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Hawaiian Meatballs

Warm, tangy Hawaiian meatballs and pineapple smothered in a sweet and sour sauce! Serve these pineapple meatballs over rice for an easy weeknight dinner.

hawaiian meatballs

*Please note* this recipe was originally published in March 2017. It has since been updated with new text, photos and video.

Right now, in the middle of winter, I’m dreaming of beaches, palm trees and the ocean. One of my favorite places in the world is Hawaii. I’ve been to Hawaii quite a few times, but it never gets old. I consider myself a pretty adventurous traveler; I love exploring new places all over the world, but Hawaii is one of the only places that I will happily go back to time and time again. The weather is almost always perfect, the beaches are gorgeous, it’s safe, it’s fairly close, it’s….predictable. Now that I have kids, a predictable beach vacation is exactly what I want.

We took Oscar, our oldest, to Kauai when he was only 3 months old. I’m still a little surprised at how bold we were, being new parents and all. I won’t lie, the trip was not amazing. I had a head cold and was practically deaf for the first couple of days, Oscar wouldn’t sleep in the hotel crib and so we ended up buying a portable swing at Walmart, and we were limited in what we could do with a baby who needs to nap and goes to bed by 8pm (duh). Plus, it was SO windy!! Ridiculously windy.

The next time we went to Hawaii, we went to Maui and Oscar was 16 months old. It was SO much fun!! Truly, an awesome trip. We had such a good time, we are already planning a return with both boys in the near future; however, we will wait until Wally is old enough to enjoy it as well. Lesson learned!

hawaiian meatballs

What are Hawaiian meatballs?

So now that I’ve talked your ear off about Hawaii, let’s talk about these TANGY Hawaiian meatballs! The two go hand-in-hand; or rather, hand-to-mouth? Growing up, my Mom made these Hawaiian Meatballs for us on the regular. They’re quick, easy, and a family favorite. I’m not sure where the recipe originally comes from, but it’s something that I can pretty much make from memory now.

This recipe is composed of fairly basic meatballs mixed in with chunks of sweet pineapple, smothered in a tangy sweet and sour sauce. The sauce contains a ton of pineapple juice too – so I guess all of this pineapple is where the “Hawaiian” part comes in. 

How do you make the meatballs?

You can definitely use your own favorite meatball recipe, or even premade meatballs, but my meatball recipe is super easy!

Start with a pound of ground beef, and mix in:

  • bread crumbs
  • egg
  • grated ginger
  • milk
  • salt
  • Worcestershire sauce

Roll the mixture into balls that are about 2 tablespoons each, and bake them in the oven for 20 minutes. Rotate them halfway to make sure they’re cooked through evenly. While the meatballs are cooking, prepare the sauce!

Combine all of the sauce ingredients, including the reserved pineapple juice but excluding the cornstarch, into a saucepan and heat over medium-high heat. Add the cornstarch slurry once everything is starting to bubble.

The sauce is ready when it’s dark and thick!

hawaiian meatballs

Do you have to use canned pineapple, or can you use fresh?

As much as I love fresh pineapple, the canned version is by far the easiest way to make these meatballs as you will need the juice from the can. You can definitely use fresh pineapple though, so long as you have another source for your pineapple juice, about 1 and half cups!

Oh, and if you’re using canned, I like to use the chunks, but you can also use tidbits!

Once the meatballs are thoroughly cooked, add them into the sauce, along with the reserved pineapple. Serve over rice, or another grain like quinoa, or even cauliflower rice! It’s also delicious with my easy coconut rice. Garnish with cilantro and sesame seeds!

I hope these meatballs make you think you’re sitting on a patio on the beach, overlooking the ocean. Island dreaming!

Hawaiian meatballs

hawaiian meatballs

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hawaiian meatballs

Hawaiian Meatballs


  • Author: Katherine
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x

Description

Warm, tangy Hawaiian meatballs and pineapple smothered in a sweet and sour sauce! Serve these pineapple meatballs over rice for an easy weeknight dinner.


Scale

Ingredients

Meatballs*

  • 1.5 lbs ground beef
  • 2/3 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 inch piece grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Sauce

  • 1 – 14oz can pineapple chunks (in pineapple juice)**
  • 1/3 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch + 2 tbsp water

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F and line a large baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper. I like to place a wire rack on top of the pan.
  2. Combine all of the meatball ingredients in a large bowl together, using a spoon or your hands, and roll into meatballs; about 2 tbsp each. Place the meatballs on the lined baking sheet and place into the preheated oven for 20 minutes or until browned, rotating halfway through.
  3. While the meatballs are cooking, open the can of pineapple chunks and drain the juice into a medium saucepan; reserve the chunks of fruit. Whisk in the remaining sauce ingredients, except for the cornstarch slurry.  Heat the sauce over medium-high heat until simmering. Add in the cornstarch slurry and stir continuously until the sauce is thickened and bubbly. Keep warm until the meatballs are done cooking.
  4. Once cooked through, add the meatballs and reserved pineapple chunks into the sauce. Combine together, and then serve over rice or another grain, garnishing with cilantro.

Leftover meatballs with sauce can be stored in an airtight container, for up to 3 to 4 days.


Notes

* Feel free to use your favorite meatball recipe in place of the one I’ve posted, or even premade meatballs.

** If you don’t want to use canned pineapple, you can also use fresh pineapple chunks and about 1 1/2 cups of pineapple juice. Feel free to also use tidbits!

  • Category: easy dinners
  • Method: stovetop cooking
  • Cuisine: Hawaiian

Keywords: Hawaiian meatballs // tangy Hawaiian meatballs // sweet and sour meatballs // luau meatballs // pineapple meatballs

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Hawaiian MeatballsHawaiian Meatballs

9 Comments

  1. I always like to say that I’ve never met a meatball I didn’t like- and I don’t see that changing any time soon. These look SO good, and I absolutely love the idea of doing a Hawaiian theme here! Gotta try these soon!

  2. Thank you so much for sharing recipes.Great blog!!!

  3. These Hawaiian-style meatballs in a tangy, sweet and sour pineapple sauce make a delicious main dish. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  4. I love the sweetness that pineapple adds to savoury recipes. I was recently inspired by your burger recipe and added grilled pineapple to my burger. So darn delicious Katherine! Can’t believe I never tried that before. So now I need to add these Hawaiian meatballs to the list to try!

  5. So pinning and sharing the beauty ….

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