Succulent Low-FODMAP Sweet-and-Sour Meatballs; Gluten-free, Dairy-free

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These low-FODMAP sweet and sour meatballs are one of the best dinners around.  These are tender, succulent, tangy and sweet low-FODMAP meatballs that can be prepared in the oven or a slow-cooker!

When I was a kid, my favorite dish for a festive meal was always sweet-and-sour meatballs. My cousin, Sandi, was famous for her recipe, and all of us kids loved them. Sadly, I later learned that her secret ingredient was grape jelly, which is high FODMAP.

I decided to make some modifications. After a few tries, I found success! This recipe delivers moist and juicy low-FODMAP meatballs with a sauce you can drench your low-FODMAP mashed potatoes, rice, or other side dish in. Hope you enjoy it as much as my family does!  Since there is no bread in the meatballs they may be suitable for Passover :).

You may also love my low-FODMAP Brisket and low-FODMAP Italian Meatballs recipes.  Or check out over 300 more low-FODMAP Recipes on the blog.  We also have a low-FODMAP Best Family Meals Collection for more inspiration.  IBS-friendly!

Be healthy and happy,

Rachel Pauls, MD

Succulent Low-FODMAP Sweet & Sour Meatballs Recipe; Gluten-free, Dairy-free

While these recipes have not been tested, a single serving should be low FODMAP based on the ingredients

Serves 4

Prep time: about 30 minutes to mix ingredients,

Bake time 3 hours (for meatballs)

Bake: 300 F or slow-cooker on low

This can be made a day ahead; freezes well.


For meatball mixture:

  • 1 pound extra-lean ground beef
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1 & ¼ cup (about one small) grated potato
    • This recipe works BEST with the potato, as the moisture helps hold the balls together.  If you don’t have potato then you can substitute 1 cup low-FODMAP breadcrumbs,  but the texture of the meatballs will be more crumbly
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped

For sweet-and-sour sauce:

  • 8 tbsp. tomato paste (make sure it contains no added spices, onion or garlic)
  • 1 cup low-FODMAP chicken or low-FODMAP beef or bone broth (I make this at home and freeze it in batches)
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 tbsp. cornstarch or potato starch
  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 ½ cups brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. red wine


  • Combine ingredients for the meatballs; mix together by hand or in a food processor
  • Form loosely into balls

  • Place ingredients for sauce in slow-cooker or oven-safe casserole dish.
  • Add meatballs.
  • Bake or cook in slow cooker until tender:
    • About 3 hours in covered casserole dish
    • About 3 hours in slow-cooker on low
  • There is likely to be extra sauce, it can be saved for use in other meals, or used to top rice or potatoes!

  • So succulent and delicious!  These low-FODMAP Sweet and Sour Meatballs are the best you have ever had

Comments Rating 4.13 (8 reviews)

33 Responses

  1. so tasty! My 12 year old just started this diet and this is his favorite recipe so far! Going to try the sauce with chicken

    1. Thanks Melissa,
      Yes, they are definitely a sweet tasting meatball. We personally love the sauce over mashed potatoes as well. The nice thing about this recipe is you can personalize the amount of sugar. We appreciate your comments?

    1. Kamilla,
      Thanks for your question. Absolutely, you could substitute. Typically turkey and chicken lead to a slightly less juicy meatball, due to their leaner fat content. But they should still be delicious. Lucky for us, pure protein in the form of ground beef, poultry and fish is usually low-FODMAP as long as it doesn’t contain other fillers or spices 🙂
      Please check out our free low-FODMAP Happy Gut Guide to help answer more of your FAQ’s about the low-FODMAP diet!
      Have a great day!

  2. Yum! It was so easy to throw in a crock pot and let it do its work. Made it with brown rice and I will definitely be making it again!

    1. Sabrina-
      LOVE this! Thank you so much for sharing. We are so happy to hear from you!!
      You may be interested to know we are launching a COOKBOOK October 6, 2020. The Low-FODMAP IBS Solution Plan and Cookbook contains more than 100 low-FODMAP Recipes that can be easily prepared in 30 minutes or less! Check out our Products page for ways to order and get a BONUS FREE PDF with your purchase!

    1. Hi Caroline!
      Thanks for the feedback! They will become slightly crumbly but should not fall apart. Perhaps you did not form them quite tightly enough when you created the balls? They should be lightly packed but still formed. Is it possible they were overdone? Sorry that happened. Hope they work better next time 🙂

    2. Same as carolin

      Same as Caroline where the meatballs completely fell apart. It’s like there were too much breadcrumbs and dried the meat out. Even when mixing it seemed too much. Will just have to settle for mince/sauce and mash potato.

      1. Thanks Clayton,
        This recipe is probably best with the potato rather than breadcrumbs. We will modify the instructions, as potato is the original version.
        Have a good day!

  3. Question on lean meat

    First, thank you. I have suffered from IBS and lactose intolerance for, well, my whole life. I just learned about FODMAP and believe that I might finally get some relief by avoiding those FODMAP foods that you point out. As someone who has used onions and garlic in nearly every meal that I cook, I think I am now understand why I have had some many issues for so long.

    In my retirement, I have been become something of an aspiring chef. As such, I’ve learned that there are appropriate times for lean meat and times when it does not make sense. I would think that when making meatballs, lean meat is not appropriate, for both flavor and texture of the final product. The meatballs will hold together better with 85% lean ground beef, for example. Fat is not, in itself , unhealthy, at least in proper moderation. It is, in fact, essential to good nutrition, again in proper moderation. Is there a reason why you chose lean beef for this recipe that I am missing and in many of your other ones? I am completely open to the possibility that I just am not aware of an additional factor.

    Also, do you have lactose-free options? I see a lot of recipes with cheese. My experience has shown that I must avoid cheese and all other dairy products, even in small amounts. Perhaps I have an A1 issue and not just lactose, although A2 milk does not sit well for me either (although better than standard milk). Any amount of butter or cheese causes near instant issues, so going with just low FODMAP guidelines won’t suffice. Hard, aged cheese without renet is less of an issue, but much more difficult to come by and is not a common ingredient in any recipes. Cheddar is absolutely a problem for me in any quantity.

    1. Hi Dave,
      Thank you for pointing out the information about lean beef. We certainly prefer to use extra-lean in some of our cooking, but you are welcome to use lean beef instead. For many people with IBS, fat may be a trigger food, so we limit it when it does not impact the outcome of the final product. However, we are in agreement that food is meant to be enjoyed, as you will see if you take time to peruse the other recipes on the blog.
      As far as dairy-free options, we have many available on the blog (such as this one here, as you may note). Take your time to use our search button, or look at some of our low-FODMAP recipe lists: low-FODMAP Family Meals, low-FODMAP Slow-Cooker, low-FODMAP Chicken Dishes.
      We also wanted to share that we have a COOKBOOK available in the US, Canada, UK and Australia!
      THE LOW-FODMAP IBS SOLUTION PLAN & COOKBOOK is the ONE thing that will take you through the entire FODMAP journey and share more than 100 recipes that prep in 30 minutes or less! Click here for details on the BEST low-FODMAP cookbook available 🙂

    2. Really Good

      I’ve never had sweet and sour meatballs, but I decided to give these a try. They were very good. I made a few mild alterations, I used turkey and I added an egg because I worried that they might fall apart and they held together perfectly. I also used about double the vinegar and less sugar, plus a dash of soy sauce since it seemed like something was missing. Overall I was surprised that such a simple recipe made such a tasty dinner. I will be sure to make them again.

  4. Freezing?

    These were delicious. Do I freeze the meatballs raw and then thaw and cook in the slow cooker? Or cook everything together THEN freeze?

    1. Hi Sara,
      Thanks for the question! You can actually freeze these using both those options. Freeze when they are raw, then you can cook them when you are ready. Or you can freeze your leftovers! Note that if you do freeze them after cooking, the meatballs may fall apart slightly when you defrost. Either way they will be delicious. Good luck!

  5. What does the red wine do? If I don;t have that on hand, what substitutes well? Looking forward to trying it soon!

    Thank you

    1. Hi Jo,
      The red wine provides a depth of flavor with some acid notes and sweetness. This is a substitute for grape jelly in the original recipe (as grape jelly tends to be high-FODMAP). You could try cranberry juice, lemon juice or low-FODMAP chicken or beef broth instead but we don’t think it will taste quite the same. Good luck!

      1. I will be trying these soon, without the red wine as I’m actually allergic to red wine! My husband needs the low FODMAP diet though lol
        I’ll let you know how it turns out

    1. Sarah,
      Do you mean it was watery? If this is not thick enough then you likely did not combine the cornstarch properly, or have your crock pot at high enough heat for the sauce to thicken. You can always let the sauce cook longer with the lid off to allow the steam to evaporate. Hope it works better next time!

  6. They are okay

    The sauce is WAYYYYY to sweet. Absolutely gross. I will make again but going to seriously cut the amount of brown sugar. The meatballs for the most part held together but several did fall apart (I made it with potato). I may try pre-cooking them next time to see if that helps.
    3 stars due to sweetness and meatballs falling apart.

  7. Decent

    This recipe is alright, just not quite my cup of tea. I decided to use a cup of unpacked brown sugar, which I think is probably a good baseline and delivers a neutral sweetness. The only part of the dish that I don’t like is the carrot- but that just comes down to me not really liking them

    1. Hi Julie,
      We have not tried it with instant potatoes. The texture may not be as dense, and they could fall apart. Also, please make sure your product is low in FODMAPs. If you try it, let us know how they work!

    1. Hi Shawna,
      Thank you for your question. We have only made the meatballs as outlined in the recipe.

  8. These meatballs were delicious and were a hit at the party! They held together beautifully, but I did sauté them a bit first. There was far too much sauce though. Next time I will either double the meatball recipe or halve the sauce recipe.

    1. Fantastic! We love a ton of extra sauce for putting on other sides but can understand your plans. Stay in touch!

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