Sweet Meatballs

The first time I made these meatballs was for a party for all my new Austin friends. I was scurrying around like a mad woman, making sure all the food was perfect. I quickly pulled these meatballs out of the oven, set them on the counter and I hurried off for only minutes to tend to something else. When I returned all but three meatballs were gone and I was lucky to even snag one of those. The group of boys surrounding these meatballs had eaten them all within minutes. I was disappointed to only get to eat one but of course, then I knew they were good since everyone was fighting over them!

I made these again for Cooking Club and I even tried to make them even more "mini" than normal. Some were truly "mini" but most turned out regular meatball sized.

I loved these meatballs because they held their shape well and they could be made ahead of time and then reheated.  I also love the sauce for these meatballs, made with cocktail sauce, brown sugar and canned cranberry sauce-hence the sweetness that I love!

Meatball step by step: Top to bottom, left to right.
1. Mixing ingredients 2. forming small balls with a small cookie scoop 3. Freezing the  meatballs before frying
4. Dredging meatballs in flour 5. Flour coated meatballs waiting for the oil to heat 6. Browning the sides of the meatballs
7. Nice and crispy meatball sides 8. Resting on a paper towel 9. Ready to be sauced and baked 

Sweet Meatballs
recipe slightly adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Makes around 30 regular sized meatballs or 60 mini meatballs


1 1/2 pounds ground beef
3/4 cup quick oats
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons finely minced onion
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

3/4 cup all-purpose flour (for coating meatballs)
around 1/3 cup canola oil (for frying meatballs)

12 oz. jar of cocktail sauce
1 can jellied cranberry sauce
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup water


For the meatballs: preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine all the meatball ingredients (except the oil and flour). Roll into medium-small balls, around the size of a ping pong ball (I recommend using a small cookie scoop) and place on a cookie sheet. Place sheet in the freezer for five minutes.

After 5 minutes, remove meatballs from freezer and immediately dredge in unseasoned flour. Heat 1/3 cup canola oil in a large skillet for larger batches. [I would add just a few tablespoons and cook about 10 at at time, then remove all residue before adding fresh oil and another batch of meatballs. This helped me to keep an eye on the meatballs and for the oil to not get as dirty.] When oil is hot, add meatballs and brown on all sides (but don’t cook all the way through). Place the meatballs in a single layer in a 9X13-inch baking dish and make the sauce.

For the sauce: combine the sauce ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Pour the sauce over the meatballs and cook in the oven for 40 minutes, tossing halfway through to coat the meatballs in the sauce. Serve with toothpicks.

*Alternately, you can make the meatballs the day beforehand (including cooking them by themselves in the 9X13-inch pan) and then the next day, place the meatballs and heated sauce in the crockpot and cook on high for 2-3 hours to heat through. Or you can make the meatballs ahead of time and refrigerate. When ready to eat pour the hot sauce over the meatballs before heating in oven around 1 hour or until heated through and sauce is bubbly.

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