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Instant Pot Sweet and Sour Meatballs

If you’re short on time and need to make something everyone will eat for dinner without complaining that’s also easy to make, then this 3 ingredients Instant pot sweet and sour meatball recipe is for you!

This delicious recipe is made with just three ingredients that you likely have in your pantry and takes less than 5 minutes of active cooking time! I’ll focus on how to make this in your pressure cooker, but you can make it in a slow cooker or even on your cooktop too! Instructions for all three below!

This is one of those tried and true recipes that your grandma probably made or ate and it’s sure to be a favorite in your house for years to come! Read on to learn how to make sweet and sour meatballs with grape jelly! Seriously!

sweet and sour meatballs in a bowl with herbs

In addition to being the perfect weeknight dinner recipe (especially for those picky eaters), this recipe is so versatile! It’s great as an entree when paired with some sides (some of my favorite sides below!).

It’s also a really fun appetizer or party snack! Just put a few sweet and sour meatballs on a skewer and top with sliced green onions for a beautiful treat!

meatballs served on brown serving platter

Instant Pot Sweet and Sour Meatball Ingredients:

One of my favorite things about this recipe is how easy it is to make and how virtually impossible it is to mess up! Since it’s made with 2 shelf-stable ingredients and a third from your freezer, you can be ready to make these sweet and sour meatballs on a moment’s notice! I always have the ingredients I need to make these on hand!

Here are the ingredients you’ll need:

  • Bottle of Chili Sauce (any brand will do!)
  • Jar of Grape Jelly (Other types of jelly work too! My grandmother often used currant jelly!)
  • Prepared Meatballs (frozen meatballs make this recipe even easier and foolproof!)

You can add some additional ingredients to this recipe if you want to customize it. Some examples are:

  • Green onions to top the meatballs with
  • Sesame seeds to top the meatballs with
  • Garlic or ginger to add some additional flavor to the sauce
  • Squeeze of fresh lemon to liven things up a bit

What is in these Instant Pot Sweet and Sour Meatballs?

I’ve tried lots of recipes for sweet and sour meatballs and while many have been delicious, none were better than this recipe or worth the extra effort! I always go back to this recipe!

My grandmother often made this recipe with currant jelly but I personally like it best with grape jelly because it’s something that I’ve always got in my pantry and I love the dark color it gives my sweet and sour meatballs.

You can however play around with different brands or homemade chili sauce (like this recipe from chilipeppermadness.com) and different types of jelly to change things up a bit and see what you like best!

What pairs well with sweet and sour meatballs?

These meatballs are delicious by themselves and make a great party meat appetizers worth sharing but also make a delicious filling entre that even the pickiest eater will enjoy! That’s why it’s one of my favorite weeknight dinner recipes!

Here are a few ways that you can enjoy these quick sweet and sour meatballs:

  • With Rice and a Veggie: Sweet and sour meatballs with white jasmine rice and broccoli is a regular in our house. Even the rice and the sweet and sour sauce is delicious!
  • Over spaghetti: Move over marinara sauce! Spaghetti topped with sweet and sour meatballs and the sauce with is AMAZING! It’s also a surprisingly freezer-friendly meal! Just put the pasta, meatballs and sauce in a freezer-safe container and freeze and you’ll have a meal you can easily take to work or heat-up when in a pinch!
  • On a bun: Did your meatballs break apart? Don’t worry! It happens to the best of us! Not to worry! Scoop it up and place it on your favorite bun and enjoy and sweet and tangy sloppy joe! (Sometimes I even break up my meatballs on purpose to do this!)
instant pot sweet and sour meatballs on a plate with rice and broccoli

How do you thicken sweet and sour meatball sauce?

Do you want your sweet and sour meatball sauce to thicken a bit more? Easy! Just cook it longer on the sauté setting with the lid off if your instant pot has one. If you want something a bit quicker or your instant pot doesn’t have such a setting, just add a teaspoon of cornstarch while the sauce is still hot. I personally use a Ninja Foodi which I love because it has every cooking setting I can think of – including sautee – and gives me lots of flexibility! It’s a pressure cooker, air fryer, slow cooker, oven and more all in one!

Should I thaw meatballs before putting them in the Instant Pot?

No! If you have frozen meatballs on hand and want to use those, you should not thaw the meatballs before putting them into your Instant Pot! Frozen and fresh meatballs cook nearly just as quickly in an instant pot so you really aren’t saving yourself any time by thawing them first!

Plus when it comes time to coat the meatballs in your sauce, it’s easier to do with frozen meatballs because they are less likely to break in the pot!

That said, you do NOT have to use frozen meatballs. I have made this recipe many times with freshly made meatballs and it works great! You just need to be careful to not break the balls when you coat them. If they break though, you’ll just end up with sweet and sour sloppy joes! Not a bad problem to have!

Can you overcook meatballs in an Instant Pot?

Yes. You can absolutely overcook meatballs in an Instant Pot or Pressure Cooker in general IF you put too much liquid in it. The amount of liquid you put in your Instant Pot (in this case, the sweet and sour sauce you make) will determine how long it takes to pressurize.

The more liquid you put in your pressure cooker, the longer it will take to pressurize and the longer your food will cook. Every pressure cooker is different so follow the guidelines for your pressure cooker when making this recipe.

For example, in my Ninja Foodi, I’m able to double the recipe and cook it on the Pressure Cooker setting following this recipe with no issue. If my pot were smaller, I likely wouldn’t be able to double the recipe without overcooking it.

raw hamburger meat served in white bowl, ingredients with chili sauce and concord grape jelly

Sweet and Sour Meatball making tips:

The beauty of this recipe is that you can literally throw the ingredients into a pot, stir, and cook and it will taste delicious! That said, there are a few tricks that may result in a slightly better dish…

  • Use frozen meatballs if you have them so you won’t have to worry about the meatballs breaking when you coat them.
  • Try out different types of jelly to see which your family prefers!
  • Make extra sauce in a pot if you can – it’s so yummy you may want to add extra!
  • Double the recipe if you can (if your instant pot can handle it) and freeze some! It reheats really well!

Additional Cooking Methods for Meatballs

You can make this sweet and sour meatball recipe in a regular pot or slow cooker too! The benefit of some of these other methods is that you can easily double or triple the recipe and have extra to freeze! You can also control the thickness of the sauce a bit more.

How to make sweet and sour meatballs on a cooktop:

This is my method recipe if I’m trying to make an extra big batch. Sometimes I’ll even use this method to make JUST sweet and sour sauce and then freeze the sauce so that I can use it for other things later!

This method is very similar to the Instant Pot method…

  1. Add the chili sauce, grape jelly, and water in a stockpot and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce to a simmer.
  3. Cook under jelly begins to melt/liquify.
  4. Stir well to combine all the ingredients. You shouldn’t be able to see the jelly anymore.
  5. Add the meatballs and gently coat.
  6. Continue to simmer until the meatballs are fully cooked.

How to make sweet and sour meatballs in a Slow Cooker:

This method is especially great if you’re super busy and want to set and forget it!

  1. Add the chili sauce, grape jelly, and water to your slow cooker.
  2. Put your slow cooker on high for 30 minutes.
  3. After 30 minutes, stir the ingredients to combine.
  4. Add the meatballs and gently coat.
  5. Turn your slow cooker to Low or Medium for 3-4 hours. Longer if you’re doubling the recipe.

How to make meatballs in an oven:

I don’t personally use this method often but it works!

To make sweet and sour meatballs in the oven, just add all your ingredients to a dutch oven and then bake at 350 degrees until your meatballs are ready!

You’ll want to stir to coat every few minutes. This will help your meatballs develop a nice thick coat of sauce on them!

The time it takes to cook will depend on your meatballs and how big of a batch you make. Since you’re cooking in the oven though, it will be easy to keep an eye on!

Can you freeze meatballs?

Yes! This recipe is extremely freezer friendly and I have on multiple occasions doubled the recipe so that I could freeze part of it! Just defrost the sweet and sour meatballs in the refrigerator and then heat up using your favorite method. The microwave works great!

On top of that, if you’re a fan of freezer meals, you can easily adapt this recipe!

  1. Just add the chili sauce, grape jelly and meatballs into a freezer-friendly container and then freeze.
  2. When you’re ready to use it, defrost the entire container in the fridge.
  3. Once defrosted, add the contents to a crockpot, add the water, and then cook on high for 30 minutes.
  4. Stir and then reduce to low for 3-4 hours.

What to Eat This With Sweet and Sour Meatballs

These meatballs are so good that you may want to eat them immediately without anything else and that’s okay! If you want to pair it with some sides though, here are a few of my favorites!

  • Rice and a vegetable like broccoli
  • Spaghetti Noodles (like the traditional meatballs with tomato sauce and pasta but so much better!)
  • On a bun like a Sloppy-Joe!
Pin to Pinterest:
Instant Pot Sweet and Sour Meatballs Pin for Pinterest

Printable 3 Ingredient Instant Pot Sweet and Sour Meatballs Recipe:

sweet and sour meatballs in a bowl with herbs

Pressure Cooker Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Yield: 30 meatballs
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

The quickest, easiest and most delicious sweet and sour meatballs you can make! Just 5 minutes of prep and you will be on your way to a hearty dinner that even your pickiest eater will love!

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Add the grape jelly and chili sauce to your pressure cooker.
  2. Fill your bottle of chili sauce with water, shake it up to get every last drop of yummy chili sauce and then add that to your pressure cooker.
  3. Stir well with a wisk to break up the grape jelly and mix it all up. Don't worry, a few clumps of jelly is fine and normal. It will break up while cooking.
  4. Add your prepared meatballs. Frozen is fine and you can layer them if needed in the pot.
  5. Carefully coat your meatballs with the sauce mix. (If your meatballs are freshly made, they will be delecate so be careful!)
  6. Pressure cook on high for 7 minutes.
  7. Natural release for 5-10 minutes.
  8. Enjoy then come back here and tell me how you liked it!

Notes

Additional Cooking Methods

This recipe can be made on a cooktop, in a slow cooker and even in the oven too! For instructions on how to adapt this recipe, reference the recipe details.


What to Eat This With

These meatballs are so good that you may want to eat them immediately without anything else and that's okay! If you want to pair it with some sides though, here are a few of my favorites!

  • Rice and a vegetable like broccoli
  • Spaghettis (like the traditional meatballs with tomato sauce and pasta but so much better!)
  • On a bun like a Sloppy-Joe!
Nutrition Information
Yield 8 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 439Total Fat 25gSaturated Fat 9gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 14gCholesterol 75mgSodium 1333mgCarbohydrates 37gFiber 4gSugar 24gProtein 17g

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