Enjoy classic strawberry balsamic Best Cocktail Meatballs, perfect for a party or game day. Keep warm in the slow cooker or serve with rice.

slow cooker of cocktail meatballs

Friends, are you hosting f0r NYE this year? Or a game day party or potluck party? These popular meatballs have been around for years. Maybe your mama made them for potlucks, or a NYE party.

They get devoured quickly—a real party hit. Yes, they’re sweet, but they’re also super good because the meatballs are homemade! And if you’re new to RE, have you bought my new book, Big Boards for Families, yet? (thank you!!)

Best Cocktail Meatballs

This Strawberry Balsamic Cocktail Meatballs recipe today makes 5-6 dozen meatballs! But you can also use frozen prepared, bite-sized meatballs, thawed.

taking bite of cocktail meatballs

How do you make the best meatball sauce?

Two easy ingredients! Strawberry jelly (preserves) and chili sauce. Two easy ingredients to keep stocked in your pantry! Here’s a little tip: What jelly is in your pantry that you want to use up? Almost any flavor jelly works for this recipe. Grape jelly is also popular.

ingredients for making meatballs

Ingredients to make your own cocktail meatballs:

  • Ground beef
  • Bread crumbs
  • Sweet onion
  • Milk
  • Salt + white pepper
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Eggs
  • Chili sauce
  • Strawberry jelly
  • Parsley

cooked meatballs

As I mentioned above, Cocktail Meatballs are easily made with frozen meatballs, grape jelly, and chili sauce. It’s easy to throw together with  only three ingredients and toss in the crock pot.

Make homemade meatballs

But wait … we really love to make our own meatballs. Follow the recipe below. Then toss in a slow cooker, and simmer before serving, as well as keeping them hot for the duration of your party.

strawberry preserves cocktail meatballs

Hosting a Game Day Party

This recipe is perfect for game day! Have you thought about changing up the guest list, or do you invite the same people year after year? Traditionalism is great, but it’s also good to change things up (my humble opinion).

You could also serve this recipe in the center of an epic charcuterie, if they’re eaten quickly. Otherwise, it’s best to keep them in a slow cooker so they stay nice and hot.

Throw away that recipe that calls for frozen meatballs and grape jelly – these homemade cocktail meatballs are so much better.

3 best cocktail meatballs with jam

How do you make cocktail meatballs?

  1. Shape meat mixture into 1-1/2″ meatballs. Place in ungreased 13x9x2 rectangular pan lined with foil or parchment paper (easier to clean up) and bake.
  2. Heat chili sauce and jelly in large saucepan and simmer.
  3. Pour sauce over cooked meatballs and serve in a slow cooker, or on an appetizer platter or charcuterie board with toothpicks, or over rice or quinoa. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley.

3 cocktail meatballs on plate

How to serve cocktail meatballs

You can leave them in the slow cooker (to remain hot), or you can plate them on a large serving platter. Garnish with fresh parsley!

If you plate them, it’s nice to stick a toothpick in each meatball.

Enjoy the leftovers on tacos!

We’ve even served the leftovers in tacos, and spiced them up. They’re also delicious over white rice or quinoa or spaghetti squash for dinner!

More meatball appetizers to try:

Pork Meatballs in Aromatic Broth

Meatball Chicken Lettuce Wraps Plate

5 ingredient Mini Pork Meatballs with Farro

Chicken Meatball Italian Wedding Soup

Swedith Meatballs

3 best cocktail meatballs with jam
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Get the Recipe:

Best Cocktail Meatballs

Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 30 mins
Total Time: 45 mins
Yield: 12


  • 3 lbs. lean ground beef
  • 1 1/2 cup bread crumbs, any flavor
  • 1 large sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. white pepper
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 bottles, 12 ounces each, chili sauce
  • 1 jar, 22 ounce, Smucker’s Strawberry Jelly
  • Parsley, chopped


  • Heat oven to 400°F. Stir together all ingredients except chili sauce and jelly. Shape meat mixture into 1-1/2″ meatballs. Place in ungreased 13x9x2 rectangular pan lined with foil or parchment paper (easier to clean up).
  • Bake uncovered about 30 minutes or until no longer pink in center.
  • Heat chili sauce and jelly in large saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly until heated through. Stir in meatballs until coated. Simmer uncovered 30 minutes.
  • Serve in a slow cooker, or on an appetizer platter with toothpicks, or over rice or quinoa or spaghetti squash. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley.


Makes 5-6 dozen.
Recipe originally posted DEC 2014.
Cuisine: American
Course: Appetizer
Did you make this recipe?Tag @reluctantentertainer on Instagram and hashtag it #reluctantentertainer!

best cocktail meatballs