Sweet and Sour Ground Beef

6 Servings
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes

Sweet and Sour Ground Beef is a delicious dinner made with bell peppers, ketchup, soy sauce, and pineapple juice. 

If you’re looking for something to make for a quick weeknight meal that doesn’t taste like a quick weeknight meal, you should try these recipes for Sweet Chili Chicken, Beef Chow Fun, and Dynamite Shrimp, as well as this one for Sweet and Sour Ground Beef. The prep time is quick, the directions are easy to follow, and you can have everything cooked and ready to eat in about 15 minutes.

Sweet and Sour Ground Beef in serving bowl

How often do you have ground beef on hand, or in the freezer? It is such an easy meat to find and to work with. So many readers are often left wondering what else they can do with their ground beef, other than their typical home recipes they’re used to making. Sweet and Sour Ground Beef is a great option!

This dish has been an Asian American favorite that goes all the way back to the 1800s. This version of the classic dish is fast and easy, and you don’t need a lot of bells and whistles for it. There’s no need for a slow cooker, long marinating times, or complicated mixtures of ingredients. The recipe calls for pineapple tidbits and ketchup to get the traditional sweet flavor and rice wine vinegar to give it that signature sour note.

Sweet and Sour Ground Beef ingredients

More Asian Recipes

How to Make Sweet and Sour Ground Beef

  • Prep: Cut your veggies and place your pan on the stove.
  • Cook the Meat and Veggies: Brown ground beef with onion and green pepper. Then drain off any grease.
  • Cook the Sauce: Add remaining ingredients except for rice. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.
  • Serve: Serve over hot cooked rice of your choice.

Frequently Asked Questions About Sweet and Sour Ground Beef

Why should I make Sweet and Sour Ground Beef instead of steak, chicken, or pork?

Ground Beef is very easy to work it, easy to find, and usually reasonably priced. It also cooks fast for a weeknight meal, making it a great choice for this and other Asian style dishes.

Can Sweet and Sour Ground Beef be made ahead?

It is very easy to mix the sauce ahead of time and the next day cook your meat and veggies and pour the sauce in. You can also make the entire recipe ahead of time, then reheat it when ready to serve. It reheats so fast in the microwave, or on the stovetop.

Sweet and Sour Ground Beef in skillet

Variations on Sweet and Sour Ground Beef

  • Vinegar: If you can’t find or don’t want to use rice wine vinegar, you can use white vinegar or apple cider vinegar. Keep in mind that white vinegar and apple cider vinegar have very different flavors from rice wine vinegar, so the general flavor will be unique.
  • Veggies: You can add in extra veggies, like chopped green onions, bok choy, celery, and pretty much anything else you’d like to try. Make sure that you dice up the vegetables and add them into the dish early enough to cook them through without losing their crisp texture.
  • Meat: Are there any Sweet and Sour Pork fans among your family or friends? Try this recipe using ground pork instead of beef. You could also easily substitute ground chicken or turkey for the ground beef. Another option is to go meatless with your favorite ground meat substitute.
  • Spices: Try adding some red pepper flakes, paprika, sesame seeds, or a dash of cumin to play with the flavors of the dish without having to start from scratch. Stir them in well to thoroughly coat the ingredients and avoid forming pockets of spice.
Sweet and Sour Ground Beef in serving bowl

Serving Ideas for Sweet and Sour Ground Beef

  • Lettuce Wraps: Sweet and Sour Ground Beef is usually served as a main course but you can combine it with lettuce leaves to make a delicious appetizer with all of the flavor of a main dish.
  • Noodles: You can also serve it up over egg noodles or rice noodles for a gluten-free option. Serve it with an extra scoop of sauce over the top to coat the noodles.
  • Sandwiches: Another option is to cook up the Ground Beef, veggies, and pineapple, then serve them on some toasted buns to make delicious Sweet and Sour sandwiches.

Why You Should Make Sweet and Sour Ground Beef at Home

Sweet and Sour dishes are easy to find at local restaurants, but making them at home is extra special. Once you try it you’ll see how easy it is. Not to mention, how often are you or other family members left picking things out of your dish like a vegetable you just don’t like? When you make it yourself you can customize your ingredients to get it exactly how you like it. That includes adjusting the sauce to make it a little more sweet by adding some sugar, or sour by adding more vinegar.

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How Long is Sweet and Sour Ground Beef Good?

  • Serve: You should never leave your Sweet and Sour Ground Beef out at room temperature for longer than about 2 hours. After the 2 hour point, the ground beef won’t be fit to eat anymore.
  • Store: If you seal up your leftovers in an airtight container, like a bag or plastic wrap, they’ll stay good in the fridge for up to 3 days before they start to get weird.
  • Freeze: Leftover Sweet and Sour Ground Beef is good frozen in a sealed container for up to 6 months before you need to throw it out. Always make sure to let the ground beef cool down to room temperature completely before storing it.

When is Ground Beef Safe to Eat?

Ground beef is safe to eat once it has completely cooked through, according to the USDA’s official website. Make sure you test it with a probe thermometer and the temperature reaches 160 degrees F (71.1 degrees C). Ground beef is not a protein that you should eat undercooked, due to the dangers of Salmonella and E. coli.

Sweet and Sour Ground Beef in serving bowl

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Sweet and Sour Ground Beef

Sweet and Sour Ground Beef is a delicious dinner made with bell peppers, ketchup, soy sauce and pineapple juice.
Yield 6 Servings
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Dinner
Cuisine Asian
Author Sabrina Snyder


  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 1/2 yellow onion , cut into 1/2" chunks
  • 1/2 green bell pepper , cut into 1/2" chunks
  • 1/2 red bell pepper , cut into 1/2" chunks
  • 1/2 cup  ketchup
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice
  • 1 cup pineapple chunks


  • Brown ground beef with onion and green pepper.
  • Drain off any grease.
  • Add remaining ingredients except rice.
  • Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.
  • Serve over hot cooked rice.


Calories: 345kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 77mg | Sodium: 836mg | Potassium: 783mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 20g | Vitamin A: 823IU | Vitamin C: 34mg | Calcium: 49mg | Iron: 4mg
Keyword: Sweet and Sour Ground Beef
Sweet and Sour Ground Beef collage

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.


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  1. Hello,
    Trying hard not to show my ignorance here but what is the difference between Tomato Ketchup and Tomato Sauce, please? As always, two nations separated by a common language.

    1. Hi Julian,
      Great question! Here’s a list of differences.
      Ketchup is made with tomatoes, sugar, vinegar/acetic acid and spices.
      Tomato sauce is made from tomatoes, oil, meat or vegetable stock, spices and never uses vinegar.
      Ketchup is cold never served hot.
      Sauces are served hot.
      Sauce generally does not contain sugar.
      Ketchup has sugar and other sweet spices.

      1. Sabrina, I finally got to make this recipe! DELICIOUS! I made and served it with brown rice and Broccoli. Great meal and is now on rotation! Thank you!