Meatball Appetizers

| October 22, 2017 | 6 Comments

Meatball Appetizers, enjoy.
Follow our complete, step-by-step, photo illustrated recipe to make this quick and easy Meatball Appetizer. Always a favorite for family get-togethers, holiday parties, or game day. They’re super easy with a sauce made from grape jelly and chili sauce. Printable recipe included.


Meatball Appetizers, slider.
Easy Cocktail Meatball Appetizers Recipe


This is one of those “tried and true” recipes for an appetizer that you’ve probably seen at one of your family get-togethers or parties. They’re just that good, and they’re pretty simple to make.

I like a recipe you can make a day, or even days ahead of time, so you’re not trying to complete everything on the day of your party or that family reunion.

My cousin Frankie called these “Cocktail Meatballs” when she submitted them as one of her favorite recipes for our family’s cookbook.

Frankie was the daughter of one of my mom’s sisters, and was always the life of the party. She was a “cut-up” and could always bring a smile to your face.

We had been having yearly family reunions for about as long as I can remember, and family members were called upon one year to submit some of their favorite recipes for a cookbook. That book was printed some years back and called the “Stewart Family Favorites” cookbook.

My mom was a Stewart before she was married, so it was all relatives from her side of the family. Sadly, we no longer have those yearly reunions and Cousin Frankie is no longer with us.

There are lots of variations on this particular appetizer, but this is the way Cousin Frankie liked them. I hope you’ll enjoy them as well.

Ready to give them a try? Alright then, let’s head to the kitchen, and… Let’s Get Cooking.


Meatball Appetizers, you'll need these ingredients.
Meatball Appetizers Recipe:  You’ll need these ingredients.


Meatball Appetizers, place beef in a large mixing bowl.
Place your ground beef in a large mixing bowl.


Meatball Appetizers, add the bread crumbs.
Add the bread crumbs.

I’m using the Panko style of dry bread crumbs. Years back, we didn’t even know of such a thing.

If you don’t want to use them, or don’t have them, make your own. Toast a couple slices of white bread, then crumble it up into small pieces. Or, just break up a regular slice of white loaf bread into small pieces. Either way will work.

The bread crumbs are a binder to help hold the meatballs together.


Meatball Appetizers, add the milk.
Add the milk.


Meatball Appetizers, chop the onions.
Shed a tear or two as you chop the onions into really fine pieces. Smile.


Meatball Appetizers, add the onions to the mixture.
Add the chopped onion to the beef mixture.


Meatball Appetizers, add the salt.
Add the salt.


Meatball Appetizers, add the black pepper.
Add a dash or two of black pepper.

Cousin Frankie didn’t call for it in her recipe, but I think I would add a little bit of Garlic Powder to the recipe should I make them again. I like the flavor, so you might want to consider it. It’s not in the printable recipe.


Meatball Appetizers, crumble up the beef.
Jump in with both hands and crumble the beef up into small pieces.


Meatball Appetizers, mix well.
Mix it up really well.


Meatball Appetizers, scoop up the beef.
I used a small scoop to measure out how large I wanted the meatballs to be.

You could use a Tablespoon, or just gather a small amount out by hand. Try to be consistent with the size of each one.


Meatball Appetizers, roll it in the palms of your hands.
Roll the beef mixture in the palms of your hands.


Meatball Appetizers, shape it into a ball.
Shape it into a compact ball.


Meatball Appetizers, place meatball in a skillet.
Repeat the process until you have enough meatballs to fill up a large skillet.

Do Not Crowd the pan. You’ll need to leave plenty of room to move them around as they cook.


Meatball Appetizers, turn frequently.
Place the skillet with the meatballs over Medium heat on your stove top.

If you think you’ll need it, add a small amount of the vegetable oil. I’m using a cheaper ground beef, which has a bit more fat, so I’m pretty certain I’m not going to need it.

As the meatballs start to brown, keep moving them around so you can brown them all over.


Meatball Appetizers, lots of grease.
This was my third batch. As you can see, they made lots of grease.

Keep rolling them around in the pan to make sure they cook evenly all the way through. This took me about 8-10 minutes per pan.

Cook them until they are done, but don’t over cook them. You’ll have to sacrifice one when you get started to see about how long they need to cook.


Meatball Appetizers, drain off the grease.
I lined a bowl with a folded paper towel, then placed the cooked meatballs in the bowl once they were done. This will help drain off more of the grease.

At this point, you could freeze them for later if desired. After they cool of course.


Meatball Appetizers, add jelly to a large sauce pot.
Grab a large sauce pot and place it on your stove top. Add the jelly.

Be sure to note the size jar of jelly that you have. Cousin Frankie’s recipe called for a 10 ounce jar and the one I had was a 16 ounce size, so I only used part of the jar.


Meatball Appetizers, add the chili sauce.
Add the bottle of chili sauce.


Meatball Appetizers, stir until dissolved.
Stir the jelly and chili sauce as you bring it up to a simmer over Medium heat. Keep stirring until the jelly dissolves.


Meatball Appetizers, add the meatballs to the sauce.
Add the meatballs to the sauce.


Meatball Appetizers, simmer for about 15 minutes.
Simmer the meatballs in the sauce for about 15 minutes, stirring often so they don’t stick to the bottom


Meatball Appetizers, remove to a chafing dish or serving bowl.
Remove from the sauce pot and place in a chafing dish or serving bowl.

The meatballs could easily be made and refrigerated a day or two ahead of time if desired. They could even be frozen for serving several weeks later. Make them ahead of time, and reheat them when needed.


Meatball Appetizers, enjoy.

You’ll want to have some toothpicks handy so your family and guests can easily pick up a few of the meatballs if serving them as appetizers. Keep napkins handy as well. Smile.


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Meatball Appetizers recipe, printable recipe, from Taste of

Meatball Appetizers

  • Author: Steve Gordon
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: About 36 or more meatballs 1x
  • Category: Appetizers
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: American


Follow our complete, step-by-step, photo illustrated recipe to make this quick and easy Meatball Appetizer. Always a favorite for family get-togethers, holiday parties, or game day. They’re super easy with a sauce made from grape jelly and chili sauce.



  • 2 lbs. Ground Beef
  • ½ cup Dry Bread Crumbs
  • ¼ cup Onions, chopped
  • ¼ cup Milk
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • Dash of Black Pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil for frying, if needed.

For the sauce.

  • 1 (12oz) bottle Chili Sauce
  • 1 (10oz) jar Grape Jelly
  • Green Onions, chopped (optional for garnish)


  1. In a large mixing bowl, add the following…
  2. Add ground beef.
  3. Add bread crumbs.
  4. Add milk.
  5. Add chopped onions.
  6. Add Salt.
  7. Add Black Pepper.
  8. Using your hands, mix well and shape into one-inch sized balls.
  9. Cook meatballs in vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat until brown.
  10. Remove meatballs. Drain on paper towels. Discard drippings.
  11. In a large sauce pot, add the grape jelly.
  12. Add chili sauce.
  13. Cook chili sauce and jelly, stirring often, over medium heat until jelly is melted.
  14. Add the meatballs to the jelly-chili mixture.
  15. Simmer 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  16. Transfer to chafing dish to keep warm.
  17. Sprinkle top with chopped green onions if desired as garnish.
  18. Enjoy!


Make these a day or two ahead of time, or make the meatballs then freeze them for serving weeks later.

Keywords: Meatball Appetizer Recipes, jelly, cocktail meatballs, southern recipes,


Your Comments:  What’s your favorite appetizer? Ever made these?

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Category: Appetizers

About the Author ()

Award Winning Food Preservationist, Fisherman, Author of three cookbooks. "From Mama's Big Oval Table, From Mama's Big Oval Table - BOOK TWO and Carolina Christmas Sweets and Appetizers." Online Contributor to Our State Magazine Newsletter.

Comments (6)

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  1. D.M. Garfield says:

    Hi. My mother used to make something similar to your appetizing recipe, but with an elegant swish: she put some biggish seedless grapes in the sauce at the end, sometimes halved; added a tad of cognac; and then, as you suggest, kept these mini- meatballs separate in the sauce, in a chafing dish, with toothpicks to the side for each guest to pick one up.

    The grapes themselves should be somewhat soft, absorbing the sauce–not cold. They add a nifty touch of sweetness too.

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi D. M., Learn something new every day. I’ve never heard of adding the grapes but can see where they would be good. Thank you for sharing your memories of them with us. I do appreciate your visit and hope you’ll stop by again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  2. Donna says:

    Every time we have a potluck at work, someone always brings meatballs…but…it’s always terribly obvious they used those premade meatballs in the bag. Terrible is the operative word here. I’m going to try your meatballs (made with actual real meat) and maybe I can surprise everyone at work with something good and real! Fingers crossed.

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Donna, Good for you for trying a made from scratch meatball. They’re really easy, and I think you’ll notice the difference. I look forward to hearing how they turn out for you. Good luck. I do appreciate you trying the recipe, and I hope you’ll visit with us often. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Why do you do this on the first day of my diet?!?! They look absolutely marvelous. I must try them. You are just mean.

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Elisabeth, I love you too. Smile. They ARE good, but you don’t have to eat them all at one time you know. Smile. I hope you have great success with the diet. I appreciate your visit and hope you’ll stop by again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

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