Cocktail Meatballs With Apricot Preserves

Apricot meatballs
Diana Rattray
Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 6 hrs 30 mins
Total: 6 hrs 45 mins
Servings: 20 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
181 Calories
8g Fat
15g Carbs
11g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 20
Amount per serving
Calories 181
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 8g 11%
Saturated Fat 3g 14%
Cholesterol 53mg 18%
Sodium 588mg 26%
Total Carbohydrate 15g 5%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Protein 11g
Calcium 36mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Meatballs are always a hit, no matter how they are served. Apricot preserves and barbecue sauce team up to make a fabulous sweet and tangy sauce for these easy meatballs. The meatballs contain a combination of ground beef and pork or sausage. Sauté the meatballs on the stovetop or bake them in the oven. 

For a spicier sauce, add some crushed red pepper flakes or minced chilies to the sauce mixture. See the recipe variations below for more ideas. The slow cooker makes these tasty sweet-sour appetizer meatballs easy to prepare and serve.


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound lean ground pork (or mild pork sausage)
  • 2 cups bread crumbs (from fresh bread; fine crumbs)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 small onion (finely chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons parsley (fresh minced)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (or olive oil)
  • For the Sauce:
  • 1 (12-ounce) jar apricot preserves
  • 3/4 cup barbecue sauce

Steps to Make It

  1. Combine beef, sausage, bread crumbs, eggs, onion, parsley, salt, and garlic salt; blend gently then shape with hands to form small meatballs.

  2. Place a large, heavy skillet over medium heat; add the vegetable oil. When the oil is hot, add the meatballs and cook, frequently turning, until browned on all sides. Alternatively, the meatballs may be baked. See the tips for instructions.

  3. Drain well and transfer the browned meatballs to the crock pot.

  4. Combine the apricot preserves and barbecue sauce in a saucepan over medium heat; cook until hot and then pour the sauce over meatballs.

  5. Cover the pot and cook on low for 2 to 4 hours, or until the meatballs are hot and thoroughly cooked.

  6. Serve the meatballs as an appetizer or serve them as a main dish with rice or boiled potatoes.


  • To bake meatballs, line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil. Place a cooling rack in the pan; brush the rack with oil. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Shape the meatballs and arrange them on the rack. Bake for 30 minutes and then transfer them to the crock pot. If you don't have a cooling rack, oil the foil and arrange the meatballs on the foil. Drain them well before adding them to the crock pot.
  • Take the meatballs along to a party or potluck. Cook them as directed; wrap the slow cooker in blankets or newspapers to ensure the meatballs stay hot. When you get to your destination, plug the crock pot in, set it on low, and serve!
  • The best ground beef lean to fat ratio for meatballs is 80/20 or 85/15. If too lean, the meatballs won't be as juicy and flavorful.
  • If you are looking for more ideas, take a look at this list of a dozen tasty meatball recipes.

Recipe Variations

  • While homemade meatballs are superior to frozen in flavor and texture, feel free to make the recipe with frozen if you are short on time and you have a favorite brand. Put everything in the slow cooker and cook on low for 2 to 4 hours, or until the meatballs are hot.
  • Omit the ground pork or sausage and use all beef in the meatballs.
  • For spicy food lovers, add a teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes or some minced jalapeno or Fresno peppers. Asian chili sauce (sambal) is another excellent product for heat.
  • Add about 1/2 teaspoon of liquid smoke—or to taste—to the sauce mixture.
  • For a less sweet sauce, use 1 1/4 cups of barbecue sauce and about 1/2 cup of apricot preserves.
  • Swap pineapple or peach preserves for the apricot preserves.