Sweet and Sour Meatballs Recipe

Every Jewish home has a sweet and sour meatballs recipe. For some of us, it’s scribbled down on a soiled napkin. For others, it’s in our favorite kosher cookbook. And probably for most of us, it’s not written down anywhere but instead trapped in our grandmas’ heads.

That was the case for me, until a couple of years ago when my mom and I went on a mission to make a family cookbook. For hours, we trailed my grandma around the kitchen with measuring cups, paper, a pen, and lots of patience, and attempted to document one of our family’s favorite recipes.

We are so happy we did! It’s absolutely delicious. Tender meatballs, chicken wings (my family’s twist on the classic!), and that heavenly sweet and sour sauce.

Let’s talk about that sauce for a minute–it’s the epitome of a Jewish classic. It shows up in our meatballs, stuffed cabbage, and brisket. It’s the perfect combination of onion, garlic, tomato sauce, sugar, and lemon juice (for my family, at least). It’s slightly sweet, slightly tangy, and totally delicious.

Now whenever I want to make sweet and sour meatballs, or my sister wants to, or my aunt wants to, we all pull out our copy of the family cookbook and can replicate Grandma’s recipe perfectly. We still can’t get my grandma to use her copy of the cookbook, but I guess she doesn’t need to be reminded of the dishes she’s been making us for years. Thanks Grandma.

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Chicken and Sauce

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 pounds chicken wings

2 (8-ounce) cans tomato sauce

1 can chicken broth

3/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper


1 1/2 pounds ground beef

1 large red potato, peeled and grated

1/4 large onion, grated

1 clove garlic, minced

2 eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

juice of 1 large lemon


Heat vegetable oil in a 5 quart sauce pan over medium heat.  Add diced onion and garlic.  Sauté until onions are soft, 5-6 minutes.

Add chicken, tomato sauce, chicken broth, sugar, salt, and pepper.  Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

While the chicken is simmering, make the meatballs.  In a large bowl, add ground beef, grated red potato, grated onion, garlic, eggs, salt, and pepper.  Mix together until just combined.

Form one inch meatballs and drop into the simmering sauce.  Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.

Skim fat from top and discard.  Add lemon juice and simmer for an additional 30 minutes.  Serve over wide egg noodles.  Enjoy!

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