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Appetizer Ideas: Spicy Cocktail Meatballs


Growing up, we often had munchies around the home prior to the big Thanksgiving meal. Into adulthood, I've adapted some of these recipes that are suitable for the holidays and other social events. While these cocktail meatballs seem like a bit of work, they really are an awesome Thanksgiving Day appetizer while fam. is sitting around the football game waiting on the turkey. 

Over the years, I've probably adapted this recipe a few times, depending on the crew that will be devouring it. Some of my friends absolutely love the spiciness while others think their mouth is on fire and quickly need a glass of milk. What I love is that the spiciness of the sauce is controllable, so no worries about the taste-buds of your fellow munchers!


For meatballs: 1 lb. beef, 1 lb. ground pork, 1/2 c. milk, 1 c. breadcrumbs, 2 eggs, 1/2 c. chopped onion, 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce finely chopped, 2 tsp of adobo sauce,  (1 tsp canola oil for cooking) 

For sauce: 2 tsp canola oil, 1 c. finely chopped onion, 2 tsp red pepper flakes, 2 c. ketchup, 1/4 c. brown sugar, 2 tsp red wine vinegar


1) In a large bowl, mix all meatball ingredients. Shape into one inch balls. 

2) Using a Dutch oven or large sauté pan, heat pan with canola oil over medium-high heat. Cook meatballs 4-5 means, until sides are browned and meat is cooked through. Drain meatballs of grease on paper-towel lined plate. 

3) Prepare ingredients for sauce by sautéing onion. The same Dutch-oven can be used. Personally, I prepare my sauce in a crockpot, but I still sauté onion first. If in a major time-crunch, I have used onion powder and flakes in the past as a suitable substitute, but the real thing is recommended. 

4) Add meatballs to sauce and wait until appetizer time! Using a crock-pot allows the meatballs to remain warm throughout the day. 

*Note: I have used frozen meatballs opposed to making from scratch. In this instance, chipotle (real or powder) can be added to the sauce, but it does not have the same kick as searing homemade meatballs. I know we are all on time-crunches with thanksgiving meals, but there is something extra special about the pork and beef mixture! * 

I hope you have a great Thanksgiving no matter what appetizers and meal items you serve this year!

Do you have a favorite holiday appetizer? 

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