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18 Sauces for Cocktail Meatballs, Weenies, and Sausages

Updated on April 16, 2016
rmcrayne profile image

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

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:

Basic Meatballs

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

Ketchup-Based Sauces

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

Sweet-and-Sour Sauces

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

Sauces for Swedish Meatballs

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

Other Sauces

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

Enjoy these easy-to-make appetizers!

A Note About Sauces

Meatballs simmering in Garlicky Smoked Ketchup Sauce
Meatballs simmering in Garlicky Smoked Ketchup Sauce

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.

Basic Meatballs

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.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/8 tsp 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

Jelly-Based Sauces

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
  • 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.
  • 1 ½ cup grape jelly
  • ½ cup mustard

Cocktail weenies in Spicy Grape Jelly and Mustard.
Cocktail weenies in Spicy Grape Jelly and Mustard.
  • 1 ¼ cup grape jelly
  • 1/4 cup chili sauce
  • 2 Tbsp mustard

Hot Cranberry Jelly Sauce
Hot Cranberry Jelly Sauce
  • 1 eight-ounce can jellied cranberry sauce
  • ¾ cup chili sauce
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1½ tsp lemon juice
  • Hot sauce, optional

Currant Jelly Sauce
Currant Jelly Sauce
  • ½ cup currant jelly
  • ¼ cup dry red wine
  • ½ tsp lemon zest (finely grated rind)
  • 2 tsp mustard

Ketchup-Based Sauces

Basic Ketchup Sauce
Basic Ketchup Sauce
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar

Homemade BBQ Sauce
Homemade BBQ Sauce
  • ¾ cup ketchup
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup vinegar
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • 1½ Tbsp dried minced onion
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 6 drops hot pepper sauce

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

Beer Ketchup Sauce
Beer Ketchup Sauce
  • 14 oz ketchup
  • 12 oz 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. | Source

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 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce.

Sweet-and-Sour Sauces

Sweet-and-Sour Soy Sauce With Pineapples
Sweet-and-Sour Soy Sauce With Pineapples
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 can pineapple chunks (13 oz.)
  • ⅓ cup vinegar
  • 1 tsp 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
  • 1/3 cup green pepper, chopped or sliced
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup tomato soup
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp mustard
  • 1 Tbsp vinegar
  • 1 to 2 cups pineapple tidbits with some juice

Prepare as above.

Sauces for Swedish Meatballs

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
  • 1 can cream-of-chicken soup
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 packages brown gravy mix
  • 1-2 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.

Other Sauces

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

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.

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

  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ Tbsp garlic powder with parsley
  • 1 tsp basil

Two-Ingredient Marinara with meatballs.
Two-Ingredient Marinara with meatballs.

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, optional

How Often?

How often do you prepare cocktail meatballs, cocktail weenies, or cocktail sausages?

See results

© 2010 rmcrayne

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    • profile image

      Cat lady 8 months ago

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

    • profile image

      Christy 2 years ago

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

    • profile image

      Mary 4 years ago

      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?

    • profile image

      Lauren 4 years ago

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

    • profile image

      Lorie 4 years ago

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

    • rmcrayne profile image
      Author

      rmcrayne 4 years ago from San Antonio Texas

      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 W68 profile image

      Brenda Williams 4 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO

      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 profile image
      Author

      rmcrayne 5 years ago from San Antonio Texas

      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.)

    • profile image

      Tom 5 years ago

      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. profile image

      Sue B. 5 years ago

      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.

    • JimmieWriter profile image

      Jimmie Lanley 6 years ago from Memphis, TN USA

      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 profile image

      drbj and sherry 7 years ago from south Florida

      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.

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