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Easy Sweet & Sour Meatballs (Party Finger Food!)

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If you love to entertain but hate to spend all your time cooking for the party, you’re going to love these Easy Sweet & Sour Meatballs.

meatballs on lettuce on a plate with title text reading Sweet & Sour Meatballs

These are always one of the most popular finger foods at my parties among both kids and adults. Another popular food at parties are these Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Legs.

One of my favorite parts of the busy holiday season are all the parties that accompany this time of year. I love to throw parties as much as I love to attend them because: 1) it’s the best incentive to make my house sparkle and shine and 2) I love getting to see so many of my favorite people all at once.

And since my favorite part of ATTENDING parties is getting to sample lots of great food, I like to make sure that I have a generous buffet of goodies when I’m the hostess. And those leftover finger foods make delicious snacks the next couple of days after the party.


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In my younger days, I thought it was cheating if I didn’t make everything from scratch. Since then, I’ve learned that most people don’t care if you cut a few corners and it is far easier to enjoy the party when you’re well rested so it’s best to have a few shortcuts intermingled with your gourmet fare. My very favorite “cheater” recipe is for Sweet & Sour Meatballs.

overhead view of meatballs on lettuce on a plate with a toothpick in one of the meatballs

About These Sweet & Sour Meatballs

If you have the time, you can make the meatballs from scratch. However, this sauce is so flavorful, it effortlessly dresses up frozen meatballs so you can get away with making that time-saving switch here. The very best part of this recipe though is how unbelievably easy it is!

Chances are, you have seen recipes similar to this one before. The unlikely pairing of chili sauce and grape jelly is a secret that’s been out of the bag for a while now.

Although I am a fan of the original, insanely easy variation, I prefer the sauce with just a few added ingredients to enhance the flavor.

Don’t be frightened by the ginger and ground mustard. The amounts I use are too small to create a kick but are just enough to balance the sweet jelly and tangy chili sauce. I have two kids who detest spicy food and they still LOVE these sweet & sour meatballs.

How to Make Sweet & Sour Meatballs

You won’t break a sweat making these meatballs since you basically just dump all of the ingredients into your slow cooker and let it do all the work!

You’ll need meatballs, chili sauce, grape jelly, Worcestershire sauce and just a little ground ginger and ground mustard.

ingredients needed to make sweet & sour meatballs

Place the meatballs in the slow cooker. If you want, you can mix the sauce ingredients together (but I almost always skip this step).

meatballs, sauce and seasonings in a slow cooker with a wooden spoon in it

Then, pour all of the sauce ingredients (mixed or not), over the meatballs.

pouring sauce over meatballs

Cook on low for 4-5 hours or high for 2-3 hours. That’s it!

cooked meatballs in a slow cooker

Serve right from the slow cooker or transfer to a plate if you want to be fancy. Just remember to have toothpicks nearby so guests can pick them up easily.

meatballs on lettuce on a plate with title text reading Easy Sweet & Sour Meatballs


Ready to make some sweet & sour meatballs? Here are the exact measurements.


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📋 Recipe

Easy Sweet & Sour Meatballs

Corinne Schmitt
These meatballs could be a starter or main dish.
4.58 from 50 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 5 minutes
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Servings 16
Calories 252 kcal


  • 2 lbs frozen meatballs
  • 12 oz jar chili sauce
  • 16 oz jar grape jelly
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 T Worcestershire sauce


  • Place meatballs in crockpot.
  • Combine all other ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.
  • Pour mixture over meatballs.
  • Heat on low for 4-5 hours or on high for 2-3 hours.


If you serve as appetizers, provide toothpicks. You can also serve as an entree by spooning the meatballs over rice.


Calories: 252kcalCarbohydrates: 24gProtein: 10gFat: 12gSaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 41mgSodium: 336mgPotassium: 272mgFiber: 2gSugar: 16gVitamin A: 149IUVitamin C: 6mgCalcium: 19mgIron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

More Easy Appetizers and Finger Foods

If you love meatballs, check out Instant Pot Asian Meatballs, or these Crockpot Grape Jelly BBQ Meatballs are one of the easiest and best appetizers to take to a party or social gathering. If you liked the simplicity of these Sweet & Sour Meatballs, you might enjoy another of my favorite party finger foods – Zucchini Pizza Bites.

zucchini pizza bites on a baking sheet

I’ve also put together a collection of over 100 of the best finger foods and easy appetizers. This is the list I use to choose my party menu.

a collage of 20 different appetizers with title text reading Over 100 Easy Appetizers

45 thoughts on “Easy Sweet & Sour Meatballs (Party Finger Food!)”

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  2. What if I wanted to make my own meat balls from scratch not frozen? I’d like to make this for tomorrow nights dinner. Let me know please what route I’d take. Thanks

    • Hi! Since frozen meatballs are pre-cooked, you’d just make your meatballs like normal and bake them, then add them to this recipe instead of frozen meatballs.

  3. The recipe says 1/2 ground ginger and I wanted to know if that is 1/2 teaspoon or 1/2 tablespoon, or are you using freshly ground ginger root. I am planning on making these for a party on Monday so I’d love to hear from you. These look delicious and super easy!

    • Hi Becky, thanks for catching that. Looks like I accidentally dropped the tsp during my last update. It should be 1/2 teaspoon. And I use ground ginger from my spice cabinet, I don’t grind it fresh.

  4. 5 stars
    I love Sweet and Sour Meatballs and your recipe looks awesome! Thanks so much for sharing with us at Full Plate Thursday and don’t forget to bring your Cookie Recipes to the Holiday Cookie Exchange Link Party!
    Miz Helen

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  7. 5 stars
    I love finger foods and this looks absolutely delish! I make meatballs for all of my work potlucks, so I am definitely trying these for the next event. Yum!

  8. 5 stars
    My family loves having finger foods when we watch sports and movies together. I just know that they’re going to love these meatballs – they’re one of the perfect sports watching finger foods!

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  14. These look so tasty! How do you come up with these recipes? Does it take you a lot of time or is this something passed down to you or what? I ask because I am HORRIBLE in the kitchen, but ocassionally I get an urge to cook.

  15. These look so delicious and easy to make. I don’t have a lot of time to prepare dishes for holiday gatherings and this one looks like an easy one to make.

  16. I have actually never heard of making these with jelly. Sounds easy and tasty. I am adding this to my recipes. Thanks for sharing.

  17. These meatballs look simple yet delicious. I will have to hive them a try this holiday season. I think my kids could live on cocktail party finger foods, yum!!!

  18. yum, and thanks for making the easy print option, so I can easily click and stick it in a great book of recipes that my friend made for me!

  19. I’m always looking for a good cheater mom recipe. I’m pinning this one now. Holiday parties here I come… with Sweet and Sour Meatballs!

  20. 5 stars
    These look fantastic! I love the addition of ginger and mustard. I remember making these for parties and now I am wondering why I don’t make them more often, I just love them!

    • I’ve also seen versions where people substitute cocktail sausages for the meatballs. I haven’t tried them, but this sauce would definitely work with them so I’m sure they’re just as good.


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