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.
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.
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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|
Nutritional values from cronometer.com
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!
- minced or ground pork
- minced or ground beef
- diced onion – or onion powder
- minced garlic – or garlic powder
- salt and pepper – season to taste
Sweet and sour sauce ingredients:
- olive oil
- ginger – fresh ginger, minced ginger, or ground ginger
- tomato sauce – make sure to choose a sugar free ketchup with no sugar added
- garlic powder – or crushed garlic
- coconut aminos – a gluten free alternative to soy sauce
- apple cider vinegar
- granulated sweetener of choice
- xanthan gum
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.
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.
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 cook meatballs in an air fryer
Using an air fryer to cook keto meatballs is quick and easy. But you need to cook the meatballs first WITHOUT any sauce. If you add the sauce, it will just dribble out the bottom of the air fryer wire rack and burn.
Once your meatballs are cooked in the air fryer, transfer them to a saucepan or skillet with your chosen favorite low-carb sauce and heat through.
- Preheat to 180C/350F.
- Spray the wire basket with cooking oil.
- Gently place each meatball into the oiled basket. Ensure there is plenty of space between them.
- Cook for 10 minutes, open the drawer and turn each meatball.
- Cook for a further 5-10 minutes, depending on the size of meatballs being cooked.
If you love using your air fryer, I have 101 keto air fryer recipes for you to choose from (chicken, pork, ground beef, salmon, vegetables, and even desserts). Discover how to use your air fryer plus FREE printable air fryer cooking cheat sheets.
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.
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.
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!
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 Gum – this 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.
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!
You probably have all the equipment you need already to make keto sweet and sour meatballs.
- Large skillet – or frying pan
- Baking sheet – baking tray or large baking dish
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Mixing bowls
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.
What to serve with meatballs?
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 rice – the best low-carb keto rice substitute
Zucchini noodles – the best low-carb keto spaghetti substitute
Here are some of my favorite keto beef side dishes.
- Cheesy keto garlic bread
- The best low-carb bread, pasta, and potato substitutes
- Low-carb keto almond flour bread
- Baked cheesy broccoli and cauliflower
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.
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!
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).
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.
The cooking time for frozen meatballs will depend on the number and size of meatballs. The larger the meatball, the longer the cooking time.
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.
Place the frozen meatballs and sauce in the Instant Pot. Pressure cook for 10 minutes. Natural pressure release, stir, then serve.
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.
Easy keto sweet and sour meatballs recipe
- Frying pan
- Mixing bowls
- 500 g ground/minced pork
- 500 g ground/minced beef
- 1 onion finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 egg medium
- ¼ tsp salt to taste
- pepper to taste
Sweet and Sour Sauce
- ½ tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 3 slices ginger minced 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 80 ml tomato sauce no sugar added
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp coconut aminos
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp granulated sweetener of choice or more to your tastes
- 125 ml water
- ½ tsp xanthan gum or thickener of choice
- 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!
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