3 Slow Cooker Cocktail Meatballs for Your Holiday Parties

Slow Cooker Cocktail Meatballs 3 Ways

Raise your hand if you break from tradition for Christmas dinner? My family does. We forgo the turkey and the ham, and in place of it, we do a pitch-in appetizer dinner. It. Is. Awesome.

We’ve been doing this for as long as I can remember, and as the years have gone by, some dishes have become tradition to have in our spread. My parents always make stuffed mushrooms and peel-and-eat shrimp. I always make my mini Christmas quiche (they’re vegetarian, which my veggie brother and sister-in-law appreciate). And in the past few years, I’ve also been making meaaattttballlllllsssss (which my veggie brother and sister-in-law, obviously, don’t appreciate as much). Cocktail meatballs feel like an appetizer from another era, but I’m officially calling it—meatballs are totally hip again. So tasty! So easy! So crowd-pleasing!

3 Cocktail Meatballs

A few weeks back, my friends at Crock-Pot® brand sent me their latest creation—their Swing and Serve Slow Cooker—and the second I saw this sucker, I knew it was time to expand my meatball repertoire.

This bad mammajamma has THREE crocks that you can control separately, all contained in the same amount of counter space as a regular slow cooker. If this baby doesn’t scream “HOLIDAY PARTY!,” I don’t know what does!

3 Cocktail Meatballs

I love using a slow cooker for holiday cooking. The holidays are stressful enough, so using a slow cooker to help you out is a no-brainer. I always put my Christmas meatballs into my slow cooker to keep them warm and delicious while we celebrate, and now that I have three separate crocks, I have space for three different flavors.

You can make all three of these if you really want to knock the socks off your holiday guests, or you can just make one flavor! These meatball recipes aren’t just for cocktail parties either. The Mozzarella-Stuffed Italian Meatballs are perfecto on top of spaghetti. The Sticky Thai Meatballs are wonderful served on a big pile of fluffy rice. And we eat the Sweet and Sour Meatballs as a main dinner dish sometimes. Yum! Let’s dig into each one.

Mozzarella Stuffed Italian Meatballs

These meatballs are packed with Italian flavor and stuffed with ooey, gooey mozzarella cheese. Serve them with your favorite marinara sauce.

Mozzarella Stuffed Italian Meatballs
 
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Makes: 36 meatballs
Ingredients
  • 1 pound mild Italian sausage
  • ½ pound ground beef
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
  • ⅔ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 4 sticks mozzarella string cheese, cut into ¼" slices
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • Parmesan and minced parsley, for garnish
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the Italian sausage, ground beef, salt, cheese, eggs, Italian seasoning, and breadcrumbs. Mix well (your best bet is to use clean hands).
  3. Grab a couple of tablespoons of the mixture and form into a ball around one of the slices of string cheese. Roll into a ball.
  4. Place on a large baking sheet. Repeat with remaining meat and cheese.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the meatballs are brown and cooked through.
  6. Serve immediately with marinara sauce, or pour marinara sauce into the slow cooker with the cooked meatballs, and keep on warm until ready to serve. Top with more Parm and parsley before serving.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

It doesn’t get much more classic than these cocktail meatballs. The sauce is a little odd (grape jam, what?), but trust me, the end result is tangy, sweet, and super addictive.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs
 
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Makes: 36 meatballs
Ingredients
For the Meatballs
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • ½ pound ground pork
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon dried onion flakes
  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
For the Sauce
  • ¾ cup packed brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ⅓ cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup grape jelly
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • ⅓ cup water
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all the meatball ingredients. Mix well (your best bet is to use clean hands).
  3. Grab a couple of tablespoons of the mixture and form into a ball. Place on a large baking sheet. Repeat with remaining meat.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the meatballs are brown and cooked through.
  5. In the basin of a slow cooker, combine the brown sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, and jelly. In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water. Add cornstarch slurry to the slow cooker and whisk.
  6. Add in the cooked meatballs, cover the slow cooker, and cook on high for about an hour, until the sauce is thick and bubbly. Reduce heat to warm until ready to serve.

Spicy Sticky Thai Meatballs

If you’re looking for an appetizer with a bit of a kick, these are for you! I recommend starting off with 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, but if you really like to bring the heat, add some more.

Spicy Sticky Thai Meatballs
 
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Author:
Makes: 36 meatballs
Ingredients
For the Meatballs
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • ½ pound ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • ⅔ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (more if you like it spicy!)
For the Sauce
  • ¾ cup packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar
  • ⅓ cup Thai sweet chile sauce
  • ⅓ cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • ⅓ cup water
  • Chopped peanuts, minced cilantro, and lime juice, for garnish
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all the meatball ingredients. Mix well (your best bet is to use clean hands).
  3. Grab a couple of tablespoons of the mixture and form into a ball. Place on a large baking sheet. Repeat with remaining meat.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the meatballs are brown and cooked through.
  5. In the basin of a slow cooker, combine the brown sugar, vinegar, chile sauce, and soy sauce. In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water. Add cornstarch slurry to the slow cooker and whisk.
  6. Add in the cooked meatballs, cover the slow cooker, and cook on high for about an hour, until the sauce is thick and bubbly. Reduce heat to warm until ready to serve. Top with chopped peanuts, cilantro, and a squeeze of fresh lime juice before serving.

Sticky Thai Meatballs

Pick just one flavor to serve this holiday season, or go all out and make all three using your Crock-Pot® Swing and Serve slow cooker. Wholefully readers get an extra 25% off of select Crock-Pot® slow cookers through this link! That’s such a great holiday steal!

Crock-Pot

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9 Comments

These look delicious. I could never give up Christmas dinner (Canadian so or Thanksgiving is not as close to xmas as it is for you) but we totally do this type of food for New Years. My husband admittedly loves meatballs with just Diana Sauce poured over them and while simple and tasty, these are next level and I will be testing them on NYE for sure!

Rockin’ video! I vaguely remember that making more videos was a goal for 2016? Maybe? Well, you’ve gotten so good at it!

Oh my goodness! What a gorgeous slew of meatballs. We don’t celebrate Christmas, but I have plenty of times when appetizers are welcome at my holiday table. My hubby is a huge fan of meatball sandwiches, so I have a few other ideas for how to use these meatballs too 🙂

I made the sweet and sour meatballs this week for dinner. They turned out great – you’re totally right about the grape jelly – and keeping them warm in the slow cooker worked perfectly as I waited for my husband to get home later than planned. We served them over egg noodles with broccoli on the side to make the meal more complete.