Weekend Cooking: Do You Need a Recipe for a Good Appetizer?

I don’t know about your crowd, but the party food around here has changed in the last few years. Three organizations I belong to have asked each member to bring an appetizer. I’m okay with that. I think it makes for a fun party – everyone walks around taking just a bite of this and a bite of that and chat with friends while we’re doing it. A big fancy catered dinner isn’t necessary.

The question for me is: What do I bring? I have a few old-standbys that I’ve used over the years. My favorites are two I shared on this blog in years past. They are my Shrimp Dip and Bacon Cheddar Pinwheels. I’m using those two again this year.

I wanted to bring cocktail meatballs in a sauce for one of my events. Back in the old days I used to make meatballs that were in some crazy combination of grape jelly and something else. I spent a ton of time trying to find my old recipe but could not. It was a dish that was very popular back in the 60s and 70s. I finally gave up and went to the internet.

I shouldn’t have been surprised but I was. The most popular cocktail meatball recipe is also made with a crazy combination. It’s not grape jelly, but chili sauce and cranberry jelly. So I decided to try it. I hoped it would be as good as the old one. Well, it was. Let me share this simple recipe with you.

Cocktail Meatballs

Ingredients for the meatballs:

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons minced onion

Ingreients for the sauce:

  • 1 (8 ounce) can jellied cranberry sauce
  • 3/4 cup chili sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice

I made the meatballs a couple weeks ahead of time and put them in the freezer. I actually doubled the recipe for the meatballs because meatballs are so good to have on hand. So here’s how to make the meatballs:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the ground beef, egg, water, bread crumbs, and minced onion. Roll into small meatballs.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, turning once.

Directions for the sauce

  1. In a slow cooker or large saucepan over low heat, blend the cranberry sauce, chili sauce, brown sugar, and lemon juice.
  2. Add meatballs, and simmer for 1 hour before serving.

The meatballs had a nice tangy sweetness to them. Even more surprising was that my husband, who does not like cranberries, really liked these. That’s good. Its nice to have another good appetizer standby recipe. I hope they’ll help with your holiday entertaining. In the meantime, does anyone have the old meatball recipe that uses grape jelly?

Recipe and Photo Credit: All Recipes

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15 Responses to Weekend Cooking: Do You Need a Recipe for a Good Appetizer?

  1. Peggy Ann says:

    These meatballs are very good! I’ve made them before.

  2. jama says:

    Thanks for the recipe — looks easy and delish. I love cocktail meatballs!

  3. Those sound yummy. I’ve never made meatballs, but I always love them when someone else brings them to a party.

  4. This looks like a terrific recipe. I went to a holiday party one year and someone made Reuben Dip that was so good. I”m going to have to dig that recipe out.

  5. Staci says:

    I use that same recipe for my meatballs!! But I do remember the grape jelly from back when I was younger!! I will have to ask my mom!

  6. Senio Dater says:

    That’s a great idea making cocktail meatballs. I thought those were apples at first sight

  7. Mary says:

    We use the grape jelly and chili sauce combo and never have leftovers :-) I’ll keep the cranberry jelly in mind though because I think it sounds great!

  8. Esme says:

    I was at Trader Joes yesterday and they had chicken parmesan snacks-they were so good-meatballs are always a great appetizer.

  9. Beth F says:

    I remember the grape jelly meatballs! I haven’t had them in a long time. I think I’d like this cranberry version better. And, yes, I’m still looking for holiday recipes.

  10. Hi Margot, dropping by to say that you won my Barbara Kingsolver giveaway. Please email me mailing info — congratulations.

    BTW – these items look yummy.

  11. Ti says:

    I love appetizers! Thanks for sharing!

  12. Cerrin says:

    The grape jelly one is one I use. You gave me the recipe a long time ago. I think you gave it to me when I was in college. And it is one all my friends use with different jelly and different BBQ sauce. Cheap is loved most.

    Real difficult follow carefully 😉

    Crock pot I jar grape jelly One Jar BBQ sauce. Nix together and throw your meatballs in. and serve when warm.

    I use this a lot with frozen meatballs Cheap jelly and cheep bbq sauce. Always a big hit never any leftovers.
    You can even use those coctail weenies. We do that sometimes too. yummy!

  13. Crystal says:

    Yummy meatballs! It will be my main recipe for this upcoming Christmas. Thanks for sharing this post. I’m very much excited for your more post on cakes too. :)

  14. Julian says:

    I use that same recipe for my meatballs!! But I do remember the grape jelly from back when I was younger!! I will have to ask my mom!

  15. Liana says:

    I love this recipes very much! In my childhood especially I had cocktail meatballs but nowadays am missing this recipes and all.

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