Easy Cocktail Meatballs (Sweet and Sour Meatballs)

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This is one of my favorite meatball recipes! Perfect as an appetizer and delicious as a meal over rice!

We have served these Easy Cocktail Meatballs at every party and gathering since I was a kid!

Tender juicy meatballs simmered in a quick two ingredient sweet and sour sauce will be the first thing gone.. and nobody will ever believe what is in them!

Easy Cocktail Meatballs in a white bowl


How to Make Easy Cocktail Meatballs (Sweet and Sour Meatballs)

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I literally cannot make enough of these Cocktail Meatballs!  Every single time I bring them to a party, they are gone immediately and I always get requests for the recipe.

There are three options for sauce, and they all have a sweet and sour type flavor with just two ingredients.  (The first option, Ketchup and Grape Jelly Meatballs, is my personal favorite).

You can use homemade meatballs or frozen depending on preference or how much time you have.

Easy 3 Ingredient Cocktail Meatballs! These delicious appetizer meatballs can be made 3 different ways and cooked on the stove top or in the slow cooker. Ketchup and Grape Jelly makes the best ever sauce!


These work perfectly in the Crockpot too!  Bake the meatballs as directed and place the sauce ingredients in the slow cooker.  Add meatballs to the sauce and let heat through on high for at least 1-2 hours before serving. Once heated through meatballs can be left on low for serving.

These are amazing as an appetizer or even served over rice for a weeknight meal that your kids will love!

Print Recipe
Servings: 48 meatballs
Cocktail Meatballs
Prep Time:
15 mins
Cook Time:
18 mins
Total Time:
33 mins
Author: Holly N.
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Asian Fusion
Keyword: cocktail meatballs

Easy Cocktail Meatballs are a delicious appetizer that can be cooked on the stove top or in the slow cooker. Ketchup and Grape Jelly makes the best ever sauce!

  • 2 lbs frozen meatballs
  • OR
  • 2 lb lean ground beef
  • 1/2 small onion , very finely diced
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
Choose one of the following sauces:
  • Sauce #1
  • 3/4 cup grape jelly
  • 1 1/2 cups ketchup
  • Sauce #2
  • 10 oz apricot preserves
  • 2/3 cup barbecue sauce
  • Sauce #3
  • 14 oz jellied cranberry sauce
  • 12 oz chili sauce
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix together all meatball ingredients just until combined. Form into 1" meatballs. Bake for 18-20 minutes (or bake frozen meatballs according to package directions).
  3. Combine sauce ingredients in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir until preserves/jelly melts. Allow to come to a boil for 1 minute. Toss with meatballs and allow to simmer on low 10-15 minutes.
Recipe Notes

Nutrition calculated with Sauce Option #1 and with a serving size of 1 meatball.

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Nutrition Information
Calories: 56, Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 18mg, Sodium: 93mg, Potassium: 99mg, Carbohydrates: 6g, Sugar: 4g, Protein: 4g, Vitamin A: 1%, Vitamin C: 1%, Calcium: 0.7%, Iron: 3.3%

(Nutriton information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.)

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Jalapeno Popper Dip

Jalapeno Popper Dip is my go to party appetizer. Rich cream cheese, spicy diced jalapenos and sharp cheddar are topped with crispy Panko bread crumbs and baked until warm and gooey. The result is the most incredible dip, reminiscent of the appetizer we all love so much!

Beef Enchilada Dip

Beef Enchilada Dip - All the fixings of Enchiladas, in a hot bubbly dip!


Easy 3 Ingredient Cocktail Meatballs! These delicious appetizer meatballs can be made 3 different ways and cooked on the stove top or in the slow cooker. Ketchup and Grape Jelly makes the best ever sauce!
Easy 3 Ingredient Cocktail Meatballs! These delicious appetizer meatballs can be made 3 different ways and cooked on the stove top or in the slow cooker. Ketchup and Grape Jelly makes the best ever sauce!


Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!

63 comments on “Easy Cocktail Meatballs (Sweet and Sour Meatballs)”

  1. I think I am going to make this with the Apricot and BBQ sauce. I use Sweet Baby Rays, Do you think that will be too sweet?? should I add some hot sauce too?

  2. I grew up with (and still make) 12 oz bottle of chili sauce mixed with 12 oz jar of grape jelly mixed, heated and meatballs adde. Better if allowed to heat slowly for a number of hours or prepared on one day and refrigerated and reheated to actually serve on the next day. This has always been a hit!

  3. I have made the grape jelly-ketchup for years but I make meat balls from ground beef alone. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Drop meat balls into boiling water. When they float they are done. Then let them cook in crockpot. This make the meatballs less fat. Fat is in the water. 

    • I also made the sauce from the grape jelly and ketchup and meatballs from scratch. It was awesome!!! Loved the sauce. I added some honey to the meatball mix which was ground beef. I soaked some bread in milk as I didnt have bread crumbs and put all the wet ingredients together and baked my the meatballs in the oven. Using Grace hot jerk sauce in the sauce really took it up a notch. Use about half teaspoon if you like a bit of heat.

  4. Getting ready to make this recipe, but was wondering if you could use the Lil Smokies as well as the meatballs?

  5. I was looking for something to make for the family for Thanksgiving to snack on. For this and made it, for my hubby’s picky family. And everyone loved them! I did the apricot and barbque sauce soo good!

  6. My mother always used grape jam and Bennett’s Chili Sauce and a touch of brown sugar.  The chunky pieces in the chili sauce give it a little more substance.  Always a favorite!

  7. I like my ooie gooie but how’ve do I get them that way??  My sister-in-law knows the recipe or ratio for that but I haven’t spoken to her in a couple of years, I know it’s cranberry sauce and chili or bbq?? Can someone please help me 

  8. any idea what the calories or the carbs for these are?

  9. I tried the crock-pot corn chowder. It was absolutely fabulous. My family loved it.

  10. Honestly, a bottle of Sweet Baby Rays BBQ sauce is the best ever!!!

  11. i HAVE DONE THE CRANBERRY MEAT BALLS AND THERE GREAT BUT DO YOU HAVE THE RECIPE FOR THE LITTLE COCKTAIL WIENERS AND MUSTARD AND JELLY. It was with current jelly but I can not find any of that anymore and do not know how much for the mustard do you or any one have the recipe.
    Thank you and enjoy this club so much I love the weekly recipes we have a variety to pick from and you always have something I will try..

    • The recipe that I have tried is

      1 cup currant jelly
      1 cup prepared Dijon mustard
      1/4 cup ketchup
      1/2 cup brown sugar
      1 lb mini smokies

      Simmer on low 1 hour.

  12. I make mine with salsa and honey bbq sauce in the crockpot. Big hit with all my coworkers and family.

  13. Question: Can you use GRAPE JUICE instead? I have a couple of bottles

  14. I am doing this for the first time. I need to make enough for 60 people for a baby shower.
    Need suggestions.

  15. I have a huge Christmas gathering and I’ll be making a lot of these! I’ll try both sauces. Thank you so much for the recipe :)

  16. These meatballs would be a great appetizer for this Super Bowl Sunday. I pinned and shared them. Thanks for linking up to Wonderful Wednesday Blog Hop.

    Many Blessings,
    Diane Roark

  17. mine are different….chili sauce, cranberry jelly sauce, sauerkraut and I don’t bake first, they go into sauce to cook. They are wonderful

  18. Hi Can you tell me how many people does this recipe serve?

  19. Instead of ground beef I use ground sausage. It is delicious.

  20. What is grape jelly please , from uk

  21. I have this recipe and use red currant jelly and heinz chili sauce(find in the ketchup aisle). So yummy, I use equal parts jelly to chili sauce.

  22. I have been making both versions of this recipe for many years. These meatballs practically vanish when they are part of a pot-luck meal. We often buy frozen plain meatballs, and they work well with this recipe, and couldn’t possibly be easier to make. I can have these on the table in a few minutes, and minute rice is a great side dish.

  23. I used blackberry jelly and ketchup with a little bbq sauce it was so yummy I had non left over from my party.

  24. I have made these several different ways, along with different ingredients, as filler to extent, without taking away from ease of cooking, or flavor. I like to spice things up a bit. I have used chili sauce along with pepper jelly, they were wonderful, and have used grape jelly along with Sriracha, if you like a little more heat. I would caution on the amount of Sriacha that you would use, maybe half chili sauce and half Sriracha, to tone down the heat. Just some suggestions, enjoy

    • Oh my gosh! I never thought of adding Sriacha (which I could literally eat by the bucket!!) That would be such a great addition! Can’t wait to try it!

  25. I use salsa and grape jelly in the crockpot :)

  26. Hi Holly,
    I just love your Cocktail meatballs, they are just awesome! Hope you are staying warm and cozy in this cold weather and thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

  27. I love these!! Perfect for any party! Would love for you to come share and my linky party http://mommyondemand.com/create-bake-8/

  28. These look SO SO GOOD!!!! Oh my goodness, what a great appetizer! I don’t know which sauce sounds better!!! They look super yummy!

  29. I use grape jelly and chili sauce…but also cranberry sauce and chilli sauce

  30. I use the chili sauce with grape jelly but thanks for the other sauces. Now I have new ones for New Years Eve.

  31. I use a cup of grape jelly with 3 bottles of chilli sauce, it is great too!

  32. Can u cook this in a slow cooker

  33. A recipe that is my favorite is frozen meatballs, finely chopped onion, dousing of Worcestershire Sauce, for each bag of meatballs, 1 jar jalapeno jelly, 1 jar of cocktail sauce. Brown onions in pan and add meatballs and Worcestershire Sauce, brown meatballs on all sides. Transfer to crock pot and add jelly and cocktail sauce, put on low for 3 to 4 hours, or until jelly and sauce are combined and make a rich sauce. Make plenty, people LOVE them!

  34. Looks so good and easy,

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