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These Sweet and Spicy Cocktail Meatballs are sure to be a crowd favorite. A little sweet, a little savory with a spicy kick. Perfect for holiday parties or game days!
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These simple sweet and spicy Cocktail Meatballs are made in the slow cooker and absolutely delicious! Tender ground beef meatballs are covered in a rich sauce, very similar to our Winger’s Sticky Finger recipe. In fact, the sauce recipe is EXACTLY the same, the only difference (obviously) is that you put the sauce over meatballs instead of wings. They are perfectly sweet and savory with just the right amount of kick. This is one of the easiest meatball recipes you’ll ever try; it’s sure to become an instant classic!
Ingredients in Cocktail Meatballs
These appetizer meatballs couldn’t be easier to make! Just throw it all in the Crockpot and let them simmer in the crock pot until you’re ready to serve. Here’s what you need:
- Meatballs – You can use 2 pounds of pre-cooked, frozen meatballs OR make your own homemade meatballs using this easy recipe.
- Frank’s Original Hot Sauce – no substitutions on this. It’s by far the best sauce out there and gives these meatballs the perfect spicy flavor.
- Brown sugar – about one and a half cups packed, or more if you like it sweeter.
If you want to use meatballs from scratch, go ahead! You may want to brown the meatballs first to keep them from sticking to the Crockpot. Or, if you prefer the frozen meatballs in the recipe, they work great too.
For Homemade Meatballs
If you want to substitute frozen meatballs for homemade, they’re really easy to make! Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl, use a cookie scoop to make perfectly sized balls, place them on a prepared baking sheet and bake. Here’s what you need for homemade meatballs:
- Ground Beef – Make sure to use lean ground beef. If the beef is too fatty, the sauce will turn out very oily. Not a huge fan of ground beef? Feel free to try ground pork meatballs, ground turkey meatballs or ground chicken meatballs too! We will often do a mixture of both ground beef and pork to make them more tender.
- Onion – In this recipe instead of dicing the onion, you grate it with a cheese grater. This creates small, thin pieces of onion that keep the meatball texture super smooth.
- Panko Breadcrumbs – Panko breadcrumbs help to bind the meatballs together. I like using panko breadcrumbs instead of regular breadcrumbs.
- Parmesan Cheese – Parmesan cheese adds flavor and helps to bind the meatballs together. Try to get grated parmesan instead of shredded for the best texture.
- Eggs – Eggs add moisture and help bind the meatballs.
- Milk – Milk helps the meatballs stick together and creates a juicy, soft texture.
- Garlic – Freshly crushed garlic cloves are the best, but you can used the minced garlic from the jar.
- Spices – I keep it simple with this recipe and just use kosher salt, black pepper, and oregano. If you want to go a little further, then you can and red pepper flakes.
- See full recipe here: Crockpot Meatballs
Optional Sauces for Cocktail Meatballs
If you have kids, you’ll know that ketchup is the only acceptable dipping sauce for most youngsters. But as adults, you can try some other ideas for meatballs:
- Chili sauce
- Cranberry sauce
- Worcestershire sauce
- Grape jelly
- Barbecue sauce
Make Meatballs a Meal
The first time we made these meatballs we just served them as an appetizer. The second time we added pineapple and red peppers served the meatballs over rice as a main dish (seriously, you have got to try it this way — SO good)! Either way its amazing. But if you’re trying to pin down your game day snacks, this is the perfect, quick appetizer for game day with family and friends. I don’t know about you, but if family and friends are over I want to BE with them, not be stuck in the kitchen the whole time. That is what makes these meatballs so awesome, it is literally 3 minutes of prep-time and you are done.
Frequently Asked Questions About Cocktail Meatballs
If these cocktail meatballs are part of your party buffet, add some crisp veggies like cauliflower, broccoli or brussels sprouts, which taste great after a bite of savory meat.
Here’s where your crock pot can really shine! Keep the meatballs on low or warm and just serve them right out of the slow cooker so they’re nice and hot for your guests.
Yes! Store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator, then reheat either in a saucepan on the stove or in the microwave.
READ MORE:75+ Super Bowl Food Ideas
More Tasty Meatball Recipes
Cocktail Meatballs (Sweet and Spicy)
- 2 pounds meatballs (pre-cooked, frozen)
- 1/3 cup Frank’s Original Hot Sauce no substitutions
- 1 1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
- 1 tablespoon water
- Place meatballs in slow cooker.
- Combine hot sauce, brown sugar and water in a bowl. Stir until well combined and sugar is mostly dissolved.
- Pour the sauce over the meatballs and stir to evenly coat.
- Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours or on high for 2-3 hours.
- If using homemade meatballs with this recipe, you may want to brown the meatballs first to keep them from sticking to the sides of the Crock Pot. Or, if you prefer the frozen meatballs in the recipe, they work great too.
- If these cocktail meatballs are part of your party buffet, add some crisp veggies like cauliflower, broccoli or brussels sprouts, which taste great after a bite of savory meat.
- Make these meatballs a meal by adding some pineapple, red peppers and serving over rice. Delicious!
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Yummy and a crowd pleaser, did not change a thing.
I’m going to give this a try this weekend. I want to try making my own meatballs. Do you suggest using the meatball recipe for your Sweet and Sour meatballs? Thanks!
Yes that would work!
Ok, thanks. Then I should bake the meatballs in the oven for a few minutes before putting in the crock pot for a few hours?
These are so good! The sauce is out of this world! We had them as a snack while watching movies and they didn’t last long!
Wow! I can’t believe this required so little ingredients but still packed a punch. Great for game night!
We LOVED these meatballs and can’t wait to make them again!
Can I use fresh ground meat or ground chicken to make my own meat balls then put them in the cock pot?
Yes, absolutely! You may want to brown the meatballs first, just to prevent sticking once they are in the slow cooker. Hope this helps!
I love it.Simple, healthy and delicious