These delicious saucy meatballs are the perfect combination of sweet and tangy and make for a perfect appetizer!

These delicious, little meatball morsels are the perfect combination of sweet and tangy and make for an appetizer worthy of an elegant dinner party or a down-home football game.

I snagged the recipe idea from the Sister’s Cafe (thanks Brittany!) but changed it up a bit, swapping in the Pioneer Woman’s meatball recipe for store-bought meatballs and changing the cooking method a bit.

Three saucy meatballs with toothpicks in them on a white plate.

I wanted a sturdy yet tender meatball that would hold up to being cooked and sauced, and these definitely fit the bill.

The brown sugar, tart cranberry sauce, and spicy cocktail sauce combine in a perfect compliment of flavors and these meatballs were deemed worthy to add to the meatball arsenal I’ve collected already.

Meatballs covered in sauce with toothpicks in them on a white plate.

One Year Ago: Loaded Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Two Years Ago:Toffee Butterscotch and Tapioca Pudding


Saucy Meatballs

5 star (1 rating)



  • 1 ½ pounds ground beef or lean ground turkey
  • ¾ cup quick oats
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons finely minced onion
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, for coating meatballs
  • Canola oil


  • 1 (12-ounce) jar of cocktail sauce
  • 1 can whole cranberry sauce
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup water


  • For the meatballs: preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine all the meatball ingredients (except the oil and flour). Roll into medium-small balls (about the size of a ping pong ball – if you want specifics) and place on a cookie sheet. Place sheet in the freezer for five minutes.
  • After 5 minutes, remove meatballs from freezer and immediately dredge in unseasoned flour. Heat 1/3 cup canola oil in a large skillet. When oil is hot, add meatballs and brown on all sides (but don’t cook through). Place the meatballs in a single layer in a 9X13-inch baking dish and make the sauce.
  • For the sauce: combine the sauce ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Pour the sauce over the meatballs and cook in the oven for 40 minutes, tossing halfway through to coat the meatballs in the sauce. Serve with toothpicks.


Make-Ahead: you can make the meatballs the day beforehand (including cooking them by themselves in the 9X13-inch pan) and then the next day, place the meatballs and heated sauce in the crockpot and cook on high for 2-3 hours to heat through.
Serving: 1 Meatball, Calories: 147kcal, Carbohydrates: 20g, Protein: 5g, Fat: 5g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 16mg, Sodium: 294mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 15g

Recipe Source: Meatballs adapted from Pioneer Woman/Sauce from Sister’s Cafe