Sweet and tangy meatballs ready for the party.
Appetizers, Holiday favorites

Sweet and tangy meatballs


Nothing beats a sweet and tangy meatball when you need an appetizer or buffet item in a pinch. Serve these bad boys up in a crock-pot to keep them warm and let your guests help themselves. These sweet and tangy meatballs are perfect for New Years.

sweet and tangy meatballs
Perfect for New Years

This recipe also makes a delicious dinner served along with cooked Basmati rice and vegetables. This is a vintage recipe which my mom used to make. I was recently digging through old family recipes for a potluck item when I came across this old gem. It’s probably been around for decades and may have been a recipe printed on the back of the Heinz chili sauce bottle at one time.  Heinz chili sauce is basically a zesty cocktail sauce. It’s great with shrimp cocktail or to add a bit of kick to your everyday burger.

I decided to kick these sweet and tangy meatballs up a notch by adding a little Bourbon to the sauce. Why not? It’s the holidays after all. The Bourbon adds a touch of sweetness and a depth of flavor that’s hard to beat. It’s incredibly delicious. And not to worry, if you let the sauce bubble and cook for a little, the alcohol burns off. I think you’ll love it.

sweet and tangy meatballs
An easy and tangy appetizer.

You can make your own meatballs or use pre-cooked frozen Italian-style meatballs. The savory meatballs taste great with this sweet and tangy sauce. I used Cooked Perfect brand. I’d say there is enough sauce in this recipe for about 30-35 meatballs which is just about one and a half packages of the Cooked Perfect brand. The other main ingredient in these sweet and tangy meatballs is grape jelly. It sounds a little weird…but it is just the right amount of sweetness that pairs perfectly with the zesty cocktail sauce.
Cozi Family Organizer

Sweet and tangy meatballs with Bourbon
Sweet and tangy meatballs with a kick.

So, if you need a last minute item for the holidays…don’t stress. I guarantee everyone will love these. And you don’t have to tell them how easy it was to make. Happy holidays.

Happy cooking.


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Recommended products:
Heinz Chili Sauce,12oz, (pack of 2)
Cooked Perfect Italian-style frozen meatballs
Welch’s Grape Jelly, 18 oz
Crock-Pot 6-Quart

Sweet and tangy meatballs

Super easy! Classic sweet and tangy meatballs with a little Bourbon.

  • 2 12 oz bottles Heinz chili sauce
  • 1 18 oz jar concord grape jelly ((= 1 1/2 cups jelly))
  • 1 1/4 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp Bourbon
  • 1 1/2 26 oz packages frozen Italian Style Meatballs (like Cooked Perfect brand)
  • 2 tbsp chopped scallions (optional garnish)
  1. Combine the chili sauce, grape jelly, mustard and Bourbon in a large pot and heat over medium-low. Stir frequently until the jelly has completely melted. Once it gets hot and bubbly, reduce the heat to low and allow it to simmer for several minutes.
  2. Add the cooked meatballs to the sauce and let them simmer for several minutes until the sauce thickens and the meatballs are heated through.
  3. Serve with a sprinkling of scallions on top.

I used pre-cooked frozen Italian-style meatballs such as “Cooked Perfect” brand. This should be enough sauce for about 30-35 meatballs. There were 26 meatballs in each 26 oz package. I hope you enjoy this recipe. If you do, please return to the blog and leave me a comment. Get more great recipes by signing up for the weekly email at https://northwestspoon.com



  1. Ooo I’m working on a meatball recipe too but I love the addition of bourbon!!! These are the perfect tailgate recipe! Yum 😋

  2. That sauce looks so thick and rich, Michelle! And I agree, why not add a little bourbon for the holidays! 😉

  3. The sauce for these meatballs with the bourbon…perfect!!


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