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Sweet and Sour Tempeh Meatballs

  • Author: Allison
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Diet: Vegan


Asian-inspired tempeh meatballs topped with addictive homemade sweet and sour sauce! The perfect hearty and high-protein vegan main dish. 



Tempeh Meatballs

  • 2 tbsp ground flax plus 5 tbsp water 
  • 500 grams organic tempeh (1 standard block is 250 grams, so you will need 2 blocks of tempeh)
  • 1 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • Pinch of chili flakes
  • Pinch each fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil 
  • 1 tbsp tamari (I used reduced sodium tamari)
  • 1/2 tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce (I recommend Wizard’s brand or Whole Foods 365 brand) 
  • 1 tbsp sriracha (regular hot sauce such as Frank’s also works)
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds

Sweet and Sour Sauce

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, minced 
  • Pinch each sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup water, divided 
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar (can sub apple cider vinegar)
  • 3 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 2 tbsp tamari
  • 6 tbsp ketchup 
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 10-oz can pineapple chunks, juice reserved 
  • 2 tbsp arrowroot starch 

For serving 

  • Cooked rice (enough to serve 4) 
  • Steamed broccoli or kale (enough to serve 4) 


  1. Make the tempeh meatballs: First, make the flax egg. In a small bowl, whisk together the flax and water and set aside for a couple minutes to thicken. Place all of the remaining meatball ingredients in a food processor fitted with the S blade and add the flax egg. Pulse until everything is nicely minced and the mixture holds together when rolled into a ball. 
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll the tempeh mixture into 16 evenly sized balls and place on the baking sheet as you go. Bake for 25 minutes. 
  3. Make the sweet and sour sauce: Warm the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Saute until nicely browned, 8-10 minutes. 
  4. Add 3/4 cup of water, the rice vinegar, coconut sugar, tamari, ketchup, ginger, and 1/2 cup of the reserved pineapple juice to a medium saucepan. Bring to a low simmer over medium heat. 
  5. In a small dish, whisk together the remaining 1/4 cup of water and arrowroot starch to form a slurry. 
  6. Add the contents of the medium saucepan to the onions and garlic in the skillet. Whisk in the arrowroot starch slurry, followed by the pineapple chunks. Shortly after adding the arrowroot, the sauce should thicken. (At this point, keep the sauce warm, but be careful not to overheat it, as this could cause the arrowroot to break down and lose its thickening power.)
  7. For serving, you have a couple of options. You can either add the meatballs to the sauce, as pictured, or you can plate the meatballs and spoon the sauce over individual portions. Either way, I recommend serving these meatballs on a bed of rice, with some steamed broccoli or kale on the side. 🙂  


I have not tried swapping out the tempeh for any other protein, but if you are intolerant to soy, I have a feeling that 3 cups of cooked black beans, chickpeas, or kidney beans could be substituted. You can also swap out the tamari for coconut aminos, but you will have to add more salt, since coconut aminos are much lower in sodium than tamari. 

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Category: Supper
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: Chinese American

Keywords: vegan sweet and sour meatballs, tempeh meatballs, healthy sweet and sour sauce