Pineapple Glazed Ham Balls

Where to begin with these? Hank and I got an inkling to do a more “retro” recipe, and somehow we ended up with ham balls. Pineapple glazed ham balls. Let’s just say the jokes were flying today, Hank being the boy’s boy that he is and never ceasing to look for opportunities to make me blush. What are ham balls? Meatballs, made with ham, ground pork, and in our version, bacon. Slathered with a sweet and sour glaze of pineapple juice, brown sugar, ketchup, mustard, and vinegar. (We were thinking about calling them “Hawaiian meatballs”, because they’re sort of like a meatball version of that classic Hawaiian pizza with pineapple and ham. But what if people in Hawaii don’t make meatballs like this? So, back to where we started.)

Before you go running for them thar hills, let me tell you that these ham meatballs are good. Really good. I wish we had thought of them in time for Super Bowl, they would have made a perfect appetizer for a big group of cheering football fans. There’s a reason pineapple and ham is a classic combination; it just works. By the way, we had a little leftover meatball mix and made some patties, sort of like a ham version of a pork burger. Terrific with the glaze. They would make great ham sliders with a little slice of pineapple on a bun.

Pineapple Glazed Ham Balls Recipe

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 20-60 meatballs, depending on the size.

Ingredients

Meatballs:

  • 1/4 pound bacon, diced
  • 1 pound ham, diced
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tbsp pineapple juice

Glaze:

  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp ketchup
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon corn starch mixed with 2 Tbsp cold water

Method

1 Preheat the oven to 350°F.

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2 Put the bacon and ham into a food processor and pulse briefly 3-4 times to chop fine. Do not purée. Place the mixture in a large bowl with the remaining meatball ingredients and mix well to combine. Using your hands, form meatballs anywhere from 1-inch to 2-inches in diameter. The smaller diameter meatballs will make for easier eating if you are making them for an appetizer for a party. Larger meatballs will work well for a main course.

3 Arrange the meatballs in a casserole pan and put in the oven for about 1 hour for 2-inch diameter meatballs, or 30-40 minutes for 1-inch diameter meatballs.These meatballs are pretty forgiving, but look for an internal temperature of about 165° or so.

4 Make the glaze when you put the meatballs in the oven. Mix all the ingredients except the corn starch in a small pot and bring to a boil. Whisk in the corn starch and simmer 1-2 minutes.

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5 Baste the meatballs once they have cooked for 20 minutes, then again at 40 minutes for larger meatballs or at 10 minutes and 20 minutes if you are making small meatballs, and then again at 5 minutes before they're done.

Serve by themselves as a party appetizer, or on pineapple rings.

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Links:

Ham and cheese rice balls from Culinary Kicks
Meatballs with peppers and pineapple from Ree, The Pioneer Woman

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26 Comments

  1. DessertForTwo

    I love the retro potluck recipes like this! Heard of porcupine balls? Wait, they might not be called that exactly. But it’s meatballs with raw rice in it, so that when you bake them the rice pokes out.

    Thanks for sharing, I bookmarked this for my next girls’ night!

  2. cooktestant

    Oh my goodness gracious! These look insanely awesome. I am not afraid to admit that I want a ham ball. If you don’t mind I would love to post a link to this on my blog. Thanks for sharing!

  3. angela

    This sounds so bad, it has to be good! I’m sure I’ll be serving these up before you know it and re-naming them “Couilles de Jambon au ananas”!

    Hi Angela. Exactemente! All you have to do is French-ify the name and voila, you have haute cuisine. ;-) ~Elise

  4. Sara

    These are a popular dish is Amish country around Easter. We make them a bit larger, so I’m familiar and have my own versions of the recipe. But the idea of the sliders, with pineapple on top! And maybe on those little Hawaiian sweet roles. Now THAT I gotta try

  5. Joanne D

    These look sooooo good – how about making a little kabob with meatball,pinapple and green pepper – perfect for my Daytona 500 party this weekend !

    Little kabobs would be perfect too! ~Elise

  6. marynn

    Joke all you want; these are simply delicious! My mother-in-law made them and we loved them almost as much as her peerless potato salad and I stupidly never got her recipe. When I asked my sister-in-law if she might know she recalls simply “cleaning everything out” and any hard copy is gone.

    So many thanks to you for this retro recipe. It’s on the plan for next week.

  7. Carroll

    My husband’s family has a beloved recipe for ham balls in a mysterious greasy sauce made with Campbell’s tomato soup. I tried them once back when I was trying to fit in with a new family but have managed to avoid them for 23 years. They are absolutely horrible. Maybe I’ll try these at the next gathering and see if I can turn them on to something new. These look delicious!

  8. Tempy

    These meatballs look amazing! Personally I love ham and pineapple dishes. My aunt used to make a great oven baked ham with pineapple rings that had the family talking for weeks at a time!. I cannot wait to try these babies out!

  9. marya

    Do you think this could work for a meatloaf instead of meatballs? I’m lazy and hate rolling out the meatballs. But it sounds delicious!

    Yes, but you may have to cook it longer. ~Elise

  10. lyn

    These look wonderful. Could I just use ham and omit the ground pork?

    You could try it. Let us know how it works out for you if you do. ~Elise

  11. JS

    These look great. I use baked ham leftovers with a similar glaze and pineapple chunks. My mom always called it “Hawaiian Ham”. I think I’d like these ham balls. I’m certainly going to try your glaze on my next batch of Hawaiian Ham.

  12. Psydad

    Wonderful – and I am Not a big Hawaiian Pizza fan either. The only trouble I had was with the glaze – was it supposed to thicken? Mine didn’t – but that didn’t stop it from tasting great! I added a teaspoon of ground ginger to the meat and to the glaze – and I also used BBQ sauce in place of the ketchup for a bit more zip. All in all, this Will be on my pot-luck list – Thanks again for a delicious and well written recipe.

    No, it doesn’t really thicken much. Glad you liked it! Great idea to add some BBQ sauce. ~Elise

  13. Tomoko

    Love meatballs!!! Fish meatballs, meat, vegi, anything small and round. But rolling up little ones take forever. Is there a tool you could recommend that could mass produce lots of mini meatballs?

    Can’t wait to try this one!

  14. Kevin

    I was born in Hawaii, and I’ve tried them. Now you know a Hawaiian who makes them and can now call them Hawaiian meat balls which sound better. LOL!

  15. Sun Jae

    I’m quite desperate as I really would like to try and make those, but it seems impossible to find dry mustard in Belgium :( Can I replace it with “normal” mustard, or is it better to ground some mustard seeds?

    As for the pineapple juice, is it just juice in bottle?

    Sorry for the silly questions, I started cooking not so long ago, before I was a “take away” expert :p

    Just use smooth Dijon mustard instead of ground mustard. The pineapple juice you can get either plain, from a jar or bottle, or the juice left in a can of pineapple rings. ~Elise

  16. Debbie in GA

    These look so good! The “ham” that the recipe calls for — are you talking ham that I buy at the deli for sandwiches? Should it be smoked, boiled, honey, etc.? Thanks!

    Whatever ham you like. ~Elise

  17. Juls

    I made these sunday night with my dad, and I put some away for lunch on monday:) ‘Course by the time I got to the fridge, they were all in my siblings’ lunch bags. great recipe! :)

  18. Rachel

    These were amazing. When I found and suggested it, my husband was initially dumbfounded, then fascinated, and after putting a pan of rather large meatballs in the oven, a little fearful. We enjoyed our meatballs with coconut rice and Hawaiian-style quick pickles. It was just fabulous. Thanks for a wonderful recipe!

  19. Kevin

    I made these for a potluck this past weekend. They were the first things to go! Everyone loved them. In the last 15 minutes of baking, I added canned pineapple chunks to the pan and basted them too. At the end, I put it all in a crock pot to take to the party. Great recipe! Thanks Elise!

  20. Penny Wolf

    I am making this recipe into a loaf for an Easter dinner for two. I think it sounds perfect!

    Your sliders would be great on those little Hawaiian buns.

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