With just 8 ingredients, these easy vegan Waikiki meatballs are a perfect weeknight meal. Packed with protein, and kid friendly, they are sure to be a hit with your entire family!
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Vegan Waikiki Meatballs
In the beginning of March Irving and I did several scrambled grocery runs as we attempted to stock our pantry and freezer. I gave Irving instructions like “get wine” and “buy any gardein you can find.” Priorities. We were flexible—store stocks were unpredictable, and we really didn’t care what we had, as long as we had enough food. We’d figure out recipes later. Like one big giant game of Chopped. One of the items Irving brought home was frozen vegan meatballs. Lots of them. So many meatballs.
What are Waikiki Meatballs?
I learned how to make Waikiki Meatballs when I was a girl scout in the 4th grade. We had a cooking badge to earn, and I remember standing in my friend Kathryn’s kitchen, making meatballs. I suppose they are Hawaiian inspired, though I’m not sure they are an authentic dish! But they have a bright tropical flavor, studded with pineapple! Think sweet and sour. So yummy! Serve them up with some rice and you’ve got a perfect protein packed, kid approved weeknight meal!
Making Vegan Meatballs
I did attempt to make these meatballs from scratch….once. They were such a pain, and ended up being a big skillet full of lentil scramble. Vegan meatballs are hard to get to stick together, and to be honest…I just didn’t feel like taking the time to make them work. How’s that for honest? I knew that I wanted to recreate them in an easier way….for, say, an easy weeknight meal?
Pantry Staple Recipe
I suppose freezer meatballs aren’t exactly a pantry staple? More like a freezer staple. But something you might have on hand. Please don’t store them in your pantry. Pair with an onion and a can of pineapples and you are in business!
MORE PANTRY STAPLE RECIPES YOU WILL LOVE
- Instant Pot Arroz con Gandules (Pantry Staple Recipe)
- Chickpea Stir Fry with Pineapple (15 Minute Meal!)
- Pumpkin Curry Soup
- Oil Free Vegan Refried Black Beans — Frijoles de Cabo
- Chickpea Salad with Lemon and Shallots + a Trip to Brooklyn
- Vegan Pasta Bolognese with Lentils (Pantry Staple Recipe)
- Vegan Instant Pot BBQ Meatballs (+ stovetop instructions)
Let’s make Vegan Waikiki Meatballs!
Are you ready? You’re less than 30 minutes away from this easy weeknight meal! Be sure to leave me a note in the comments below and let me know how you like this childhood favorite!
Vegan Waikiki Meatballs
For the Meatballs:
- 1 Tablespoon neutral cooking oil (I use avocado oil)
- 1 large red onion sliced
- 1 can (15 ounces) pineapple (juice reserved for sauce, see notes)
- 2 bags (~25 ounces) frozen meatballs (I used gardein 12 ounce bags, I also really like Trader Joe's meatless meatballs)
For the Sauce:
- 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
- 3 Tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 Tablespoon cold water
- Pour the oil into a large skillet and warm over medium heat.
- Add the onions to the pan and cook for a few minutes, until beginning to brown.
- Drain the pineapples and reserve the juice for the sauce.
- Add the pineapples to the skillet and stir.
- Add the meatballs to the pan, and allow to brown on medium low heat while you quickly make the sauce.
- Mix the reserved pineapple juice, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, and ginger together.
- Separately mix the cornstarch and cold water into a slurry. Add to the sauce and mix well.
- Pour the sauce over the meatball mixture and stir well.
- Place a lid over the meatballs and allow to simmer in the sauce for about 10 minutes, or until fork tender.
- Remove the lid from the meatballs, and give a final stir. Ensure that the meatballs are heated all the way through.
- Serve over rice and enjoy!