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 Jelly Turkey Meatballs
Sweet and sour jelly turkey meatballs. Easy to make and you can eat one serving and freeze the rest for another time.
1 lb. ground turkey
1/2 cup oatmeal, ground up in a mini-chopper (or use breadcrumbs)
2T apple cider
salt and pepper
Sweet and Sour Sauce
1 large can tomato sauce (the 15 oz size)
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 T chili sauce
2T unsweetened jam (I like blackberry or St. Dalfour Four Fruits)
1/4 tsp onion powder
2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
2 dashes Tabasco
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
To make the meatballs, combine turkey, egg, oatmeal (or bread crumbs), cider and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Use your hands to mix everything thoroughly.
Form the mixture into meatballs, about 2 inches in diameter. Place the meatballs in a shallow roasting pan or a cookie sheet.
Put the meatballs in the oven and bake for five minutes.
While the meatballs are cooking, start the sauce.
Combine all the sauce ingredients in a large saucepan. Stir to combine. When the meatballs are finished baking, remove them from the oven and set them down in a convenient spot.
Gently lift the meatballs out of the pan and place them into the pot of sauce.
Let the sauce simmer for 15 minutes until the meatballs are done. Taste the sauce and correct the seasoning (sweetness or sourness) as necessary.
Serve with rice or bread (for sopping up the sauce)
Check your tomato sauce to see if it has sugar or corn syrup. If it does, you may need to add more lemon juice.
I use all fruit jam (no added sweetener). Use more lemon, or less jam, if yours has sugar or added sweeteners.
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 and Easy Spicy Leftover Turkey Soup
Easy Leftover Turkey Soup Recipe
Cranberry Chipotle Turkey Enchilada
Easy Italian Meatball Recipe for One (this recipe calls for beef, but turkey would work just fine)