Go Back
+ servings
sweet and sour meatballs in white glass dish with parsley sprigs on the side

Sicilian Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Sicilian Sweet and Sour Meatballs consist of my mother's basic meatball recipe combined with a simple savory sauce of vinegar and sugar. Serve as antipasto or second course.
Course antipasto, Main Course
Cuisine Sicilian-Italian
Keyword sweet and sour meatballs, Sicilian sweet and sour meatballs
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 24 meatballs
Calories 157kcal


For the meatballs

  • 3 cups bread crumbs from day old bread crusts removed and torn into small pieces
  • 1 cup milk or combination of milk and water
  • 500 grams ground meat trio beef, pork and veal (just over 1 lb)
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmigiano and Pecorino cheese combination (or only or the other if you prefer)
  • 1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley plus extra for serving
  • 1 clove garlic finely minced
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • freshly ground pepper to taste

For the sweet and sour sauce

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion finely diced
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • freshly chopped parsley to garnish


For the meatballs

  • Place the bread crumbs in a medium sized bowl, pour milk over them and toss to combine. Set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and prepare a baking sheet by covering with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl combine the ground meat, cheese, parsley, garlic, eggs, olive oil, salt and pepper.
  • Squeeze excess milk from the bread crumbs and add to the meat mixture. Use your hands to combine all the ingredients.
  • Shape into approximately 24 meatballs and place on the prepared pan. Bake for 15 minutes, 

For the sweet and sour sauce

  • Meanwhile, in a large deep skillet heat the olive oil and sauté the onion until soft, 5-6 minutes, on medium heat. You don't want to brown the onions. Add red pepper flakes, optional.
  • In a small bowl stir together red wine vinegar and sugar. Add to the skillet and bring to a boil.
  • Add the baked meatballs to the sauce and carefully toss to coat. Lower to a simmer, loosely cover with a lid and cook for 10 minutes.
  • Transfer meatballs to a serving plate and spoon the sauce over them. Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley. .Serve hot or at room temperature.


  • Add raisins and pine nuts, very typical Sicilian ingredients, to your meatballs for extra flavor and texture.
  • Enjoy these meatballs hot or at room temperature.
  • Serve them as antipasto (appetizer) or second course along with a side vegetable.
  • Leftovers keep well refrigerated for up to 3 days.
  • Please note that the nutritional information provided is approximate and may vary according to exact portion size and ingredients used.


Calories: 157kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 26mg | Sodium: 244mg | Potassium: 118mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 105IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 81mg | Iron: 1mg