Delicious Cocktail Meatballs Recipe for Any Occasion

Are you tired of the same old meatball appetizers at your gatherings? Look no further because I have a recipe that will leave your taste buds dancing: the Hot and Saucy Cocktail Meatballs Recipe! This recipe is perfect for any occasion, whether it be a Super Bowl party or a family reunion.

These meatballs are not your average appetizer – they are sweet, spicy and saucy all in one. The combination of chili sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and pepper create a flavor explosion in every bite. Plus, the addition of grape jelly gives the sauce a touch of sweetness that pairs perfectly with the spiciness.

My meatball recipe is simple and easy to make. You will only need common ingredients like lean ground beef, eggs, breadcrumbs, milk, and onion. Even if you don’t consider yourself a chef, this recipe is doable for anyone.

I promise you and your guests won’t be able to get enough of these hot saucy cocktail meatballs. So go ahead and give this recipe a try – I guarantee it’ll be a hit at your next gathering!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Hot and Saucy Cocktail Meatballs
Hot and Saucy Cocktail Meatballs

Looking for a quick and easy appetizer that packs a punch? Look no further than our hot and saucy cocktail meatballs recipe! This recipe is sure to be a crowd pleaser, and I’ve got plenty of reasons why you’re going to love it.

Firstly, these meatballs are incredibly flavorful. Starting with lean ground beef, we add in a mixture of bread crumbs, onion, egg, Worcestershire sauce, and fresh parsley to create perfectly seasoned meatballs bursting with savory goodness. But that’s not all – we then cook these meatballs in a sweet and spicy cocktail sauce made with chili sauce, brown sugar, hot sauce, and even grape jelly for an unexpected twist that combines sweet and heat in the most amazing way.

But not only are these meatballs delicious, they’re also incredibly versatile. Whether you’re hosting a party or just looking for a quick weeknight dinner option, they can be served as an appetizer or as the main course alongside some rice or mashed potatoes. And if you’re feeling adventurous, try out some of our variations below to mix things up!

Plus, this recipe is super easy to make. With just a few simple ingredients and a little bit of time in the oven, you’ll have a delicious snack that can be whipped up in no time. And if you’re really in a pinch, frozen meatballs can easily be substituted as well.

Trust me when I say that once you try these hot and saucy cocktail meatballs, you won’t want to go back to any other appetizer!

Ingredient List

 These meatballs pack a punch of heat!
These meatballs pack a punch of heat!

Let’s gather our ingredients!

  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 ½ cups dry breadcrumbs
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

For the saucy cocktail:

  • 1 cup chili sauce
  • 1 cup grape jelly
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce

Optional substitutions and variations:

  • Ground Beef: You can substitute ground pork, turkey or chicken for the beef.
  • Milk: Any milk alternative can be used.
  • Onion: Shallots or red onions may be used instead of yellow onions.
  • Sauces: Cranberry sauce, sweet and sour sauce, or even tomato sauce can be used for a different twist.

Note: One of the secrets to a tasty meatball is using good quality ground meat. Choose lean meat with at least an 80/20 ratio of meat to fat. Don’t forget to preheat your oven to 400°F before starting!

The Recipe How-To

 Get ready to spice up your party with these saucy meatballs.
Get ready to spice up your party with these saucy meatballs.

Now that you have all the ingredients ready, it’s time to dig into the actual recipe itself. Here is how to make your own Hot and Saucy Cocktail Meatballs:

Step 1: Prepare the mixture

In a large bowl, combine 2 pounds of lean ground beef, 1 cup of progresso dry bread crumbs (flavor 2/3), 2/3 cup finely chopped onion, 2 eggs, 1/4 cup milk, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce. Mix them together well with clean hands.

Step 2: Roll the mixture into meatballs

Form the mixture into 1-inch meatballs. You should be able to make about 48 meatballs in total.

Step 3: Brown the meatballs

Heat up a tablespoon of oil in a Dutch oven or a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Place half of the meatballs in the pot and brown on all sides. Remove the meatballs from the pot and repeat with the remaining half.

Step 4: Make the hot sauce cocktail

In a separate saucepan over medium heat, mix together 12 ounces of chili sauce (1 ½ cups), 10 ounces of grape jelly (1¼ cups), a pinch of ground powdered chili powder, and ¼ cup brown sugar. Stir occasionally until smooth.

Step 5: Combine the meatballs with hot sauce cocktail

Add all of your browned meatballs back into the pot and pour your prepared hot sauce over them. Cover it with a lid and let it simmer for 20 minutes on low heat. Stir occasionally to ensure that every meatball is coated in hot sauce well.

And voila! Your Hot and Saucy Cocktail Meatballs are ready to serve hot.

Substitutions and Variations

 A perfect bite-size snack with a kick!
A perfect bite-size snack with a kick!

Looking to put your own spin on the hot and saucy cocktail meatballs recipe? No problem! Here are some substitutions and variations you can try:

– Meat: Instead of lean ground beef, you can use ground turkey, chicken, or pork to make these meatballs. You can also use a combination of two meats for more flavor.

– Breadcrumbs: If you don’t have any Progresso dry breadcrumbs in your pantry, feel free to substitute with regular breadcrumbs or even panko crumbs. Adding some Italian seasoning or garlic powder will give it extra flavor.

– Milk: While milk adds moisture to the meat mixture, you can substitute with almond milk or soy milk if you prefer.

– Onion: Swap out the onion for shallots or scallions for a milder onion flavor. You can also use garlic instead or add it alongside the onion for extra flavor.

– Jelly: Want to mix up that sweet and spicy cocktail sauce? Try using different jellies like pepper jelly, apricot jam, peach preserves or cranberry sauce!

– Heat Level: If you want to make these meatballs spicier, add more chili powder or red pepper flakes. Alternatively, leave out the chili sauce altogether for a milder version.

– Sauce: You can serve these meatballs with classic marinara sauce or try something new like sweet and sour sauce, teriyaki glaze or even barbecue sauce!

With these substitutions and variations, you can create your own delicious version of the hot and saucy cocktail meatballs that will impress your guests at any party. Don’t be afraid to experiment and make this recipe uniquely yours!

Serving and Pairing

 These meatballs are just the right amount of messy and delicious.
These meatballs are just the right amount of messy and delicious.

Ready to spice up your next party? These hot and saucy cocktail meatballs are not only delicious but also perfect for serving as an appetizer at any get-together. These little bites pack a punch of flavor that will make you and your guests crave for more.

To serve, arrange the hot saucy cocktail meatballs on a platter or bowl, and let everyone enjoy them with toothpicks or small forks. You can also serve them alongside other appetizers like stuffed mushrooms, deviled eggs, or bruschetta for a complete party spread.

Pairing these meatballs with drinks is just as important as serving them. The sweet and spicy cocktail meatballs go best with cold beer or any fruity drink of your choice. For a classic pairing, serve the hot saucy cocktail meatballs with red wine like Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon.

If you want to take it up a notch, try different sauces to give your guests options to mix and match meatball flavors. Serve them with some chili sauce, cranberry sauce, or pepper jelly for a variety of unique tastes that’ll cater to different taste buds.

These hot saucy cocktail meatballs will be the talk of your party and guaranteed to attract even the most timid eaters. So get ready to wow your guests with this tasty appetizer recipe that’ll keep everybody coming back for more!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 A taste explosion in every juicy bite.
A taste explosion in every juicy bite.

When it comes to hosting parties, preparation is key, and that’s why I love make-ahead recipes like my hot and saucy cocktail meatballs. You can make the meatballs ahead of time and store them until you’re ready to serve.

To make-ahead your meatballs, follow the recipe how-to and bake them off ahead of time. Once the meatballs have cooled, store them in an airtight container in your fridge for up to 3 days. When you’re ready to reheat them, simply pop them in a 350°F oven for about 10-15 minutes or until they are heated through.

If you have leftovers from your party, you can store them in the fridge for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to a month. When storing them in the freezer, place them in a freezer-safe container or bag and label it with the date so that you can keep track of how long they’ve been stored.

To reheat your frozen meatballs, let them thaw in the fridge overnight and follow the reheating instructions mentioned above.

Now you don’t have to worry about last-minute preparations before your party. Just make these saucy cocktail meatballs ahead of time and reheat them when it’s time to serve. They taste just as delicious as they did fresh out of the oven!

Tips for Perfect Results

 You won't be able to get enough of these hot and saucy meatballs.
You won’t be able to get enough of these hot and saucy meatballs.

To achieve the perfect hot and saucy cocktail meatballs, here are some essential tips that can help:

Firstly, use lean ground beef. The fat content in the beef can affect the texture of your meatball, and you don’t want to overpower the other flavors in the dish.

Secondly, don’t overmix your meat mixture. Overhandling your mixture can cause your meatballs to become tough and chewy.

When forming your cocktail meatballs make sure that they come out to an even size of about 1-inch diameter. You can use a cookie scoop or a tablespoon measuring spoon to help with this.

For better flavor and texture, allow your meat mixture to rest in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes before forming into balls. This will also make it easier to handle when making your meatballs.

When browning the meatballs, avoid overcrowding them in the Dutch oven or skillet as they will not cook correctly. Brown them in batches so that they can form a crust around each side.

Lastly, for best results, I recommend using chili sauce instead of tomato sauce as it adds more depth of flavor to this dish.

By following these tips, you’re sure to impress your guests with perfectly cooked hot and saucy cocktail meatballs.


As we conclude this recipe article, let’s take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions about making hot and saucy cocktail meatballs. Whether you’re new to cooking or a seasoned home chef, these tips and tricks will help you prepare delicious meatball appetizers that everyone will love. So without further ado, let’s dive into the FAQ section!

What is Cocktail meatballs made of?

Let’s whip up some delicious meatballs, shall we? First, gather your ingredients – ground beef, bread crumbs, diced onion, water, and an egg. Combine them in a large mixing bowl and blend them together until everything is thoroughly combined. Then, shape the mixture into small, bite-sized meatballs and place them onto a baking sheet that has been treated with a nonstick coating. Slide the sheet into the preheated oven and let the meatballs bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, remembering to turn them over halfway through the cooking process. Voila! Perfectly cooked meatballs that are sure to be a hit at your next party.

How does Gordon Ramsay make meatball sauce?

Let’s start by crafting a delicious tomato sauce to serve with our main dish. Get a pan on low heat, add some olive oil, and toss in some finely chopped shallots, garlic, and chili. Let them cook for a few minutes, stirring gently, until they’re tender and fragrant. Now, here comes the fun part: pour in a little white wine to the pan and let it bubble for a moment before adding a tin of juicy tomatoes. Sprinkle in some fresh basil and oregano, and don’t forget to season to taste. The flavors will meld together beautifully as it all simmers together.

Should meatballs be cooked before putting in sauce?

When it comes to making meatballs, some home chefs may wonder if it’s necessary to brown them before cooking in sauce. While it is possible to place raw meatballs directly in the sauce, I suggest using a skillet to brown them first with a touch of olive oil. This technique results in a delightful texture on the exterior of the meatball, while keeping the inside tender and juicy during the remainder of the cooking process in the tomato sauce.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, these hot and saucy cocktail meatballs are the perfect appetizer for any party, gathering, or celebration! The combination of sweet and spicy chili sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and brown sugar creates a tantalizing flavor that will leave your guests craving for more.

As a home chef, I highly recommend this cocktail meatballs recipe to anyone who loves good food and great company. With simple ingredients that are easy to find, you can create a delicious dish that will impress your guests without breaking the bank.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with substitutions and variations to make this recipe truly your own. Whether you prefer classic meatballs or spicy ones, cranberry sauce or pepper jelly as a dipping sauce, this hot and saucy cocktail meatballs recipe is versatile enough to accommodate your preferences.

So go ahead and give it a try! These meatballs are sure to please even the pickiest eaters. Serve them with other appetizers or as a main course accompanied by rice or pasta. Trust me; you won’t regret it!

Hot and Saucy Cocktail Meatballs

Hot and Saucy Cocktail Meatballs Recipe

From Betty Crocker -- always a hit! 🙂 Yum! Sometimes I use strawberry jelly or apple jelly for a different sweet flavor. I usually cook mine in a dutch oven then transfer to a crock pot on the warm setting.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 50 mins
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Servings 36 meatballs
Calories 376.4 kcal


  • 2 lbs lean ground beef
  • 1 cup dry breadcrumbs (any flavor)
  • 2/3 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 (12 ounce) bottles chili sauce
  • 2 (10 ounce) jars grape jelly


  • Heat oven to 400°F
  • Stir together all ingredients except chili sauce and jelly.
  • Shape beef mixture into 1-inch meatballs.
  • Place in ungreased retangular pan, 13x9x2 inches, or on rack in broiler pan.
  • Bake uncovered about 20 minutes or until no longer pink in center and juice is clear.
  • Heat chili sauce and jelly in Dutch oven over medium heat, stirring contantly, until jelly is melted. Stir in meatballs until coated.
  • Simmer uncovered 30 minutes.
  • Serve hot with toothpicks.

Your Own Notes


Serving: 217gCalories: 376.4kcalCarbohydrates: 52.3gProtein: 19.3gFat: 9.4gSaturated Fat: 3.7gCholesterol: 85.8mgSodium: 1298.1mgFiber: 4.4gSugar: 31.2g
Keyword < 4 Hours, Meat
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Recommended Recipes Just For You