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These Sweet and Spicy Meatballs are the best party meatball recipe! The juicy meatballs are made from scratch and tossed in a simple 2-ingredient sauce for the perfect bite-sized appetizer. Make this cocktail meatball recipe, and they’ll be a crowd favorite at your next party!

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multiple meatballs stacked in a white bowl
Table of Contents
  1. Best Party Meatballs Recipe
  2. Ingredients in Sweet and Spicy Meatballs
  3. What’s the secret to making good meatballs? 
  4. How to Make Meatballs for Parties
  5. Variations
  6. What to serve with Party Meatballs 
  7. Other Appetizers We Love
  8. Sweet & Spicy Meatballs Recipe

Best Party Meatballs Recipe

Everyone needs a great meatball appetizer for parties, and these sweet and spicy meatballs are my favorite recipe. It’s so easy, and the flavors are great – it’s the perfect appetizer! That sweet and spicy flavor in the sauce just takes a humble meatball over the top in the flavor department.

So, whether you need an easy snack for Super Bowl, other game day parties, special occasions, or holiday parties, these classic cocktail meatballs are a great way to serve a crowd. I love recipes for party meatballs, and this one is one of the easiest recipes! You only need simple ingredients, and they come out perfect every time.

Why you’ll love this recipe

  • This easy appetizer recipe starts with a super-easy meatball recipe. It’s simple, but it doesn’t skimp on flavor! My secret ingredient is Lipton onion soup mix – it gives the meatballs tons of flavor.
  • I bake the meatballs instead of frying them to save on the oil. While they bake, warm up the sauce ingredients – you only need two! Toss the meatballs in it, and they are ready to serve!
  • The best part is that they’re not just meatballs for parties either. I’ve also made these as a main dish, and they’re always a hit. So, they’re an amazing appetizer AND dinner – these sweet and sour meatballs are always a favorite.
ingredients in the meatballs with words saying what the ingrate is

Ingredients in Sweet and Spicy Meatballs

  • Ground beef: You can also use ground turkey. I prefer a 93/7 mix for either meat.
  • Breadcrumbs: I always buy Italian breadcrumbs but plain is fine too.
  • Large egg
  • Lipton Onion Soup Mix: This has all the spices you need!
  • Chili sauce: I use Heinz brand or the store equivalent (sold with condiments)
  • Jelly: Any flavor – grape, strawberry or orange marmalade are best.

What’s the secret to making good meatballs? 

There are a few things that take meatballs from just okay to GREAT. Here are my secrets for the perfect meatball recipe:

  • Meatball ingredients: I love to use soup mix because it combines several spices and seasonings that give the meatballs so much flavor. You also don’t have to dig through your spice rack to find a bunch of individual spices!
  • Mixing: For the best tender meatballs, don’t overmix the meat mixture. The best way to mix it is with your hands and only mix until combined. If you overmix, your meatballs will be too dense.
  • Baking: Don’t overcook them. Over-baked meatballs will be dry instead of juice, so check on them early! The internal temperature should be between 160 and 165°F.
beef in a clear bowl with seasoning on top

How to Make Meatballs for Parties

  • Combine the ground beef, breadcrumbs, egg, and soup mix in a large mixing bowl. Form the meat mixture into 1” meatballs (a cookie scoop makes this easy) and place them in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Bake them for 18 to 25 minutes or until they are browned and cooked through. I like turning them halfway through baking, so they brown evenly.
  • While the meatballs bake, you can make the sauce. Heat the chili sauce and jelly in a large skillet or sauté pan until it’s bubbling. Add the cooked meatballs to the spicy sauce and stir to coat them evenly.
multiple meatballs in a pan with sauce around it

Storing and Make Ahead Instructions

Make-Ahead: You can make and bake the savory party meatballs ahead of time and coat them in the sauce. Store them in an airtight container and just warm them up before the party! It’s a good idea to place them in a crock pot or slow cooker set on the warm setting to warm them up and keep them warm during the party. Making them ahead is a great option to save time!

Storage: Leftover party meatballs with jelly will keep in the refrigerator for three to four days. 

Freezing: You can make and bake the sticky meatballs and then freeze them for up to three months. When you’re ready to serve them, make the sauce and warm the frozen meatballs in it before serving them.

multiple meatballs stacked in a white bowl

Variations

Make a grape jelly sauce with chili sauce and grape jelly. Everyone loves grape jelly meatballs! The first time I made them, that’s the version I made – It’s a classic recipe. Or use other flavors like strawberry, apricot preserves, or raspberry jelly.

Or, change out the jelly and use cranberry sauce – this is great for holiday parties!

Instead of ground beef, make the meatballs with ground pork or ground turkey.

For an extra tangy flavor, try adding a splash or two of apple cider vinegar to the sauce. Soy sauce is another option to try!

For a fast shortcut, use your favorite frozen Italian meatballs for this recipe instead of making the homemade meatballs from scratch.

You can use your favorite chili sauce, Thai sweet chili sauce, or Heinz sweet chili sauce. Or, swap the chili sauce for BBQ sauce!

What to serve with Party Meatballs 

Appetizers: Pair these easy cocktail meatballs with other party food like pigs in a blanket, jalapeno poppers, pull apart pizza, or spinach dip. They also are great with cold snacks like cheese boards and charcuteries boards.

Main Courses: This is a great recipe for a simple dinner, too! Pair the meatballs in the tangy sauce with a cooked vegetable (air fryer broccoli is a fav) with cooked rice on the side. You can also use them to make meatball sliders – they’re always a family favorite.

one meatball cut in half on a cutting board

FAQs

Why do you put milk in meatballs?

Milk adds moisture and fat, making meatballs juicy and tender. It’s often used when meatballs are made with day-old bread crumbs which help soften them.

Why do you add egg to meatballs?

For my sweet and spicy meatball recipe, we’re using store-bought dried breadcrumbs, so the egg in the recipe adds the perfect amount of moisture.

Can I double this recipe?

Yes, this recipe doubles great! You can double or triple it for a holiday party, game day, or whenever you need to serve a crowd.

How many meatballs do I need for 100 guests?

It depends on how big your meatballs are. For this recipe, I make small meatballs about one ounce big, so you would want to have at least four to five per person. So, if you’re serving 100 people, you’d want to make between 400 and 500 meatballs. If you are serving other appetizers, you can reduce that amount.

Other Appetizers We Love

Have You Made This Recipe?

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multiple meatballs stacked in a white bowl

Sweet & Spicy Meatballs

5 from 23 votes
Great meatballs in an amazing sauce! Also so good for a party
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Yield 25 servings
Serving Size 1 serving

Ingredients
 

Meatballs:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • cup (39g) breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 packet Lipton Onion Soup Mix

Sauce:

  • 1 (12 ounce ) jar chili sauce
  • ¾ cup (229g) jelly (grape, raspberry, or apricot)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  • Stir together meatball ingredients in a large bowl. Form 1-inch size meatballs and roll between your palms to form into balls.
  • Place meatballs on cookie sheet. No need to space them – but just make sure they aren’t touching each other. Bake 18-25 minutes, or until browned and cooked through to 165°F. Tip: flip them halfway through baking so they’re evenly cooked and browned.
  • Towards the end of the baking process, stir chili sauce and jelly in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Cook until the jelly is melted and combined into the sauce and the sauce bubbles.
  • Toss hot sauce with cooked meatballs and serve immediately.

Recipe Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 83kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 19mg | Sodium: 32mg | Potassium: 63mg | Fiber: 0.2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 10IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 9mg | Iron: 1mg
Nutritional information not guaranteed to be accurate
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Author Dorothy Kern
Keyword meatballs
multiple meatballs stacked in a white bowl with words on top

Easy Party Meatballs – this sweet and spicy meatball recipe is so easy to make with just a few ingredients – we love making stovetop meatballs for dinner or a party!

Dorothy Kern

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