Sweet and Spicy Meatballs

meatballs and sauce in a skillet.

5 from 1 review

These sweet and spicy meatball bites are so easy to make (the sauce has just two ingredients!) and are a great holiday or game-day snacky treat. You can make them up to a day in advance and warm them up when you’re ready to serve them.



For the Meatballs

  • 1/4 cup dried breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 pound ground beef (85% lean)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

For the Sauce

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup BBQ sauce (see note)
  • 1/2 cup pepper jelly (see note)
  • Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)


Make the Meatballs (see note)

  1. In a large bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, garlic powder and egg. Add the ground beef and, using your hands, mix the beef with the breadcrumb mixture until combined.
  2. Scoop one tablespoon of the meatball mixture and roll it between your hands to form a ball and set it on a plate. Repeat with the rest of the mixture.
  3. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Place about half of the meatballs in the pan, spacing them several inches apart. Brown the meatballs on all sides. Don’t worry if they’re not all the way cooked through because they will finish cooking in the sauce.
  4. Transfer the browned meatballs to a clean plate. Place the other half of the meatballs in the pan and repeat the browning process. Transfer them to the plate with the other meatballs.

Make the Sauce

  1. Once you’ve browned all of the meatballs, pour the water into the pan and, as it simmers, scrape up all of the browned bits off the bottom of the pan.
  2. Pour the BBQ sauce into the pan with the water and bring it to a simmer. Add the pepper jelly and whisk it into the BBQ sauce until smooth.
  3. Add the meatballs back to the pan and stir them around to coat them in the sauce. Simmer the meatballs in the sauce for five to ten minutes or until they are cooked through and hot.
  4. Garnish the meatballs with chopped parsley (if using) and serve. Serve the extra sauce on the side for dipping. Makes approximately 27 meatballs.


These homemade meatballs are simple to make, but you can substitute your favorite frozen meatballs to make this recipe even easier. If you do, skip the meatball-making part (including the browning step) and just warm the meatballs up in the sauce.

For these meatballs, a lot will depend on the kind of BBQ sauce and pepper jelly you use. I used Stubb’s Original BBQ sauce and a pepper jelly made with bell peppers and a generous amount of red pepper flakes, so my meatballs had a spicy kick.


Keywords: cocktail meatballs, sweet and spicy meatballs, easy meatball appetizer recipe