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18 Sauces for Cocktail Meatballs, Weenies, and Sausages

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Rose Mary's mother and all of her aunts are great Southern cooks. She likes to think she's not so bad herself.

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My mom and Aunt Blanche insist that my cocktail meatballs, weenies, and sausages are among the fastest-disappearing dishes at any gathering. Ironic, since there are so many other food items on the family feast table that take hours of preparation. Cocktail weenies are also great to have on hand for young kids. They can go for the weenies or Lit'l Smokies instead of grabbing a big piece of chicken that they won't finish.

This article will share recipes for:

1. Basic Meatballs

2. Jelly-Based Sauces

  • Sweet-and-Spicy Chili Grape Sauce
  • Grape Jelly and Mustard Sauce
  • Spicy Grape Jelly and Mustard Sauce
  • Hot Cranberry Jelly Sauce
  • Currant Jelly Sauce

3. Ketchup-Based Sauces

  • Basic Ketchup Sauce
  • Homemade BBQ Sauce
  • Garlicky Smoked Ketchup Sauce
  • Beer Ketchup Sauce
  • Little Meatloaf-Bites Sauce

4. Sweet-and-Sour Sauces

  • Sweet-and-Sour Soy Sauce With Pineapples
  • Tomato-Based Sweet-and-Sour Sauce

5. Sauces for Swedish Meatballs

  • Onion Soup-Based Swedish Meatball Sauce
  • Creamy Swedish Meatball Sauce

6. Other Sauces

  • Brown Sugar and Mustard Ham-Glaze Sauce
  • Favorite Balsamic Marinade
  • Two-Ingredient Marinara

Enjoy these easy-to-make appetizers!

Meatballs Simmering in Garlicky Smoked Ketchup Sauce

Meatballs Simmering in Garlicky Smoked Ketchup Sauce

A Note About Sauces

Most of the sauces here can be used for any type of meat. We cooked our sauces and meats on the stovetop. To do so, simply combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring them to a low boil. Most sauces and meats will be ready after simmering for between 30 minutes and an hour.

For parties, you can prepare the sauce and meat on the stove, then transfer them to a crock pot or chafing dish to keep them warm.

Alternately, put the meatballs and sauce in the crock pot on low for 4 to 6 hours before your event.

Homemade meatballs cooking in a pan.

Homemade meatballs cooking in a pan.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for homemade. But when it comes to meatballs, I buy frozen. When you're buying, keep in mind which sauce you're planning to use and whether it'd best complement plain or Italian meatballs.

For those who prefer to make their own meatballs, I have included a basic recipe.

cocktail-meatballs-cocktails-weenies-cocktail-sausage

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • Cooking oil, for browning meatballs
Form the meat into balls one inch in diameter.

Form the meat into balls one inch in diameter.

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients except cooking oil in a bowl and thoroughly combine.
  2. Shape into meatballs, approximately 1 inch in diameter.
  3. Heat oil in skillet. Add meatballs and cook until browned, about 5 to 7 minutes. Drain on paper towel.
First freeze the meatballs in a single layer so that they don't stick together. Then you can place them all in a bag for storage.

First freeze the meatballs in a single layer so that they don't stick together. Then you can place them all in a bag for storage.

Freezing Homemade Meatballs for Future Use

It's easy to make a huge batch of meatballs and store for parties or meals:

  1. Freeze the cooked meatballs in a single layer so they don't stick together, then place meal-sized potions in freezer bags.
  2. Cook meatballs in sauce from frozen for a quick and easy meal.

How to Make Meatballs

The most popular jelly-based sauce made with grape jelly and usually includes mustard or tomato-based chili sauce. Other popular variations are made with cranberry or currant jelly.

Most of these recipes would accommodate 1½ to 2 lbs of meat.

Sweet-and-Spicy Chili Grape Sauce

Sweet-and-Spicy Chili Grape Sauce

Sweet-and-Spicy Chili-Grape Sauce

  • 1 ¼ cup grape jelly
  • 1 ½ cup tomato-based chili sauce
Lit'l Smokies in Grape Jelly and Mustard.

Lit'l Smokies in Grape Jelly and Mustard.

Grape Jelly and Mustard Sauce

  • 1 ½ cup grape jelly
  • ½ cup mustard
Cocktail weenies in Spicy Grape Jelly and Mustard.

Cocktail weenies in Spicy Grape Jelly and Mustard.

Spicy Grape Jelly and Mustard Sauce

  • 1 ¼ cup grape jelly
  • 1/4 cup chili sauce
  • 2 Tbsp mustard
Hot Cranberry Jelly Sauce

Hot Cranberry Jelly Sauce

Hot Cranberry Jelly Sauce

  • 1 eight-ounce can jellied cranberry sauce
  • ¾ cup chili sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1½ teaspoon lemon juice
  • Hot sauce, optional
Currant Jelly Sauce

Currant Jelly Sauce

Currant Jelly Sauce

  • ½ cup currant jelly
  • ¼ cup dry red wine
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest (finely grated rind)
  • 2 teaspoon mustard
Basic Ketchup Sauce

Basic Ketchup Sauce

Basic Ketchup Sauce

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
Homemade BBQ Sauce

Homemade BBQ Sauce

Homemade BBQ Sauce

  • ¾ cup ketchup
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup vinegar
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • 1½ tablespoon dried minced onion
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • 4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 6 drops hot pepper sauce
Garlicky Smoked Ketchup Sauce

Garlicky Smoked Ketchup Sauce

Garlicky Smoked Ketchup Sauce

  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1½ cups packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup minced onion
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
Beer Ketchup Sauce

Beer Ketchup Sauce

Beer Ketchup Sauce

  • 14 ounces ketchup
  • 12 ounces beer
  • 1 cup sugar
Little Meatloaf-Bites Sauce: Meatballs simmered in a sauce made with ketchup, brown sugar, water, and Worcestershire sauce.

Little Meatloaf-Bites Sauce: Meatballs simmered in a sauce made with ketchup, brown sugar, water, and Worcestershire sauce.

Meatloaf Bites Sauce

This sauce is a combination of some of the above recipes. I used frozen meatballs, cooking them on high for about 45 minutes and then on low for three to four hours. The meatballs were like little meatloaf bites. We demolished them!

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Sweet-and-Sour Soy Sauce With Pineapples

Sweet-and-Sour Soy Sauce With Pineapples

Sweet-and-Sour Soy Sauce With Pineapples

  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 can pineapple chunks (13 oz.)
  • ⅓ cup vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 small green pepper, chopped

Combine ingredients in pan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer meatballs, weenies, or sausages for 10 minutes.

Tomato-Based Sweet-and-Sour Sauce

Tomato-Based Sweet-and-Sour Sauce

Tomato-Based Sweet-and-Sour Sauce

  • 1/3 cup green pepper, chopped or sliced
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup tomato soup
  • 2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 to 2 cups pineapple tidbits with some juice

Prepare as above.

Onion Soup-Based Swedish Meatball Sauce

Onion Soup-Based Swedish Meatball Sauce

Onion-Soup-Based Swedish Meatball Sauce

  • 2 packages mushroom gravy mix
  • 1 package onion soup mix
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups sour cream

Combine gravy and soup mixes and water. Bring to a boil stirring constantly. Simmer for one minute, reduce heat to low, and add sour cream.

Creamy Swedish Meatball Sauce

Creamy Swedish Meatball Sauce

Creamy Swedish Meatball Sauce

  • 1 can cream-of-chicken soup
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 packages brown gravy mix
  • 1 to 2 cups sour cream
  • 1 bag frozen turkey-and-pork meatballs

Empty soup into crockpot. Blend in milk, water, and gravy mix. Add meatballs and cook on low for about six hours. Add sour cream in the last hour.

Cocktail sausages in my family's Brown Sugar and Mustard Ham Glaze.

Cocktail sausages in my family's Brown Sugar and Mustard Ham Glaze.

Brown Sugar and Mustard Ham Glaze Sauce

This recipe is what my family uses for baked ham. We tried it for Lit'l Smokie sausages last night, and they turned out pretty well. The recipe covers one pound of meatballs or a 12-ounce package of smokies.

  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup mustard
  • ¼ cup water
Meatballs simmered in a sauce made with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, soy sauce, garlic powder, and basil.

Meatballs simmered in a sauce made with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, soy sauce, garlic powder, and basil.

My Favorite Balsamic Marinade

This is my favorite chicken marinade, modified into a meatball simmer sauce.

  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ tablespoon garlic powder with parsley
  • 1 teaspoon basil
Two-Ingredient Marinara with meatballs.

Two-Ingredient Marinara with meatballs.

Two-Ingredient Marinara

Another simple but handy idea. Buy a jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce or treat your guests to a gourmet sauce with Italian meatballs.

  • Spaghetti sauce
  • Capers

How Often?

© 2010 rmcrayne

Comments

Laura Skrezyna on December 11, 2019:

I made the meatballs with cranberry sauce and grape jelly, Everyone just loved it! Next time I made it, I made it in crock pot. Well I guess, it didn’t need to cook long because the meatballs turned black. Still tasted good, but looked awful! First make the sauce, then put in meatballs and don’t cook long or meatballs will turn color. My family said they were good, maybe they just didn’t want to hurt my feelings. Making them again this year, but it’ll be right this time!

gaby on February 14, 2019:

good foods

Cat lady on November 19, 2016:

l also made this and found it to have a bite to it.. We didn't care for it..

Christy on January 22, 2015:

I use a little orange juice, honey and red pepper flakes on my lil smokies. It makes them sweet with a hidden heat.

Mary on April 26, 2013:

I made the grape jelly little smokies with the chili sauce. I froze the leftovers and the smokies froze but the sauce did not. Do you know why and are they still good or should I just toss them?

Lauren on December 21, 2012:

I make my meatballs with grape jelly and cocktail sauce, equal amounts of both. They are amazing and a hit at any gathering.

Lorie on December 15, 2012:

Thanks for making it so easy for a "non-chef", such as myself!!

rmcrayne (author) from San Antonio Texas on December 02, 2012:

Thanks for commenting Brenda. If you're going with apps and finger foods, then I suggest you also check these hubs out:

https://hubpages.com/food/Quick-Easy-Appetizer-Rec...

https://hubpages.com/holidays/Recipes-Christmas-Tr...

Brenda Williams from Colorado Springs, CO on December 02, 2012:

I greatly appreciate your suggestions. I was wanting to break the traditional "Christmas ham dinner" this year, but wasn't sure what to do. My daughter just recently turned 18, and we somehow got on the subject of the summer sausage/cheese gift boxes. One thing led to another and the idea came up to put together all the little appetizers and finger foods we like so much and make those our "Christmas dinner" this year. Our main choices are the meatballs and cocktail weenies, so I was looking for a few ideas for sauces. I'm definitely going to try at least 2 of your suggestions, and possibly throw in a few extra ingredients of my own! Thanks ! :D

rmcrayne (author) from San Antonio Texas on February 05, 2012:

Simmer sauces with meatballs or weenies 30-60 minutes. Or you could put them in a crock pot on low for 4-6 hrs. Sauces are for about 1 lb of meat (all info is in hub.)

Tom on February 05, 2012:

Hub, on the barbecue sauce and grape jelly how long should it be cooked and what about the amounts. Kinda new at this.

Sue B. on September 10, 2011:

This was an AWESOME and extremely helpful hub! I just tried the beer ketchup sauce as a twist on some meatballs and it was great! I definitely need to bookmark this for later.

Jimmie Quick from Memphis, TN USA on February 26, 2011:

I did! I used a chili sauce, lemon juice, cranberry sauce combination for my sauce. Got RAVE reviews. Two asked for my recipe. Several were impressed that I made my own meatballs (versus frozen). The pan was EMPTY! Success!

drbj and sherry from south Florida on June 18, 2010:

Your grape jelly sauces sound similar to the Lingonberry sauce that is so popular with meatballs in Sweden. The sweet taste really enhances the flavor of the meatballs.