Crockpot Appetizer Meatballs

5 from 9 votes
10 Comments

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These Crockpot appetizer 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!

Hand holding a Cocktail Meatball over a bowl of Cocktail Meatballs.
Featured with this recipe
  1. Ingredients in Crockpot Appetizer Meatballs
  2. For Homemade Crockpot Appetizer Meatballs
  3. Browning Homemade Meatballs
  4. Steps to Making Crockpot Appetizer Meatballs
  5. Optional Sauces for Crockpot Appetizer Meatballs
  6. Make Crockpot Appetizer Meatballs a Meal
  7. Frequently Asked Questions
  8. Storing Leftover Crockpot Appetizer Meatballs
  9. More Tasty Meatball Recipes
  10. How to Make Crockpot Appetizer Meatballs
  11. Crockpot Appetizer Meatballs Recipe

These simple sweet and spicy crockpot appetizer meatballs are absolutely delicious! Tender ground beef meatballs are covered in a rich sauce, and slow cooked to perfection. 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; they’re sure to become an instant favorite!

Ingredients in Crockpot Appetizer Meatballs

These appetizer meatballs couldn’t be easier to make! Just throw it all in the Crockpot and let it simmer in the crock pot until you are ready to serve.

  • Meatballs – You can use 2 pounds of pre-cooked, frozen meatballs or make homemade meatballs with just a few steps. Either way, these crockpot appetizer meatballs are so delicious!
  • 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.
  • Water – A simple ingredient that adds moisture to the sauce.
Frozen meatballs, Frank's Red Hot sauce, brown sugar, water onions and toothpicks for Cocktail Meatballs.


For Homemade Crockpot Appetizer Meatballs

If you want to use homemade meatballs instead of frozen, they are easy to make! Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl, use a cookie scoop to make perfectly sized balls, place them on a prepared baking sheet, and bake. These simple ingredients will make homemade meatballs quick!

  • 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, creating a juicy, soft texture.
  • Garlic  Freshly crushed garlic cloves are the best, but you can use 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 use red pepper flakes.

Browning Homemade Meatballs

Slow cooker with fully cooked Cocktail Meatballs.

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.

Steps to Making Crockpot Appetizer Meatballs

  1. Prepare – Place meatballs in slow cooker.
  2. Stir – Combine hot sauce, brown sugar, and water in a bowl. Stir until well combined and sugar is mostly dissolved.
  3. Coat – Pour the sauce over the meatballs and stir to evenly coat.
  4. Cook – Cover and cook on low for 4 to 5 hours or on high for 2 to 3 hours. Let it sit on a warm setting once cooked to keep hot for serving.

Optional Sauces for Crockpot Appetizer 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 too!

  • Chili sauce – It has a spicy type of meatball with all the flavor.
  • Cranberry sauce – A fruity and delicious flavor. This is a family favorite!
  • Worcestershire sauce – Using Worcestershire sauce elevates the meatballs to the next level of sweet, savory, tangy, and a little bit spicy.
  • Grape jelly – These classic grape jelly meatballs are a family favorite and can be enjoyed year-round. They are always popular and so easy to make!
  • BBQ sauce – An easy way to add sauce to the meatballs. Pick a savory, hickory, honey BBQ sauce that adds a delicious flavor!
Cocktail Meatballs in a bowl next to slow cooker, sliced celery and green onions.

Make Crockpot Appetizer 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 and served the meatballs over rice as a main dish (seriously, you have got to try it this way — SO good)! Either way, it’s 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 three minutes of prep time and you are done. It is that quick and easy every time!

“Yummy and a crowd pleaser, did not change a thing.”

-Barbara

Frequently Asked Questions

What goes well with meatballs for a party?

If these crockpot appetizer 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.

How do you keep meatballs warm?

Here’s where your crock pot can shine! Keep the meatballs on low or warm and serve them right out of the slow cooker so they’re nice and hot for your guests.

Can you reheat the crockpot appetizer meatballs?

Yes! Store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator, then reheat either in a saucepan on the stove or in the microwave.

Cocktail Meatballs on a serving tray garnished with green onions.

Storing Leftover Crockpot Appetizer Meatballs

Place the leftover easy crockpot appetizer meatballs in an airtight container and store them in the fridge. When you are ready to reheat, place it in an air fryer, in the oven, or microwave and warm up until hot to the touch.

READ MORE:75+ Super Bowl Food Ideas

More Tasty Meatball Recipes

How to Make Crockpot Appetizer Meatballs

Cocktail Meatballs in a bowl next to slow cooker, sliced celery and green onions.

Crockpot Appetizer Meatballs

5 from 9 votes
These crockpot appetizer 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!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 10 minutes
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Servings 12

Equipment

  • Crockpot

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds meatballs (pre-cooked, frozen)
  • cup Frank’s Original Hot Sauce no substitutions
  • 1 ½ cup brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 Tablespoon water

Instructions

  • Place meatballs in slow cooker.
    Slow cooker with frozen meatballs inside for Cocktail Meatballs.
  • Combine hot sauce, brown sugar, and water in a bowl. Stir until well combined and sugar is mostly dissolved.
    Mixing bowl with sauce for Cocktail Meatballs.
  • Pour the sauce over the meatballs and stir to evenly coat.
    Slow Cooker with frozen Cocktail Meatballs covered in sauce.
  • Cover and cook on low for 4 to 5 hours or on high for 2 to 3 hours.
    Slow cooker with fully cooked Cocktail Meatballs.

Notes

  • 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 crockpot. Or, if you prefer the frozen meatballs in the recipe, they work great too.
  • If these crockpot appetizer 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, and red peppers and serving over rice. Delicious!
 

Nutrition Information

Calories: 303kcalCarbohydrates: 27gProtein: 13gFat: 16gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 54mgSodium: 254mgPotassium: 254mgSugar: 27gVitamin A: 5IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 33mgIron: 1mg

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About the author

Erica Walker

Erica lives in Boise, Idaho with her husband, Jared, an attorney, and her three beautiful girls. Beyond the world of recipes, she loves adventuring with everything from kayaking, to cruising, to snowboarding and taking the family along for the thrill ride.

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Comments

  1. 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!

      1. 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?

  2. 5 stars
    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!

  3. Can I use fresh ground meat or ground chicken to make my own meat balls then put them in the cock pot?

    1. Yes, absolutely! You may want to brown the meatballs first, just to prevent sticking once they are in the slow cooker. Hope this helps!