sweet and sour jelly turkey meatballs

Sweet and Sour Turkey Meatballs

This recipe for sweet and sour turkey meatballs with jelly and chili sauce is comfort food that’s grown up and gone to the big city.

When I was a kid, my grandma used to make those classic grape jelly meatballs. Kind of sweet, but comforting and simple. As my tastes have gotten more sophisticated, I wanted something with more complex and “grownup” flavor: not quite as sweet, a little more sour, and with a bit of a spicy kick.

I replaced the grape jelly with no sugar strawberry jam (it’s sweetened only with juice, there’s no sugar or artificial sweetener), then added chili sauce, a bit of Tabasco and apple juice and got sweet and sour turkey meatballs.

My parents were visiting one day, and decided to stay for dinner. I had ground turkey and the rest of the ingredients in the fridge. I whipped up a batch of these, and I swear you’d think they’d never eaten before. Dad was sopping up the sauce with bread. Heck, he practically licked the plate! Maybe I should have called these “lick the plate clean sweet and sour meatballs.”

You make this recipe in two stages, first the meatballs, and then the sauce.  Put the meatballs in the oven for a few minutes to keep them from falling apart when you add them to the sauce.

Sweet and Sour Turkey Meatballs with Jelly and Chili Sauce Substitutions and Variations

  • Use beef instead of turkey
  • Replace the oatmeal with breadcrumbs
  • Try cranberry juice instead of apple cider (it will be a bit more tart)
  • Experiment with different jam flavors: strawberry, raspberry, four-fruit, sour cherry (you could even go back to good old grape)

Tools and Ingredients for This Recipe

St. Dalfour Strawberry Conserves

This jam (technically conserves) is sweetened only with juice. There’s no sugar and no artificial sweeteners. The other thing I like about it is that there aren’t any extra thickeners added (like maltodextrin) to bulk it up.

Black & Decker 2-Speed Food Chopper with 3-Cup Bowl

I’m not sure which I use more, this chopper or the immersion blender. If you make the recipe with oatmeal, this little gadget is great for grinding it up. It’s also good for chopping onions, potatoes, or whipping up a small batch of pesto. The bowl doubles as a storage bowl (it comes with its own lid).

OXO Good Grips Medium Cookie Scoop

Ever hear of a cookie scoop? I hadn’t, until recently. Ice cream sure, but not cookies. The more I think about it the more uses I come up with.

It would be great for meatballs, cookies, or the perfect scoop of tuna, egg, or potato salad. It has a soft handle that’s easy to grip (it was originally developed for someone with arthritis, but it works well for everyone). Dishwasher safe too.

More Turkey Recipes

quick spicy turkey soupQuick and Easy Spicy Leftover Turkey Soup

Not the usual turkey soup. This one is inspired by south of the border flavors with tangy lime,  spicy cayenne, and cool sour cream.


easy leftover turkey soupEasy Leftover Turkey Soup Recipe

If you prefer the more traditional route, try out this turkey soup. It’s packed with veggies, including potatoes, carrots and (don’t tell anyone) frozen veggies. Less chopping!


cranberry chipotle turkey enchiladaCranberry Chipotle Turkey Enchilada

Another south of the border inspired way to eat up all those leftovers.  This one is sweet, spicy, and quick too.


turkey pot pie for one personTurkey Pot Pie for One Person

Turkey, peas, and carrots, enrobed in a flaky all-butter crust.  And, this one is scaled down for one person.


2 thoughts on “Sweet and Sour Turkey Meatballs”

  1. I don’t see how much jam to use in your sweet and sour turkey meatball recipe.

  2. Hi Sandra,

    Oops! Sorry about that. It’s 2 tablespoons. I just updated the recipe. Thanks for spotting the mistake!

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