Easy Cocktail Meatballs Recipe

Cocktail meatballs are an easy and crowd-pleasing appetizer. They can be made ahead and kept warm so you can enjoy the party outside of the kitchen.

This easy recipe for cocktail meatballs does not require bread or egg. It’s gluten free. Many of the cocktail meatball recipes on the Internet call for grape jelly, which can be high in sugar. This recipe gives you a low sugar alternative that tastes much better.

While the meatballs lack any binding agent like breadcrumbs, you bake them in the oven so they keep their round structure. With this hands-off method of baking, you have time to prepare the sauce.

platter of cocktail meatballs on toothpicks

How do you make cocktail meatballs?

Making meatballs is as simple as combining all of the ingredients. Keep these tips in mind to make the best meatballs.

  • Don’t over mix the ingredients. You want to ensure that the ingredients are combined, but try to use a gentle touch when mixing. Excess mixing activates the collagen in red meat. As a result, the meatballs can easily become dry and tough.
  • Bake just until the meatballs are brown. At this point, the meat will be completely cooked and provide structure. Cooking longer than 15-20 minutes will dry them out and make them crumbly.
  • Consider searing the meat. If you want to make sure they don’t fall apart, you can pan fry them for a minute or two to cook the exterior first. This does require extra oil.

Feel free to double or even triple this recipe to feed a crowd.

How can I thicken the meatball sauce?

The longer you cook the sauce, the more it will thicken.

If it’s still too thin for your liking, you can make a slurry of cornstarch and water and add it to the sauce before you remove it from the heat. Stir until the sauce thickens to your desired consistency.

What is the healthiest alternative to sugar?

The sauce for these cocktail meatballs does need a little sweetener. Luckily, there are plenty of natural sweeteners on the market to choose from. My personal favorite is Swerve. It measures cup for cup like sugar and is a plant based sweetener, with no artificial ingredients. This is a great keto friendly sugar alternative to keep in your pantry.

close up image of meatball appetizers

How do you keep party meatballs warm?

These sweet meatballs make the perfect party appetizer. They can be made in advance so that all you need to do is keep them warm throughout the party.

To do this, place the cooked cocktail meatballs and sauce in a crockpot. Set it on low power. This will keep them warm and also ensures that they won’t drop in temperature to the point of risking food contamination.

Other easy party appetizers

Along with these cocktail meatballs, serve other easy party appetizers like sausage stuffed mushrooms or shrimp guacamole bites. They will make an impressive spread on your holiday table.

platter of cocktail meatballs on toothpicks

Easy Cocktail Meatballs Recipe

Yield: 24 meatballs
Prep Time:
15 mins
Cook Time:
20 mins
reating time:
5 mins
Cocktail meatballs are an easy and crowd-pleasing appetizer. They can be made ahead and kept warm so you can enjoy the party outside of the kitchen.
Print Recipe
3.5 from 2 votes


For the meatballs

  • 1 lb grass-fed ground beef
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • ½ cup white onion — chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 large cloves garlic — minced

For the sauce


  1. Combine all the ingredients for the meatballs in a medium bowl. Gently mix everything well to combine.
  2. Using a small cookie scoop to portion the meat mix. Roll these portions into small using your hands. It’ll be about 24 meatballs (the amount will depend on the size of your meatballs).
  3. Spray oil cooking on a baking sheet and place the meatballs on it.
  4. Bake for approximately 15-20 minutes or until they are evenly brown.
  5. Remove from the oven, and allow the meatballs to cool completely.
  6. While the meatballs are in the oven, let’s make the sauce by combining all the ingredients in a skillet large enough to hold all the meatballs. Simmer the sauce for about ten minutes, until slightly thickened.
  7. Add the baked meatballs into the sauce. Stir to coat the meatballs.
  8. Place the meatballs on a serving tray and spoon some of the sauce over them. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley and serve warm, with cocktail picks.

Recipe Notes

The nutrition facts don't include the meatball sauce. 
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keyword: cocktail meatballs, Meatballs

Nutrition Information

Amount per serving (1/24) — Calories: 37, Fat: 2g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 13mg, Sodium: 110mg, Potassium: 9mg, Carbohydrates: 1g, Protein: 4g

If you make this recipe, follow @primaverakitchen on Instagram, snap a photo and hashtag it #primaverakitchen. I'd love to see what you're making!

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Cocktail Meatballs