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Sweet and Sour Meatballs-Filipino Style

Perfectly fried meatballs simmered in an amazing sweet and sour sauce. This Sweet and Sour Meatball can be served as an hors d'oeuvre or as a main dish with steaming hot rice!

Meatballs Agre Dulce

These ground meat rolled into balls that can be seasoned with different herbs and spices are one of the things that is great to have in your arsenal. They are simple and easy to make and easily a crowd-pleaser.

In the Philippines, meatballs are fondly called "bola-bola". The word "bola" literally translates to ball (no need for further explanation, I guess). It is common to add bola-bola to soups or enjoy it as is. But another favorite way to have it is to simmer it in sweet and sour sauce.

These sweet and sour meatballs are first deep-fried until nicely browned and then simmered in the sauce for a couple of minutes, allowing the flavor of the sauce to seep into the meatballs. It is usually served with steamed rice as the main dish but can also be an appetizer for parties.

meatballs

What is in the sauce?

The Filipino sweet and sour sauce, Agre Dulce, just like the Italian's Agrodolce combines sweet and sour elements like vinegar and sugar. It is derived from Spanish terms Agrio, meaning sour and Dulce, meaning sweet.

Unlike its Italian counterpart, where the sauce is reduced until sticky, ours is made thick by adding cornstarch. Tomato or banana ketchup is also typically added that gives it its orange-red hue. To give more flavor, pineapple, carrots, bell peppers, onions, and Labuyo chili are also commonly added.

Aside from using it to cook meat in like Escabeche, you will see this used as a dipping sauce for snacks like Ukoy, fried spring rolls, Kwek-kwek, fishballs, and Calamares.

Ingredients for Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Foxy Tips for a Delicious Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Choosing your meat- as mentioned above, you can choose from different meat sources when making your meatballs. Remember though that fattier meats like pork and beef will turn out to be more tender after frying. If you want to use chicken, make sure to not overcook as it will turn tough.

Use a light hand- do not pack your meatballs too tightly! Make sure that you secure it enough to keep the shape but not too compressed that the flavors and sauce do not seep through anymore. A good tip is to lightly oil your hands when rolling so it does not stick to your skin therefore, you can shape them easier.

No to over mixing- do not be too energetic when mixing the meat with seasoning and binders! Use your hands when mixing and just do it enough until all ingredients are evenly distributed. You don't want to turn it into a mushy mess and lose all its texture.

Storing your meatballs- the great thing about meatballs is that you can make them in advance and cook them later! Just put them in a lidded container and freeze. Heat them later on when you are in the mood for more.

Fried meatballs simmered in sweet and sour sauce

Made too much of the good thing? Here are some recipes to consider:

swedish-meatballs
This Swedish Meatball recipe is one of those recipes that you simply must try. Meaty and juicy meatballs smothered in delectable creamy gravy sauce.
Almondigas Soup Recipe
Almondigas or โ€œbola-bolaโ€ soup is classic Filipino comfort food. It is a dish made of meatballs and misua with patola (sponge gourd) added most of the time.
Special Siopao Bola-Bola with salted egg and Chinese sausage
Sweet steamed buns with minced pork filling. This Siopao Bola-Bola is the Filipino version of Steamed Pork Buns. Made extra special with the addition of salted eggs and Chinese sausage.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

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Sweet and Sour Meatballs
4.88 from 8 votes

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Perfectly fried meatballs simmered in an amazing sweet and sour sauce. This Sweet and Sour Meatball can be served as an hors d'oeuvre or as a main dish with steaming hot rice!
Print Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Asian,Filipino
Keyword: sweet and sour meatballs
Servings: 4
Calories: 504kcal
Author: Bebs
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

INGREDIENTS

For MEATBALLS

  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 medium onion - - chopped finely
  • 1 small carrots - - finely diced
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt - - adjust as needed
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper - - adjust as needed
  • 1/8 cup grated Parmesan - - or grated cheese (optional)
  • oil - - for frying

FOR SAUCE

  • 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch - - dissolved in 1 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 small onion - - cut into 4 parts
  • 1 small carrots - - half cut into strips, half into flowers
  • 1/2 cup bell pepper - - cut into squares
  • 1/2 cup pineaplple tidbits

INSTRUCTIONS

  • In a large bowl, combine all ingredients for the meatballs and mix them well using your hands. Form balls for about 1 1/2 inch diameter using both hands.
  • Add oil to a pan high enough to cover the meatballs at least half-way through. Cook the meatballs in hot oil until nicely browned on both sides. Remove the meatballs from the oil and place on a plate or colander. Set aside.
  • While waiting for the meatballs to fry, you can prepare the sauce. In a large pan, heat oil on high. Stir fry and carrots strips for about 1-2 minutes, do not overcook.
  • Turn heat to low. Add vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper and pour in water with cornstarch and ketchup. Stir until combined and sugar is dissolved. Now add the cooked meatballs to the sauce and let it simmer until sauce thickens for about 3-5 minutes. Add bell peppers, onion, pineapple, and carrot flowers and cook for another 2 minutes.
  • Transfer Sweet and Sour Meatballs to your serving dish. Garnish with chopped green onions if desired.

VIDEO

Nutrition Facts
Sweet and Sour Meatballs
Amount Per Serving
Calories 504 Calories from Fat 252
% Daily Value*
Fat 28g43%
Saturated Fat 12g60%
Cholesterol 135mg45%
Sodium 1432mg60%
Potassium 574mg16%
Carbohydrates 33g11%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 15g17%
Protein 25g50%
Vitamin A 4920IU98%
Vitamin C 29mg35%
Calcium 89mg9%
Iron 3.5mg19%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tried this recipe? Tell us how it went. Tag us at @foxyfolksy or leave a comment and rating below.

This recipe was originally published in March 2017. Updated in August 2020 to include new photos, more tips, and a recipe video.

Avatar

Bebs

Bebs here! I love to cook and try new things and DIY projects! And although I think of myself as a homebody, I like seeing other places from time to time.
If you are looking for a recipe and it ain't here, make a request and I will try my best to make it for you!

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  1. 5 stars
    I love this! Tried sweet and sour sauce several
    times but this recipe is the best! Thanks for sharing! Your website is my go to for recipes!

  2. 5 stars
    Thank you for this recipe. Just what I was looking for: simple, but yummy! Reminded me of my childhood days when this was one of my favourite "ulam". Thank you!

  3. 4 stars
    I tried this recipe for the first time tonight. It was really good overall and I plan to use it again. However, the meatballs were a bit salty for us. I double checked the recipe and use 1 tablespoon salt. I will probably cut that in half the next time I make it.

    1. Hi Glinda, it is a teaspoon and not a tablespoon. I think it was an error made during our transfer from one recipe card plugin to the new one. Really sorry about that and I am glad for your comment. It is now adjusted...

  4. Hi Bebs, I just want to ask what ketchup do you use for this recipe? The filipino brand ketchup or any ketchup will do?
    Btw, i have been following your food blogs and i am a fan ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for sharing your recipes!

    1. Hi Abby, you can use either just note that tomato ketchup is sourer than banana but you are making sweet and sour so...๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. Perfect! At last I found a recipe so perfect to my test. I'm not good in cooking but now I got interest to cooking. Based on your recipes. I am now looking for a notebook to copy your recipe that I have tried to cook for Mt self. So simple but tasty and yummmmmmy

    1. That is great to hear Norma. You can also print the recipes by clicking the print button so you will not have to write them.

  6. Hi Bebs, its me again.. ???? I've tried this one too. Actually, I have done this several times already because my husband been constantly asking me to make this very now and then..lol..even my 11 y/o daughter enjoys this too. Thanks so much for sharing your delicious recipes.. ????????????

  7. 5 stars
    Hello Bebs, I always use dry bread crumbs as binder for meatballs. I will try your recipe using flour instead. Love your recipe photos. They all look appetizing.

  8. I tried this last night and it was an instant hit to my husband and toddler. Can you please also try the one pot lasagna without using an oven? Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Glad you and your family liked it, Zara! I will write your request down on my list and will try my best to make a really good no-oven one pot lasagna! ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. thank you for sharing . I have learn a lot from your site . I just started my filipino cuisine food truck and is tough bu i vow to make it o help me God !!!!!

  10. Beb, not only are you a devoted and inspiring homemaker, you also have a grateful, grace-filled heart! I love what you write about your Mom, your husband, your family and friends back home. Needless to say, your recipes and pictures look so yummy. The toffees I baked were Dee-li cious!!! Many many thanks.

    1. Aaaawww Irma...what a nice message. Receiving such wonderful comments makes keeping this blog all worthwhile. Thank you very much.

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