Brighten up your traybake game with these Easy Hawaiian Meatballs. Think sweet meets savoury with tropical, BBQ and Asian flavours. Using shop-bought meatballs instead of homemade, it’s a breeze to pull together and bakes in just 20 minutes. My kids love meatballs (most kids do!) and this is one of their favourite ways to eat them.
The sauce for this traybake is my version of a Hawaiian Huli Huli Sauce, which traditionally is a mix of soy sauce, brown cane sugar, garlic, ginger, ketchup and pineapple juice. In Hawaii it is often used as a marinade for barbecuing meats.
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The Stars of my Easy Hawaiian Meatballs
To make these Easy Hawaiian Meatballs we are going to use shop-bought beef meatballs. I love homemade meatballs, but to make this meal work for weeknights, we need to cheat a little. Go for 24 pack or the equivalent pack weight, which should be between 600g-700g / 1.32lb-1.54lb. Check the meatballs ingredients, if it says pepper has been added, just bear that in mind when you come to add pepper to the cook.
If you did want to make your own meatballs, just add a 500g / 1.1lb pack of mince meat to a mixing bowl, add an egg, some salt and pepper and mix well together with your hands. Then roll into balls no more than 1 ½ inch in diameter.
A medium size pineapple will be perfect. If you have a large one, that’s fine, just hold some back. Make sure the pineapple is ripe, sniff the bottom and if it smells like sweet pineapple it’s ready to use. Dice into roughly 1 inch cubes. You can watch my video for the best way to do that.
The BBQ Sauce
In Hawaii they traditionally use ketchup for their Huli Huli sauce, but I have switched it up a little and used BBQ sauce instead. You can use a classic BBQ sauce, but you could go for a naturally sweetened option if you prefer that for your family.
The Soy Sauce
For this Easy Hawaiian Meatballs recipe we are going to use reduced-salt soy sauce. It’s not the end of the world if you use regular soy sauce, the meal will be more salty though, so I wouldn’t recommend adding in any additional salt.
Traditionally, Huli Huli Sauce is made with fresh grated ginger, but for speed on weeknights I recommend using ground ginger. I have included the quantity for fresh grated ginger in the recipe too, incase you have the time for it.
Making my Easy Hawaiian Meatballs
Watch me make my Easy Hawaiian Meatballs step-by-step here, before or as you cook or jump straight down to the recipe.
These Easy Hawaiian Meatballs also make a great meal for busy weekends, as everything can be prepped ahead of time and then just tossed together in your roasting pan when it’s time to cook. The pineapple and red peppers (bell) can be prepped and refrigerated in a covered bowl together. The sauce ingredients can also be assembled together in a bowl, covered and chilled.
Easy Hawaiian Meatballs Cooking Tips
You are going to need to use your largest roasting tray or sheet pan for these Easy Hawaiian Meatballs. Start by mixing the sauce together in the pan using a silicone brush and then add in the meatballs. You’ll want to toss them in the sauce until they are fully coated. Then add in the pineapple and red pepper (bell), tossing them through the sauce briefly. Next, level everything out into an even layer. Transfer to the oven and bake for 20 mins. Once you remove the pan you’ll need to stir everything together, using a silicone spoon, so the meatballs are thoroughly coated in the sauce once again before serving.
Kids Cook Too
This is a great recipe to get younger children cooking. They can help measure out the sauce ingredients and toss everything. Just make sure they wash their hands very well before and after touching raw meat.
Feed a Crowd
If you’d like these Easy Hawaiian Meatballs to feed more mouths, and you have two extra large roasting pans, I would recommend making two batches in parallel.
Storing My Easy Hawaiian Meatballs
You can store leftovers in an air-tight container or resealable food bag in the fridge for up to 3 days (cook day + 2). You can also freeze them, just defrost for 24 hours in the fridge and reheat in the microwave, stirring halfway, until steaming hot all the way through.
For more on safe food storage and reheating read here >
My Easy Hawaiian Meatballs are diary and nut-free. If you are on an egg-free diet, make sure you buy meatballs that don’t contain egg. You can make my Easy Hawaiian Meatballs gluten-free, just sub the soy sauce for a tamari soy sauce and use a gluten-free BBQ sauce.
Adapting My Easy Hawaiian Meatballs For Your Family
Eating together is beneficial for families of all ages and stages, for a multitude of reasons; nutritional, behavioural, psychological and for healthy family functioning. This section will show you how to tweak this recipe for sharing with a weaning baby, toddler or a fussy eater, which will help make it easier to eat together as a family.
Keeping Picky Eaters Happy
The sweetness of this sauce and the pineapple should help this meal appeal to the fussiest of eaters.
See more from me on fussy eaters here >
Add On’s for Adults
Spring onions are optional for these Easy Hawaiian Meatballs, adding them as a topping cuts nicely through the sweetness. If you’d like to add some heat to this dish, it works well topped with some fresh, thinly sliced chilli for adults.
Making My Easy Hawaiian Meatballs Suitable for Baby Weaning
There are a few tweaks we can make to ensure these Easy Hawaiian Meatballs are baby weaning friendly. To start, I recommend you only coat their meatballs in the sweet sauce, leave their pineapple and peppers plain. To do this, use a second oven tray and coat the peppers and pineapple lightly in olive oil. Cook for the same amount of time.
How to Serve my Easy Hawaiian Meatballs to Babies & Toddlers
6 months +
Cut half a small red pepper (bell) and coat lightly in olive oil. Add to a separate oven tray. Chop one or two 1 inch thick slices of pineapple and again coat in oil and transfer to the second oven tray. Cook these alongside the traybake. When done, slice the pineapple lengthways into roughly ½ cm thick strips. Peel the skin off the red pepper half and serve whole. Slice their meatballs into thin slices. Serve on white rice.
9 months +
Dice their meatballs, red pepper and pineapple into pea-size pieces. Serve on or mixed into white rice.
12 months +
Everything can be chopped into small bite-size pieces and served with rice.
Add a couple of broken up meatballs to your stick blender pot or food chopper (if you have that one that purées) along with some pineapple, red pepper and a little rice and whizz into a purée. Add warm boiled water to loosen as needed.
Add some broken up meatballs, some red pepper and pineapple along with a little rice to your food chopper. Use short sharp pulses to finely chop, checking and adding a little warm no or low-salt beef stock or warm boiled water to loosen as you go.
Add just the meatballs, pineapple and peppers to your food chopper pot. Gradually pulse, just a few times then check the consistency. It should lumpy with small meatballs pieces. Once the consistency is right, empty it into their bowl and add some rice and stir through. If it needs loosening, add a little warm no or low-salt beef stock and a little sauce from the pan.
12 month +
Chop the meatballs, pineapple and red pepper into small bite-size pieces and serve alongside or mixed in with some rice.
I’ve also added these notes to the bottom of the recipe so you have them to hand when you come to cook. For more info on how I keep my family meals suitable for baby weaning, read here >
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Easy Hawaiian Meatballs
- Garlic press, optional
- 24 pack of beef meatballs 600g-700g / 1.32lb-1.54lb
- 2 small red peppers diced roughly 1 inch
- 1 medium pineapple diced roughly 1 inch
- 3 tablespoons soft brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons reduced salt soy
- 3 tablespoons BBQ sauce
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger / 1 tablespoon fresh ginger
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- Salt & pepper to taste no extra pepper if meatballs are peppery
- White rice
- Sliced spring onions , optional
- Preheat the oven to 200ºc/180ºc fan/400ºf/gas 6.
- Add the BBQ sauce, brown sugar, ginger, garlic and salt & pepper into the centre of an extra-large roasting pan. Using a silicone brush, add in the soy sauce while stirring it all together.
- Then add the meatballs and using your hands, toss them through the sauce until completely coated.
- Then add in the red pepper and the pineapple and toss everything together briefly.
- Bake for 20 minutes (or longer - according to the meatball instructions). When done toss the meatballs in the sauce using a spoon and serve with rice.