Meatball appetizers make great make-ahead party food! They're perfect for groups and budget-friendly! Meatballs go with more than just marinara sauce, and the possibilities are endless. I've collected all my favorite easy meatball appetizer recipes for your next party in one place!
Along with great meatball recipes, I have also included simple tips for cooking meatballs to help you make the perfect tender meatball that is full of great flavor and holds together in your sauce. After learning how to make the perfect meatball, scroll through the list of all the best meatball recipes I could find! Tap the recipe button to learn more and print the recipe card.
- 🎉 Why Make Meatballs For A Party?
- Tips For Making The Best Meatballs
- How do I keep meatballs soft after cooking?
- 🧊 Can I cook frozen meatballs?
- 🔥 What's the best way to keep meatballs hot for a party?
- Traditional Meatball Appetizers
- Crockpot Meatballs + More Ways to Make Meatballs Easily
- International Flavors
- Party Cocktail Meatballs
- Meatballs Made Without Beef
- Vegan Cocktail Meatballs
- What To Serve With Meatballs For Dinner
- More Party Ideas
🎉 Why Make Meatballs For A Party?
When it comes to planning parties, I've discovered quick and easy tips that will be helpful to you. If appetizers are the only thing being served at a party, such as a baby shower, engagement party, or birthday celebration, I like to include meatballs as a hearty appetizer.
- Meatball appetizers are easy to keep hot and serve no matter what size of party you are having.
- Family-friendly appetizer that both kids and adults enjoy.
- Meatballs are a freezer-friendly party food to keep on hand for last minute gatherings!
Meatballs are also great for Game Day Party food. You can stuff them into hoagies or serve them as bite-sized treats tossed in my bacon BBQ Sauce. They also work for holiday parties or any time you expect a crowd.
💰Budget-Friendly Tip: Because meatballs are made with ground meat, you can add them to a selection of other Budget-friendly Appetizer Ideas for a party that's easy on the wallet. You can even serve them up for delicious budget-friendly meat for your weeknight dinner's main course dish.
Here is one more fun idea for serving meatballs. Make your meatballs with lean ground meat and use a low in sugar sauce such as marinara. Severe them with raw veggies, olives and pickled veggies. For more ideas, be sure to tap over to my Healthy Charcuterie Board Suggestions.
Tips For Making The Best Meatballs
With a few basic tips, you can cook delicious meatballs for your next party or dinner.
🤫 What's the secret to tender meatballs?
- Add day-old bread soaked in milk or water into your meatball ingredients. Mix this into your meat mixture for a light, tender meatball.
- Do not overcook your meatballs. Cooking ground beef, ground chicken, or ground pork too long makes it tough.
- Start with chilled meat and then add one-third cup of ice-cold water a little at a time. This is a secret to keeping meatballs tender without adding calories.
- Serve meatballs in a sauce after cooking so they do not dry out.
💡 What's the trick to meatballs that don't fall apart?
The number one thing to do is make sure you use a binder when making your meatballs. There are quite a few ways to do this including:
- Add bread pieces soaked in milk or mix in dried bread crumbs and eggs.
- Use crumbled Ritz crackers and egg mixture with the raw meat.
- I've seen some recipes use flour mixed into the meat mixture.
🏆 TOP TIP: Use a cookie scoop when forming the meatballs. This helps pack them together without overhandling the meatball mixture, which makes them tough.
Should meatballs be cooked before putting in sauce?
Yes, most definitely. Browning meatballs until a golden brown in a frying pan is best to add color to the outside of the meat, seals the juices, and also helps them keep their shape. After they're browned, finish cooking them in the sauce.
This method gives the meatballs a light, crunchy outside and a juicy, tender inside. It also infuses a flavor from the meatballs into the sauce.
Is it better to bake or pan-fry meatballs?
Pan fry or baking meatballs are both good ways to cook them. However, baking them allows an
How do I keep meatballs soft after cooking?
There's no one way to achieve tender meatballs, but here are some tricks I've used especially when they will be kept hot for an extended period of time.
- Add moisture when making the meatballs. This could be from veggies, barbecue sauces, or a little bit of ice water.
- Don't over-mix or pack them into balls too tightly.
- Keep the meatballs larger than an inch in diameter. Smaller than an inch tends to dry out when cooking.
- Pan-fry the outside of your meatballs first before adding to the sauce. This seals in the juices and keeps the inside tender.
- Use a timer to prevent overcooking overcook the meatballs.
- Use a mixture of meat with some fat. I like to use 30% high-fat meat to 70% lean ground beef for a soft meatball.
🧊 Can I cook frozen meatballs?
Yes, you can! The big advantage of frozen meatballs is most are already cooked so they just need to be heated.
Cook them in a preheated oven at 350° F. Place the number of frozen meatballs you want in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove from the baking sheet and toss them into your sauce.
🏆 TOP TIP: Be sure not to have the meatballs too close together; there should be an inch or more space between them to allow air to circulate around them which heats and browns them at the same time.
Should I thaw meatballs before going in a crockpot?
No, it's not necessary. You can put frozen meatballs directly into your crockpot. It's best to have them on the bottom so they will get the most heat.
Add the rest of your ingredients on top and follow the cooking time in the recipe.
🔥 What's the best way to keep meatballs hot for a party?
- Stovetop: keep them warm over very low heat for up to 1 hour
- Crockpot: After you have cooked the meatballs in sauce, transfer to a crockpot and set the temperature to a warm setting. They will keep for several hours. It is good to stir every hour to keep the sauce from sticking to the slow cooker.
- Chafing dish: An affordable option for large parties to keep food warm is a chafing dish. Another perk is they make cleaning up after the party a breeze.
Traditional Meatball Appetizers
If you're looking for classic flavors that appeal to a wide-variety of people then look no further. These meatballs make the perfect appetizer to serve for large groups. They're guaranteed to be a hit!
Here you will find meatballs in barbecue sauce, marinara sauce, buffalo sauce, and the famous grape jelly meatballs!
Crockpot Meatballs + More Ways to Make Meatballs Easily
Let's face it, sometimes we get pressed for time but that's when it's time to reach for kitchen tools that make life easier! The slow cooker meatballs are great because you can set them up and let them cook for hours with very little attention.
The Instant Pot is great for cooking your favorite homemade meatballs recipe quickly and much easier than other methods! Or reach for the air fryer for smaller groups or to use when the oven is full of other appetizers.
Discover old favorites but also some exciting new ways to serve meatballs for any special occasion.
Give your easy cocktail meatballs a makeover by making them with an international flair! In many instances, it's just a simple swap of a meatball sauce recipe that's needed to change it up.
There are lots of ways to incorporate more diverse flavors into your party menu! Let's look at a few ways that are some of my favorites!
Party Cocktail Meatballs
If you're looking for unique ways to serve up meatballs, then stop here! These are a little extra special, which makes them perfect for a fancier gathering. They'll still work for football parties, too but they may involve a bit more work than some of the other meatball recipes!
Meatballs Made Without Beef
While beef or a combination of meats are most commonly used for meatballs, there are other meats you can shape into meatballs! In many cases, this is one step to take when you're looking for a healthier cocktail meatball recipe!
Vegan Cocktail Meatballs
These vegan meatballs make the perfect party food when you're expecting vegan or vegetarians at a party! They're tasty enough to appeal to everyone attending, but a great way to cater to friends and family who don't eat meat.
Vegan meatballs will also appeal to guests who are looking for healthier food options at parties.
What To Serve With Meatballs For Dinner
You can easily make any of these meatball recipes and serve them as a main course for dinner. Here are a few side suggestions to make your menu a complete meal when serving meatballs.
- Potatoes: Mashed Potatoes Without Butter are great with meatball sauce poured over them. They would also be good over roasted potatoes or Baked Potatoes In An Air Fryer.
- Rice: For a quick side to put the sauce over, make Instant Pot Coconut Rice.
- Noodles: You can serve the meatballs and their sauce over spaghetti noodles, udon, egg noodles, or any of your favorite kinds of pasta.
- Bread: Serve meatballs in a sub roll or with Beer Bread. For a keto option, serve them over a Wonder Bread Chaffle.
- Veggies: Grilled Corn On The Cob, green beans, Crock Pot Asparagus, steamed broccoli, Green Jacket Salad or Fuji Apple Salad Recipe.