While your upcoming event or party may not fall on this special day, it’s enough to convince us that meatball appetizers are tasty enough to serve at your next function.
Yes, the meatball has its very own day!!
Almost every single culture in the world has its own version of the meatball, from Italian recipes to Asian cuisine alike.
Classic meatballs are often made with ground beef, but you can also make them with ground turkey, ground pork, and even vegetable protein for a vegan variation.
Meatballs also go well with a wide range of sauces and toppings.
You can serve meatballs in a classic red sauce, you can take things down the barbecue route, or you can go with a sour cream topping.
Needless to say, there’s a different kind of meatball for every situation and any palate.
And most meatballs are very easy to make, combining your choice of meat (or vegan base) with various spices and binders – and sometimes other fun ingredients like cheese.
To cook, you can fry meatballs on the stove top, bake them in the oven, or even make them in a crockpot for convenient cooking and continual warming.
All of this in mind, meatballs actually make what seems like the perfect appetizers for large gatherings.
They are tasty, easy to make, and simple to serve one at a time with a variety of flavors, dips, and sauces.
So, if you’re looking for some unique meatball appetizers for your next gathering, you’re sure to find a lot of excellent options.
Below, we have 23 meatball appetizer ideas – from cranberry-glazed meatballs to cheeseburger meatballs and everything in between.
Each recipe can be served on a platter using appetizer forks or toothpicks for the perfect starter to your party.
We thought we’d start our list off with a bang with some bourbon meatball appetizers!
Bourbon meatballs are savory, juicy, and delicious.
You can follow the recipe and make the meatballs from scratch, or you can buy store-bought, frozen meatballs for ease.
The bourbon sauce is an immaculate combination of bourbon, ketchup, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, and spices.
Cranberry orange meatballs are perfect for any occasion, but they’re even better for the holidays when these flavors get your taste buds in the spirit.
These meatballs are covered in a sweet, tangy, and mildly spicy sauce and work wonderfully as an appetizer served on toothpicks.
If you haven’t tried making meatballs with grape jelly yet, you’re sorely missing out.
Grape jelly sauce is always a crowd-pleaser, though it may sound odd to someone who’s never had it.
Toss your meatballs, grape jelly, and chili sauce into the crockpot and leave it on warm to serve fresh to your guests.
A regular meatball on a stick is all good and well, but it’s not something your vegan friends can enjoy.
These creative “meatballs” use rice and beans instead of ground beef as a base, and what’s more, is that they’re served on fancy little lettuce leaf platters to make them the ultimate fancy appetizers.
Jam-packed with flavorful sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, garlic, sage, white wine vinegar, and more, your guests (vegan and non-vegan alike) will be chomping at the bit for these babies.
Try adding some crushed pineapples to brighten up your meatball appetizers for a refreshing, tangy, and sweet snack.
The meatballs are packed with crushed pineapples, while the easy-to-make glaze combines brown sugar, ketchup, white vinegar, and dijon mayo for a brand new flavor profile.
You won’t be able to resist these tasty meatball appetizers.
Looking for something more hearty? Here’s our list of Meatball Dinner Ideas.
We love any recipe that includes a bit of the good stuff – and by good stuff, we mean wine, of course.
Merlot meatballs take your average, Italian meatballs and toss them in a special Merlot glaze.
The result is a super tangy, fruit-forward flavor paired perfectly with savory meat.
Plus, anytime you cook with wine you get to sip as you go.
Sweet and sour meatballs are a classic dish for any cocktail hour or party.
The recipe works with either homemade meatballs or frozen ones from the store – whatever is easiest for you.
And this recipe includes three different sauce options: grape jelly and ketchup, apricot preserves and BBQ sauce, or cranberry sauce and chili sauce.
Make all three for a great presentation with multiple options!
Many of the recipes on our list have you serving the meatballs alone or with a simple sauce, but these chipotle meatball appetizers take a little extra work.
And believe me, they’re worth every second.
Grab some frozen meatballs and serve them in crescent roll cups topped with mozzarella cheese and avocado pieces to really charm the taste buds.
Swedish meatballs make an excellent home-cooked meal, but when served on toothpicks, they’re the perfect meatballs appetizer.
This recipe is a long-standing family recipe that has passed the test of time.
They’re easy to make and come served with a creamy, savory sauce that’s irresistible.
To serve as an appetizer, arrange the meatballs on a platter with toothpicks and drizzle the sauce over them.
Or, you can put the sauce in a bowl for dipping and self-serving.
Meatballs don’t exactly say Asian cuisine, but as we mentioned earlier, almost every culture has its own spin on the meatball.
Asian teriyaki meatballs are exactly what they sound like, and you can serve them on a bamboo toothpick for an extra cultural flare.
Our Asian Turkey Meatballs are a good option, too.
The bite-sized appetizers are super easy to make, and they look fabulous on a serving platter sprinkled with green onion and sesame seeds for that extra-fancy feeling.
If you’re looking for party meatball recipes with a little kick to them, check out these cajun meatballs.
The recipe is fairly traditional as far as meatballs go, but it includes hot pepper sauce and cajun seasoning for that burst of flavor you’re looking for.
It also uses peach preserves, which make it just sweet enough to mirror a sweet and sour flavor profile.
Yum is an understatement.
Who says vegans can’t enjoy a good “meatball” now and then?
Like all vegan recipes, these meatballs use a substitute for ground beef as its base.
These meatballs are made with black beans and brown rice.
These come out savory and even a bit springy to mimic the texture of real meatballs, but it’s mixed with the perfect seasonings and ingredients for a juicy, savory flavor.
Meatball sandwiches are a delicious meal that anyone can appreciate, but they don’t exactly scream appetizer.
That is unless you make them bite-sized.
With just five ingredients, you can create these mini meatball bites that are basically just one-bite meatball subs.
Use frozen meatballs for a quick and easy fix along with your favorite cheese and some Italian sauce.
Just three ingredients and only five minutes – it seems too good to be true.
But don’t worry, it’s all real!
Slow cooker Hawaiian meatballs put a tangy spin on traditional meatballs by using pineapple juice and chunks mixed with regular barbeque sauce.
These meatballs will take your guests away on a tropical experience in the comfort of your dining room.
Who doesn’t love barbeque sauce?
This three-ingredient meatball appetizer recipe is so easy, even the most inexperienced chef can successfully make it.
Grab a bag of your favorite frozen meatballs and combine some BBQ sauce with some ketchup and you’re good to go.
Prepare the meatballs in a slow cooker to keep them warm and serve with mini forks or toothpicks.
Meatballs don’t sound very fancy, but it’s all about the presentation, and this cranberry-glazed meatball appetizer recipe takes the cake.
The unique combination of tart cranberries with spicy chili sauce is simply out of this world.
You only need two ingredients to make the special sauce.
Throw the finished, glazed meatballs on a toothpick and top with fresh cranberries for a presentation that’s to die for.
Honey and garlic are a flavor combination that will never go out of style, so we knew we had to include this meatball recipe on our appetizer list.
Plus, it’s a crockpot recipe, so it doesn’t get much easier.
Cover some frozen meatballs with a tasty honey garlic sauce that uses brown sugar, ketchup, and soy sauce for easy appetizers that look great on mini forks.
Italian meatballs will always be classic, but let’s add a little spice to them for something new and fun.
Spicy Italian meatballs can be made (and served!) in the slow cooker, which ups the convenience factor by several levels.
The crushed red pepper adds just the right amount of spice, while the Italian sausage brings the flavor.
Keep these babies warm throughout cocktail hour, keeping a container of mini forks or toothpicks nearby for easy serving.
Mini taco meatballs are the perfect appetizer for anyone who wants all the flavor of a taco, without the timely preparation and messiness.
These ground beef meatballs use some of the classic taco ingredients: taco seasoning, onion, cilantro, and cheese.
Serve them on toothpicks or stick tortilla chips in them and dip them in taco sauce or sour cream for a bite of taco goodness.
Quick, easy, and inexpensive – that’s what you get when you make these mini meatball appetizers.
Turkey meatballs are a delicious alternative to beef meatballs, and they give you a different flavor to switch things up a little bit.
Roll the seasoned turkey meat into tablespoon-size balls for the perfect mini appetizers and serve with your favorite sauce.
Vegan sweet and sour meatballs are the crockpot recipe that every vegan has been searching for – even if they didn’t know it.
This recipe uses a vegan base of cooked brown lentils.
The “meatballs” get doused in a grape jam and chili sauce mixture that needs no special introduction.
Serve these appetizers on toothpicks and let your guests be the true judges.
22. Pork Meatballs
Traditional meatballs are great, but pork meatballs are flavorful juicy crowd-pleasers.
The simple ingredients are easy to find, and you can always choose leaner ground pork if you’re looking for a healthier option.
Bake these meatballs at an average size or make mini meatballs appetizers and put them on skewers or toothpicks for your guest.
Serve them with your favorite red sauce or barbeque sauce, or enjoy them plain.
Meatballs and cheeseburgers are both made with ground beef and seasoning, so why haven’t we tried this idea sooner?
These fun and delicious cheeseburger meatball appetizers are like cheeseburgers on a stick!
The recipe includes all the staples of a good burger, including cheese, relish, mustard, ketchup, and onion.
You can even make these ahead of time and freeze them to make day-of party preparation super easy.
The bottom line
Appetizer meatballs make such a fantastic choice for any kind of event or gathering, whether you’re hosting for the holidays or throwing a housewarming party.
Plus as you reach the end of this list, here’s our OTHER list of what great sides go with any of these meatballs!
Did you find any recipes for meatball appetizers you’d like to try on this list?
Give one or more of these yummy appetizers a try for the perfect opener for any meal.
Here’s a tip that works with any meatball recipe: How to Reheat Meatballs!
- Bourbon Meatballs
- Cranberry Orange Meatballs
- Crockpot Meatballs With Grape Jelly Sauce
- Fancy Vegan Meatballs
- Pineapple Appetizer Meatballs
- Merlot Meatballs
- Sweet & Sour Cocktail Meatballs
- Chipotle Meatball Appetizers
- Swedish Meatballs
- Asian Teriyaki Meatballs
- Cajun Appetizer Meatballs
- Vegan Cocktail Meatballs With Chili Dip
- Meatball Mini Sliders
- Slow Cooker Hawaiian Meatballs
- Sweet Instant Pot BBQ Meatballs
- Cranberry-Glazed Appetizer Meatballs
- Honey Garlic Crockpot Meatballs
- Spicy Italian Meatballs
- Mini Taco Meatballs
- Mini Turkey Meatballs
- Vegan Sweet & Sour Meatball
- Pork Meatballs
- Cheeseburger Meatballs
- Choose a recipe from any of our Meatball Appetizers list.
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