These sweet & sour cocktail meatballs are easy to make and so delicious!

Tender juicy meatballs are simmered in a quick two ingredient sauce for the perfect sweet and sour cocktail meatball!

These will be the first thing gone, and nobody will ever believe what is in them!

cooked Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Perfect Party Appetizer

  • Cocktail meatballs are a party recipe! Serve them at every party or gathering, and watch them disappear!
  • They’re so easy to make with just three ingredients!
  • Serve these sweet and sour meatballs as an appetizer or even served over rice for a weeknight meal that your family will love!
ingredients for sweet and sour meatballs

Ingredients for Sweet & Sour Meatballs

I often make grape jelly meatballs, but did you know that you can basically choose any sweet ingredient and any tangy ingredient for a great cocktail meatball sauce?

Meatballs – You can use the recipe below for homemade meatballs, or use a bag of frozen fully cooked meatballs for an easy appetizer with almost no prep needed! You can also use the same sauce for cocktail smokies.

Sauce – The easy sauce for these sweet and sour meatballs needs just two ingredients: one sweet and one tangy.

  • Choose one sweet – apricot preserves, strawberry jam, grape jelly, or cranberry sauce.
  • Choose one tangy – ketchup, chilli sauce, bbq sauce.
adding ingredients to pot to make Sweet and Sour Meatballs

How to Make Cocktail Meatballs

What could be easier than this three-ingredient recipe?

  1. Make the meatballs (as per the recipe below) or use frozen meatballs.
  2. Mix the sauce ingredients together and heat on low in a saucepan.
  3. Add the cooked meatballs to the sauce, bring to a boil, then simmer until thickened.

Crockpot Version

These work perfectly in the Crockpot too!

  1. Just bake the meatballs as directed (or just add them frozen if you’re not making homemade)
  2. Place the sauce ingredients in the slow cooker.
  3. Add meatballs to the sauce and let heat through on high for at least 1-2 hours before serving (a bit longer if using frozen).

Once heated through meatballs can be left on low for serving.

mixing meatballs with sauce to make Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Storing Meatballs

  • Cocktail meatballs can be made ahead and refrigerated or frozen for future use.
  • They will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days and will retain their flavor in the freezer for 2-3 months.
  • Be sure to cook and reheat to a temperature of 165ºF.

More Easy Appetizers You'll Love

Did your family love these Sweet and Sour Meatballs? If so, leave a rating and comment below!

cooked Sweet and Sour Meatballs
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Sweet and Sour Cocktail Meatballs

Sweet and sour meatballs are a delicious appetizer that can be cooked on the stove top or in the slow cooker.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Total Time 33 minutes
Servings 48 meatballs


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  • 2 pounds frozen meatballs


  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • ½ small onion very finely diced
  • ½ cup bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pepper

Sauce (see notes)


  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking pan with parchment paper.
  • If making homemade meatballs, combine ground beef, diced onion, bread crumbs, eggs, and pepper in a medium bowl. Divide the mixture into 1-inch meatballs.
  • Bake homemade meatballs for 18-20 minutes or bake frozen meatballs according to package directions.
  • In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, combine apricot preserves and barbecue sauce. Stir until the preserves start to melt.
  • Add in meatballs and bring the mixture to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the sauce is slightly thickened.


Other sauce options for meatballs:
  • 10 ounces strawberry preserves & ⅔ cup ketchup
  • 14 ounces jellied cranberry sauce & 12 ounces chili sauce
If using fully cooked meatballs, they do not need to be baked first. Simmering time may need to be increased slightly.
Store leftover meatballs in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.  To freeze meatballs, store them in an airtight container and store them in the freezer for 2-3 months.
4.99 from 264 votes

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1meatball | Calories: 56 | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 18mg | Sodium: 93mg | Potassium: 99mg | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 50IU | Vitamin C: 0.8mg | Calcium: 7mg | Iron: 0.6mg

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

Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
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Sweet and Sour Meatballs in the pot and plated with a title


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Holly Nilsson is the creator of Spend With Pennies, where she creates easy, comforting recipes made for real life. With a passion for nostalgic flavors and simplified techniques, Holly helps busy home cooks create delicious meals that always work. She is also the author of “Everyday Comfort,” which promises to inspire even more hearty, home-cooked meals.
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  1. Hi! Can I use 1lb ground turkey for this recipe, just half your ingredents? Also, cant this meatball just simmer in the sauce, do I have cook on stove/oven first?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Vee, yes you can half this recipe and use 1lb of ground turkey, I would just keep an eye on the cook time in case you need to adjust. The meatballs should be cooked first before simmering in the sauce, but you can always use pre-cooked meatballs and add them straight to the sauce if preferred. I hope that helps!

      1. I am weird about frozen meatballs haha, ok I will cook the meatballs before puttin them in crockpot. Thank you, and Merry Christmas!

      2. I agree, homemade meatballs are always better tasting! :) Let us know how they turn out for you, Vee!

  2. Has anyone tried the ketchup and cranberry sauce combo. I have both of those but am not quite sure if I should use that combo……Or what would be the best combo? Super excited to try this.5 stars

    1. Hi Krista, we just swap the apricot preserve in the recipe for grape jelly, so it will still be 10 ounces.

  3. I cant wait to try and make these!

    I have Sweet Chili Sauce, will that work? I’m paring it with grape jelly :)

  4. I’m making these this weekend and already know they will be delicious! In your opinion, what combination of sweet and tangy ingredients makes the best sauce? Thank you!5 stars

    1. My favorites are grape jelly and ketchup or grape jelly and chili sauce (be sure it’s the zesty one, not a spicy sauce).