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These Homemade Cocktail Party Meatballs simmer in a tangy sauce and are perfect for holiday entertaining, gameday or as easy appetizers for any occasion.

homemade cocktail party meatballs with tangy red sauce in serving dish


You guys, these easy homemade cocktail party meatballs are the bomb. My parents used to serve these meatballs at their annual holiday parties, and they always went fast. If you’re looking for a new and completely delicious holiday appetizer, which just happens to be gluten free, you’ll definitely want to check these out!

This recipe for cocktail meatballs is one of those tried and true recipes that has been tested, made and shared with family and friends for years. My mom got if from my grandma, who got it from one of her friends, who was known for throwing fabulous parties. You get the idea.

Of course, making meatballs from scratch is a lot more work than using frozen meatballs, but that’s what they did back in the day.  My parents used to enlist as much help as possible before every party, which made things a little bit easier. In fact, I think I was on the meatball rolling committee a few times.

Now, of course, you can easily use frozen meatballs. I usually use them whenever I make party appetizers, and it makes things so much easier. But if you want something extra special, homemade meatballs are the way to go!


roll homemade cocktail party meatballs in hand

Did I also mention that these meatballs are gluten free? That’s right — This recipe uses shredded potatoes instead of breadcrumbs to bind the meatballs together and prevent them from drying out.

Oh, and there’s red wine in the sauce. The recipe calls for dry red wine, and I used our favorite cabernet sauvignon. Just about any red wine would work as long as it’s not sweet. The alcohol burns off as the sauce cooks, but the wine really adds to the flavor.

If you don’t want to use wine, try using beef stock, instead. Just make sure the stock is gluten free, if that’s what you need.

homemade cocktail party meatballs red sauce

The meatballs bake in the oven, and you can make the sauce while the meatballs are cooking. When the meatballs are done, you can either pour the sauce over them and serve them immediately. Or, you can add everything to your Crock-Pot and let it all simmer until you’re ready to serve.

Personally, I think the meatballs are better the longer they simmer in the sauce. And, they’re even better the next day!

 Looking for more easy meatball recipes?

homemade cocktail party meatballs in a white square bowl

How to Make Homemade Cocktail Party Meatballs

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Homemade Cocktail Party Meatballs

By: Dee
Homemade cocktail party meatballs in a tangy red sauce are made from scratch and are naturally gluten free. Bake them in the oven and let them simmer in your slow cooker for easy entertaining!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 40


For the Meatballs

  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 small potato, peeled and finely shredded (about 2/3 cup)
  • 1 small onion minced
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper

For the Sauce

  • 1 15-oz can tomato sauce (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • cup brown sugar
  • 1 lemon, juice of
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
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  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the beef, shredded potato, egg, onion, salt and pepper, and mix well
  • Form mixture into 1-inch balls, and place on foil-lined baking sheet
  • Bake for 20 minutes, or until brown and internal temperature is 160 degrees
  • While meatballs are baking, mix the tomato sauce, wine, browns sugar, lemon juice and garlic powder in a saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium high heat
  • Reduce heat, and let simmer until mixture starts to thicken
  • Add meatballs to slow cooker, cover with sauce, and cook on low until ready to serve


Calories: 55kcal, Carbohydrates: 4g, Protein: 5g, Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 18mg, Sodium: 105mg, Potassium: 106mg, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 5IU, Vitamin C: 1.9mg, Calcium: 8mg, Iron: 0.7mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Like this? Leave a comment below!

I hope you enjoy these easy homemade cocktail party meatballs as much as we do! Sharing this recipe with the Weekend Potluck ladies.

Happy Munching,

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Recipe Rating


  1. Cathy @ Lemon Tree Dwelling says:

    These are always such a hit!

  2. Krista says:

    These need to be at all my parties!

  3. Nutmeg Nanny says:

    Saving this for the next time I am in charge of making an appetizer!

  4. Dorothy at Shockingly Delicious says:

    Can’t have a holiday party without them!

  5. Kimberly @ The Daring Gourmet says:

    These are so perfect for entertaining!

  6. Jen says:

    Meatballs are always a hit and the first appetizer to disappear! Love them!!

  7. Amy @ Little Dairy on the Prairie says:

    What more would you need at a party! These look so good!