Mom’s Hawaiian BBQ Meatballs

Since my mom is here all week (YAY!) I thought it only fitting that I share another of her famous recipes – it’s been too long since a Mom guest post!  I think these meatballs are part of the reason Carl married me, thinking they would be a regular staple in his diet if he married into such a good recipe, and this post reminds me I should add them to the meal plan for when he’s back in town…

Take it away, Mom!


Way back in 1978, when I was considerably younger than I am now, I had a summer job in the city of Edmonton.  Having an older brother who worked for the city helped me to land a summer job as a ‘junior planner’, which basically meant that I spent the summer entering information and codes that I didn’t  understand into a computer that I didn’t really know how to use, but it paid well and I needed the money for university.  My memory of that time is a bit blurry except for the fact that I missed my boyfriend (now my hubby) in Ontario and couldn’t wait for the summer to be done.  The words from “See You in September” by the Beach Boys (or whoever it was with the high voices) took on a whole new meaning.

But I didn’t spend the whole summer pining.  I also used my time wisely and collected some of the best recipes ever, some from my sister-in-law (I hope you’ve tried her bean salad!) and this one for Hawaiian BBQ Steak from a cookbook that had been put together by the Planning Department of the City of Edmonton as a fundraiser of some kind.  I would love to give credit where credit is due for this recipe but, even back in 1978, there was no name of someone that I could call and thank for a delicious recipe that I have made so often it is one of the only recipes imprinted in my brain’s limited memory.

Hawaiian BBQ Meatballs with Rice

The original recipe called for 3 lbs of round steak, cut into small pieces.  If you have cooked round steak, you know that it has to be done low and slow, preferably in lots of juice/sauce of some kind, or it will be dry, chewy and apt to give you the hiccups.  In this recipe it comes out tender and delicious.  This also works really well with stewing beef, which again usually needs lots of slow simmering to get chewable.  I have also used this recipe to cook chicken, pork, and cocktail wieners, which, when cooked with some meatballs, make a great slow cooker party food.

This version is my husband’s favourite way of having it…with meatballs.  While I used to always make my own meatballs from scratch, and have even been known to buy bulk packages of hamburger and mass produce and freeze the little suckers, I now use frozen meatballs.  Sorry, don’t hate me because I’m lazy.  They are so inexpensive when they are on sale, and so handy to have when I forget to thaw something for dinner and…excuses, excuses.  Julia Child always taught cooks to ‘never apologize’ so I will stop now.

For this recipe I used about 24-30 meatballs.  The recipe does multiply well though if you need to make a larger quantity. And it can also be prepared ahead in the morning and left to cook in your slow cooker.  This is especially nice with the tougher cuts of meat.  I like to serve it over rice.  Plain rice is fine because the sauce is delicious on it, but I like to add a little green onion, chopped peppers and a splash of soya sauce to the rice just to make it pretty.

Hawaiian BBQ Meatballs with Rice

Pretty food is important too. Enjoy!

Hawaiian Barbecue Meatballs
Total time
Saucy sweet and sour meatballs perfect for an appetizer or served over rice as an entree. This sauce is also delicious on pork, steak, or stewing beef, and can be prepared in the slow cooker or on the stove.
Recipe type: Appetizer; Entree
Serves: 4-6
  • 24-30 uncooked (frozen is fine) meatballs (or your choice of meat cut into small pieces or cubes)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 can (398 mL/14 oz) crushed pineapple, with juice
  1. Mix all sauce ingredients (everything except the meat) in large casserole dish. Add meatballs, or your choice of meat, and stir in.
  2. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 1- 1½ hours. (Precooked meatballs, if using, will be done in an hour.) Uncover for last 15 minutes of cooking to help thicken sauce. Delicious served over rice.
  3. Alternatively, combine all ingredients in slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours.




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