These Slow Cooker Sweet and Sour Lamb Meatballs are an easy, family-friendly way to enjoy global flavors -- even on your busiest weeknights!
As you have probably gathered by now, I love to create new and interesting recipes that nourish my family, that are simple to prepare, and that introduce my kids to a variety of tastes and cultures. We regularly enjoy meatballs, and I often include Asian-inspired dinners on our weekly meal plan. So when the American Lamb Board challenged me to develop a recipe that takes advantage of this fresh, nutritious protein, I knew just what I wanted to do!
Plus, you just gotta love an organization with a sense of humor! Check out these stickers that they sent me...definitely made me chuckle! "I Love Ewe," "Baaaaaad to the Bone," "Nice Chops," "Green Eggs and Lamb"...Puns are fun!
While lamb may not the first thing that comes to mind when planning a family dinner, it probably should be! With more than 82,000 family-owned sheep operations in nearly every U.S. state, American Lamb is local and available year round. The meat is high-quality, flavorful, and very tender. Plus, it lends itself really well to global flavors like Latin, Middle Eastern, Asian, and Mediterranean cuisine. That means that you can serve it in your favorite dishes, creating the perfect combination of international flavors with locally-sourced ingredients. A winning recipe!
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This dinner was a big hit in our house, as I suspected it would be. I love the ease of the slow cooker, Gibbs asked for seconds (and told me to make sure that I gave him a lot!), and Keith enjoyed the left-overs on hoagie rolls for lunch throughout the week. Best of all, you don't even have to sautee or bake the meat before it goes into the cooker. Just roll together the meatballs and place them straight in your Crock Pot! Keith was pleasantly surprised by how well they cooked -- not too dry or overdone, but moist, tender, and just right!
On this particular evening, we had a scheduled family photography session at 5:30 p.m. I knew that I would need dinner ready and waiting for us when we got home, so this was the perfect meal to leave simmering and warm on the counter. With some rice staying warm in the rice cooker, there wasn't much to do other than serve the plates when we returned! And believe me...that was more than enough. After trying to wrangle 3 little boys ages 11 months, 3, and 4, keep their "nice" clothes clean, and even get them to smile for a camera, I was EXHAUSTED!
If you can relate to our busy, hectic, and tiring schedule, then this is the recipe for you!
Slow Cooker Sweet and Sour Lamb Meatballs with Pineapple and Cashews
- 1 ½ lbs. ground lamb
- ½ cup Panko breadcrumbs
- 1 egg beaten
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
For Sweet and Sour Sauce:
- 2 carrots peeled and cut into 1-inch slices
- 1 20 ounce can pineapple chunks in juice
- 1 medium onion diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- ½ cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
- ½ cup packed brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon ginger
- ½ teaspoon curry powder
- ¼ cup mango chutney
- 1 medium red bell pepper cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1 medium green bell pepper cut into 1-inch chunks
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- ¼ cup water
- 1 cup roasted salted cashews
- 2 scallions sliced
- Hot cooked rice
- Drain pineapple, reserving juice. Place pineapple chunks in small bowl; cover and refrigerate.
- Place carrots, onion, and garlic in bottom of a 4.5 – 6-quart slow cooker.
- In a large bowl, use hands to gently combine meatball ingredients. Form meat mixture into balls (mine are usually slightly smaller than a golf ball).
- Place meatballs on top of vegetables in the slow cooker.
- In a separate bowl, mix soy sauce, ¼ cup of the reserved pineapple juice, brown sugar, ginger, curry powder, and mango chutney. Pour over meatballs.
- Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours.
- During last 30 minutes of cooking time, add pineapple and bell peppers. Increase to high heat setting.
- In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and water. During the final 10 minutes of cooking time, stir the cornstarch mixture into the slow cooker.
- Just before serving, add cashews to the slow cooker.
- Serve meatballs and sauce over rice. Top with scallions and additional cashews, if desired.
Looking for other delicious slow cooker recipes? Try these favorites (and PLUS you can substitute ground lamb in any of these recipes!):
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.