Are you in the mood for a tangy dish that makes for a delectable appetizer or mouthwatering meal? If so, you’re in luck because I whipped up these delicious gluten-free sweet and sour turkey meatballs using simple and fresh ingredients. This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosures.
While meatballs seem like they should be gluten-free, appearances can be deceiving. Most meatballs contain breadcrumbs, and breadcrumbs, as you know, contain gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley.
People with celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivities, and gluten intolerance should avoid meatballs unless they’re made with gluten-free ingredients.
I use gluten-free panko breadcrumbs, tamari sauce, and naturally gluten-free ingredients to prepare this tangy, crowd-pleasing dish perfect for a weeknight dinner or a satisfying game-day appetizer.
Each delicious meatball is only 60 calories and contains six grams of protein to keep you feeling full. With winning stats like that, you must make this gluten-free sweet and sour meatball recipe!
For the meatballs, you’ll need the following ingredients:
Ground Turkey: You’ll need one pound of lean ground turkey to make this recipe. Turkey tastes excellent, and it contains less grease and fat than even lean ground beef. However, you could also use ground chicken, pork, or beef. Ground beef will give it a beefier and more savory flavor.
Onion: I love the flavor of onion inside a meatball. Use your food processor or finely chop a yellow onion by hand. You’ll need ¼ cup of the finely chopped onion to add to the raw meat.
Panko: Most meatballs aren’t gluten-free because they’re made with breadcrumbs. The good news is you can easily find gluten-free breadcrumbs at most grocery stores these days. I used ½ cup gluten-free panko breadcrumbs from Kinnikinnick.
Egg: An egg will help bind the meatballs together and add a little fluff so they’re not super dense. See notes below for egg substitutes, if needed.
Seasonings: You’ll also need one teaspoon of garlic powder, ½ teaspoon of Kosher salt, and fresh ground pepper to taste.
For the sweet and sour sauce, combine the following ingredients in a large saucepan:
- ½ cup ketchup
- ½ cup water
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (or rice vinegar)
- 2 tablespoons honey (some people use brown sugar, but I prefer honey)
- 2 tablespoons gluten-free soy sauce, tamari, or coconut aminos
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
Below, I’ll share how to put everything together so the meatballs are cooked through and seasoned well!
Combine the ground turkey, onion, panko, egg, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.
Mix well, then form the mixture into 20 1-1.5” balls. Place the meatballs in the prepared baking dish in a single layer.
Bake the meatballs for 12 minutes or until they’re lightly browned all around. They won’t be fully cooked when you remove them from the oven.
Whisk all the sauce ingredients in a large saucepan or skillet pan over medium heat until the mixture bubbles, then add the cooked meatballs to the sauce.
Turn the meatballs frequently to coat them with the sauce. The sauce will thicken, and the meatballs will continue to cook for about 5-7 minutes. Check for doneness by cutting into a meatball and ensuring it’s fully cooked (no pink). Serve and enjoy!
To add color, you can garnish the top of the meatballs with chopped parsley, cilantro, or green onions.
How to Enjoy Sweet and Sour Meatballs
There are many ways to enjoy these delicious and juicy sweet and sour meatballs:
As a Main Course: Sweet and sour meatballs make an excellent main course. Pair them with gluten-free rice, quinoa, or cauliflower rice to create a satisfying meal. Tip: Add pineapple chunks too.
In a Gluten-Free Sub: Who said sandwiches are off-limits for those with gluten intolerance? Use gluten-free sub-sized bread or hot dog buns to serve these tangy meatballs. Canyon Bakehouse makes tasty gluten-free sub rolls.
As an Appetizer Extraordinaire: Are you hosting a party or attending a potluck? These meatballs will be the star of your appetizer spread. Serve them with toothpicks so they’re easy to pick up and eat.
With Gluten-Free Pasta: Sweet and sour spaghetti and meatballs, anyone? Cook up your favorite gluten-free pasta – or gluten-free ramen – and serve these juicy meatballs on top for an easy dinner the whole family will love.
Leftovers: Store leftover meatballs in an airtight container in your fridge for up to four days.
Ground Meat: You could use any ground meat, including ground beef, pork, chicken, or turkey. I like using turkey because it’s lean. However, ground beef would make a more savory and crowd-pleasing choice.
Breadcrumbs: I used gluten-free panko breadcrumbs from Kinnikinnick for this recipe. You could use any gluten-free panko breadcrumbs you can find or use plain breadcrumbs instead. You could also substitute brown rice flour if you can’t find gluten-free breadcrumbs.
Onion: I love the taste of fresh onion inside my meatballs, but to save time, you could omit the onion and add one teaspoon of onion powder instead. The meatballs will be slightly smaller without the chopped onion.
Egg-Free Option: An egg is necessary to bind the ingredients together and add fluff to the meatball. I suggest using it. Alternatively, you could use an egg substitute or flax egg. To make a flax egg, mix one tablespoon of flaxseed meal with three tablespoons of warm water. Mix and allow it to sit for five minutes at room temperature to gel. You could also omit the egg, but if you do, you may want to cut the breadcrumbs in half to avoid having hard meatballs.
Crockpot: You can add the oven-cooked meatballs to a slow cooker, pour the sauce ingredients on top, and set the slow cooker to low. This will keep the meatballs warm and ready to serve until guests arrive.
Meal Prep: Meatballs make for an easy meal prep meal. Make a big batch of meatballs at once and portion them into individual containers for an easy and delicious lunch or dinner all week long! I put the sweet and sour sauce on some meatballs and top the others with different sauces to shake things up.
Shortcut: While I prefer homemade meatballs because they’re less processed and much cheaper, you could also use frozen gluten-free meatballs if you can find them. I found these Cooked Perfect Brand meatballs at Sprouts. Toss the pre-cooked frozen meatballs in the sauce, and dinner is served!
More Ground Turkey Recipes
You might enjoy these tasty ground turkey recipes, too:
- Gluten-Free Turkey Meatballs and Spaghetti Squash (Slow Cooker)
- Classic Gluten-Free Chili Recipe – Made with Ground Turkey
- Gluten-Free Chipotle Turkey Burgers
- Easy Black Pepper Stir Fry with Ground Turkey
- Asian Meatball Bowls
You might also like my Easy Gluten-Free Sweet and Sour Chicken recipe.
Gluten-Free Sweet and Sour Meatballs
- 1 9×13 casserole dish
- 1 large sauce pan
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil or avocado cooking spray
- 1 pound lean ground turkey
- ¼ cup onion blended in a food processor or finely chopped
- ½ cup gluten-free panko breadcrumbs
- 1 egg large
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
- fresh ground pepper to taste
Sweet and Sour Sauce
- ½ cup ketchup
- ½ cup water
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons gluten-free soy sauce or tamari
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons chopped parsley for garnish – optional
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9×13" baking dish with oil or avocado oil spray.
- Mix the turkey, onion, panko, egg, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a large bowl by hand, then form the mixture into 20 1-1.5” balls. Place the meatballs in the prepared baking dish in a single layer.
- Bake the meatballs for 12 minutes or until they're lightly browned all around. They won't be fully cooked when you remove them from the oven.
- Whisk all the sauce ingredients in a large saucepan over medium heat until the mixture bubbles, then add the cooked meatballs to the sauce. Turn the meatballs frequently to coat them with the sauce. The sauce will thicken, and the meatballs will continue to cook for about 5-7 minutes. Check for doneness by cutting into a meatball and ensuring it's fully cooked (no pink).