Gluten Free Hawaiian Meatballs

Gluten Free Hawaiian Meatballs Recipe

It’s been cold ’round here and I wanted to bring a little sunshine to the dinner table. What better way than with tropical flavors in a hearty dish?

These gluten-free Hawaiian Meatballs are a cinch to prepare, use mostly pantry items and liven up these dreary, dark days of winter. I spiced up the meatballs with a little dried ginger and garlic, browned them up well and then made a quick sauce with some canned pineapple, maraschino cherries and a bell pepper. It couldn’t be simpler and prep time was only about 10 minutes and then about 25 minutes in the oven unattended.

I served my Hawaiian meatballs on a bed of rice which I had flavored up with some more dried ginger and garlic plus a little dried parsley. It was a lovely tropical dinner that brought a little warmth and sunshine into an otherwise dismal day.

Want a fun and filling snack for watching a football game (I hear there is one coming up)? Make the meatballs smaller and serve them with toothpicks.

I like my meatballs juicy and tender and there are a few tricks for achieving this.

  • Do not compact the meatballs too much when shaping, lightly roll them into the size you want but don’t squeeze them.
  • Brown them really well. You know how when you sear a steak it keeps the juices inside? Same principal here, get them nice and brown and they will stay moist when you finish cooking them.
  • Use an appropriate sized ice cream scoop to shape them if you have one, this ensures all the meatballs are the same size. If you don’t have the right sized ice cream scoop then no worries, just eyeball them.
  • Meatballs need something to bind them so they don’t fall apart. I used gluten-free bread crumbs in this recipe but if you don’t have any then just put a couple slices of slightly toasted gluten-free bread, bagels or even waffles in the blender and grind them up. You can even use left over or instant rice in place of the bread crumbs.
  • A bit of milk helps keep the meatballs moist, any kind of milk will do even the dairy free milk of your choice.
  • Grating in a little onion not only flavors the meat well but also adds moisture.  If you don’t have a grater then mince the onion finely.

Gluten Free Hawaiian Meatballs

4.34 from 3 votes
Gluten Free Hawaiian Meatballs
Print Recipe

Gluten Free Hawaiian Meatballs Recipe

Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time35 mins
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American, Hawaiian
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 526kcal
Author: Gluten Free & More


  • pounds ground beef
  • 1/2 small white onion – grated
  • ½ cup gluten-free breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup milk (any kind – dairy free is fine)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon dried ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 (20 ounce can) pineapple chunks in juice
  • ¼ cup cornstarch or arrowroot powder
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons wheat-free, gluten-free soy sauce
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup maraschino cherries
  • 1 green pepper – cut into 1 inch pieces
  • Optional garnishes:
  • 1 green onion – thinly sliced on a diagonal
  • Sesame seeds


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Combine the first 8 ingredients and mix well but lightly. Shape into golf ball sized balls.
  • In a large oven proof skillet heat the oil over medium high heat. Brown the meatballs well on all sides. While the meatballs are browning, prepare the sauce.
  • Drain the juice from the pineapple chunks, reserving the juice. Add water to the juice to make 1 cup of liquid. Add the cornstarch to the liquid and whisk well. Put the mixture in a medium sauce pan with the vinegar, soy sauce and brown sugar. Bring to a boil stirring constantly and then continue to boil for 1 minute or until the sauce thickens. Add the drained pineapple chunks, cherries and green pepper. Stir well.
  • When all the meatballs have been browned, drain off the oil, add the sauce and put in the oven, uncovered for 25 minutes.


Nutrition Facts
Gluten Free Hawaiian Meatballs Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 526 Calories from Fat 270
% Daily Value*
Fat 30g46%
Saturated Fat 14g70%
Cholesterol 82mg27%
Sodium 428mg18%
Potassium 425mg12%
Carbohydrates 40g13%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 27g30%
Protein 21g42%
Vitamin A 135IU3%
Vitamin C 17mg21%
Calcium 73mg7%
Iron 2.7mg15%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the blog owner’s. This blog accepts free manufacturers’ samples and forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation. Affiliate links may be included in this post.

Disclaimer: All nutrition facts on Gluten Free & More are meant only as a guide and may differ depending on product brands used or ingredient substitutions. Some errors may occur, so you are encouraged to confirm the recipe’s ingredient and nutrition suitability for your own diet.
Have you tried this recipe? Give it a star rating and let us know your thoughts in the Ratings & Reviews section below.
Tags: Cherries Dairy Free Football Hawaiian Meatballs Pineapple
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  1. yum carol – never thought about this flavour combo before – will try it out!

  2. Donna
    January 30, 2011

    Oh my, this looks wonderful, I know my family will enjoy this.

  3. Pingback: Gluten Free and Dairy Free Menu with Recipes- January 31, 2011 | Gluten Free-Dairy Free Recipes | The W.H.O.L.E. Gang

  4. January 31, 2011

    I love pineapple, it’s very summery indeed. Yummm…

  5. Joy
    January 31, 2011

    Love the tips on how to make moist, tender meatballs and the rest of the recipe sounds great too! Thanks for sharing.

  6. February 1, 2011

    Yum! These look to die for, I absolutely love anything with pineapple! I’ve linked this recipe to My fav top 10 recipes from last week post. Thanks!

    ~Aubree Cherie

    1. February 2, 2011

      Thanks Aubree! I love you fav top 10 lists and am always so honored when you include a recipe of mine! I went and checked out each recipe from this post – all fab!

  7. Pingback: Gluten Free Super Bowl Recipes | Gluten Free-Dairy Free Recipes | The W.H.O.L.E. Gang

  8. Tammy
    February 3, 2011

    I made these the night before last and they were a hit with the whole family. My two young boys even loved them. Since I did not have GF~Breadcrumbs I substitured Rice Chex (pulsed in the food processor). They were fantastic. Thanks for sharing!

    1. February 3, 2011

      So glad you enjoyed them!

      1. Tammy
        February 4, 2011

        By chance have you ever frozen the meatballs?….. and if so and were successful what was your process.

        1. February 4, 2011

          I have yet to find gluten free frozen meatballs but I did make a huge batch for a large group that was not gluten free so for that I used frozen meatballs – I just tossed them with sauce and baked them. I skipped the browning but I did thaw them first. Everyone loved them (I didn’t tatse) and oh so easy! If gluten is not an issue or you can get gluten free frozen meatballs, by all means, go for it!


  9. Keri Cyrus
    February 21, 2011

    The dish looks so pretty! I like it so much. It looks so appetizing. Thanks a lot for this one. I would love to try it.

    1. February 22, 2011

      Thank you!

  10. Linda
    February 25, 2011

    Wonderful recipes, thank you.
    However, I’m sure you mean to say “dairy free milk”, not “diary free”.

    1. February 25, 2011

      Yes I did – thank you! Try as I do I just can’t seem to catch every typo and I honestly do appreciate it when my readers let me know! It is fixed now.

  11. June 22, 2013

    Love pineapple and these sound easy and delicious. Thanks Carole.

  12. AmandaonMaui
    July 18, 2013

    Holy moly, these were good! I poured a little bit of the marischino cherry juice into my sauce as it thickened up on me very quickly. I thought the cherries were a little too sweet in the dish. I think I’d use less and cut them up smaller. I went ahead and halved them for my first try of this recipe. I think this sauce is ridiculously good, and that it would go well over chicken, tofu, tempeh, or just about anything. Haha. It reminded us of Chinese takeout Sweet and Sour.

    1. CarolKicinski
      July 19, 2013

      So happy you liked it! Thanks for reporting back :)

  13. Pingback: Weekly Gluten-Free Menu Plan -- Hawaiian Food

  14. Jodi
    January 30, 2022

    My family loved this. I cut the recipe in half because there were only three of us. But they were sad there weren’t any leftovers. Thank you for the recipe.

  15. Linda
    July 19, 2022

    Can they be made ahead & re heated?

    1. Gluten Free & More
      July 20, 2022

      Hi Linda! Yes, they can. I’d suggest eating within 3 days.

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