Gluten-Free Sweet & Sour Meatballs

Serves 10

The meatballs you are probably used to having on game days contain breadcrumbs and include white sugar or high-fructose corn syrup in the sauce. This grain-free version uses almond meal or coconut flour to bind the meatballs and natural sweeteners to flavor the sauce. Keep the meatballs warm in a slow cooker throughout the day so your guests can enjoy them until the game ends.

Reprinted with permission from Danielle Walker’s Against All Grain Celebrations: A Year of Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, and Paleo Recipes for Every Occasion by Danielle Walker, copyright © 2016. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. 

Photography credit: Erin Kunkel © 2016

Available for purchase on Amazon.


  • Sauce Ingredients
  • 3 cups tomato puree
  • ¾ cup unsweetened pineapple juice
  • 1/3 cup light-colored raw honey
  • 1/3 cup coconut aminos
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1½ teaspoons fine sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • Meatball Ingredients
  • 2 small sweet onions, quartered
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup almond meal, or 2 tablespoons coconut flour
  • 2 pounds ground beef, chicken, turkey or pork
  • 1 tablespoon cold-pressed sesame oil
  • 1½ teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt


Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Make the sauce first by combining the tomato puree, pineapple juice, honey, coconut aminos, tomato paste, vinegar, mustard, salt, ginger and onion powder in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes, or until thickened.

Meanwhile, make the meatballs. Pulse the onion in a food processor until finely minced. Add the eggs, almond meal, beef, sesame oil, ginger, and sea salt and pulse until fully combined. Roll the meat mixture into 3 dozen bite-size meatballs. Space the meatballs evenly on two rimmed baking sheets and bake for 12 minutes, turning the meatballs once halfway through, until browned and cooked through.

Once the sauce has thickened, transfer it and the meatballs to a slow cooker set to low. Cover until ready to serve.

Make it ahead: The sauce and meatballs can be cooked up to 3 days in advance. Store them separately so the pineapple enzymes don’t break down the meat. The morning of the Big Game, combine them in a slow cooker and set it to low to reheat. To freeze ahead, cool the cooked meatballs and sauce separately in the refrigerator, then place each in an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and reheat on the stove over medium-low heat, or place them in a slow cooker on low heat until heated through, about 2 hours.

Tip: If using poultry, select dark meat to keep these meatballs moist and flavorful.