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person holding a Hawaiian meatball on a fork

Hawaiian Meatballs from Scratch

  • Author: Brooke
  • Prep Time: 40 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 45 medium meatballs 1x


Hawaiian meatballs from scratch is an easy recipe for homemade meatballs baked in the oven.  The sweet and tangy sauce has pineapple, apricot jam, apple cider vinegar and spices and is thickened on the stove top, poured over the meatballs, then kept warm in a crock pot.  Serve for a crowd as an appetizer or over rice as a main course.



For the Meatballs

  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons salted butter (9g)
  • 2 pounds lean ground beef (90% meat, 10% fat; 907g)
  • 8 ounces water chestnuts, minced (226g)
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce (60 ml)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar (12g)
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)

For the Apricot Sauce

  • 2/3 cup apricot jam (218g)
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar (80 ml)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar (66g)
  • 1/2 cup pineapple, pureed (120 ml)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch (10g)


Making the Meatballs

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F.  Spray a rimmed cookie sheet with oil, or line it with aluminum foil for easy clean up.
  2. Melt the butter in a small skillet over medium-high heat, than saute the garlic until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  3. Place the ground beef, sauteed garlic, water chestnuts, soy sauce, brown sugar, egg, and onion powder in a large bowl and mix together thoroughly with wet hands.  Shape into small balls for appetizers or slightly larger than a golf ball for a main course.
  4. Space the meatballs close together on the prepared cookie sheet and bake uncovered at 375 F for 20 minutes, or until browned.  Drain the meatballs on paper towels.
  5. Serve warm with apricot sauce poured over top.  Keep the meatballs hot in a small crockpot set on warm, if desired.

Making the Apricot Sauce

  1. Place the apricot jam, apple cider vinegar, sugar, pureed pineapple, paprika, and garlic salt in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.  Stir well, then reduce the heat to medium.
  2. Make a slurry to thicken the sauce by mixing the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of water until the cornstarch has dissolved.  Pour the slurry into the sauce, whisking constantly.
  3. Bring the sauce to a boil, whisking constantly until the sauce has thickened.  You'll feel a bit of resistance on the bottom of the saucepan as it begins to thicken.  Taste and adjust seasonings, if desired.
  4. Pour half of the sauce over the meatballs, stirring gently to thoroughly coat each meatball.  Pour the other half of the sauce in a serving bowl to use with cooked rice.
  5. Serve both the sauce and meatballs warm.


  • This recipe makes 45 medium meatballs or 80 mini meatballs.
  • Serve the apricot sauce separately, if you have picky eaters.
  • For easy serving, keep them warm in a crockpot with toothpicks nearby.
  • Need to make this way in advance?  Flash freeze on a tray then place in zip top bag and freeze for up to 2 months, without the sauce.
  • Category: Appetizer
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: tangy hawaiian meatballs, polynesian meatballs, hawaiian meatballs from scratch