, and cook on medium heat until the meatballs are defrosted. Be sure to stir occasionally to prevent burning.

keto sweet and sour meatball collage
The best recipe for keto meatballs

What to serve with meatballs?

The most common side dishes for meatballs are mashed potatoes, pasta, or rice. These are all high-carb and generally avoided if you are on the low-carb diet, keto diet, or high-protein diet.

There are so many delicious low-carb and keto side dishes to serve with low carb sweet and sour meatballs are cauliflower rice, spaghetti squash, mashed cauliflower, or a crunchy coleslaw.

Low-carb mashed cauliflower – the best low-carb keto mashed potato substitute

Cauliflower ricethe best low-carb keto rice substitute

Zucchini noodlesthe best low-carb keto spaghetti substitute

Here are some of my favorite keto beef side dishes.

Recipe tips

Can I freeze meatballs?

Yes, cooked or raw meatballs can be frozen and stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 months. Raw meatballs need to be completely defrosted and cooked thoroughly before serving.

So save yourself time by making a large batch of meatballs in advance and freezing them.

How do I reheat frozen meatballs?

Remove the frozen meatballs from the freezer and leave them covered in the fridge, or at room temperature for a few hours until defrosted. You can also defrost frozen meatballs using your microwave.

Then all you have to do is pull out a portion of meatballs, bake them, and toss them in the sauce for an easy meal or snack!

Can I eat frozen meatballs on keto?

It depends on how many grams of net carbs are in the meatball nutritional information. Avoid added ingredients such as flour, wheat, potato starch, breadcrumbs, and sugar (yes, there is often added brown sugar in meatballs).

Can you have Ikea meatballs on keto?

Ikea beef/pork meatballs have 6g net carbs per 100g. Ikea vegetable meatballs have 16g net carbs per 100g. The meatballs may be keto if you only eat a few, but you’ll probably want to avoid their high-carb sauces.

How long do you cook frozen meatballs in sauce?

The cooking time for frozen meatballs will depend on the number and size of meatballs. The larger the meatball, the longer the cooking time.

Should I defrost meatballs before cooking?

You can place the frozen meatballs and the sauce in a baking dish and cook, covered, in the oven for 20-30 minutes. Cooking times will vary depending on the size of the meatballs.

Can I cook frozen meatballs in the Instant Pot?

Place the frozen meatballs and sauce in the Instant Pot. Pressure cook for 10 minutes. Natural pressure release, stir, then serve.

What can I use instead of breadcrumbs in meatballs?

You can use an egg or ground pork rinds to bind meatball ingredients together.

More keto meatballs

If you love easy keto sweet and sour meatballs, then you’ll love these recipes too. Serve with a bowl of cauliflower rice for a quick mid-week healthy family dinner.

???? Recipe

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Keto sweet and sour meatballs piled high in a bowl with sesame seed sprinkled on top.

Easy keto sweet and sour meatballs recipe

Please rate this recipe.

Servings: 6

NET carbs: 3.3g

Prep Time 10 minutes

Cook Time 15 minutes

Total Time 25 minutes

Diet: Diabetic. Gluten Free

Gluten Free. Grain free. Keto. LCHF. Low Carb. No Sugars. Wheat Free

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EASY keto sweet and sour meatballs are the perfect healthy family dinner. Enjoy this high protein low-carb meal in under 30 minutes. Another yummy way to cook ground beef and ground pork.

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Adjust servings: 6

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Instructions

Keto Meatballs

  • Place all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly with your hands, or a spatula. 

  • Grab a golf ball size of the meatball mix, squeeze together, then form into a meatball shape. Continue until all the meatballs are prepared.

  • You can cook these keto meatballs two ways. 1) Fry gently in oil on all sides until cooked into the centre. 2) Bake in the oven at 180C/350F for 15 minutes (turning once so they brown all over) for 15 minutes, or until cooked into the centre.

Sweet and Sour Sauce

  • Heat the oil in a saucepan. When the oil is hot add the ginger. Let it sauté a few seconds until fragrant.

  • Add all the remaining ingredients into the pan except for the xanthan gum. Let the sauce simmer for 3-5 minutes to allow the ginger flavor to infuse into the sauce then remove the ginger from the pan and discard.

  • Whisk in the xanthan gum into the sauce to thicken. When the sauce has thickened add the cooked meatballs to the sauce and toss until all the meatballs are coated. Serve and enjoy!

Nutrition Facts

Easy keto sweet and sour meatballs recipe

Serving Size

 

1 serve (serv es 6)

Amount per Serving

% Daily Value*

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Approximate nutrition information is provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. For the most accurate nutritional data, use the actual ingredients and brands you used in your preferred nutrition calculator.

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