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The Easiest Instant Pot Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Instant Pot Sweet and Sour Meatballs feature frozen meatballs, pineapple chunks, and peppers all covered in a tangy sauce. It’s an easy dinner to throw together that’s perfect for a crowd!

White bowl full of sweet and sour meatballs, bell peppers, pineapple, and green onions.

I love sweet and sour sauce. I put it on fried rice, egg rolls, and chicken.

So when I saw a recipe for sweet and sour meatballs that a friend posted, I knew I had to make it for our next extended family dinner.

I made a few tweaks by cooking it in the Instant Pot instead of the slow cooker and everyone loved them!

This recipe works because it:

  • Is super easy to make. There’s very little prep work to get this dinner in the Instant Pot and cooking.
  • Is perfect for a crowd. I tripled this recipe to feed 18 people and it was so simple!
  • Doesn’t require an oven or stove! Let your Instant Pot to all of the work while you avoid cooking over the hot stove.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Sweet and sour meatball ingredients on white table including brown sugar, vinegar, and pineapple chunks.

Place 32 frozen meatballs (about 16 ounces) on the bottom of the Instant Pot insert. Top with 1/2 cup packed brown sugar, 20 ounces pineapple chunks with juice, 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar, and 1 tablespoon soy sauce.

Pineapple chunks and frozen meatballs in Instant Pot insert.

Lock the lid on the Instant Pot and make sure the valve is in the sealing position. Select PRESSURE COOK and set the timer for 5 minutes. The Instant Pot will come to pressure and then the timer will start counting down.

Instant Pot with lid on sits on counter with timer displaying 5 minutes.

While the Instant Pot is coming to pressure, de-seed one red and yellow bell pepper and slice into bite-sized pieces.

Once the meatballs are done cooking, move the valve from sealing to venting to do a quick release of the pressure. Once the pin has dropped, carefully remove the lid. Hit CANCEL and then SAUTE.

Add the pepper chunks to the pot, and stir everything together.

Chopped bell peppers in Instant Pot with sweet and sour meatballs.

Mix 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of cold water until well combined. When the sweet and sour sauce is bubbling, stir in the cornstarch slurry.

Cornstarch slurry in small white bowl with metal spoon and sliced bell peppers nearby.

When the sauce has thickened press CANCEL on the Instant Pot and serve or Press KEEP WARM until ready to serve.

Serve over cooked rice and garnish with chopped green onion and sesame seeds if desired.

Recipe Tips and Substitutions

White bowl of Instant Pot sweet and sour meatballs with pineapple and bell peppers with bowl of cooked rice nearby.

You can use homestyle or Italian-style meatballs in this recipe.

It took about 35 minutes for my Instant Pot to come to pressure to cook the meatballs. It always takes longer for frozen foods to cook in an Instant Pot, so make sure you factor that time into your dinner prep.

The peppers will cook in the sauce, but they won’t get extra soft. If you’d like them to be tender, you can saute them in a skillet and add them in at the very end.

The cornstarch slurry may seem thick and difficult to mix when you first add the water to the cornstarch. Just keep stirring until the consistency is smooth and runny.

Make sure your sauce is bubbling before you add the slurry, otherwise, the cornstarch won’t be heated enough to thicken the sauce.

Try these additions to the meatballs to customize the flavor:

  • Fresh chopped onion
  • Green bell pepper
  • Fresh broccoli
  • Minced garlic
  • Chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup ketchup and 1/4 cup water instead of the apple cider vinegar

More Like This

Sweet and sour meatballs in white bowl with pineapple chunks and chopped green onion garnish.

Looking for more Instant Pot recipes? You’ll love these!

FAQs

Sweet and sour meatballs over cooked white rice in gray bowl with chopsticks laying on bowl.
Can I use homemade meatballs in this recipe?


Yes, you can, but they need to be cooked first. If you’re using them at room temperature or chilled, it will not take the Instant Pot as long to come to pressure. If you’re using frozen meatballs, it will be the same time as store bought meatballs.

Can I use fresh pineapple in this recipe?


Yes, you can, but try to save as much fresh pineapple juice as you can to pour in. You’ll probably need 1/2 cup of liquid. If you don’t have enough, you can try one of these pineapple juice substitutes.

What is the point of the cornstarch slurry? Do I have to use it?


The cornstarch slurry will thicken your sauce so it clings to the meatballs and doesn’t run all over the place when served. You definitely don’t have to use it, but just know your sauce will be runny.

And don’t just throw the powdered cornstarch into the sauce or it will clump up. It has to be mixed with water for best results.

I hope your family loves these sweet and sour meatballs! If you make them, be sure to take a picture and tag me on Instagram with @ashcroftfamilytable and use the hashtag #ashcroftfamilytable!

 

And if you’d like to get a 4-week meal plan featuring my recipes, just enter your email in the form above and you’ll get it straight to your inbox!

White bowl full of sweet and sour meatballs, bell peppers, pineapple, and green onions.

Instant Pot Sweet and Sour Meatballs

The Ashcroft Family Table
Instant Pot Sweet and Sour Meatballs feature frozen meatballs, pineapple chunks, and peppers all covered in a tangy sauce. It's an easy dinner to throw together that's perfect for a crowd!
4.67 from 3 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 50 mins
Course Dinner
Cuisine American, Asian
Servings 5
Calories 412 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

  • 32 frozen meatballs, about 16 ounces
  • ½ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 20 ounces pineapple chunks, with juice
  • cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 yellow bell pepper

Cornstarch slurry

  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 Tablespoons cold water

Instructions
 

  • Place frozen meatballs on the bottom of the Instant Pot insert. Top with brown sugar, pineapple chunks with juice, apple cider vinegar, and soy sauce. Do not stir.
  • Lock the lid on the Instant Pot and make sure the valve is in the sealing position. Select PRESSURE COOK and set the timer for 5 minutes. The Instant Pot will come to pressure (about 35 minutes) and then the timer will start counting down.
  • While the Instant Pot is coming to pressure, de-seed bell peppers and slice into bite-sized pieces.
  • Once the meatballs are done cooking, move the valve from sealing to venting to do a quick release of the pressure. Once the pin has dropped, carefully remove the lid. Hit CANCEL and then SAUTE.
  • Add the pepper chunks to the pot, and stir everything together.
  • Mix cornstarch with cold water until well combined. When the sweet and sour sauce is bubbling, stir in the cornstarch slurry. Cook until sauce is thick.
  • When the sauce has thickened press CANCEL on the Instant Pot and serve or Press KEEP WARM until ready to serve.
  • Serve over cooked rice and garnish with chopped green onion and sesame seeds, if desired.

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 412kcalCarbohydrates: 44gProtein: 17gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 65mgSodium: 261mgPotassium: 547mgFiber: 2gSugar: 39gVitamin A: 856IUVitamin C: 85mgCalcium: 55mgIron: 2mg
Keyword instant pot sweet and sour meatballs, sweet and sour meatballs
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Pinterest graphic with text and photo of bowl of sweet and sour meatballs over rice.
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