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Hawaiian Meatballs

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!

So now that I’ve talked your ear off about Hawaii, let’s talk about 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 make from memory now.

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. I suppose you could squeeze some fresh juice from the fresh pineapple, but that seems like a waste of precious fresh pineapple. I like to use the chunks, but you can also use tidbits.

The meatballs are pretty basic, but you could certainly use your favorite meatball recipe here, if you have one. While the meatballs are cooking in the oven, prepare the sauce. It’s only 5 ingredients! This is where the reserved pineapple juice comes in. The sauce is ready when it is dark and thick, like this:

Add in the cooked meatballs and the reserved pineapple (or extra fresh pineapple), and serve over rice, or another grain like quinoa. Garnish with cilantro.

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

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


Warm meatballs and pineapple smothered in a sweet and sour sauce, served over rice for an easy weeknight meal.



Pineapple and Meatballs

  • 1.5 lbs ground beef
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 inch piece grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1 – 14oz can pineapple chunks (in pineapple juice)


  • 1/3 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • reserved pineapple juice


  1. Preheat oven to 375 F and line a large baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper.
  2. Open the can of pineapple and drain the juice into a container or measuring cup for later use. Set aside the pineapple.
  3. Combine the meatball ingredients in a large bowl together and roll into meatballs; about 2 tbsp each.
  4. Place the meatballs on the lined baking sheet and place into the preheated oven for 20 minutes or until browned, rotating halfway through.
  5. While the meatballs are cooking, add all of the sauce ingredients together into a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and stir continuously until the sauce is thickened and bubbly.
  6. Combine the cooked meatballs and pineapple chunks together in the sauce. Serve over rice, garnishing with cilantro


  1. Feel free to use your favorite meatball recipe in place of the one I’ve posted.
  2. Try another grain in place of the rice; quinoa or bulgur would be delicious!
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  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 🙂

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